Thursday, March 26, 2009

Don't forget to order your team's ribbons!

This is an ideal time of year to take stock of your team’s ribbon inventory so that you can replenish it in time for the upcoming season. Now that the meet schedules are settled, you will have a good idea of approximately how many swimmers each visiting team will bring to your three home meets (though remember to add in some slack in case any of those teams have grown since last year).

Remember, the home team provides all the ribbons awarded in a meet. This includes first-place through sixth-place ribbons for all main event swimmers (including each individual member of a relay team), as well as heat-winner ribbons for the first finisher in every other heat, and participant ribbons for all other competitors in those heats. (If your pool has only 4 or 5 lanes, you can omit the fifth-place and sixth-place ribbons because main events will never use more than 4 lanes.)

If you aren’t already familiar with the meet materials page on the TSA web site, I urge you to acquaint yourself with it. Of particular help is the ribbon calculator spreadsheet, which allows you to plug in a few basic parameters (number of lanes, number of swimmers on each team) and quickly generate your requirements for each of the eight ribbon types. (Prepare to be shocked and appalled at how many ribbons you will award over the course of the season.)

The colors of the place ribbons are specified in Article 102.5 of the Rules, but otherwise you are free to design your team’s ribbons. There are no color requirements for the heat-winner or participant ribbons, though you will probably want to make sure they are easily distinguishable from the place ribbons in order to avoid earning the undying enmity of the volunteers working the ribbon table at your meets. Another way to keep those folks happy is to pre-print ribbon labels which can be affixed to the little cardboard tag on the back of each ribbon. This time-saver allows the ribbon table volunteers to avoid having to write dates, team names, strokes, etc. on the back of each ribbon; all they need to write is the swimmer name. The meet materials page also has a ribbon label document template which can be customized for this purpose (pools with 4 or 5 lanes should use this template instead).

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