Show Me a Sign
In competitive swimming, these guys have such an important job; and until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t even know they existed.
During the longer events, each swimmer has a teammate stationed along the far wall. This person’s job is to use lap markers to alert the competitor about the number of laps left in the race. As the swimmer approaches the wall, the teammate will quickly insert the placard into the water and bang it against the wall or move it up and down. When the swimmer is a few strokes away, the teammate must thrust the placard up seamlessly, so the swimmer does not kick it as they make their turn.
To the untrained eye, it doesn’t seem like there is a whole lot of strategy involved, but then I began to watch them closely. After a few races of focusing solely on them, I can now see how vital it can be in a dead-heat for each “flagger” to relay the lap number quickly to the athlete in the pool.