Volunteer FAQ

Why do we need Witnesses/Volunteers?

We need volunteers to be witnesses that verify we actually swam all that distance and didn't stop. We also need help with other tasks around the pool.

We must have witnesses to verify the swim. The witnesses will be able to say (or write down) that the relay swimmer in the water didn't stop swimming and just how many lengths of the pool the swimmer completed. We'll provide a logbook (or a computer to record things); we're making it simple so witnesses don't have to count -- they just record each time the swimmer completes a down-and-back lap.

The Guiness World Record rules require 2 witnesses to be present at all times during the relay. There are some restrictions on who can be a witness; these are mostly to ensure their independence. As an example, a swimmer's family members are not allowed to be a witness, although they can help with other tasks during the relay.

How Much Time?

Witnesses are limited to no more than 4 hours per shift; this is a Guiness rule so that they don't get too tired. Note that we said "no more than 4 hours"; if you can only be a witness for an hour or two, that helps!

We have a signup form here on SignUp.com where you can get your name in for a slot. The form lets you indicate how much time (2, 3, or 4 hour slots) and what time of day or which day works for you. Sign up early! Sign up often! If that doesn't work for you, perhaps you can help with some of the pre-relay logistics such as arranging and picking up equipment as described below.

Other Volunteer Tasks

There's more to do than just watch and count laps. Since the witnesses will be paying attention to the swimmer in the water, they can't be running around checking on other logistics around the relay. Some of these extra tasks include:

  • Making sure the video capture is running (more proof that we really swim all that distance)
  • Errands back inside the building (the witnesses can't leave the deck)
  • cover for a witness, if the witness has to, um, use the facilities.
  • get water, drink, etc.

Volunteers don't have to spend their whole shift sitting out on the pool deck; they can and will spend time inside, where there's more light.

How Many Volunteers?

We want at least 2 volunteers as 'witnesses' at all times to satisfy the requirements for Guinness. We are trying to get 3 people for each slot so that we have backup.

Food? Snacks? Wifi? Coffee?


There is a Google Cafe right next to the pool and food will be included if you sign up around breakfast, lunch or dinner times. There is also a fully stocked Micro-Kitchen a few yards away.

Who can volunteer?

Guinness requires the witnesses (our volunteers!) to be 'Independent'. This is defined as:

That is a pretty strict ruling - and if closely adhered to eliminates basically everyone. Crazy for an attempt like this.

So, we contacted Guinness for a clarification and they responded:

"....we always ask for at least one degree of separation from the participants/organizers of any attempt. This would generally exclude direct friends and family from serving as witnesses."

As a witness you will be required to sign a document to the effect above. Whether you are a 'direct friend' or an 'acquaintance' is up to you.

So, specifically, a witness:

      • Must sign a document as someone 'not a direct friend or family member'.
      • Can not witness at the same time as someone who is 'a direct friend or family member'.

That is it!

We have asked for clarification on age requirements. For now we are proceeding assuming "old enough to confidently state whether someone is swimming or not".

Wait a minute, you said Outside?

We're swimming at Googles Quad Campus in Mountain View, which has an outdoor pool.

    1. That means that anyone standing on the deck will be outside, where it gets cold in the evening and could get rainy, even though we're in California.
    2. You can watch the pool from inside. The upstairs gym has nice windows that overlook the pool. So during the darkest, coldest, wettest hours of the night you should be able to watch from the relative comfort of a chair at a window upstairs.

The pool is outside but we're right next to the QD3 building, which has the Pausa cafeteria for breakfast and lunch, as well as a microkitchen for snacks during the rest of the day. There's even a coffee barista, but we can't guarantee that they'll be around to mix up your favorite in the middle of the night. Being a google facility, there is plenty of Wi-Fi around that will let you check up on email or even work-related things (except those witnesses: they need to pay attention to what's going on in the pool).

We are working on getting a tent and space heater -- so that when volunteers are on deck, they are protected from wind, rain, and some of the cold. We'll figure out music for the volunteers (although none of us have put together a 10-day playlist).

If you really want, you could spend a little time in the pool; there's more than 1 lane and you could compare your swimming speed to the relay member in the water!


Yes. We will train all volunteers so they know what they're doing. We'll also have instructions there, in case you forget something.

What about other Volunteer Tasks?

So far, this list has focused on the volunteers that will be around throughout the relay, counting laps and making sure the swimmers don't stop. If this isn't for you for some reason, we have other logistics tasks that need to be done. We're happy to accept help for any of these:

  • Arranging for and setting up whatever canopy/tent and heater we get for volunteers spending their time on the deck
  • Configuring the logging system. This can be subdivided into a video logging system (we're looking at using Nest Cameras) and a logbook for each of the active witnesses to log each time the swimmer completes another lap, when a swimmer change occurs, etc. This would be perfect for a swimmer SRE!
  • We need to identify someone to verify our logs; someone that will vouch that we're not faking the videos and that the logs are all consistent.
  • Sound system for anyone on deck (or even in the water). Help us get some tunes going to prevent boredom. The swimmers will be even more appreciative if you can figure out a way to get the sound underwater.

I can't volunteer but still want to help

There are several options for you!

    1. Donate! We're also raising money for the US Masters Swimming "Saves Lives" program [teaching adults to swim and be water-safe] and the Challenged Athlete's Foundation ["High costs of adaptive sports equipment and lack of resources should not keep individuals with physical challenges from being active"]. Both of these are approved organizations for both money and time in go/give. You can decide on whatever you want to give: a lump sum, an amount per lap that we swim (which incentivizes us to swim further), etc.
    2. See the Help Needed page

Can this count towards Community Service or Service Learning?

Yes! If you are looking for some 'Community Service' or 'Service Learning' this is a great match!

    1. Your volunteering will save us money which allows us to donate more!
    2. We will also be donate $20 / hour for every hour you help.
    3. In addition to the responsibilities listed above, there are several administrative and organizational tasks that need to be done and we have a few roles to fill:
        1. Social Media Coordinator
        2. Volunteer organizer (entire event)
        3. Volunteer organizer (single day)
        4. Math & Stats: Computing how far and fast we have gone. Making predictions.
        5. Computer programming. Several tasks here:
          1. Working on the timing / lap system to get the tracking we need.
          2. Computer vision software to track swimmers.
          3. Website development to update & track the swimmers.
    4. Exposure and working with some passionate Googlers.
      1. Engineers on Search, Android, Waymo and Ads are on the swim team.
      2. Many others Googlers will be signed up and volunteering.