Frequently Asked Questions



If you have recently become a 'swimming' parent you may be feeling overwhelmed by the level of knowledge required for this role. Phrases such as winter league , DIV II, meets, P.B.s, I.M.s and I.O.T.s may have become part of your swimmer's vocabulary (but not part of yours!)

The purpose of this page is to provide answers to many of the questions commonly asked by newcomers to the club and provides definitions for a number of terms commonly used in swimming . You may not find the answers to all of your questions, but your coach, club administrator or a committee member is only a phone call away, so please don't be afraid to ask!

This Swimming NZ document explains the officials roles in detail.



Do I have to do anything as a parent?

In a word - YES!! Summer race night is a good place for parents to learn about competitive swimming as well. There are several areas where parents' help is essential:


(Getting the screaming rabble into order). The marshalling area is the area set aside for swimmers to assemble before their race. On race night the marshal should organise children into heats for each event (if possible, according to ability or size). At a swim meet the marshals check the name of each swimmer and ensure they are in the correct heat and lane for their race.


A scribe writes each swimmer's name and the race they are doing on a slip to be presented to the time- keepers. The slips will already be printed at a swim meet and often they will be given to the swimmers at marshalling.


Each lane requires 3 time- keepers. (Grab a watch, a lane and click the button at the start of the race and click the button when the swimmer in your lane finishes). All 3 times are recorded on the slip and the middle time is taken as the "official" time. The slip should then be collected by the runner. Some swim meets require "official" time- keepers which means taking a brief training course, followed by a test.


(Or walking if you like!) After each race the "runner" collects the time slips and delivers them to the recorder. Really easy - just walk back and forth.


The recorder must ensure that results from the time slips are correctly entered against a swimmer's name.


At swim meets one or two parents are needed to act as team managers. They are responsible for sending swimmers to marshalling on time. They are also responsible for any communications (scratchings, disqualifications etc) between the team and the race officials.


There are higher levels of officialdom within swimming. (As with all clubs, the higher the position the harder it is to fill). See a committee member for more information if you want to be involved as an official. While on the subject of officials, if you were wondering about I.O.T. The I.O.T. is the "inspector of turns" who stands at the end of the pool and - yes, you guessed it, inspects the turns. Refer to the definitions below for more information

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How much does swimming cost?

There is an annual fee to belong to the club, payable in April, which marks the beginning of the swimming year. The fee is halved for swimmers joining between January - April. Please contact the club administrator for details.

Squad swimmers are billed training fees on a monthly basis on top of the annual fee. (Club swimmers pay only the annual fee).

Swimmers are required to pay an entry fee for each swimming meet they enter. The price for this varies and is shown on the meet entry flyers. Click here to see details about current meets.

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Is there a uniform?

Yes, there is. The club colours are black, white and blue. Although uniform is not worn for training, it is compulsory for swimmers representing their club at competitions. Please refer to the uniform policy for further details and photos of the uniform

Club swimmers are encouraged to wear HPK togs and HPK caps for Tuesday night racing. Other HPK items available are gear bags, jackets, track pants, shorts, shirts and fleecy-lined coats. These are generally purchased by squad swimmers and are not essential for club swimmers.

Uniform can be order on line using the Uniform Order form.

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Where can I purchase the togs and how much do they cost?

Uniform items are available on Thursday nights at LEP between 6:45pm and 8:15pm. You can also complete the web order form or contact the club administrator.

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Is there any other gear needed?

Goggles and a cap. Also pull-buoys, paddles, fins and a kickboard. There is some communal gear that the club supplies, however it is probably advisable to have your own gear. A mesh bag to carry your gear in is also very handy. The coaches will explain this when they are required.

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Swimming Progression

My child has had swimming lessons and wants to continue with swimming. What are the options available?

There are two directions that you can take within the club - Club Swimmer or Squad Swimmer. Squad swimming involves a greater commitment than club swimming and is probably for the more serious swimmer. Please discuss the options with your coach or the club administrator.

All swimmers have the opportunity to race against each other at club Race Nights (every second Tuesday at Lloyd Elsmore Pool).

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Which squad should my child be in?

Your child will be placed in a squad appropriate to their swimming level. Progression through the squads then depends on several factors, as determined by the coaches.(Or should they decide to opt for the club swimming then they will be placed into an appropriate group for Thursday night coaching).

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Where does the competitive side of swimming lead to?

The flowchart overleaf details the progression in competitive swimming. For example a 10 year old swimmer who is enjoying swimming at meets with some success may look towards qualifying for Junior Nationals as a goal, whereas an older swimmer is more likely be focusing on Division II or NAGs. Qualifying times and qualifying periods for these national meets are shown on the meet calendar page as soon as they are published by Swimming New Zealand.

