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 Tips and notes for competing at carnivals Minimize
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It’s fun and exhilarating swimming for your club; so relax and enjoy yourself.

Before you go


If you are unable to attend a carnival, please notify the Club Captain as soon as you can.

Check the program

The program of events is available from the Masters Swimming NSW website beforehand.
The final program is on the website a few days before the carnival.
Go to and click on the hyperlink for your swim meet.

What to take?

- food and a water bottle, plenty of costumes, two or three towels, a pair of goggles + a spare, club swim cap, warm clothes, a tracksuit

- watches and jewellery are not allowed when competing

Travel with an experienced swimmer - the Club will organise car-pooling

At the pool

When you arrive tell the Club Captain so you can be put in a relay team.

Warm up

Before the races start, it's really good to have a warm-up swim, so allow time. It is also beneficial to swim-down/cool-down after each race.


Note how events are announced or displayed for marshalling.

Find the marshalling area and make sure to be there in time for your events. Watch a couple of starts to see the procedure.

The Race

Go to the marshalling area when your event is announced. Carnivals are ‘heat seeded’ or ‘deck seeded’:

  • Heat seeding – each heat, showing the swimmers’ lanes, is in the printed program. The marshals call your name and you will be directed to your lane.
  • Deck seeding – swimmers are listed for each event but not divided into heats until the day of the carnival. The marshals will hand you a card showing your name, the heat number and lane. Give it to the timekeepers on your lane.

The Start

  • The heat is announced by the starter.
  • When you hear a blast on the whistle from the referee, position yourself on the block.
  • When the starter says “Take your marks”, crouch, ready to dive.
  • On the starter’s signal - usually an electronic beep - dive.
  • Backstroke races start in the water.
    At the first whistle blast by the referee: jump into the water.
    At the second whistle blast: take up your position hanging off the block.

The end of the race

Don't leave your lane until directed to by the referee. Usually the next heat starts over you. Get out at the nearest side of the pool, not over the end of the pool.


Each club needs to help, please volunteer. There may be a roster but if not, offer to help when you have a reasonable break between swims.


The Club Captain usually decides the teams and team captains on the day.
If you are swimming in a relay, follow the team captain's instructions and be in the right place at the right time.
In a relay, swimmers may get out of the water when lanes are clear, except the last swimmer, who stays in the water until released by the referee.

Medley Relays – the order is: Back – Breast – Fly - Free.


At State Championships, individual medals are awarded for 1st, 2nd & 3rd places.
Collect your medal and have it engraved at the pool.
The Club Captain collects relay medals and gives them to swimmers in the winning team. State Championships only award medals for 1st place in relays.

At the end of a carnival

It is polite, but not essential, to wait while results are announced.
This often coincides with refreshments being served.


Turns and Finishes – how to touch the wall

Don’t be disqualified …

  • Freestyle – finish with a one-handed touch on the wall. Touch-turns and tumble-turns are accepted, and it is acceptable for any part of the body to touch the wall when turning.
  • Breaststroke – at every turn and finish touch with both hands at the same time, above or below the waterline. Each arm stroke must be followed by a kick; don’t do two arm strokes, without a kick, as you approach the wall.
  • Butterfly – at every turn and finish touch with both hands at the same time.
    An arm stroke, once started, must be completed. So, if you can't quite reach the wall, do another kick keeping your hands stretched out in front.
  • Backstroke – tumble turns and single-hand touch-turns on your back are permitted.
    If you are not sure how to do a legitimate turn, ask your coach or an experienced backstroke swimmer. You must be on your back to finish.
  • Individual Medley – the order is Fly, Back, Breast, Free.
    Remember to finish each stroke as if it was an individual swim: from fly to back, finish on your front with two hands; from back to breast, finish on your back; from breast to free, finish on your front with two hands.

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