6 Things That Happen When You Volunteer To Count For A Teammate

Lap Counter
Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

By Sarah Lloyd, Swimming World College Intern

Being a counter for a teammate can take time away from your own warmup, stretching, and mental preparation for races, so when someone does volunteer to count, it means that much more. There are also a very specific set of things that will definitely happen when you count. Here are a few:

1. You’re going to get splashed.

Like it or not, you’re going to get splashed by your teammate as they turn. If you’re lucky enough to get a counter with a stick on the end, it’ll probably be just your feet (so maybe don’t wear your sneakers to count), but if you get stuck with the regular old hand counter, you’ll feel like you’re in the splash zone at Sea World. Leave your phone and iPod on the bleachers–they’re safer over there.

2. You will look around at the other counters to make sure you’re on the right lap.

Even if you’ve never made a mistake counting before and you’re absolutely sure of where your teammate is in his or her race, you’re almost definitely going to look at the counters in the lanes next to you to make sure you don’t mess up. Better safe than sorry, right?

Photo Courtesy: Kalina DiMarco

Photo Courtesy: Kalina DiMarco

3. You’ll feel like you’re leaving the count cards in too long.

Good counters make sure that their teammate can see the count cards, which means leaving it in the water until the swimmer practically turns on top of it. It can make you nervous, but at least you know they saw it!

4. Even if your teammate asked you not to move the count card, you’ll probably shake it on the last turn.

Let’s face it–even to the counter the double orange on the count card looks great. You’ll get excited. You’ll shake it. You’ll shake it even harder if your teammate is in a tight race to the wall. Even if they asked you not to move it, they’ll forgive you for getting excited at the end.

5. You will scream.

So you’re not really sure that your teammate can hear you as they head into their turns, but you scream anyway just to cover your bases. And you’ll probably try to scream louder than the counter in the lane next to you because even if you’re not swimming, you’re still competitive.

6. Your teammate will thank you.

No matter the outcome of the race, you’re teammate will definitely thank you for taking time out of your race preparation to help them confidently swim their races. It’s hard to find counters sometimes, so you’ll definitely be appreciated.

Photo Courtesy: Hayley Good

Photo Courtesy: Hayley Good


  1. Kim Losensky

    Maria und dabei fast ins wasser fallen ?

    • Maria Meißner

      Dafür liebe ich dich immer noch ??

  2. Jessica Weaver

    Alexis Elizabeth thanks for counting all those yards ?

  3. Azurdee Christensen

    Missy Bell Bunch, my all time favorite counter!

  4. Jacob Turner

    I used to count for opposing teams!

  5. I had to lap count for my teenage son once. It was an evening event on the first night of competition and he was the last heat so everyone left. One would have thought that after an accumulated 18+ years of watching my kids swim I would have no problem doing it. Apparently I didn’t put it far enough in the water for him and was fired from ever doing it again. ?

  6. Anna Thomas

    Erin Kay Szarka

  7. Angie Vazquez

    Kathy Lind I think they forgot miss counting???

  8. Kathy Lind

    Ali Salazar Dawson Almanzar Wade Betz
    #7 Someone will distract and confuse you so you will put in the wrong number!

    • Wade Betz

      Hey I can’t help being distracting

    • Ali Salazar

      To be fair, I wasn’t counting for Dawson Almanzar at the time…I was a harmless bystander on the sidelines

    • Kathy Lind

      Wade Betz weren’t you counting?!?! I think the distraction was the other way around!

  9. Laura Tickner

    Kyle Callan my 500 counter!!!

    • Kyle Callan

      Always & forever ???

    • Kyle Callan

      Laura Tickner you’re the true meaning of heart!!

    • Dale Robinson

      In case I forgot to say thank you for counting for me … thanks for that 😉

  10. Josie Ledgerwood

    Arayia Holombo me when I count for you

  11. Annette Dietzler Shelton

    Donna Knight Nelson, your brother will drop the count card in the water and forget what lap it was on….oops!

  12. Jocelyne Humbert O

    there is more to it than that. keeping pace is the biggest one.

  13. Kristin Karpowicz

    Angela Riggins lol other things can happen too

  14. Sean MacMillan

    Counted for a teammate during a 1650 race. He swam a 1675. Oops

  15. Caleb Cohen

    IIRC, at FINA meets, the officials are the counters! I remember working a National meet with a FINA official and he was confused he didn’t have to count. LOL, welcome to America my friend!

    As the father of a distance swimmer, I am anxiously awaiting the underwater LED screens that are FINA approved making it to USA Swimming, at least for the Y/USA National meets.

    • Rachel Tiede

      ❤️❤️❤️best counter ever!

  16. Abi L Young

    thank you Miranda Reetz ❤️

    • Sterre Keller

      WoW dit is zo herkenbaar allemaal???

  17. Jan Fleming

    Remember those days well.

  18. Josie Krysinski

    Thank you so much Leah Rietema for always being my counter!! You are the best!!

  19. Eve Welch

    Ya…..you get wet. …lol