Swim Times at Competitions

Each race will have up to 4 times collected – one by the touch pad, one by the “plunger” and two by stop-watch.  The official time is not determined until the Meet Director reviews all 4 times for consistency.  Once times for an event are finalized, result sheets are posted on a wall somewhere by the pool.  If you are using the MeetMobile app on your smart phone, final times are posted once the event is closed. 

Do not rely on the time posted on the scoreboard right after the race – they are not always accurate.  For example, a swimmer finishes a 100 fly but at the very end reaches up and grabs the gutter instead of gliding into the touch pad.  The touchpad produces the time that displays on the scoreboard, but because the touchpad wasn’t hit the time just keeps running.  Eventually the swimmer hits the touchpad with his knee and the time stops, showing a very slow time.  When the Meet Director compares that time to the two stop-watch times and the plunger time, the discrepancy will be discovered.  A computer formula is then applied to the remaining three times to calculate a more accurate final time. 

What if the meet officials don’t catch the error?  If you think your swimmer’s time in a race is way off (like the example above), go talk with their coach.  The coach can go to the person running the timing system and have your swimmer’s race re-checked.  This happens more often than you might think, so it’s always good to keep a close eye on your swimmers times. 

A week or so after a swim meet, all times will be loaded into your account on the SPA website.  


Heat Sheets

At a USA swimming sanctioned meet, it’s rare to see a “bull-pen” where coaches get the swimmers to the bull pen and then workers at the meet bring each heat over to the blocks when it’s their turn to swim. While this is very common in recreational summer league swimming, in a competitive swim meet the swimmers are responsible for getting to the correct heat and lane in plenty of time for their race.  One good way to do that is to have them put the following chart on their arm or leg with a Sharpie before each meet:

E = Event

H = Heat

L = Lane

S = Stroke

The actual chart will then look like this:

E              H             L              S

2              2              5             200 Medley Relay

18           2              4              50 free

31           3              7              50 back

58           1              2              100 Breast

The information on the chart comes from the heat sheets for sale at each meet.  Swimmers should plan to be in line for their event well BEFORE their event.  For example, if your swimmer is in event 18, he should go down and get in line in his lane during event 16 or 17.  They will usually do a first and last call for swimmers in each event, but you can’t always hear the announcement.  It’s up to each swimmer and their parents to keep track of where they are in the events.