Q: I want to help. What are the responsibilities of the RSTA Equipment Committee?

A: Admission to the RSTA Equipment Committee is highly selective (not) and requires great stamina (nope) and the expenditure of significant cognitive energy by it's members (again, not even close). If you're considering even attempting to join this elite cadre you should know that the equipment committee has several responsibilities

  • Ensure the equipment is appropriately stored at the end of the season and is ready for each new season.
  • Develop the equipment rotation schedule.
  • Attend to the various emergent needs of the team equipment managers (TEMs) throughout the season.

Q: What is a “team equipment manager (TEM)" and what are the responsibilities?

A: TEMs is another of the "team jobs". Each team has one (or more) TEMs. TEMs are swim team parents who are selected by their teams to be responsible for the following. In general this means

  • being aware of the equipment rotation cycle and the TEM role in that cycle. 
  • working with the TEMs of other teams to ensure a seamless handoff of equipment between teams 
  • performing a complete inventory of the equipment every week and notify the equipment committee member if an important piece of equipment needs repair, replacement or replenishment
  • drying out meet flags, pinnys, chair covers, stop watches, starter and PA systems
  • ensuring that the electronics are stored in a climate-controlled area (this means not outside in a closet)

On Meet days this means

  • ensuring that the equipment gets to the meet and gets setup properly
  • ensuring the equipment is collected after a meet concludes, and that it is properly dried and inventoried

TEMs work at every meet

Q: Can you explain the equipment rotation?

A: RSTA has 4 sets of "rotating eqpt". One set of rotating equipment is required at every meet to help run the meet (but is not required for practice.) Each of the four sets moves (or rotates) from team to team, from one week to the next, in support of swim meets. RSTA has 9 teams, and each week one team has a BYE, leaving 8 teams to duke it out in 4 dual-meets, so we have 4 sets of rotating equipment. 

The equipment rotation schedule is developed by the Eqpt Committee and distributed to the TEMs and team managers. 

For the summer of 2014, each set of rotating eqpt will contain:

  • PA system
  • starter system

and only those things.

 

Q: The rotating equipment set used to be larger. What gives?

A: You're right! We're trying to give teams more ownership of the equipment. Once TEMs receive the equipment, they're really responsible for inventory, repair and replenishment. If something requires replacement or replenishment, see the "How do I inventory" question below. 

Q: Can you explain the difference between rotating equipment and team equipment?

A: There are four sets of rotating eqpt, and 9 sets of team equipment. The differences between team equipment and rotating eqpt are many and nuanced.

Rotating Eqpt 

  • rotates from team to team on a predetermined schedule
  • shepherded by TEMs and/or their minions (if you're a TEM, you're allowed as many minions as you need)
  • is checked for operational suitability at least once per week, by each TEM on each of the competing teams

Team Equipment

  • is given to a team at the start of a season, and remains with that team until the season concludes
  • is managed by the TEM and/or his or her minions
  • has many more items than rotating eqpt.

So, the single biggest difference between rotating and team equipment is that each team has their own set of the team equipment (hence the name "team equipment".)

We could have selected from many different names, like Teamausrüstung, stvari, or tím vybavenie, but we felt that "team equipment" was really the best all-around compromise. Here's the makeup of the Teamausrüstung for 2014

  • werkzeug, like tape measure, pliers, screwdrivers, etc
  • extension cords (2)
  • rope... yes... rope. 
  • pinnies (2). The little vest things that you wear to play soccer are called pinnies (singular is pinny). You get two pinnies for the meet marshalls. Officals who act as relay-take-off judges are required to wear white toob-sox pulled up to their ears. This is pretty distinctive so there's not a need for those extra pinnies for those ninnies. Only two are required.
  • clipboards (14) 
  • backstroke flags (2). One for each end of the pool
  • expendables, like colored tape, painters tape, a few extra stopwatch batteries, a couple of boxes of pencils and.... a mountain of printed forms
  • stopwatches (25)

Q: aha! the forms ARE in the equipment!

A: not a question, but yes. The following forms are in the eqpt

  • deck change request form (about a hundred)
  • relay takeoff DQ form (about 50)
  • DQ forms (about 500)

Q: How do I inventory the equipment?

A: Inventory sheets are available from several sources.

  • This website has an electronic version
  • Team Equipment Managers (TEMs) and Team Managers are provided electronic versions when the season began

If something is missing, you'll have to determine the urgency with which to pursue replacement and/or replenishment. You can

  • do without
  • for simple things like small hand-tools and expendables you can buy more and submit receipts for reimbursement. All of the forms are available in the Documents area of this website, under Equipment and can be reproduced in bulk at Staples in under a day. 
  • ask the Eqpt Committee, which may have replacements and extras. Arranging pickup is generally the most problematic issue. Also, if you select this option, please inquire as soon as possible (not Saturday AM).

