If you’re at the meet, you’ve got a seat!

A swim race has few basic needs: a pool, swimmers, and timers. You are the timer. In fact, by registering your swimmer(s) for a swim meet, you are acknowledging the fact that you will be responsible for covering at least one timing shift per session your child(ren) is entered in.

Every family that has a child entered into a meet must time at that meet. Most often, the timing requirement is one hour per child entered; however, sometimes two or more hours are needed to fulfill our team’s timing commitment, and on rare occasions it is less. Regardless, plan on timing at each meet. If you carpool, you will still need to plan for coverage and parent check-in.

What’s a timer?

During every race, each competition lane has three corresponding “chairs”, aka timers responsible for that lane. Chairs are allocated to teams based upon the number of swimmers they have entered into the meet. ZAP always has a lot of swimmers entered at meets; therefore, we usually have at least 3-5 chairs to fill.

Each lane will have 3 chairs to cover. Additionally, there are 3 "pickles" to push, a stopwatch to start and stop for each race, and a clipboard with "heat sheets" clipped on them that lists all the swimmers assigned to that particular lane, broken down by heats. Next to each name there is the swimmer's entry time and a space to write down the time from the stopwatch at the end of the race.

How does one time?

It’s easy! Every chair has a stopwatch, clipboard and a button to push (aka “pickle”) for each chair – The pickle is a button connected to an automatic timing system. When the first part of the swimmer in your lane touches the wall, push the button. (hopefully it is their hand, but it isn't always, especially with young swimmers in backstroke). That’s it!

One of the three chairs is also responsible for hand timing using a stopwatch.

Make sure you know how to run the watch before the first race. Start the watch at the flash of a strobe light that goes off at the start of each race; not the beep.

Stop the watch when the first part of the swimmer touches the wall. Hopefully this will be their hand, but it isn’t always, especially with younger and newer swimmers.

If you miss a start, don’t worry! Call for a back-up watch by raising your hand. The "head timer" (who is sitting by the referee and starts 2-3 watches at the beginning of every race) will exchange watches with you and you’re back in business.

One of the three chairs is also responsible for the clipboard. One clipboard per lane holds sheets listing the swimmers in your lane by race.

“Check-in” swimmers prior to their heat. If the swimmer listed to swim in the next heat isn’t there, call their name – they may be standing by the wrong lane.

Record the hand time (stopwatch time) in the space provided on the sheet on a clipboard in your lane. An official “runner” will deliver and pick up the sheets from time to time.

Timing responsibilities are explained by a meet official prior to every race. Stay at your post until you are relieved by the next timer. If your relief is late, ask another ZAPPER BACKER parent to help find your replacement.

Best seat in the house

•Relax – timing is fun: you interact with the kids, get yummy snacks, meet other parents, and you have the best seat in the house to watch some great swimming!

Timing schedule at the meet

•The timing schedule is emailed prior to the meet and is kept by the ZAP Parent Timing Coordinator ( a volunteer ZAP parent). Please check- in with this designated coordinator at your swimmer's call time so we know you have made it safely to the meet and that you'll be at your spot to time. If you are coming separately from your swimmer(s), you are responsible for calling or texting the coordinator to let him/her know you will be there. MISSED SPOTS ARE FINED $50 PER MISSED ASSIGNMENT.

•The timing schedule is developed based on entries. If your swimmer is entered in one of the last events of the session, chances are great that you'll be in the last timing spot. If your swimmer is in the first event of the session, chances are pretty good you'll be assigned an early spot. We do everything we can to assign timing spots while you are there with your swimmer. Please assume you’re needed, even if you haven’t received an email or haven't been asked to time by another parent volunteer. Please take the initiative to check-in and confirm your spot!

•The sign-up sheet will remain posted for the duration of the meet. Check back periodically to ensure that every time slot is filled and there haven't been any revisions.

•You are responsible for getting to the right chair at the right time.

•Cell phones must be off while timing.

•While timing, getting accurate times for the swimmers in your designated lane is your priority.

•We hate to do this, but if you do not show for your assigned time, a $50 fine is assessed.