The Announcer: A Referee’s Secret Weapon to Running an Effective Meet
By Sam Kendricks
Sam has worked as an announcer at many USA Swimming meets including: Sectionals, Grand Prix, Nationals and Olympic Trials
Whether you are the referee for a local age group meet or working a sectional or zone meet, the announcer is a key to your meet’s success. A good announcer will help you to set the tone, stay on timeline and energize the athletes and the crowd. Energized swimmers and an involved crowd make a better meet.
Like most things in swimming, this doesn’t just happen. It takes some planning, and friendly and helpful communication between the announcer and the deck crew.
Here’s a checklist of the most important protocols that you should discuss before the meet:
- How the announcer, meet referee and deck referee(s) will interface with each other to insure a smooth and effective transition as events are introduced and then handed off to the referee
- Warm-up procedures and coordination with safety marshals, etc.
- Event introductions
- Start procedures, such as flyover starts
- Athlete introductions
- Music integration
- Results announcements
- Record information
- Safety & emergency protocols
- Materials (such as timelines, heat sheets and team abbreviations) needed by the announcer
Additionally, if the meet is a prelims / finals meet, you should make sure that you discuss:
- Swim-off procedures
- Scratches and intent to scratch
- Differences for specific A, B, C finals
- How to handle alternates
If you need to find a new announcer, you might want to consider an experienced current or former coach, or even an official. They typically make excellent announcers as they understand the nuances of swim meets and understand how to work with officials better than most anyone else.