It’s that time of the year when swim parents face some serious choices: concession stand or event timing, split recording or raffle ticket shilling, ribbon writing or hiding in the bathroom so the volunteer coordinator doesn’t find you and make you wait out front for the pizza delivery guy. Summer-league swimming is a machine that runs on volunteerism, and the sooner you figure out what you can tolerate, the more sane you’re likely to be by the end of the meet.
In the past, I’ve usually volunteered to write up what gets posted on the team’s Web site (schedules, directions to meets, meet summaries, and step-by-step instructions for how to put a swim cap on for all our newbie parents). This year I decided to take a break from the writing (due in no small part to the fact that we’re avoiding too much contact with one of the summer coaches who stiffed us $419 in USS team tuition – long, sordid story there). So instead I’m concession-standing it. I’d like to think I’m helping the team every time I talk a kid out of that second chili dog, 10 minutes before his or her next swim.
Mr. Coach usually gets commandeered to run the timing system at home meets which only makes sense since he’s the only one who really understands how it works, though he’s been trying to train other people so he can see Little Mr. Coach swim occasionally.
Neither one of us volunteers for backup timing duties because we know what a few hours of standing on a concrete pool deck will do to your legs. Nothing good, I can tell you. Likewise with running the cards on which the event hand-times are jotted down, back and forth to the folks working the timing system console. One mom who swam competitively often volunteers to be a stroke judge, but she rarely DQs anyone, least of all her own flutter-kicking butterflyer child. And then there are always the parents who volunteer to do backup timing but only for the lanes their kids are swimming in. But that’s why there’s at least two adults working each lane.
Yes, summer-league volunteering is a carefully choreographed dance of mixed motivations and even more mixed results. Yet somehow in the end it all works and, of course, the kids never realize how much work goes into making their meets happen.