Becoming a Middlesex Swimming Official

Leah Pullen

Why become a swimming official?  


Everyone you see wearing white poolside is a volunteer swimming official. 

There are some perks to being an official:

  • you are helping your club meet its requirement to provide officials for meets;
  • free lunch and refreshments;
  • no spectator entry fees;
  • some meets provide gifts or gift vouchers;
  • some meets pay expenses;
  • you get to support your swimmers from poolside in a non-intrusive way.


Most importantly, you are part of a volunteer community that ensures that our swimmers can race, and that their times count.

Most meets are licensed at different levels from 1 to 4, 1 being the highest with the most stringent rules about officials.

When there are not enough officials or officials with the required qualifications, meets can: 

  • be cancelled (usually at the last minute with no time to find an alternative meet);
  • run with fewer lanes (so the session runs longer or some swimmers get scratched);
  • have their licence level downgraded (eg. times swum at level 4 meets cannot be used to qualify for Regionals).


So where do you start if you want to become and official? 


  • Find your Swim England membership number. Check for it at the SE member page.

If you don’t have an SE membership, contact your club’s officials or volunteers coordinator for the club to sign you up. This is a quick and simple process.

The first level of qualification as an official is called Judge 1. To become a judge 1 (usually referred to as a J1):

It is currently £20 which includes the fee for licensing once qualified. Your club may have a policy of refunding part or all of the cost. Check with your club’s coordinator. 

  • Your club’s coordinator will organise a poolside timekeeper practical competence observation for you, either at your local pool during a training session, or at a meet, once you have completed the online theory. Do contact him/her as soon as you have completed the online course.
  • Once you have completed your poolside timekeeper observation, you will become a J1 trainee and can volunteer to work at any meet and get mentoring to help you learn the role. There are certain milestones called competencies that you need to get signed off when you are confident to complete your training.
  • You have 11 months from the date you completed your online course to get your competencies signed off by licensed referees and become a licensed British Swimming Official. You will then be sent your licence which you renew every 4 years. 


The trainee process is explained here and here, and the competencies in detail here.

If you are already a qualified Timekeeper, you can do the J1 course for qualified TKs, which is slightly shorter as you have already done the TK part. 


Not ready for Judge 1 yet ?


If your swimmer doesn't compete much yet or you’re only able to help out at meets that your club runs locally, you can do the shorter online Timekeeper course which allows you to officiate at Level 4 and unlicensed meets and would qualify you immediately after you complete the poolside timekeeper practical competence session. It is £5 and takes about 30 minutes.

Do let your coordinator know when you have completed the timekeeper online course so that he/she may organise a practical session for you, either at your regular club pool during a training session, or at a coming meet. The practical observation must be carried out by a qualified official and signed off by a licensed referee once you go the J1 route.