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Timer Instructions

Your job is one of the most important. Races are determined from the times that come from your watches. At any time while you are timing, please raise your hand if you are not ready or if you have malfunctions with your time watch, please call for a BACK-UP TIMER. If at anytime you are not confident with your timing and want to be relieved, please notify a runner who collects the time sheets and another replacement will be found.

Your time watch has a start button and that same button will stop the time. There is an opposite button to clear your watch. Most often the starter will remind you to clear your watch before the next race begins; however, it is a good idea to record the time, before clearing it.

You will start your watch timing as soon as you hear the horn. Stop your watch as soon as you see any body part touch the wall. You will need to be up to the edge of the pool to see the touch of the swimmer. You can step back from the edge of the pool to get the beginning time, but you must be at the edge of the pool to stop the time when hand or body contact is made at the edge of the pool for the finish of the race. It is not the timer’s responsibility to make any call to appropriate type of touch to finish the race. That is the stroke judge’s responsibility.

You will be in a lane with a total of three timers. If you are in a home lane you will have one Dolphin and two visitor timers. If you are in a visitor lane, you will have two Dolphin Timers and one visitor timer.

The times on the lane timers should be within a tenth or so of each other. If you have a fast time, you might be slow on the start, or if you have the longest time, your reaction at the finish might be delayed. You will eventually get synchronized with the other timers in your lane.

If you should miss the start of the race, call for a BACK-UP TIMER. If your watch mal-functions YELL for a BACK-UP TIMER. Back-up timers get the beginning of each start of a race. Their watches are always ready.

If you are thirsty or need a break, notify the RUNNER for your time sheets. There will be water at the corner of the pool edges and there will also be water runners to bring you water. Please ask if water hasn’t come quickly enough. Please ask a runner to have someone deliver water. We want to care for our timers!


If you have never timed before, you might not want to be the recorder. The meets move fast and the time/recorder is very busy. Ask one of the other timers to do this.

On the score pads record the team (our home pads are colored, home is white and the visitors is Yellow), swimmers(s) numbers, heat number, lane and event. On relays be sure to record each swimmer’s numbers as they enter and exit their part of the race. Timers work together to help the score pad keeper. In the case that an opposite team should swim in your lane, be sure to note a team difference on the sheet, because the color won’t flag the right team.

If a watch has three decimal points, only record two decimal points and drop the third number. Do not round it.

Always have three times recorded. Remember these times determine the placement of the swimmers race. A hundredth of a second will make differences. Use the back-up timers if you are not sure your watch is working for a race.

After the race is completed listen to the announcer to see if any swimmer has been disqualified – DQ. If you have a swimmer in your lane that has been DQ’d write DQ across the score sheet in large letters. 3 times should be recorded even if it is a DQ (participation).

If you do not have a swimmer in our lane for an event, write NS (no swimmer) on your score sheet for that heat. The score table must have a time sheet for every lane in every race whether or not you have a swimmer. Record the lane, event and heat and write NS across the sheet.

If the starter is moving a bit too fast for you to complete your recording and starting your watch for the next race, tell the starter to slow down. Just raise your hand and let the starter know. The starter needs to know this.

The recorder who completes a swimmers sheet should pass the time sheet to another timer in their lane so that they can get the next swimmer’s sheet prepared. That timer who is now holding the time sheet of the just finished race will pass the time sheet onto a runner who will bring the full heat race of time sheets to the scoring table.

This should give you a good briefing on timing. There are always questions, so just ask. Thanks for taking the time to read this. This will help you to be a great Dolphin timer!

Time away…..

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