Your coach will take time to work with you on goal- setting so that you are clear about where your swimming is leading

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A swim meet is the next step if you enjoy competing. Your coach can suggest a suitable meet to enter. Some meets are definitely not for a new swimmer, so choose a "less serious" meet to begin with. Probably one that does not require entry times for races, (more serious meets require entry times or they may stipulate qualifying times to enter).

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What about competing?

There are various levels of competition. (See the flowchart). Race nights on Tuesdays are a good place to start racing. Club officials will point out the protocol of racing to the swimmers (and their parents). Before the beginning of the summer racing season the club runs an introductory evening where swimmers and their parents can learn about racing.

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Swim Meets

How do I enter a meet?

The Meet Calendar page and club newsletter contain details of upcoming meets and entry closing dates. We encourage swimmers who are regularly competing to use the online entry system which can be accessed from the menu or the meet calendar page.

Hard copies of the meet flyers and entry forms are also from the club administrator at L.E.P. Meet entry forms can be downloaded from the Meet Calendar page. Collect one of each and fill out the entry form as instructed on the sheet (or ask your coach for assistance).

Remember to enclose a cheque for the entry fee and return the completed entry to the box at L.E.P. or Pakuranga by the closing date.

If the swim meet requires entry times then these will be entered by the club recorder (assuming that your swimmer has swum these races previously at the club race night or at another meet).

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What races should I enter and how many races should I do?

Check with your coach. A general guide is 4-6 races for a one session meet, or 2-3 races per session for a long meet. (Some meets have limitations on the number of events entered).

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What is the difference between a Level I meet and a Level II meet? Are you only allowed to swim the races that you qualify in?

You may notice that swim meets in the Auckland region (as opposed to Counties-Manukau which we belong to) are graded as Level I, II or III. Level III. As soon as you do one swim that is of a Level II standard you are eligible to swim at Level II meets and in as many races as you like at these meets. (The same applies to swimming at Level I meets). You can check if you have meet the criteria on the What have I Qualified page (under Tools on the menu)

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What actually happens at the meet?

Aim to arrive about 30 minutes before in pool warm-up for stretching. Swimmers should sit with the club to foster team spirit as well as making the manager's job a lot easier.

Parents may be rostered on a duty otherwise they are free to watch the racing (or read the Herald, seek out the closest bakery etc).

Basically it is the same procedure as race night. Managers send swimmers to marshalling, where they are organised into their heats. (Heats are organised according to the swimmer's entry time or "in-time" in swim talk). Swimmers will take their time slips from marshalling to the timekeepers.

Then the race ...

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What should the swimmers eat before / during a swim meet?

Before the meet your swimmer needs a good carbohydrate meal that is low in fat. (For example: yoghurt and cereal, cereal and light blue milk, porridge, toast and honey etc). For comfort this meal should be about 2-3 hours before the race.

During the race meet swimmers should "graze"- eating small amounts of good snack food (such as muesli bars, bakery food and small amounts of jelly beans) regularly throughout the day. It is most important that swimmers remain hydrated throughout the meet.

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What is League?

All swimmers have the opportunity to belong to an HPK winter League team. There are three levels of competition: Dolphin League (for swimmers up to the age of 10), Counties League (for 11 and above, who have not qualified for Div II or higher) and Open League (11 and above, who have swum at a national level).

There are 4 race nights held over winter (Dolphins (Saturday) ,Counties League (Friday) and Open League (Tuesday)). The venue will depend on which Counties club is hosting the league. Teams of approximately 10 swimmers get to compete against other teams from Counties in a variety of events. (Racing takes about ¾ hour).

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Club Processes and Procedures

Is there a constitution?

Yes the club is an incorporated society with a constitution and regulations. These are reviewed each year during the Annual General Meeting. These can be found on the web site under the Club Information menu.

Are there club records and how do I apply for these?

The current club records can be found on this web site under the Records/Trophies menu. Applications for records are made on line.

Details of the rules surrounding record claims can be found in the club regulations. In summary HPK swim club records can only be claimed for times swum in the club pool (Lloyd Elsmore). The swimmers age on the date of the swim is used to determine the record age group.

Are there club policies I should be aware of?

Yes. The constitution and regulations contain a number of policies. Details of the Uniform and Tour Code of Conduct policies can be found under the Club Information menu.

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Definition of some of the swimming terms

Chief Time Keeper

Manages the time keepers and informs the referee they are ready for the next race. The chief time keeper will normally have two watches - these can be given to time keepers if they have a problem with their watch

Circle seeding

At some meets (eg nationals) circle seeding is used for the fastest 3 heats. This means that


  • the fastest qualifier is in lane 4 of the last heat
  • the second fastest is lane 4 of the second to last heat
  • the third fastest is lane 4 of the third to last heat
  • the remaining swimmers follow the same pattern with the 4th fastest in lane 5 of the last heat, 5th fastest in lane 5 of the second to last heat, 6th fastest in lane 5 of the third to last heat, etc

Converted times

Because swimmers should gain speed during the execution of a turn, swim times are converted between short and long course using the factors found here. Note these may vary for meets in other countries. We have also developed a tool to assist you to convert times and regularly update the website with swimmers best times and with full details of the swum and converted times.


