CHIEF TIMER
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MANUAL FOR CHIEF TIMERS & TRAINEES

[Adapted from FINA's "Manual for Officiating at Swimming Events," February 1999 edition, and from USA Swimming's "Handbook for Officiating," June 1999 edition.]


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Page Topics

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
    PRIOR TO MEET
    PRIOR TO THE FIRST EVENT
    DURING THE MEET
    AFTER THE MEET

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

Beside winning the race or scoring points for their team, the most important part of a swimmer's race is knowing with confidence how long he or she took to swim that event [that is, his or her "Official Time."] Although there is usually one first place winner in each race, each swimmer who participates achieves an Official Time. The swimmer's time could meet the qualifying standards for a national team or the Nationals, set a national or meet record, or it could simply be that swimmer's Personal Best. Regardless, the responsibility of all Meet Officials is to give each swimmer an accurate and valid Official Time.

When using touch pads [i.e., Fully Automatic Timing Equipment], the times recorded by that Equipment normally determines both the Official Time and the Order of Finish. Automatic Timing Equipment provides more accurate time and placement information than manual systems [i.e., pushbuttons or stopwatches.] Nevertheless [because of the potential for failure] and always to verify proper operation, all times from electronic timing equipment [whether touch pads or pushbuttons] MUST be backed-up by another timing system. The backup must always include at least one stopwatch. When using just pushbuttons or stopwatches, the timers usually provide the basis for the Official Time. The Meet Organizers always need the Timers information to decide the Official Time. The accurate timing and recording of each swimmer's performance are essential.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The Chief Timer is responsible for all Lane Timers. He or she ensures that the Lane Timers are properly briefed prior to each session. The Chief Timer (1) supervises the Timers during the session; (2) collects recorded times from Head Lane Timers; and (3) starts additional watches as a substitute in the event a Lane Timer's watch fails.

PRIOR TO MEET:

  • Determine that the Meet Organizers recruit sufficient Timers. At the least, they need 2 Timers per lane [FINA highly recommends 3].
  • Check that there are sufficient stopwatches and that they are operating properly. Backup watches and batteries should be available.
  • Determine that the Timers have all the materials and supplies they will need: clipboards; heat sheets or Meet Programmes; pencils.

PRIOR TO THE FIRST EVENT:

  • Coordinate with the Referee whether he or she will participate in the "Timer's Briefing."
  • Confirm that sufficient Timers are available, in place, and that each lane has the same number of Timers. Appoint a Head Lane Timer from the Timers for each lane, who writes down all of the watch times and verifies that the proper swimmers are competing in that lane.
  • If enough volunteers are available, appoint at least 2 Assistant Chief Timers to help you.
  • Conduct a "Timers Briefing," covering all necessary instructions for Lane Timers. Assemble the Timers and conduct the briefing early enough that: attendance can be confirmed; the briefing conducted; questions answered; and, a timing check completed, prior to the scheduled starting time for the first heat.
  • Conduct a "Timing Check" with the Timers standing by their lanes. Ask the Starter to help before the start of the Meet. All Timers should start their watches on the sound of the starting horn or the flash of the strobe light. They stop their watches when the Chief Timer gives the stop signal, which is usually after 30 seconds has elapsed. This confirms that the watches are operating properly and the Lane Timers are familiar with their watches. If watch times differ by more than 0.30 seconds, they should report it to the Chief Timer and replace the watch.
  • Ask the Chief Finish Judge/Timing Equipment Operator if he or she wants the Timers' assistance for a final confirmation that the pushbuttons and touch pads are operating properly.

DURING THE MEET:

  • Observe whether the Lane Timers are listening for the starting horn or watching the strobe light at the start; looking over the edge of the pool at the finish; not starting, stopping or clearing their watches prematurely; etc.
  • Determine that the Head Lane Timers are recording the watch times properly; listing the times to 1/100th of a second as instructed; writing numbers clearly; and recording times in a consistent order. If any of the Timers are not performing efficiently, re-instruct them or replace them.
  • Identify Timers who may not be doing a good job, for future purposes. Note those lanes where the Timers are working well together and the times are matching well. An experienced Chief Timer should know after 3 to 5 heats the capabilities of each group of Timers.
  • Ensure that each lane remains staffed during the Meet. Volunteer timers sometimes leave without giving notice. Be prepared to move people between lanes to maintain consistent coverage. Keep the Referee informed regarding staffing matters so that no heats start without sufficient Timers in place.
  • Particularly when watches are the primary timing system, frequently check various lane times for accuracy and the spread of times. Do this for the first few heats to confirm that everybody understands their responsibilities are important.
  • If requested by the Chief Finish Judge/Timing Equipment Operator, Chief Recorder/Computer Operator, or Referee, collect the time information from [a] specific lane/s and deliver it to the Computer Desk Personnel. By Technical Swimming Rule TSR10.2.2, Official Manual Times will be determined as follows:
    • If 2 of 3 watches record the same time and the third disagrees, the two identical times will be the Official Time;
    • If all 3 watches disagree, the watch recording the intermediate time will be the Official Time;
    • If using only 2 watches and if the times recorded do not agree, the average of the two recorded times will be the Official Time.

AFTER THE MEET:

  • Ensure that the watch times for the last heat is collected.
  • Thank all of the members of your "team." Acknowledge that the Meet was successful because they worked hard. Collect and account for all stopwatches, heat sheets and clipboards.
  • Note any problems occurring during the Meet and inform the Meet Director or Referee. Also, return any inoperable watches.


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