My child is 6&U and he doesn't even warm up...why does he have to get to meets so early?
Most 6&U's don't warm up, that is correct.
However, warm up is not the only thing that is occurring during the warm-up period. Swimmers are being checked in by the pit parents, last-minute scratches are being called in to the coaches and Meet Director, and last-minute changes to relays are being made based on those last-minute scratches.
Coaches have to get relay changes in to the computer representative by an early deadline in order for the meet to start on time, which everyone wants! Therefore, it's important to be there during this time so swimmers can be checked in and relays can be formed/ arranged. If you're not there, you run the risk that the coach will scratch your swimmer for the relay in favor of someone who is there, so that the other swimmers on the relay team do not have to forfeit if you are running late.
Moreover, it's nice to get there, relax, eat breakfast, and not be rushed. Swimmers that don't warm up in the water are always free to stretch and do some land warm-up. Performance is usually not at its peak when swimmers arrive just before their event, so it's best to go ahead and get there in most cases.
If you must be late but still want to swim the meet, please talk to the Head Coach and the Meet Director and make sure they are aware of the situation.