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Things to bring to a kids swim meet

Swimming for kids is a great activity, but meets can be long and boring for them. Here are some great things to pack for a swim meet.

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Swim lessons and water safety is a priority for many parents, and there are many different ways for your children to learn to swim. Our neighborhood pool offers an option for kids to join the swim team. It’s a program for kids of all ages and skills to become better swimmers and have fun over the summer.

However, I’m sure all swim parents can relate to the frustration and boredom that come from sitting all day at a swim meet. The parents are bored and so are the swimmers, not to mention siblings that have to sit without getting into the water. It is common to be there for five or six hours and your child only be in the water for 4-5 minutes total after warm ups.

My family has come up with some ideas to pass the time, other than overdosing on screen time and eating away at your data. (Although, I do recommend having an iPad, Kindle, or tablet of some kind with you!) I like to stick to small items that can fit in my daughter’s swim bag or my purse to limit what we have to carry inside. Here are some swim meet boredom busters.

kids on edge of pool at a swim meet

Swim for Kids- Things to bring to a swim meet


For almost a year, I had my eye on a dice game at the register of my local craft store. I never broke down and bought it because it was pretty pricey for what it came with (4 different colored sets of 10 dice and instructions).

One day it was on sale but still seemed like too much to pay, so I pulled out my phone and looked it up on Amazon. It was the same price there.  I noticed in the recommendations that there were huge packs of dice in various colors. Why had I never thought about ordering those before! I shopped around and chose a pack of dice that came with 7 sets of 10 dice each in 7 colors. The price was the same as the official game, but with this set we could now have 7 players instead of 4.

We love coming up with new ways to play. Sometimes we play the intended way where everyone rolls their set of dice until they get all 10 dice to say the same number. Sometimes one person calls out a number and we all try to roll that number on all of our dice. My daughter recently came up with a new way to play that we like too. She calls a number between 2 and 12 and we have to make pairs of dice that equal that number (like 3 & 3= 6, 1 & 5= 6, and so on). There are so many ways to play!

Playing Cards

Any set of playing cards will work to keep kids entertained. I like to get mine on clearance at the grocery store or at consignment shops for $.25 to $.50 each so they are easy to replace when they get too wet or get lost. Like the dice above, you can stick to already well known games like war, blackjack, go fish, and solitaire. Or, you can mix it up and let the kids make new games to play.

What I like about cards and the pool, other than their small size, is that they have a laminate on them so hands can be a little wet from the pool and not ruin them. Simply lay them out to dry once you get home. If your family already has a favorite card game like Uno, Five Crowns, or Apples to Apples, it is worth the investment to have a set tucked into the swim bag for sure.

kids swimming on swim meet

Top Trumps

This should fall in the category of cards above, but I wanted to give it its own space because it isn’t as popular as it should be, in my opinion.  I had never heard of these until my grandmother gave a set to my son, and most of my friends had never seen them when I started telling them about how much fun we have with them.  

Each set of cards has a theme like, star wars, emojis, baby animals, presidents, sports cars, space, countries, dinosaurs, and the list goes on and on.  Each card has categories with a rank number in each category.  When it is your turn, you call out what you think is the biggest strength of your card and everyone else has to compare their card in the category you called.  The person with the best number wins that round.  The game is over when one person is left with all the cards.  We have so many sets of these now that two or three are in the swim bag at all times!

Mad Libs

Mad Libs have been around for so long, but they are still funny to share with your kids.  They work for a huge variety of ages.  Older kids can fill them in and will understand what it means when it asks for a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc.  

It’s a great learning tool for younger elementary kids to learn the meanings of those parts of speech.  And, with little ones, it is funny to see what they say even when they don’t understand what it is asking for.  In fact, those are usually the funniest ones to read back when you complete a story.  You can get these in printed booklets at the store, and there is even an app you can get to have it on your phone. Just make sure you get the ones for kids instead of the ones for adults!

Boy swimming during a competition


I know this isn’t on your usual boredom buster lists, but trust me, it helps so much!  Kids want to eat when they are bored.  Adults do too for that matter.  Munching on some fruit or other healthy snacks will fill time and make kids happy because they will get to eat almost anytime they ask for something.  If they turn their noses up at it, then you know for sure they are just wanting to eat due to boredom.  

I like to bring apples, oranges, bananas, and raisins for my kids based on what I know they like, but you can edit that list to fit your own family.  We like to occasionally buy a snack or even a lunch from the snack bar to help support the team that is hosting the meet, but we all know that they usually don’t have healthy options available.  As long as I have a bag (this one’s cute) with fruit, I know that they will have something healthy to go with that slice of pizza or hot dog they just have to have!

Hopefully these ideas will help you to fight swim meet boredom.  They have worked well for my family.  If you have a great boredom buster to help get your family through the long days of swim meets, please feel free to share it below!