Swimmers need to be experts at just "hanging out." At swim meets, there is a lot of time to burn in between events and kids need a good way to pass the downtime.
When I was a swimmer in the 1970's, hanging out between events was my favorite part about swimming in general. I was the guy with the jambox playing all the music the parents hated…. Rush, Zeppelin, Skynyrd, and so forth. That kept our hangout area mostly kids-only. Pretty fun.
We played a lot of cards and board games. Uno and Othello, gin and chess. At some point, somebody invented small electronic games such as Electronic Football and everything changed (sort of.) Now we were all sitting under towels (so we could see the screens) and bleat away.
The electronic toys really opened the way for out-of-town swim meets because suddenly we were less annoying in the back seats (or sitting un-restrained in the back of the station wagon, those were the days.) The walkman also appeared so poor Mrs. Strauss didn't have to hear AC/DC so much.
So now as a parent, I am spending a lot of time at swim meets again and while a lot has changed… much has stayed the same. Now you see kids gathered around their Nintendo DS's and parents' iPads. The resolution is improved enough so they don't have to keep towels over their heads.
We think it's time to bring back the game table and make the games social again. Will parents object to poker and other card games? Of course it's no fun without chips… but that's all they'd be playing for. Perhaps chips can be representative of some of the traditional swimmer snacks such as baked potatoes and bagels with cream cheese. My kids will go for it… but other modern kids? We'll find out this next season and let you know. In the meantime, we could always just play partypoker in between events. Maybe make some bank too!