Division 2 national meet. A single national meet is held in mid March for swimmers who achieve the qualifying times but who have not achieved a NAGs time. This meet is run in the following age groups 13 & Under, 14 & 15, and 16 & over. The meet starts on the Wednesday 15 days after the 1st Tuesday in March.


Did not Start. This will appear on the results sheets when a swimmer does not start a race


Did not Finish. This will appear on the results sheets when a swimmer does not complete the race


Disqualified.  The swimmer has broken a rule relating to the start or the stroke swum

Entry Times

Some meets have entry times to qualify. These are the slowest time that is accepted. Note: the converted times are used for these. Also some meets do not allow NT entries. Please speak to your coach if you are in this situation and wish to enter a meet. Times achieved at club race nights can be used as entry times so try and swim in different races & distances to obtain entry times.

FINA Points

FINA Point Scoring allows comparisons of results among different events. The FINA Point Scoring assigns point values to swimming performances, the more points the better the performance - World class performances score 1000 or more. FINA calculates the reference base point values every four years based on Olympic Games results. The current base values were calculated from the 2008 Olympics. For more information or to download a desktop calculator tool go to the FINA site. You can check your FINA points here or use our FINA Points calculator to calculate the time required to achieve a certain number of points


This is the abbreviation used for the Howick & Pakuranga Swimming Club


Individual Medley. This is a race where the swimmer must complete all 4 different strokes in a prescribed order (Fly, Back, Breast, Free). These races are run over a variety of distances (generally 100, 200 & 400).


Inspector of Turns. Responsible for checking the that swimmers turn or finish complies with the appropriate swimming rule. They are situated at the ends of the pool.

Judge of Stroke

Assists the referee by walking on the opposite side of the pool observing the swimmers. They are normally a qualified referee or a referee in training.


National meet for swimmers 12 and under on the date the meet starts (3rd Sat of Feb). Three meets are held concurrently with the medal winners being the swimmers achieving the fastest times when the results are consolidated. For HPK these meets alternate between Auckland and Hamilton


Lloyd Elsmore Pool. This is situated on Lloyd Elsmore Park just off the Pakuranga Highway.

Long course

A meet swum in a 50 metre swimming pool


The manager coordinates the swimmers and club officials at the swimming meet. Their duties include ensuring swimmers go to marshalling on time, club officials for the meet (eg time keepers, IOTs, etc) are in place, ensuring required equipment is brought to the meet (eg managers bag, tent, club banner, etc) and dealing with any administrative issues that arise.


Responsible for marshalling the swimmers into the correct race and heat. Note: they are not responsible for finding swimmers who have not shown up

Meet Director

Overall responsibility for the meet. This is the person to discuss any problems related to a meet with


National Age Groups. This is the highest national meet swimmers in the following age groups 13, 14, 15, 16 & 17. It starts on the 1st Tuesday of March.


No Time. This means that the swimmer does not have a recorded time for this stroke and distance.


This is a national meet swimmers compete with no age categories. It is generally run in April (sometimes as a trial meet for Commonwealth or Olympic team selection.


Personal best. This is the fastest time a swimmer has completed that stroke and distance. Note: entry times shown on meet programmes maybe converted times. You can view your PB's here. If you notice are errors please advise the club administrator.


During a race meet the recorder records the results of each race. Each club also has a recorder who is responsible for keeping the results for their clubs swimmers up to date. The recorder provides these times with the meet entries.


Overall responsibility for the race. They make the final decision on whether a race is fair and if a swimmer is DQ'd. The referee will walk along the pool during the race observing the swimmers.


Swim races are often run as combined age groups (even when the results are sorted into age groups). The swimmers heat will be determined by their entry time with the slowest swimmers in the first heats. Swimmers with NT will always swim in the first heats. Note: In some meets circle seeding is used for the fastest 3 heats.

Short course

A meet swum in a 25 metre swimming pool


A national swim meet swum in the following age groups 15 & under and 16 & over. This meet starts on the first Sunday of the September school holidays.


Responsible for ensuring the starting the race and ensuring the start is fair. They stand beside the referee during the race start


A national short course swim meet swum as an open age group. This meet generally starts on 2nd Thursday on December

Time Keeper

Responsible for recording the time swum by the swimmer for each race

Winter League

Refer to What is League

XLR8 Points

XLR8 Point Scoring was developed by Swimming NZ to compare swimmers across a number of events. It is also used for selection into training development squads. The XLR8 Point Scoring assigns point values to swimming performances, the more points the better the performance. Swimming NZ calculates the reference base point values based on National Swimming event results results. For more information go to the Swimming NZ web site. You can use our XLR8 Points calculator to calculate the time required to achieve a certain number of points

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