The racing at swimming galas is run by swimming officials. We need 20 officials to run a gala at Freeman's Quay, in addition the to the other volunteers. We currently don't have enough. I would like to encourage everyone (yes, everyone!) over 15 to start their judge 1 training through the Institute of Swimming. Use this link to find the course: The course comprises online training, at your own speed, followed by practical experience, with a mentor, on poolside at galas. If you're not sure, please talk to one of our current officials and we'll do what we can to answer your queries.

Please speak to Stephen Ward if you are interested in officiating 

[email protected]

Officials and Timekeeper Roles




Takes the time of the swimmer as a backup to the AOE. Only permitted to officiate at a level 4 gala. Role normally performed by J1.

Judge, Level 1

Acts as a timekeeper where requested. Judges the legality of the start, turn and finish and makes a report of any infringements of the rules. Acts as a mentor to trainee J1’s.

Judge, Level 2

Can work as a J1. Judges the legality of the stroke. Assists the J1 turn judge by observing the turns. Where appropriate judges the finishing order. Makes a report of any infringement of the rules. Acts as a mentor to trainee J1 or J2’s

Judge, Level 2S

Starts the race. May also be asked to act as a finish judge.


In charge of the gala on poolside. Assists the judges. Receives reports from the judges and, if satisfied, disqualified the swimmer. Consults with the finish judges and the AOE to establish the result of the race. Receives any protests and adjudicates where possible, before, during or after the gala. Mentors and signs off trainees.

The 4 roles above are known as swimming officials.  Other roles are:


Makes safety announcements. Announces the next heat. Acts upon any other requests from the referee or promoter.

AOE Operator

Sets up and monitors the effective operation of the AOE and the scoreboard.  Consults with the referee regarding the operation of the electronics, inputting backup times where requested.


Produce start lists before the gala commences.  Receives withdrawals from coaches.  Receives race results from the AOE operator or referee and posts agreed results.  May help the promoter in setting up the gala.

Clerk of the Course

Often known as marshalling. Collects swimmers from the marshalling area, arranges these into heats in accordance with the start lists. Instructs the swimmers when to go to the end of the pool for their race.


Agrees the level of gala, the programme of swimming for the sessions and the meet conditions. Circulates information around swimmers and other clubs.  Books pool time and arranges payments. Organises volunteer helpers, excluding officials.  Obtains license for the event including payment of fees. Post results and reports.

The swimming officials are roles that you train for and qualify.

These roles and courses are hierarchical, ie you start at judge 1, session 1, then session 2, then 3. Once qualified as J1 then you can start training as J2 etc. You cannot turn up at a session and say that you want to be, say, the starter. The swimmers (and their coaches and parents) have a right to expect accurate and impartial officiating from people trained in the role that they are undertaking. There is information, such as the list above, on the regional swimming website

In terms of commitment, this is really up to an individual as to how much they can offer.  Clearly however, training as an official is to work at swimming galas so you need to go to swimming galas when you are training and subsequently when you are qualified. The qualification is of no use to you at home. Given that parents generally have swimmers who are attending galas than they will often act as an official at a gala when their kids are swimming – though you are welcome at others as well. You will find that there is a gala, somewhere nearby, on virtually every weekend throughout the year. Nobody will want to go to them all. You attend when you can. There is a small fee for the training, but it is possible sometimes to obtain funding.

The judge 1 training is probably the hardest and the longest to achieve. The training, for all of the officials’ roles is in 3 forms: theory sessions; practical sessions and written worksheets (examinations for the referee) and you need to complete all of these to become qualified. Judge 1 qualification can take from a couple of months, to 18 months or more. This is all dependent upon how many events and training sessions you can get to.

You will be fully supported along the way. Being an official at a gala can be good fun, you will make new friends. You do get looked after. I did say to the volunteers after the club winter gala something similar to “ Every individual official has a small role to play. The combination of these individual efforts is however immense and contributed greatly to the successes that the swimmers achieved.”