The Eqpt Cmte has the following extras:

  • forms, a few tools
  • some spare parts for the starter (new speaker, mounting bracket, battery)
  • replacement stopwatches
  • pinnies

Q: How many stopwatches are in each equipment box?

A: There are 25 stopwatches; one for each timer in each lane (3 timers x 6 lanes=18 stopwatches), two for the head timer, two for the assistant head timer and 2 spare stopwatches.

Q: Why are there not more stopwatches in each equipment box?

A: The more stopwatches you have, the more you lose. 25 seems to be the magic number. 

Q: Can you suggest any “best practices” for team equipment managers.

A:

  • Always inventory the equipment as soon as you receive it. This will take you approximately 10 minutes. If you find something missing, call the equipment committee. Either the committee member will have a replacement for you at that time or they will provide you with one within the next several days. Please do not wait until Friday night or Saturday morning.
  • Dry out the equipment immediately. It's entirely OK to set wet items out in the sun to dry, provided they are secure.
  • Arrange the equipment exchange with the next team as soon as possible. Everyone has a different schedule and you'll need to make arrangements that work for both parties. 
  • Charge the electronic equipment the night before the meet. Once the equipment is charged, test it to ensure that it is working properly.
  • Store the electronic equipment in a climate controlled environment... like your house. That closet on the pool premises is not climate controlled. It has huge swings in humidty and temperature that don't curry favor with sensitive electronics. 

Q: How do I test the electronics?

A: The electronics that most urgently warrant testing are the electronic starter and PA systems. Here is some guidance to make sure that the starter will perform for the duration of the meet. 

System When Action
Electronic Starter

immediately after the swim meet

 

double-check that the unit is stored with the power switch in the OFF position. One or two days in the ON position can destroy the battery. 

  During the week prior to the meet

1. charge the battery to capacity. Some systems blink when charged, others stop blinking when charged. A good rule-of thumb is "whatever it does when I plug it in, it should do the opposite when it's finished"

2. once charged, test the microphone, starter horn and strobe by announcing wakeup time to your kids early in the AM. 

Please do not leave the charger plugged in all week, or even overnight. It should charge to capacity in 6-8 hours. Please make sure the starter is stored in a climate-controlled environment.

  the night before the meet charge the battery. It should reach full charge in less than 30 minutes. Again, overcharging should be avoided.
  the morning of the meet set it up, and demonstrate that the unit amplifies your voice and that the starter bonk is loud and accompanied by the blinding flash of a strobe light. Turn the unit off
PA System immediately after the swim meet

1. double-check that the unit is stored with the power switch in the OFF position. One or two days in the ON position can destroy the battery

2. double-check that the ipod to PA system connectors (cable and 1/4 to 1/8 stereo adaptors) are safely stored

  During the week prior to the meet

1. charge the battery to capacity. Again, system display conventions about state of charge vary from one system to the next. Most systems will say what you should expect to see when the system is fully charged. 

2. once charged, make sure that when you talk into the microphone, a loud version of your voice comes out of the big box. 

3. Double-check that you can play music from your ipod over the PA system. Coordinate with your managers to make sure *someone* has a Star Spangled Banner rendition on an ipod. 

Please do not leave the charger plugged in all week, or even overnight. It should charge to capacity in 6-8 hours.

Make sure the system is stored with the power switch in the OFF position, and in a climate-controlled environment.

  the night before the meet

charge the battery. It should reach full charge in less than 30 minutes. Again, overcharging should be avoided.

Make sure the system is stored with the power switch in the OFF position. 

  the morning of the meet

set it up, and demonstrate that when you talk into the microphone, a loud version comes out of the big box. 

Q. Some of this seems excessive. Is this really necessary?

A: You're right. Clearly these guidelines reflect an abundance of caution. For the more freewheeling among us, you should know that if the electronic starter fails (and the replacement isn't available), you'll have to "revert to manual", where your officials to yell "GO!" to start each heat. At some point in your life you'll be able to laugh about it. Of course, that day will be a real red-face day. 

Q: Is there anything else I should know?

A: Always make sure the starter and PA are turned off after a meet. The PA system can operate from an extension cord plugged into the wall. The starter system cannot. 

Q: What kinds of things are available for replacement?

