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SwimTopia Summer Series: Key Player Parent Volunteers

Summer season 2022 is under way and we’re all embracing the glorious chaos! If you are a parent volunteer, you’re already in the thick of the action: arriving early at meets (a.k.a. The Crack of Dawn) for setup, darting here and there to gather kiddos for the ready bench, scrutinizing every race as a stroke judge, marking event/heat/lane grids on athletes’ arms. It’s a lot. 

If you are what we call a Key Player parent volunteer (meet director, volunteer coordinator, head timer, trained official, etc.), you’re shouldering even more responsibility. It is these Key Player volunteers that keep all the moving parts succinctly interlocked and moving smoothly.  For those interested in transitioning to one of these Key Player roles (or wondering which role might be their best fit), look no further! 

SwimTopia spoke to two of our own about their experiences as Key Player parent volunteers: Customer Happiness Specialists, Megan Hubbard and Amy Bedford. With years of experience in keeping swim meets running with precision, they tell all below!

Q: What Key Player volunteer positions have/are you serving?

Megan:  I have been a board member both for summer and high school swim. I have also been a trained official for both—referee, starter, stroke and turn judge, and data entry specialist. 

In addition to that, in the year-round capacity, I was a USA Swimming Trained official, serving as stroke and turn judging, chief judge, starter, and as an administrative official (timing judge, time recorder)

Amy: I worked for the Steiner Stars Red summer league team in Austin, Texas! I was involved in meet prep for two years, was my team’s volunteer coordinator for three years and team coordinator/board member for four years. My newest venture is meet director—this will be my first year with that role! 

I just finished two years on our high school team’s board and have also run our high school meets’ computers. I have also served as meet director for our high school team.  It’s funny—I am more than willing to organize meets (and even put out fires!) but don’t ask me to time…I hate timing!!  

Q: Could you talk a little bit about a “day in the life” on meet day?

Megan: Day of, I arrive about two hours pre-meet to start setting the pool up, answering questions, and checking in on data/announcer/set—up crew and our volunteer coordinator. I will then chat with the referee and join the officials meeting to make sure we are all on the same page. Once the meet starts, you’ll find me as the starter!

My husband runs the data table so, after the meet ends, I assist with clean-up and then wait by the data table until everything there is completed. I confirm team scores and ensure that all information was sent to the correct places.

Amy:  Honestly, I always joke that the Team Coordinator position is the best! You get such a workout—there were many meets where I logged over 18,000 steps just from running around and ensuring all puzzle pieces came together!  

Q: What do the days leading up to a meet look like (in terms of preparation)?

Megan: A few days prior, I send communications to the team with reminders to declare their swimmers for the meet and sign up for volunteer jobs.  I touch base with the opposing team’s reps to verify we have all the key meet information.  Night before the meet, I merge the meet entries, print heat sheets, and post heat sheets online.  As the full-time website manager, I am also responsible for updating our site re: upcoming events.

Amy: My job was a bit like event planning for a 1000 person shindig every Saturday.  Lots of communication with coaches, volunteer coordinators, computers and equipment specialists (and everyone in between) and then relaying all pertinent information to our families/swimmers. 

Q: What drew you to your current position?

Megan: I don’t like to be idle and I find that volunteering gets you closer to the pool and more engaged with swimmers and parents!  I accidentally fell into my responsibilities when the majority of our swim board moved (we live in a highly transient community due to a high concentration of military families) and I ended up becoming Team President.  

For year-round swimming, I started as a stroke and turn judge and, over time, was invited to train for higher level positions.

Amy: They had me with the promise of a parking spot!! On a serious note, one season I was approached to take the meet prep position. This was a job that I could do mainly at home, leaving me free on meet day (this was great because I had a two year-old at the time!).  

It simply evolved from there with me holding board and key volunteer positions ever since! 

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of being a Key Player volunteer?

Megan: The heat!!! Summer swim is HOT. Virginia is HUMID!  I am sweating like a crazy person for these meets! 

Also, most of the chaos is due to everything happening in such a short period of time. There are so many moving parts to keep running simultaneously.

Amy: Never having a meet day “off.”

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Key Player volunteer?

Megan: Helping the swimmers!!  I love knowing that, by volunteering, I am creating a fun and memorable experience for them.

Amy: I have loved meeting so many amazing people. Many of them I would have never crossed paths with otherwise! I also enjoy supporting our coaches—they do so much for my kids and  it feels good to give back to them!  

Q: Do you have any advice for parents just starting a Key Player role or trying to decide which role is best for them?

Megan: My suggestion is to just get in there! This is summer swim and it’s all about making it a fun time for the kids. Head timer is a good place to start, considering most parents end up timing anyway.  From there, assisting at the clerk of course or the data table. You will learn a lot in those roles, as the parents in charge of those positions rely heavily on assistants.  

Amy: I recommend trying everything at least once! You’ll be surprised how easy it is to find what works for you!  

There you have it folks, right from the mouths of SwimTopia’s very own! Summer swim provides almost limitless ways for parents to get involved. So, get out there and find that perfect role for you!