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Volunteering and Job Descriptions

We count on your help all season long and appreciate your time! Thank you for volunteering with the Dolphins!

General Questions about Volunteering

Descriptions of Volunteer Jobs

Are there volunteer requirements?

Yes. Any family who has a swimmer participating in a home meet must provide one volunteer for one shift of that meet (that is, first half or second half).

You are welcome to volunteer for multiple shifts in a single meet if you like; however, you will still be required to provide a volunteer for all future home meets in which your child swims.

How many volunteers are needed for home meets?

It takes more than 50 volunteers to run a home swim meet. So when we say we need your help to make the home meets happen, we really mean it!

Fortunately, there's a variety of jobs and they're all fun and easy to learn, so there's sure to be something for everyone.

Are Dolphins volunteers needed for away meets?

Yes. We are required to provide some of the Timers, Clerk of Course workers, and Stroke and Turn Officials for away meets. Please consider volunteering!

How do I sign up to volunteer?

You can sign up to volunteer when you sign your swimmer(s) up for their meets. After you sign up for a meet, click the volunteer tab and select the job and shift you want. Some jobs require prior training; however, the vast majority do not and you’ll be given instructions on the job.

Will I be able to see my child swim if I’m volunteering?

Yes. Depending on your job, such as Timers and Officials, you may have an excellent view of the pool the entire time. If your job takes you farther from the pool, such as concessions sales or ribbon writing, feel free to coordinate with the other volunteers in your area to take turns briefly stepping away during your swimmers’ events.

How long is my shift?

First half shifts last from event 1 through event 40. Second half shifts last from event 41 through 80. Please wait until the second half worker arrives before leaving your job.

Please note that even if your child is finished swimming their events before the half ends you are required to stay in your volunteer job until the end of the half.


When do I check in for my shift?

All volunteers must check in at the following times (and please state if you are a first or second half worker):

4:00 check in

  • Concessions Set Up
  • Swimmer Check In

5:00 check in

  • Clerk of Course
  • Computer Assistant
  • Concessions Sales
  • Concessions/General Meet Clean Up
  • Event Board Tracker
  • General Clean Up
  • Head Timer
  • Heat Winner Ribbons
  • Meet Clean Up
  • Place Judge
  • Ribbon Writer
  • Runner
  • Stroke and Turn Official
  • Timer
  • Water Runner

Second half volunteers should try to check in by 5:00 or as soon as possible. This helps our Volunteer Coordinator know if anyone is missing so we can find a replacement and keep the meet running. If your availability changes prior to the meet, please let us know as soon as possible.

Timers, Head Timers, and Officials will all need to attend a brief meeting in the minutes before the meet starts. Second shift workers should attend this meeting as well. Listen for announcements about the time and location of these meetings (usually near the ribbons table/announcer stand).

For those with second-half shifts:
Due to the busy nature of a swim meet, you are responsible to pay attention to when the first half of the meet ends (after event 40) and report to your work area a few minutes before the second half begins so you can ask questions and know exactly what your job entails.

Shift change is informal: please don’t wait to be called, just go directly to your work location, walk up to one of the first-half workers, and let them know you are their replacement.

May I use my cell phone during my shift?

The Oakwood Dolphins follow USA Swimming and Safe Sport guidelines regarding cell phone use by volunteers. This is to ensure the safety of all swimmers and to ensure timers are not distracted when they are working.

If your job has you behind the blocks (i.e., timer, head timer, official, runner, clerk of course) you may not have your phone out at any time. This includes even "quick checks" of messages or scrolling.

You may keep your phone in your pocket. If you are timing and receive a call or text that you must take, immediately signal the head timer to take your spot and leave the area to take your call or respond to your text. You must move completely our of the area behind the blocks before using your phone.

Reminders of this policy will be given prior to the meet and during the meet, if necessary. Those who fail to follow the policy will be removed from their job.


Descriptions of Volunteer Jobs


Each lane has its own Timer who uses a handheld digital stopwatch to time swimmers. You will receive a clipboard with each event and swimmer listed for your lane, a pen, manual stopwatch, and electronic timing button.

Timers may not have phones out while behind the blocks - no exceptions! See our safety policy for details.

Be prepared to get wet! You will stand at the finishing end of the pool and document swimmer times. You will attend a brief meeting prior to the start of meet and will be shown how to work the stopwatch and given specific instructions on how to do this job including:

  • Starting your watch when the strobe light flashes (not the buzzer).
  • Leaning over the edge to observe exactly when any part of the swimmer’s body touches the wall. Do not estimate or anticipate the touch. You will need to bend forward and look straight down so you see the actual touch and press both the stopwatch and electronic timing buttons simultaneously.
  • Writing the swimmer’s complete time on the sheet including minutes, seconds, and tenths and hundredths of seconds. Do not round or omit any numbers.


  • Writing legibly but quickly - the next event will start right away.
  • Handing completed timer sheets to the Runner as they pass your lane to collect them.
  • Signaling the Head Timer immediately if your watch malfunctions, stops, or if you miss the start.

***Second half Timers- if you cannot make it to the meeting prior to the start of the meet, you can get information when you arrive. Please find a Parent Rep to help you if needed.

Head Timer

The Head Timer serves as a backup for lane Timers by starting two stopwatches and letting them run for the duration of each heat. Stand behind the blocks where you will have a clear view of all the Timers. If a Timer signals they need a backup watch, the Head Timer walks to that land to exchange watches.

The Head timer may not have a phone out while behind the blocks - no exceptions! See our safety policy for details.


