7 of the Best Parent Volunteer Jobs at Swim Meets

by SwimSwam Contributors 19

March 30th, 2018 News

by Elizabeth Wickham

Parent volunteers are crucial to the success of meets. Meets not only raise money for your children’s team, but they may be the major source of fundraising. So, even if your child isn’t swimming in a particular meet, you may be required to volunteer because you’re reaping the rewards of the money raised.

Through my years as a swim mom, I’ve worked different jobs at meets. Some I loved, and others not so much. There’re many positions and it’s easy to find one that fits your personality. One of the best things about volunteering is the camaraderie and bonding between parents who are giving their time and effort for something bigger than themselves.

Here are the different jobs I’ve volunteered at:

One

Snack Bar

My first swim meet in 2001 I found myself making fruit bowls and selling breakfast burritos. I found the fellow snack bar volunteers to be friendly, welcoming and I count these parents as some of my best friends today. The downside is standing on your feet for hours and hours. But there’s always something to do and the time will pass quickly interacting with the public.

Two

Runner

When I graduated from newbie snack bar parent I was asked to work “under the tent” in admin, first as a runner. It was my job to race back and forth from the printer to the awards and posting board with heat sheets and results. I loved the work and at the time I could race back and forth nonstop for hours on end.

Three

Head Timer

I often signed my dad up for this job. As a former swimmer, he loved to watch his grandkids swim, and sitting in a chair clicking stopwatches with the best view in the house was perfect. I’ve done it many times, and any timing chair is a fun place to watch swimming for your shift.

Four

Clerk of Course

This is one job I didn’t care for, but it’s so important. The Clerk is responsible for check-in and the seeding of all events. There’s no time to walk around and chat, and you feel the responsibility and pressure for the meet to run smoothly. No thank you. I do have friends that love this position and their effort and hours are appreciated by everyone.

Five

Awards

I found my home in awards for many years. Quietly tucked away from the hubbub of the meet, but within view of the races, I sat with good friends and put stickers on ribbons and medals. The downside of this job was trying to figure out how many ribbons we had left over and how many new ones to order. It’s a detailed task that has to be done months in advance of a meet.

Six

Check-in

This job only lasts for a short time and is done while sitting down. It can be hectic for a short bit and then it’s over. The best part is getting to talk with all the athletes and wish them a great day.

Seven

Marshal

Depending on the meet, marshaling and wearing a neon vest can be fun or a headache. I think at championship meets where kids and parents are more experienced makes this job a joy. I marshaled recently and never once did I have to tell kids to stop running on deck or tell parents to get out from behind the “swimmers only area.” At a meet with younger swimmers and new families, I kept busy telling parents to get out from behind the blocks and keeping children safe in the warmup lanes.

One tip about volunteering I heard from an official, “Put the cell phone down.” Parents who volunteer often get distracted while they’re on their cell phones texting, talking, or checking out FB.

Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, and quite frankly you may not have a choice to volunteer if it’s a team requirement. Whether we’re volunteering from the goodness of our hearts, or because we have to, we can show our kids by example that it’s good for our community to volunteer—and we enjoy giving back to the sport that is shaping our children’s lives.

What jobs are your most favorites at meets?

Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

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Tom S
4 years ago

Great article about the importance of volunteers. However, don’t forget about Stroke and Turn Officials. There is a lot of comradely amongst officials. On deck for the meets. I’ve enjoyed my time volunteering as an official. A little extra effort to get certified, but well worth it.

Swim Mom WI
4 years ago

For 12 years the only job I did was timing. I met some great people, learned some awesome swim parenting advice, and was able to help other swim parents in later years. It kept my nerves in check and allowed me to be surrounded by great energy. It also kept me away from the sometimes negative swim gossip and gave me a front row seat to some pretty amazing moments. Not to mention it keeps you out of the hot, crowded stands during those packed winter championship meets!

Cross Daddy
4 years ago

Love this; I always tell people there is a role for every type of parent!! I personally officiate, but my wife loves runner. I used to really like clerk, because I got to spend time with the kids and they have so much positive energy:)

Chooch
4 years ago

Not a swim parent, but recently helped out at a YMCA Zone meet (I swim Masters). Worked awards table on the last day of the meet. Great because it was away from the noise and in an air conditioned space. Folks I was working with had kids in the meet, so they were able to sneak out and watch while I covered the table. Only challenging part was toward the end of the day when the coaches began hovering like vultures waiting for the last events to be awarded. A couple were downright rude. Finally put up a sign saying which event we had completed so they would stop asking.

Harold Epps
4 years ago

So long as we were with our girls, the best job was always ANY job at the Mission Viejo Nadadores.

Pineapple
4 years ago

I always tried to be the clerk, of course

Debbie Lane
5 years ago

This was a great article but you forgot two very important volunteer positions that if not filled, you can’t have a meet. The officials and lane timers. Without them, there is no meet.

jeff
5 years ago

Runner is the best, you are able to watch you kid swim and still socialize! ????