A: Replacements generally fall into two broad categories

  • expendables: orange/pink marker tape, duct tape, DQ slips, deck-change forms. In previous years, the Eqpt committee has restocked the team eqpt boxes and had enough extras to help out during the season. This year is a little different.... you should purchase replacements on your own nickel, and submit forms to the league for reimbursement. Nancy Cole has a mountain of forms to start the season. If you need more forms at some point in the season, you can reach out to Nancy and get more, or download the template from the documents section of this website, print and copy as needed.. or get Staples to make more for you. 
  • hardware: we have extra stopwatches, a few extra electrical cords and some replacement parts for the starter. We have one extra PA system, and one extra starter system. 

Q: Whats the process for getting a replacement starter or PA system?

A: If it's on a Saturday AM, either before or after a meet, you'll contact your Board eqpt committee rep.

Any other time, you can arrange a time with the eqpt committee over email.

Q: I dont see anything about the computer and printer. What about those things?

A: It's true that the computer equipment is actually equipment, but it is not considered part of the equipment as in Eqpt Cmte eqpt. It's callers the Scorers equipment. or "Scorers box".

Q: I've lost my lane-line wrench. How do I get a new one?

A: First, reach out to the eqpt cmte. They may have an extra. In the likely event they do not, you'll have to purchase one. You'll be tempted to go to swimoutlet.com, and purchase a really slick one for $30 + shipping + a few days of delivery time. It's probably just easier going to Home Depot or the Sears tool store and getting a 'ratcheting 5/8" box-end wrench' for about $10. 

Q: We need new backstroke flags. Swim Outlet.com no longer carries these. Where can I get them?

A: First, reach out to the eqpt cmte. They may have an extra. In the likely event they do not, you'll have to purchase these. It's possible to spend $300 on backstroke flags. We will not reimburse you for these high-end flags... only the vinyl ones.... please buy the vinyl flags. Some places sell these in 65' and 100' lengths. Others sell only 100'. What you need depends on how wide your pool is. Here is some useful information to help guide your selection (which is generally ~$30/100')

  • LN, AN and NB are rectangular pools, 42' wide. Get two short flags if you can find them.
  • AW: 42' and 72' wide. 
  • LA: 46' and 72' wide
  • HW: 54' wide
  • GL: 44' and 61' wide
  • RH: 42' and 67' wide. 

Backstroke flags were purchased for the league in 2013 from swim2000.com. They have many colors but only 100'. 

Q: We just installed new backstroke flags. Now we have 40 extra feet of flag laying around. What about that?

A: First, make sure the length is right, then cut off the extra and throw it away. If you want, you can add snap-swivel hardware at the end of the flag to make it easier to attach. 

Q: Throw it away?

A: Yes. Just throw it away

Q: Don't you want it for spares?

A: No. Please. Throw it away. 

Q: We need new lane lines. Where can I get them?

A: These are quite expensive and are purchased by the league. Let the eqpt cmte know and one of us will pop over a take a peek. Purchases for these are planned about a year in advance. Most of the time we can fix whatever is wrong with them. Except the color. We cannot fix that. Also, no floats. We cannot fix that either. 

Q: Lane lines... what kinds of things can you fix?

A: We can get replacement cables in less than a week. You'll have to solicit parents to restring the floats, but with the right commitment, we can get it done in an hour or so. We also have some spare "ratcheting take-up reels". These can be replaced in about an hour. 

Q: If I decide to join the Equipment Committee, what kind of work might I be expected to perform?

A: First, there's plenty of work to do, and there are different types of jobs so everyone can contribute. Equipment Committee slots are highly sought after, and competition for these slots is fierce, so you really have to find the best trade-off between a job that resonates with you, and which is not already taken. In other words, it's mostly your choice.

Jobs generally fall into these categories:

  • administrative: record keeping, emailing/communicating, purchasing, scheduling... things like that
  • lifting:  moving equipment around, generally in the pre- and post-season. Some tasks happen later in the year... like the Fall or Winter
  • fixing: these jobs require a modest amount of, or willingness to repair, modify, alter and maintain equipment. 

Clearly, these are hats that can be worn by many, or a few. You can think of the year in the following terms:

  • pre-season: begins a few weeks before the first practice, ends the night of the first practice. Dedicated to preparing for the season, and communicating with the teams. It's probably safe to say this begins no earlier than the official announcement of the dual-meet schedules. 
  • in-season: begins with the first practice, and ends with the All Stars meet. Dedicated to our core-mission.... swim meets.
  • post-season: begins with all stars, ends when the equipment is in storage. Dedicated to making sure the eqpt is accounted for, it's state is known, and a plan is in place for bringing the eqpt into full operational readiness. 
  • off-season: begins at the end of post-season, and ends when pre-season starts. Dedicated to making sure all the eqpt is operational by the end of pre-season. Generally, we leave some of the really heavy lifting, time consuming, distracting work for this period. 

