Swimmers work hard to achieve their times, and every effort is made to record these times accurately. Lane timers are required at every meet we swim in. At some of the meets, the host team provides all of the timers.

However, not all teams are large enough to make that possible. So, there are a fair number of meets where BISC will be asked to provide lane timers. The number of timers they request from us is often related to the number of swimmers we have attending the meet. And, of course, we always need timers at our home meet.

There are many timer requirements thoughought the season, and as such, every family is expected to time during the season.

Why are timers needed?

For most of the meets we swim in, stopwatch timers are there to provide backup times in case there is a malfunction in the primary timing system or in case a swimmer ends the race with a "soft touch" (where the pad is not hit hard enough to register that the swimmer has finished). At some meets, 8&Under 25 yard races finish at the end of the pool without the pad, and stopwatches are the primary timing system for those races.

If you've ever seen your swimmer finish, but the clock still going, it's the timers that will ensure that an accurate time gets recorded in the SWIMS database.

Responsibilities of a timer

The responsibilities of a lane timer may vary slightly from meet to meet, but for the majority of the meets we attend, 2 Timers will be assigned per lane. Both will time the swimmer in the lane, one will press the plunger (button attached to a cord near the starting block), and one will write down the times. These are your basic primary requirements:

  • SHOW UP. If you're timing the first shift of a session, you are most likely going to be asked to attend a timer's meeting 15-30 minutes before the meet begins. If you are in a shift to relieve a timer, go directly to the lane to relieve the timer.
  • NOTE WHERE THE VISUAL START CUE AND HEAD TIMER ARE. Know what visual start cue will be used. At most meets this will be a strobe light, placed at one end of the pool. At some pools like KCAC, there is also a light behind the block. Also know where the head timer(s) are standing with the extra stopwatches. They are usually at one or both ends of the lane timers.
  • START THE STOPWATCH AT THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE. You will start the stopwatch at the visual start cue rather than the horn sound that the swimmers listen for. After you hear "Take your mark", make sure you have the visual cue in your line of vision and start your stopwatch when the light flashes. If you miss the start, look for the head timer and raise your hand. The head timer will have started an extra stopwatch. The head timer will swap one of his/her stopwatches with yours.
  • STOP THE STOPWATCH (BOTH TIMERS) AND PRESS THE PLUNGER (TIMER 1) WHEN THE SWIMMER TOUCHES THE WALL. Lean over so that you can see when the swimmer touches the wall. You must be able to see the touch.
  • WRITE DOWN BOTH TIMES ON YOUR LANE SLIP (TIMER 2) . If you messed up and forgot to stop or start your watch, do not make up a time.

Important Notes

  • Be aware of upcoming swimmers in your lane. Swimmers in the heats following the current one in progress may check in with you. If not, ask around to see if the swimmers in the next couple of heats are nearby. If the starting block in your lane is empty for a heat, please call out the swimmers name a couple of times before assuming he/she is a no-show. Sometimes kids are ready for their race nearby, but may get distracted and miss their start; that can be heartbreaking. However, do not be so caught up in looking for upcoming swimmers that you miss a finish.
  • Never help the swimmers out of the pool.
  • When a relay is being swum, the swimmers may give you a relay slip (someone will come by to pick it up later). Please make sure to check that the swimmers are actually swimming in the order that is listed on the relay slip.

In general, it's a pretty straightforward task and an easy way to help out the swim team. It's also a great way to see the races up close! As always, thanks to all the families for the time you give and all that you do to help these kids have a great experience as a part of the BISC team.