Place Judge

As a Place Judge you will sit directly at the finish end of the pool and observe the order in which swimmers finish. You’ll have slips of paper on which to record the order. You’ll need to observe and write quickly and be prepared to hand slips to the Runner as they pass by to collect them.

The purpose of this job is to provide a secondary record of finishing order in the event of stopwatch malfunctions, etc.

Concessions Sales

This job includes selling snacks and beverages to customers including:

  • Light food handling (e.g., baked potatoes, hot dogs with chili, pizza).
  • Replenishing stock and keeping pans of ice filled for cold foods as needed.
  • Adding up totals and making change.
  • Keeping close watch on the cash box is also critical. The cash box must never be left unattended.

Only adults are permitted in the Concessions work area please. The person taking money should not also handle food, there should be enough volunteers to divide up the work.

Concessions/General Meet Clean Up

Clean up workers help to pack up and clean up the pool area after the meet. Concessions clean up workers help pack up food and supplies and take the tent down. General meet clean up workers take down signs, return chairs and tables to their spots, and gather any trash or items left behind.

These are physical jobs. Swimmers and siblings may assist parent volunteers with this work; however, for safety purposes, parent volunteers must be present and working during clean up.

Ribbon Writer

You will assist the Ribbons Chair in preparing the ribbons for the swimmers and filing them in the family folders. As the meet progresses you will receive sheets of labels for place and participation ribbons (there is no actual writing involved). You will keep track of and label the ribbons and file them if time permits.

You will also label and gather all ribbons for the visiting team, then give them to their parent rep or coaches at the end of the meet.


Two Runners will coordinate to collect the completed timing sheets from each Timer, organize them in lane number order, and deliver them to the Head Scorer. You will also collect slips from the Place Judge(s) and Stroke and Turn Officials and deliver these to the Head Scorer.

Runners may not have phones out while behind the blocks - no exceptions! See our safety policy for details.

**If we are short on Timers you may be moved from this job to timing. The meet can run with only one Runner if necessary but not with Timers missing. Thanks for your understanding.

Clerk of Course

Clerk of Course workers will help organize the swimmers for their races. The announcer calls swimmers to report to Clerk of Course about 3 to 5 events ahead of time. You will check the heat sheet for each heat of each event. Ask the swimmers their names, verify their event, heat, and lane, and line them up in the chairs and along the wall. Please make sure the swimmers move up in line in order as events progress.

Note that some heats will include empty lanes, so be sure to double check that swimmers are not stepping up to the blocks for the wrong heat or event.

Clerk of course workers may not have phones out while behind the blocks - no exceptions! You will be given paper heat sheets to work with. See our safety policy for details.


Event Board Tracker

This job includes keeping the event number board up to date quickly throughout the meet to help the swimmers know when to report for their races. The event board tracks both the current event number as well as the highest event number that has been called to Clerk of Course to that point.

event tracker sign

For example in the picture above, if event 12 is in the water, the current event side (black numbers) will say 12. If events 31 through 34 are to report to Clerk of Course, that side (red numbers) will say 34. This job requires listening closely to the announcer.

Heat Winner Ribbons

Heat winner ribbon volunteers hand these coveted ribbons directly to the heat winners in all events, in all heats except the first heat (the winner of the first heat will receive a first place ribbon in their folder after the meet). Heat winner ribbons are given directly to the winning swimmer immediately after the heat is completed.

Please stand to one side of the finishing end of the pool so you have a clear view of which swimmer touches first. Viewing from the side is the most accurate.

Heat Winner Ribbons are not labeled with names or event information.

Swimmer Check-In

You will be given a list of Dolphins swimmers participating in the meet and a highlighter. Sit at the table by the diving boards and check off swimmers as they tell you their names. When everyone has checked in (or when warm ups start), give the list to the coaches so they can plan for relays and any last minute changes.

Note that only Dolphins swimmers check in at the table. The visiting team’s swimmers will check in with their coaches.

Computer Assistant

You'll assist the Head Scorer with compiling and recording heat results. You will receive timer sheets, DQ slips, and place judge slips from the Runner, then check that the timer sheets in lane order and give them to the Head Scorer. You may be asked to read numbers or do other clerical tasks.

Water Runner

You will deliver bottled water to deck workers at specified times during the meet. Begin by filling a lightweight caddy with bottled water from the coolers at concessions (multiple trips may be required). This position is responsible for keeping track of events and walking around to all deck workers to offer water:

  • On or around event 15 (midway through first half)
  • On or around event 60 (midway through second half)
  • On especially hot days, more frequent trips may be necessary

Water bottles are offered to the following deck workers:

  • Timers and Head Timer
  • Officials
  • Coaches (both teams)
  • Announcer/starter, Referee, and Place Judge

Stroke and Turn Officials

Stroke and Turn Officials must attend a training session, which we will hold prior to the first meet. During meets, Officials observe swimmers’ strokes. Prior swim team experience or a personal swimming background is not required.

Wearing a white shirt is helpful but not required.

Officials positioned behind the blocks may not have phones out while behind the blocks - no exceptions! You will be given a paper heat sheet to work with. See our safety policy for details.

Parent Rep

If your family values summer swim, if your children have grown to love swimming because of their time with the Dolphins, or if you just enjoy being part of an Oakwood tradition, Parent Rep is the job for you! If you’re interested in helping to lead our team, please talk to one of the current Parent Reps to learn more.

There are additional opportunities to get involved with team leadership in specific roles. Many of the jobs can be “tag team” positions that you can share with a friend to divide up the workload. Please ask a Parent Rep for more information if you’re interested!


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