Swim Team is a sport for the entire family. As a matter of fact, we require the parents to participate by “working” the meets. If this is your first experience, here is an overview:
The children are grouped by gender – Girls/Boys, then by age. At a single meet, a child does not swim more than three individual events that are decided on by the child and coach.
A dual meet (a.k.a. the regular weekly meets between your team and one other) is divided into two halves. During the first half the children swim the Medley Relay [events 1 - 10], Short Free [events 11 - 20], Individual Medley [events 21 - 30], and Breaststroke [events 31 - 40]. In the second half they swim Long Free [events 41 - 50], Backstroke [events 51 - 60], Butterfly [events 61 - 70] and finally the exciting Free Relay [events 71 - 80]. Meets usually start at 5:30pm or 6:00pm and wind up between 8:30 and 9:30 (except for when they don’t!).
Now this is the good part. You will have the opportunity to sign-up for a “job”. Here’s an attempt to describe a meet and the working positions at the same time:
When the children first arrive, they will go to the area designated for the team. This is very much a social event so unless you have a very young child you will not want to embarrass your child by hanging around here. The social director of this area is known as the Card Distributor. This person has a card (“the blue card”) for each swimmer by stroke and in order of appearance. It is this hapless person’s job to actually connect the child with the card at the correct time.
Once the child has a card, he/she reports to the Clerk of Course. The clerk and three or four helpers line the children up on a series of benches. The goal here is to have all the children in a single heat lined up on the same bench in lane order – teens tend not to cooperate in this style of organization. The children move up through the benches until they end up behind the starting block, hand off their cards (hopefully still intact), and are ready to swim.
At the starting blocks you have all kinds of people. Each lane has three Timers. At a typical 6-lane pool that means 18 timers. Usually there is a Recording Timer for each lane. As if that is not enough there is a Head Timer to backup the timers and an Assistant Head Timer to back up that person – it’s called redundancy and is very popular these days.
The Starter stands on a pedestal and seems to be the most important person, but actually that honor belongs to the Referee. There may also be an Assistant Referee.
Anyway, the starter announces each event and asks the “Swimmers, step up” on the block. When the head timer indicates they are ready and it is time to release the swimmers, the Deck Referee blows the whistle. This is the signal for the fans to be quiet … the race is about to begin. The starter intones, “Swimmers take your mark,” then BEEP! goes the start signal. Once finally on the way, the Stroke and Turn Judges watch to make sure children employ the proper strokes correctly.
The children wind up at the end of the pool. The times are recorded on the cards and the children return to socialize some more, hopefully having stopped to ask their times. By now the next heat is ready to start. In the meantime, the Runner collects the cards and “runs” them over to Records. They note the “official time” on the card and pass it on to the Computer Operator who enters it into a software program. The cards are then passed over to Ribbons where each child is awarded a personalized ribbon marking time and placement.