At our Club Champs and or any Open Meet that we run ourselves, we need officials to judge and timekeep. Also, some galas are run by central bodies (such as Surrey County Swimming) which are not a club in itself, and therefore need to recruit officials from clubs attending their gala in order that it can run with a licence. Without a licence, the swimmers times will not be registered with the ASA not useful as qualifying times for futures galas. Also, if we do run our own Open Meet, we would expect officials from other clubs to contribute their manpower, so we need to to do the same for the meets that we attend
Qualifying to be an official can be both rewarding and useful. As a Judge 1, you will learn all timekeeping and the rules of the turns, as well as an initial review of stroke rules. As a Judge 2 you go on to learn the intricacies of each stroke and how to spot when its not being done properly. Onwards from Judge 2 is a Starter qualification and finally a Referee.
Summary of Swimming Officials Roles
There are 5 basic levels of qualification for a technical swimming official:
Timekeeper: Competent with a stop watch and able to act as a Chief Timekeeper at an event.
Judge: Knows the laws of the various strokes and is able to place the finishing order of an event.
Starter: Nice loud clear voice with the ability to settle the swimmers and start them fairly.
Race Results: Knows how to determine the result of a race using electronic timing. Qualified to act as a Deputy Referee.
Referee: Responsible for running the event safely and fairly.
Each level of technical official consists of some training and some practical experience with a mentor. The referee qualification also involves sitting an examination. Examples of the workbooks for each level and other helpful material can be found on the British Swimming Web site. If you are interested, have a look at the British Swimming site and speak to other members of your club about it. Most of the officials at an event are also approachable, so why not ask them about their experiences.
Remember, the officials are all volunteers and give up their time freely so that swimmers can enjoy their competition. Without them there would be no competitions.