I was expecting it to be a swim meet only for junior high schools in Omura, so when I saw bus-fulls of elementary school kids I thought I mistook the day of meet. I was indeed mistaken, but not about the day; the meet included local club teams and high schools as well. It turned out to take a lot longer that I had anticipated, lasting over 6 hours!
The swim meet was pretty much the same as any one I've swam in, but there were some differences:
- In Japanese fashion, there was an opening and closing ceremony with some speeches.
- Officials wore blue, not white.
- There were also a ton of Officials. For a meet of this level in the US, we might have had 3 or 4 officials. There were at least 6 or 7 watching the pool at all times.
- Everyone had to be in a staging area well before their event. This is something we only do for the little kids in the US.
- There were no touch-pads (not that surprisingly), and there was only one "pickle," or button to stop the electric timing system, and no watches or scoreboard.
- Parents weren't allowed on deck, they were restricted to the upstairs viewing windows and to peering in through windows from the bitter cold outside. This made sense though, since the pool and deck is really small there.
- Before every race the name and school/club of every swimmer was announced (I don't think we would do this at a meet of this level at home). That swimmer then had to bow to the pool. This took a long time, every heat. I calculated that they could have saved at least 30 minutes if they didn't do it.
- After racing, the swimmer bows to the pool and to the timer.
- You're not allowed to get up to the edge of the pool to cheer (but my school had some fun cheers that we yelled out if one our members was swimming, but we might have been the only team that cheered).