On Sunday I attended my first swim meet in about 20 years because Miss10’s was competing. Bronze medal in the backstroke – just saying.
I had been a regular at swim meets in my youth – not as a swimmer myself clearly but as an avid supporter and timekeeper when called upon – attending up to two a week as my brother was quite the athlete in his day. This sentence is purely for context and to establish my credibility further along in the piece.
An hour into the event, one of the organisers frantically called for additional time keepers. I immediately volunteered The Artist and sent him off with cap in hand and a solid pat on the arse. The cap for the sun and the pat on the arse for encouragement.
Mid-way through the proceedings they called a 15 minute recess at which point I went to socialise with The Artist and some family friends. I can’t remember when, but during this exchange, The Artist handed me the stopwatch and said it was time for me to take over. I asked whether I needed to be anywhere specific and was told not to worry about it – there were plenty of time keepers and that it wasn’t important. So I worked the pool, stopping to chat to various people before settling with my friend Daniella on the far side of the water. Having left my mobile phone in my handbag up in the stands I proceeded to examine the time keeping device and wondered how it worked. It was not the traditional one that a person would expect. The reset button appeared to be faulty but it stopped and started just fine. Multiple times. It looked like it could launch a space shuttle if necessary.
Eventually I began to wonder when the bloody hell we were going to get going again – it had been well over 15 minutes I must just tell you. And the weather looked to be turning.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I noticed The Artist frantically hauling it down the stands and yelling what appeared to be “they’re all waiting for you”. He was creating quite a commotion. It was then that I saw about ten rows of children lining up to get into the water and annoyed looking officials stomping and harrumping on the far side of the pool. This was not enough to motivate me to move because I honestly thought he was joking. He does have a strange sense of humour admittedly. However, when a friend of mine (working in an official capacity) hauled me 100m across the side of the pool in front of the waiting crowd to join the rest of the time keepers spitting under her breath that we were working against the clock because the rain clouds were gathering and something about me holding up the whole event it started to dawn on me that perhaps The Artist was not joking. Sloppy handover of duties Sir.
And now you’re going to learn something new, I hope. In this very sophisticated day and age it takes three time keepers to record one lane of swimming. Three! I was number three for Lane 3 and no-one it seemed was amused at my tardiness. Particularly Johnny and Steven – number one and two for Lane 3. In addition to me being MIA there appeared to have been a problem with the stopwatches in our lane. You see everything is digital – it practically runs itself and is sophisticated and computerised (it’s about one button short of launching that aforementioned space shuttle). The head clockwatcher had come out of the official hut or whatever its called to yell at them repeatedly to stop touching the buttons on the watches as they were buggering up the whole timekeeping system. They swore blind to her that they hadn’t touched a thing but she was not buying what they were selling. I don’t think I’ll forget the look on their faces when I told them that perhaps I thought it might have been me testing the equipment to see how it worked. Johnny seemed stuck on saying “you’re joking Lauren. Seriously? You’re joking”. Unfortunately not – similar to The Artist not joking that 200 people were waiting for me to make my way over to Lane 3 and be the third official time keeper.
It wasn’t so much smooth sailing or swimming as it was thereafter. We won’t talk about the pushy father who accosted me to ask whether I knew what I was doing. His daughter was swimming in my lane. Doubting Thomas Bastard. Even though he had been lurking on the side and had overheard my conversation about the mucking around with the timing device – how rude!
And here are some other things you should know if you are one of three official timekeepers for a championship event:
- It is not a competition between you and your fellow timekeepers to see who hits the button first and gets the best time.
- Even though timekeeper number 1 has not had his hair blow-dryed to perfection the day before it might be pushing the friendship to demand his hat when the rain starts coming down. (He gives it to you by the way. It does not match your outfit)
- Do not shout at the swimmer in your lane when he hits the wall with a flourish and wets your sandals.
- Do not throw your hands up in the air after the last race and ask if it was too much to ask that your lane had one winner the whole day.
- And yes – if you have any aspirations in the pool – avoid that Lane 3 like the plague.
Love and Light