When a swim team wants to hold meets, looking at a quote for what is needed can be daunting. However, swim meets can be quite affordable.
There is a difference between products that are required and products that can be used to run a swim meet. Teams can run an efficient and effective meet with very basic equipment. Adding to that basic equipment can help the meet run more smoothly and supply interest for the spectators and the swimmers.
Choosing a Timing System
At the bare minimum, a swim meet needs a system for recording times. The most affordable version of this is:
- Two stopwatches and two volunteers per lane.
- Someone to collect the times.
- Someone to record the times, places and score the meet.
It is affordable, but this system also relies heavily on human volunteers who can be hard to come by.
The next step up from stopwatches is a semi-automatic timing system. This usually includes:
- A computer with software for collecting, recording and tabulating the times.
- Two or three backup buttons per lane.
- A starting device.
- A cable to connect everything.
In this system, the starting device starts the race and the time automatically. The race finishes in each lane when volunteer pushes the backup button. The times go automatically to the timing computer to record and score the event.
From there, one can add touchpads to make the system fully automatic. The touchpads hang on the wall in each lane and connect to the deck cable, along with a single backup button in each lane. This system reduces the number of volunteers needed in each lane from two to one, as well as taking the timer’s human reaction time out of the swimmer’s recorded time.
What About a Scoreboard?
Once you have your timing system, you can add on the bells and whistles. The biggest decision is typically which scoreboard to purchase. There are options out there from a one-line, numeric-only scoreboard to an 8-foot-by-14-foot or larger video matrix board that displays a scoreboard, as well as a live or recorded video feed.
Which type of scoreboard to purchase depends on the budget, as well as how the pool is used. If the pool is only used for the swim team, a numeric-only LED board will give more than enough information for the spectators and swimmers during the meet. If the pool is used for more than just the occasional swim meet, then a video board is a wise investment. Video boards are flexible and allow users to run movie nights, presentations, advertising and much more when there is not a swim meet happening.
EXTRA CREDIT: Watch “How a Scoreboard is an Investment” here.
Additional items like relay judging pads, remote start devices, programmable pace clocks, under block speakers and other things are nice to have but not strictly necessary. Many people find starting with a smaller semi-automatic timing system frees up the volunteers to just watch the meet. This, in turn, encourages them to help fundraise for a touchpad system so fewer volunteers are needed. Timing systems can be built up over time, from basic to very complex.