Q: Can you provide more detail on the administrative job category?

A: It looks like this is part two of a four-part question. Just so you know, this answer strives to be exhaustive, so it's not "a little more detail".... it's "all the details", or at least as many as I can recall. 

Pre-Season

  • use dual-meet schedule to develop equipment rotation schedule
  • update team eqpt box documentation. The contents of the box may change from one year to the next as policies/rules evolve. 
  • communications
    • email team managers, solicit names for TEMs. Maintain the list of TEMs for use throughout the season
    • communicate eqpt rotation schedule to managers at the pre-season managers meeting and separately in email
    • solicit PA reservations for the end-of-season parties
    • develop and maintain list of PA system reservations for the end-of-season pool parties
    • coordinate eqpt distribution to teams receiving the qpt first in the rotation
    • attend the pre-season managers meeting, explain new policies, remind expectations in-season, and post-season. Emphasize the need for finding a TEM. Explain that sand chairs are not on the critical path for a swim meet. Distribute the rotation schedule (again), distribute the eqpt list (again). 
    • develop race-day on-call schedule. For every Saturday with a dual meet, one person should be on-call to provide a spare starter, should the need arise. For emergencies only. Nice-to-have, but very optional.... until you need it.
  • forms:
    • work with rules cmte to integrate rules changes into the forms (like DQ slips, deck change forms... they change too from time to time)
    • determine whether or not to keep the old forms, or purchase all new ones. If the rules have changed, then you may have to discard the old ones, and start with all new ones. 
    • from usable leftovers in eqpt boxes, estimate how many of each type of form to copy/purchase
    • give forms to another Eqpt Cmte Member to stock in the team eqpt boxes.
  • purchasing
    • purchase copies of forms from Staples or your favorite office supply store. 
    • inventory expendables from team eqpt boxes, and eqpt stores/spares, purchase replenishments, handoff replenishments to another Eqpt Cmte mbr to stock in team eqpt boxes
    • pay for one more year of storage, a full year in advance (gets a free month). This currently 25% of the eqpt budget. 

 In-Season

  • answer questions about rotation schedule. Questions peak early in the season, drop off after the first few weeks.
  • coordinate eqpt-related tasking required for successful All Stars and IM meets
  • be available to distribute forms on an as-needed basis
  • at the end of the season, coordinate eqpt dropoffs with the designated person

Post-Season

  • send out an email to TEMs. Thanking them for their service
  • record the results of the eqpt inventory
  • develop a plan for replenishment, maintenance, upgrades and communicate the plan with the rest of the cmte
  • develop a budget for next year, communicate to the Board.

Off-Season

  • track progress against activities planned for off-season.
  • make reqd purchases, get receipts to accountant

Q: Can you provide more detail on the lifting job category?

The activities in this group could be co-mingled with those from the next group. There's only a subjective distinction between the two. 

A:  Pre-Season

  • distribute team equipment boxes to teams at the managers meeting
  • distribute rotating eqpt as specified by the schedule
  • keep the key to the storage facility

 In-Season

  • be available during the week to fix minor technical issues or supply replacements where they are available
  • support race-day on-call position, as specified in the plans.
  • setup, teardown and moving eqpt to/from the IM and All Stars meets
  • keep the key to the storage facility

Post-Season

  • retrieve the team and rotating eqpt sets and store them
  • perform complete eqpt inventory what needs to be replaced, what can be reused
  • plan eqpt maintenance for the off-season
  • mothball and store eqpt
  • keep the key to the storage facility

Off-Season

  • execute activities planned for off-season
  • communicate purchases reqd to bring everything to full operational status. 
  • make reqd purchases, get receipts to accountant
  • restock team eqpt boxes as needed
  • keep the key to the storage facility

Q: Can you provide more detail on the fixing job category?

A: Slightly more technical than everyday stuff. Here are a few examples: 

  • specifying and installing replacement batteries for PAs and starters (starters are easy, PAs are not)
  • repair lane-lines and spools as needed:  lane line tensioners, hooks, diving well float ropes, etc. 
  • perform off-season lane-line assessment... which lane-lines to replace? why?

Q: This is an awesome FAQ. Do people really ask these questions?

A: No. I make them up.  It's really a vehicle for documenting the Eqpt Cmte processes, to the extent possible.