It is the expectation that every family serves in a volunteer role at every home meet and most away meets in which their swimmer participates. A meet lasts about four hours. Each meet and assignment is broken into two halves. The first half is Events 1-36 reporting at 5:45 PM and the second half is Events 37-82 reporting around 8 PM. Gwinnett County Swim League is run entirely by volunteers and the success of the Stingrays has always been dependent upon everyone doing their part.
NUMBER TURNER– Sits and stands near the pool turning big plastic numbers on a pole following the flow of events on the heat sheet. This lets coaches, swimmers and fans know which event we are swimming throughout the meet.
BULL PEN– This area is near STAGING by the starting blocks and the helper herds swimmers for their races. Reads the heat sheet, talks to swimmers and coaches and ensures that the correct swimmer is sitting in the correct lane assignment. Sends swimmers from BULL PEN to STAGING. Keeps those not swimming out of the area. The younger swimmers need the most help. This position is best for a friendly but strong personality. A well run bull pen is key to a smooth meet and ensures that kids don’t miss their races.
STAGING – This area is directly behind the starting blocks and the helper prepares swimmers for their race by making certain they are still in the correct lane and still in the correct order according to the heat sheet. Keeps those not swimming out of the area. Sometimes swimmers need encouragement, some need to be quieted and some might need help with their caps and goggles.
SWIM TRACKER– Stands on deck nearest the starting blocks. Makes sure that swimmers on the heat sheet match the swimmers on the blocks in each race. Checks off each race as it happens and takes notes when things get wonky or out of order. This position is best suited for a person familiar with our swimmers.
TIMER – Stands on the deck. Uses a stop watch. Focuses on the starter and swimmer each heat. Stands at the end of one lane and times one swimmer with another timer from the opposing team. Stops the watch when any part of the swimmer touches the wall. Works with the WRITER ensuring that times are correct. Inside lanes (Lane 3) are busiest and best for seasoned timers. Outside lanes (Lane 1) are less hectic and best for beginning timers. Those with the attention span of a squirrel might be well suited for this position as it is constant and fast. You will get wet. Many enjoy timing because it’s a front row to the action.
BACK UP TIMER– Stands on the deck behind the TIMERS. Uses a stop watch and starts it for every race. When a TIMER goofs up and yells, “Back up!” the BACK UP TIMER steps into that lane and stops the watch when any part of the swimmer’s body touches the wall. You will most likely get wet.
** Each swimmer must have two times for their race. These kids work hard and times mean a LOT to them. Remember that 1/10th of a second can be the difference between making the county team or not. Please be the timer each kid deserves! **
WRITER – When the swimmer finishes, the WRITER looks at the times on the two TIMERS’ stop watches and records each time on the event card. If there is no swimmer in the lane, the WRITER notes NS for “no swim” on the event card. Then, the WRITER gives the event card to the RUNNER. Legible writing is a plus in this job. You will most likely get wet. This is another good position if wanting to see all the action.
RUNNER – While there's no need to actually run, this is an active position. This person picks up timer sheets from the TIMERS and disqualification (DQ) cards from the STROKE AND TURN JUDGES and brings them to the SCORE TABLE after each event. The RUNNER is also available to get TIMERS waters or extra pencils or find a coach, etc.
STARTER – This position requires mandatory GCSL certification, thorough knowledge of the rules and an ability to apply them fairly and consistently. The STARTER announces each heat in each event, directs the swimmers on the blocks and is directly responsible for the flow and tone of the meet.
STROKE AND TURN JUDGE– This position requires mandatory GCSL certification, thorough knowledge of the rules and an ability to apply them fairly and consistently. STROKE AND TURN JUDGES are the official referees of the meet and have the authority to disqualify swimmers.
SCORE TABLE– Sits at a table near the COMPUTER ASSISTANT and DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR and receives timer sheets from the RUNNER and puts them in lane order. Staples DQ cards to time sheets. Checks and rechecks official swimmer times. Notifies a coach if needed. Hands the timer sheets to the COMPUTER ASSISTANT.
COMPUTER ASSISTANT– Someone with an eye for detail and quick fingers works best in this position. Sits with and assists our database administrator by inputting swimmer times into our system as they arrive from the SCORE TABLE.
DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR– This role requires mandatory GCSL certification, thorough knowledge of the rules and an ability to apply them fairly and consistently, good eyes, quick fingers, a laptop and an amazing sense of detail and humor. The DA keeps swimmer profiles updated, sets up every heat sheet for every meet and records every time for every swimmer all season through the GCSL and Hy-Tek sports software system. The DA is the last to leave on Thursday nights.
RIBBONS – Results are printed on a sticker. The RIBBONS person affixes the sticker to the appropriate placement ribbon and files the ribbons into team folders while sitting at a table next to the computer folks. A person working second half ribbons is best for someone with older kids swimming later events.
ICE - Sing it. You know you want to. Ice, ice, baby! And, the team needs someone to take two huge coolers to an approved vendor and fill them and bring them back to the pavilion for home meets. A truck and strong back helps fulfill this role.
GRILL – Need we say more? This person is responsible for operating our propane grill and cooking hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken for our concession stand at home meets. First half report time is 5:30 PM. This person also is arguably THE most important person in Gwinnett County on Thursday nights especially during a rain delay when everyone gets extra hungry.
CONCESSION STAND– This active position is the equivalent of a McDonald's drive-thru. It requires friendly folks to set up, prepare and sell heat sheets, food and drink items in a high paced environment especially if there's a rain delay. First half workers report at 5:30 PM. The concession stand area is like the mother ship and volunteers also answer all kinds of questions. Smiles and simple math skills a plus but not mandatory.
SIGNS - This volunteer picks up NO PARKING signs from the pavilion on Thursday morning with a map of neighborhood streets for home meets only. Signs are placed in yards along one side of the streets nearest the pool by noon on Thursday according to the map. Signs are collected by noon and placed back in the box at the pavilion by Friday. This job is quickly done by two people: one driving and one placing signs. Most swim families help collect signs when coming back through the neighborhood the next morning for Fun Friday. This is a perfect duty for those needing to watch younger children during the meets because the duty is completed before the swim action begins.
OUR GOAL - Remember that everyone at the meet lived through the sinking of the Titanic to get there and you may be the only person a member of the opposing team interacts with the entire evening. Be patient. Be helpful. Be a gracious host.