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Each lane should have two timers with watches, and there should be at least one back-up timer, a head timer and an assistant head timer. Check to see that the watches are working properly and the light is bright.


1. When the swimmers are ready, the head timer will blow a long whistle to indicate that the heat is about to begin. You WILL NOT BE ASKED IF YOU ARE READY. CLEAR YOUR WATCH, SIT DOWN AND WATCH THE STARTER.

2. After the whistle is blown, WATCH THE STROBE. If there is a false start, keep watching the strobe.

3 . START YOUR WATCH WITH THE STROBE (not the sound.). After the start, check the watch to be sure that it is running. If you think there is a problem, CALL FOR A BACK-UP BY IMMEDIATELY RAISING YOUR HAND and asking the head timer for a running watch. DON'T BE ASHAMED TO CALL FOR A BACK- UP. The days are long and hot, and everyone gets tired. Be fair to the swimmer.

4. As the swimmers come down the lanes, write the timers' initials on the timing sheets, next to the event heading, so that when the swimmer touches, you only have to record the times.

5. Write on the timing sheet the COMPLETE TIMES as they appear on the watches (to 100th).

6. Ask the swimmers' name, as they exit the pool, and verify that the name on the timing sheet, for that heat, matches the actual swimmer in that heat. If it doesn't, raise your hand immediately and tell the Head Timer or Starter.

7. Timers are to write their initials, next to the Event Heading, and the swimmers' times on the sheet. DO NOT write any comments on the sheet regarding judging.

8. Clear the watches only AFTER the times have been recorded on the sheet.

9. Runners will collect and take the timing sheets to the Auditor's table (located near the timing area).

10. Runners will collect completed DQ slips from the judges and deliver them to the Auditor's table.

11. When the timer finishes recording the time, and there is no discrepancy, LOOK UP AT THE HEAD TIMER AND CLEAR YOUR WATCH IMMEDIATELY, and then sit down and be prepared for the next heat.

12. If there is a discrepancy or a problem of any kind, and the timers know why there was a problem they may circle the good time, slash the bad time, and give a 2-3 word explanation of what happened, i.e. missed touch, watch failed, bad start. If they are not sure, then they need to call for back up timers and meet with the assistant head timer for resolution. This must be done quickly in order to get the event sheet back to the back up timers to record the race in progress during resolution. The meet should not be stopped to solve problems at poolside. Call in the back up timers.


  1. For each lane have one timer write the times on the sheet and the other timer check the swimmer information.



2 If no one is swimming in your lane, start your watch and be prepared to be a back-up timer. (i.e. lean over as if your time were the only time );there are often unforeseen problems, don't clear your watch until you're sure it's not needed.

  1. When the swimmers finish the race, encourage them to move along unless it's a relay.

4. KEEP YOUR CHILDREN AND FRIENDS away from the timing area. (This is

one of the biggest causes of bad times.)

5. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION. You would be surprised at how close the times are, particularly in the events with multiple heats.

  1. NO smoking or cell phone use while timing.

7. Timers are not judges. Do no comment on the stroke, touch or turn of any swimmer.


The head timer and assistant head timers at a meet are in charge of starting back up watches for each heat and supplying a back up watch to timers, as needed, during a race. Also the head timer must blow a long whistle at the beginning of each heat to signal the timers to clear their watches and the starter is in control of the start.

  1. It’s a good idea to write assigned lanes on nametags.

  2. Give several examples of the need to have the two times agree within .30 of a second. If the timers do not understand this, there are constant problems and the meet is slow.

3. Visiting Team Head Timer (Assistant head timer) can resolve problems and sign sheets when there are discrepancies, so the Host Team Head Timer can stay in start position. WHEN THERE IS A PROBLEM, the assistant head timer meets with the lane timers in dispute WHILE BACK UP TIMERS STEP IN TO TAKE THEIR PLACE SO THAT THE MEET CAN CONTINUE. The problem should be addressed with the Auditor, Assistant head timer and lane timers in dispute. When the problem is cleared up, the assistant head timer and auditor should initial the timer sheet and the lane timers may resume their duties.

4. Timers should write both times on timing sheets before comparing. If the two times are over .30 apart and both timers think they have good times, signal to the Assistant head timer and follow the procedure in #3 above. If one time is bad, cross through the bad time, and put your initials. If available, use a good back up time and record the initials of the back up timer.

5. When there are no swimmers in a lane, timers should always time for another lane as a backup.

  1. Put the most inexperienced timers near the Head Timer and the Starter. The number of lanes (and thus timer assignments) for each pool is as follows:

Westchester 6 lanes

Briargrove Park 6 lanes

Walnut Bend 5 lanes

Lakeside 4 lanes

Eva Mueller,
Apr 20, 2017, 11:03 AM