Helpful Tips for Organizing Swim Team Volunteers

swim team organize volunteers free meetsSwim meets require a large volunteer staff. In fact, a typical swim meet takes over 40 parents to time, officiate, announce, run the snack bar, score, set up, tear down--the list goes on. There is a job to fit the availability and talent of every parent on the team--before, during or after meets.

A commitment from the families of the swimmers is essential to ensuring the meet runs as smoothly and as fairly as possible. When all families pitch in and help, no individual or family will be over-burdened. Help your swim season run more smoothly with these tips for organizing volunteers.

1. Communicate the team's expectations before the season begins.
Parents need to know what they are getting into before the season starts. They should understand that all parents are expected to volunteer. This allows them to arrange their schedules and figure out how they can contribute to the swimming program.

Most teams ask parents to volunteer at a certain number of meets. For those parents whose jobs prohibit them from being at the meet, there should be volunteer duties that don't require attendance at meets. For instance, someone has to shop for snack bar supplies, or manage t-shirt or sweatshirt sales.

Coordinate swim team volunteers with SignUpGenius.  SAMPLE

2. Define swim meet jobs and make sign-ups easy.
SignUpGenius provides the perfect solution for scheduling meets and volunteers. A swim team coach or team parent can easily create free online sign-up sheets with the team's logo or a swim team photo at SignUpGenius. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for parents to sign up and access important information.

Be sure job descriptions are included on the sign up form so parents can choose a job they feel comfortable with as their volunteer position. SignUpGenius will send email reminders to parents who signed up to help.  Check out this great SignUpGenius Swim Team Volunteer Sign Up Sample.

3. Make newcomers feel welcome.
Plan a parent meeting--perhaps a cookout or potluck--to welcome new families to the team. In sports like track or swimming where there are several dozen or more participants, it's easy for newbies to feel lost and unsure of what is expected of them.

Be sure coaches, swimmers and veteran parents introduce themselves. Provide a flyer with info on parking, drop-off and pick-up locations, practice etiquette, food rules, and a detailed schedule of the season's meets. It's always better to over communicate with parents, rather than say too little and leave them with questions.

With the many hours they spend together, swim team families start to feel like a large family. Make sure newcomers feel welcomed into that family. Provide a roster so parents can arrange to carpool, and pair up new parents with veteran parents. This helps new parents mix in and also ensures that the jobs are done correctly. Encourage other family members to help out--siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents.

4. Schedule some fun.
Swimmers and their parents who put in long hours and work hard should be rewarded with some fun every now and then. You can either surprise the athletes or post a special invite through SignUpGenius.

  • Substitute pizza for practice one day.
  • Serve ice cream cones after practice.
  • Turn practice into a pool party with water games.
  • Take a field trip to a local water park.
  • Plan a bang-up end-of-the-year party with SignUpGenius. Assign this job to 2-3 parents at the beginning of the season to avoid last-minute scrambling and assure a quality party.

Plan your swim team end-of-season banquet with SignUpGenius. SAMPLE

5. Show Apprectiation for coaches and head volunteers
You will want to keep as many of the big helpers for the next season as you can.  Make sure to thank the coaches and any key volunteers that helped make the season a success.  

6. Always get feedback from parents.
There's no doubt you will hear from unhappy parents during the season, but there are also some parents who have constructive criticism that could help the team run more smoothly next year. At the year-end party, provide a feedback form or survey. Learn from mistakes, and always look for ways to make meets run more smoothly.

Janis Meredith writes Jbmthinks, a blog on sports parenting and youth sports. After being a coach's wife for 27 years and a sports parent for 17, she sees issues from both sides of the bench.