SWIMMING MEETS: THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF OFFICIALS
At any swimming meet there are a range of different people involved in running the competition.
A key distinction is between technical and non-technical officials. Technical official are the
people in white who are responsible for ensuring that the rules of swimming are upheld and that
all swimmers have the opportunity to compete fairly in whatever events they swim. At any meet
there are a range of different officials including referee(s), starter, judges (stroke, finish and turns)
and timekeepers. We need at least 20 officials across the different levels of qualification to run a
WHY SHOULD I BECOME AN OFFICIAL?
As a swimming parent you spend a lot of time attending swimming meets. Becoming an official
gives you an insight into how swimming meets work, provides you with something to do when
son/daughter isn't swimming and is a great source of free sweeties. From the Club's perspective
we need a pool of officials inside the club so that we can run our own meets. You do not have to
officiate at other club's meets if you don't want to.
HOW DO I BECOME AN OFFICIAL?
In order to become an official you need to attend an induction session and then complete a series
of practical sessions, recorded in a workbook, focusing upon the duties associated with the
qualification being worked towards. Apart from the Referee course there are no written exams.
There are 4 grades of officials as follows:- (a) Judge level 1; Judge level 2; Judge level 2 & starter
and (d) referee. No prior knowledge of swimming rules is assumed at the start of training to
become an official. All you need is a clipboard, a stopwatch, a pen and an enthusiasm for
JUDGE LEVEL 1
This is the first level of British qualification for which the minimum age is 15. It encompasses the
role and duties of a Timekeeper, Chief Timekeeper and Inspector of Turns.
Timekeeper - You record the time the swimmer takes to complete the race using a stopwatch and
record it on the heat sheets. If the meet is working with Automatic Officiating Equipment (AOE)
ie electronics then there will also be a secondary back-up button that you need to push when the
swimmer completes the race. If the meet is using manual times the Chief Timekeeper will collect
the time sheets for each event.
Chief Timekeeper to ensure the timekeepers perform their role. If the meet is manual (ie not
electronic - AOE) they collect the time sheets from the timekeeper after each event and work out
the finishing times for the swimmers based on the order of the finish in agreement with the
Inspector of Turns as a J1 you are also expected to be responsible for looking at the swimmers
turns and finishes. Do not worry - you cannot disqualify a swimmer, all you do is report an
infringement if you see it to the Referee or Chief Inspector of Turns. The only person who can
disqualify a swimmer is the Referee. If you think you saw an infringement
then you must give the swimmer the benefit of doubt. This part of J1 requires knowledge of the
rules relating to the turn and finish for each stroke but this is where the mentoring will help since
you will be attending meets and placed with more experienced officials who will ask questions
and explain what you should be looking for.
Chief Inspector of Turns is the link between the Inspector of Turns (J1) and the Referee. Takes
the report from the time keeper to the referee.
Relay take-Off Judge another role that J1s are expected to do is to watch the take-over when
the incoming swimmer touches and the swimmer on the blocks dives in. If you see an
infringement you report it to the Chief Inspector of Turns/Referee. Again training is given in the
rules operating for this element of the race.
JUDGE LEVEL 2
This is the second level of qualification. It encompasses the role and duties in relation to all
aspects of judging and the theoretical role and duties of Starter. This is based around a workshop
session followed by practical sessions with an experienced official and a final practical session.
Judges of stroke: J2 officials are responsible for ensuring that all stroke rules are complied with.
As with J! Stroke judges do not disqualify swimmers. Rather they report observed infringements
to the Referee who will disqualify the swimmer.
Finish judge: writes the lane order of swimmers as they finish and passes these to the Referee.
An important role even in the meets with electronics as sometimes these systems fail!
JUDGE LEVEL 2-STARTER
This role is the most visible and easiest to understand role. The starter's role is to ensure that the
start is fair for all swimmers. As with J2 this is based around a workshop session followed by
practical sessions with an experienced official and a final assessed practical session.
This role is the highest level of qualification in British Swimming and combines several theory
sessions, an exam and assessed practical sessions. The Referee is in overall control of all aspects
of the meet and is responsible for health and safety as well as ensuring that the competition is fair.
It to the Referee that judges report observed infringements and who decides whether these will be
WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
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