Instructions for Timers

CHECK IN with the head timer 20 minutes before your shift begins. The head timer will assign you to your lane and instruct you of your tasks.  The head timer will give one person (the Recorder) a clip board with heat sheets for each event and will give another timer a stop watch.

LANE ASSIGNMENTS. For regular dual meets, there will be 1 Orca timer and 2 timers from the other team in the lanes where Orca swimmers are normally assigned, and 2 Orca timers and 1 timer from the other team where the opposing swimmers are assigned.  The HOME team swims in EVEN numbered lanes and the VISITING team swims in ODD numbered lanes.

You should also know that the top-seeded swimmers in each heat are assigned to the middle lanes. These are usually the "scoring lanes"!  The first three swimmers in each event score points. For an individual event, first place gets 5 points, second place gets 3 points, and third place gets 1 point. For a relay, first, second and third get 7,3 and 1 points respectively.

All of the teams in the league use a COLORADO TIMING SYSTEM. This system has 3 hanging cords in each lane with a button at the end of each cord.  All 3 timers must hold one of the cords and push the button when their swimmer finishes the race. Thus, the start is automatic.  The finish is manual. 

In addition, one of the 3 timers must also work a manual STOP WATCH. The watch has one button for start and stop, and another button for reset. Practice this before the race, to make sure the watch works properly.  Another of the 3 timers must RECORD the stop watch time (this person is the RECORDER). The stop watch is used as a back-up time if the Colorado System  malfunctions.  It is also used as a cross-check if the Colorado System time seems suspicious.  (It is also handy for answering the question, "what's my time?"-- ed.)

TESTING THE SYSTEM.  Before the meet starts, the starter will run one or more practice times, to test the system and make sure everyone and everything is working properly.

***The timers need to BE CONSCIENTIOUS about getting times for every swimmer and making sure that the times are accurate.  If the timers are distracted and fail to start and/or stop the stop watchon time, or forget to push the button at the end of the race,  the swimmer may be cheated out getting a best time and the team may be cheated out of earning points.  The swimmers work very hard and they depend on the timers to get their correct times at the meets.  Also, the starter and announcer are trying to establish and maintain a certain pace and rhythm.  The timers play an important role by keeping up and keeping things moving with the flow.***

CHECK THE NAME.  Before each race, one of the timers should ask the swimmer for their name and make sure that this is the swimmer listed on the heat sheet.  For 8 and Unders, confirm their nameat the end of the race, when they get out of the pool, as they will be starting on the other side.  If the swimmer‘s name is different than the name you have listed on your sheet for that particular heat,  cross off the name that was listed and write in the correct name and which team they‘re on.  If the swimmer listed does not show up and no one swims in that heat, cross off the swimmer‘s name on the list and do not enter a time.  Leave it blank or write "No Swimmer" in that space.  It is important that the recorder’s sheet clearly and correctly reflects who swam in each heat and what team they’re on.

"SWIMMERS STEP UP"  The swimmer steps up onto the starting block, or to the edge of the pool.  If your swimmer is delayed -- having trouble with their goggles, for example -- put your hand up so the starter can see you.

"JUDGES AND TIMERS READY"  If you are not ready -- have to reset your watch, for example -- put up your hand, so the starter can see you!

"TAKE YOUR MARK"  It is very important for the timers and everyone else in the starting area to STAND BACK, behind the blocks, and STAND STILL!  so the starter can call a fair start and not be distracted by movement in the crowd.

"FLASH/ HONK!"  The stop watch start button must be pushed when the starter starts the race.  There is a LIGHT that flashes and a HORN that goes off to start the race.  The stop watch timers should watch for the light to flash and push the start button when they see the light.  Light travels faster than sound and you will see it before you hear the buzzer.  At home meets, there is one light on the far end of the pool to the left, that goes off for 8 and Unders races, and one nearer to you, on the right, by the computer desk, that goes off  for 9 and Ups.  Pro Tip -- Hold the watch up in front of the light and let the light and the sound of the horn "scare" my finger to push the button.  The index finger is said to be more reliable than the thumb.

MISSED START.  If the stop watch timer forgets to start the watch when the race begins, he or she should put their hand up for the Head Timer to see. The Head Timer will get the manual time for the swimmer in that lane.

FINISH.  All timers should push the Colorado System and stop watch buttons at the end of the race. The stop time is when the swimmer in your lanetouches the wall or gutter, or crosses the plane of the wall, reaching over. Timers should not be concerned if the swimmer does not do the correct touch. It is someone else’s job to make that determination. The important thing is to make sure that you are in position to see the finish, and to record it accurately.

Be careful NOT to push the Colorado System buttons at the START of the race. They should only be pushed at the END of the race.  However, if you DO push it at the start, push it AGAIN at the end of the race!

KNOW THE NUMBER OF LAPS.  Remember that 15-18 year olds swim 4 laps of freestyle, so wait until they finish the 4th lap before pushing the button.  Also, all 8 and Under relays and the IM are 4 laps, and 9 and Up relays are 8 laps, so don’t push the buttons until those races are completed.

At the end of every race, the person with the stop watch tells the Recorder the time on the watch. The recorder writes it next to the swimmer’s name on the heat sheet.  The stop watch timer has to remember to reset the watch for the next race.

8 AND UNDER BACKSTROKE.  When the younger and/or less experienced swimmers are nearing the completion of the back stroke, one of the timers should watch to see if it looks like the swimmer might hit their head on the wall.  If so, put your hand or a kick board between their head and the side of the wall to prevent an injury.

RUNNERS. The lane sheets will be picked up by a “Runner” after all the events listed on the sheet are finished.  Some times there will only be one event listed on the sheet , and other times there will be multiple events listed on the sheet.

SHIFT CHANGE. When the first timing shift ends, WAIT until the2nd shift timers arrive to replace you.  Turn the stop watch and clip board over to the timers on the 2nd shift.  When the 2nd shift ends, return the stop watch and clip board to the Head Timer.

If you have any questions, ask the HEAD TIMER.

Head Timer Instructions

The Head Timer is expected to:

  1. A couple days in advance of the meet, use the Event report and contact the volunteer timers for the Event to remind  them that they are scheduled to time (unless someone is already assigned to make the calls).   
  2. Assign timers for each lane and draw up a 3x8 diagram listing the Orca timers to post at the pool.  2 Orca timers should be in the lanes where the opposing team swims, and 1 Orca timer should be in the lanes where the Ocas swim.  Home team swims in the even lanes, and the away team swims in odd numbered lanes.
  3. On the day of the meet, in advance of the shift:
    • Check that there is a stop watch for each lane, and spares.
    • Check that the lane sheets and a pencil are ready for each lane.
    • Collect all timers for a meeting 20 minutes before the start of the shift to give them instructions, and ensure all are aware of their roles (recorder, hand timer, and/or operation of Colorado button).
    • Coordinate with Meet Director and opposing team's Head Timer to communicate when all positions are filled, and when they are not.
    • During the shift take hand times for every heat to cover for a timer who failed to get the stop watch time.
    • Make sure Runner is collecting lane sheets for delivery to desk.