DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
PRIOR TO MEET
PRIOR TO THE FIRST EVENT
DURING THE MEET
AFTER THE MEET
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.
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
- Determine that the Meet Organizers recruit sufficient Timers. At
the least, they need 2 Timers per lane [FINA highly
- 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;
- 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.
- 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
- If 2 of 3 watches record the same time and the third
disagrees, the two identical times will be the Official
- 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.
- 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.