How to Time a Meet
- For those of you that have never timed a swim meet before, this a crash
course on the ‘who, what, and how to’ of swim meet timing. Timing is a very important job to support all the swimmers. Swimming is a somewhat unique sport in that winning races is great, but most often it is the swimmers times that determine how far they go in their sport.
There are several players on deck that are part of timing and running of a swim meet.
- The Swimmers – no explanation needed
- The Timers – that is you. It normally takes and minimum of 12 timers (2 per lane) to time a sanctioned
6-lane swim meet.
- The Starter – that is the person holding the microphone, giving the instructions, and starting each race
- Stroke and Turn Judges – they are the officials (usually in white shirts and tan pants) around the pool that make sure the swimmers follow the rules for each stroke during the races.
- The ‘Starting Horn’ – the box on the pole next to the starter that beeps and has a strobe light on top
that you watch for the flash to signal so you can start the stop watch at the beginning of each heat.
- Head Timer – that is the person sitting on the corner of the deck near the starter with all the extra
stopwatches. If you miss a start with your watch, he has an extra for you. (Remember, only 2 per heat
so it is important to get each start.)
- Runner- Collects paperwork from timers
- Coaches – they are the folks running around deck cheering on swimmers, going crazy every time
someone misses a start, and celebrating every good swim and personal best.
The timing system of a sanctioned meet has 4 primary components, 3 of which are operated by the Timers.
Stopwatch. You will have two stopwatches in each lane. You start the stop watch at the beginning of each heat (individual race). You stop the watch at the moment the swimmer touches the wall at the finish of their race. Once the stop watch has been stopped the stopwatch operator must give the time on the watch to the timer that is recording the time of each heat. Do not clear the watch for the start of the next heat until you are certain that the time for the pervious heat has been recorded. As a rule you should not clear your stopwatch until the swimmers are called to the block for the next heat.
Clip boards and paperwork. This will be the responsibility of one of the two timers that operate a stopwatch. Whomever takes care of the clipboard for the lane has three responsibilities: 1) Collect the Lane Assignment Sheets, Relay Cards, or Swimmer Cards at the start of the event or before the swimmer goes to the blocks for the start of their race; 2) Record the stopwatch time, normally in pencil, on the sheet or card next to the swimmer, or relays, name, for the event that has just been completed; 3) Return the completed sheet to the Runner.