5 Reasons To Be A Timer

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

by Tori Caudill, Swimming World College Intern

Volunteering to be a timer is one of the easiest, and most important jobs at a swim meet. Often a swim meet requires a team of two timers per lane, which provides three back up times for the swimmer aside from the touchpad time. Whether a parent, athlete or just someone with an interest in swimming, the opportunity to be a timer comes with some awesome perks.

1. Grab prime seating.

There is really nothing better than the view from behind the blocks, as any swimmer will tell you. Timers get a view into the world of swimming that can not be seen from the stands. The close proximity lets the timers see the intensity with each race, along with the emotions at the finish. Also, while timers aren’t exactly encouraged to show favoritism to your team, they are in the prime position to high-five your fellow club swimmers and even give you a chance to meet your child’s swim friends and rivals from other teams, letting you put a face with the names they talk so much about.

2. Be in the heart of the energy.

Photo Courtesy: chucka_nc, Flickr

Photo Courtesy: chucka_nc, Flickr

There is nothing quite like the feeling behind the blocks during a relay, or even a close race. With all of the teammates scrambling to cheer for the swimmers in the water. Anyone timing cannot help but feel the adrenaline and intensity that comes with the team atmosphere in a close race.

3. Connect with swimmers on a different level.

Every timer has the opportunity to talk each swimmer that visits their lane. While not all swimmers will be open to conversation right before a race, sometimes the interaction with a timer can make a great story. Growing up, I swam at a rival school during club season every year, and almost every year, one of my timers was a swim dad, whose daughter shared my name. His daughter “Tori” and I became good friends, all thanks to her dad. My timer took the time to be kind and connect with me. In my opinion that’s what sets apart a good volunteer from a great one.

4. Make swimmers’ days.

During a lot of club meets, the winner of the heat can sometimes pick a prize. Nothing makes a young 8-year-old swimmer feel more special after swimming a race than being congratulated by their timer, and being able to pick a cute little prize to commemorate the win, and swank-out their swim bags.

5. Better understand swimming.


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Timing as a new swim parent can help you become more familiar with how a swim meet is run. Often the order of events run around the same way in every meet, which can be very helpful in helping your athlete prepare for the meet. It can also help you get a better appreciation for times and what an average time for an event could be. By timing, you can keep track of the best times of some of your swimmers while watching others.

Any type of volunteer work is innumerably rewarding, and working as a timer at your home club’s swim meet can help to immerse you in the world of swimming and help you to enjoy the hot and sticky pool just a little bit more. And if you’re lucky, between sessions the hospitality room will have some yummy snacks to reward you for your time.

Without timers, we wouldn’t even be able to have a swim meet. Thank you to all of the volunteer timers who never complain about giving back to the sport that you/your kids love!

USA Swimming has launched a campaign to recognize our terrific volunteers all month long! Honor all of the volunteers in your life this March by snapping their photo and posting with #1VolunTeam on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Tag @usaswimming and @swimmingworldmag too!

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Claire Turner
8 years ago

Hayley…one for you…?xx

Hayley Rogers
8 years ago
Reply to  Claire Turner

I feel a lot safer with a raffle!! 😉 xx

Yoli Guido
8 years ago
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x