Gala Officials Explained: get involved!

Did you know that all swimming officials, including referees, are volunteers who give up their time for nothing to help run your children’s competitions?

So, you will have seen all those people in white wandering about on poolside and wondered who they are and why they are there, and perhaps, why your child has been disqualified!

The role of a swimming official is to observe the race and the swimmers to ensure a fair, safe and enjoyable competition for everyone, with accurate timings and placings.  The focus is not on being ‘officious’ or setting out to disqualify people, but ensuring that everyone has their best possible race.

In order to run a “licensed meet”, where the swimmers’ times are recorded in the online rankings at Swim England HQ, there needs to be a certain minimum number of officials doing specific jobs.  The rules as to how many officials you need are stricter at a Level 1 (e.g. Counties, Regionals or National Champs) than at a Level 3 or 4 (e.g. Open Meet or Amersham Club Champs). But even at an unlicensed meet, such as the Amersham Novice Galas, Thames Valley League or Milton Keynes Junior League, where the times are not sent to Swim England rankings but recorded by the Club, at least 15 or more officials are still needed or the gala cannot be run.

We are always required to provide officials for competitions, whether we are hosting our own gala or sending swimmers or a team to an open meet or a league gala such as Arena, MKJL or TVJL.  We rely 100% on parent volunteers as officials.  Having said that though, becoming an official is very rewarding; you get to know a lot more about the sport that your child is passionate about and you will get to know the swimmers and other parents; it is a very sociable and supportive role; you are much closer to the action and it is cooler than in the gallery!

The first step on the ladder as an official is to become a Timekeeper.  As the name suggests, this is the person who stands at the end of the pool and times the races with a stopwatch.  Becoming a Timekeeper is very simple; it involves a short course, usually held in Amersham and then a practical session, usually a short period of 15 races at a Novice or similar gala, again usually at Chiltern Pools. Please do get involved! There is no obligation to do more than you want to. The more officials we have, the easier it is to find enough volunteers to run all the galas your children enjoy.  

If you would like more information about becoming an official, doing a further course or just having a go at Timekeeping before doing the training course, please email Nina Bagot at [email protected].

The following club members are qualified Swim England officials: 

Qualification Role Who
Referee Has overall responsibility for the competition, the other officials and compliance with the technical rules of swimming. Oversees each race and determines the race result, including the final decision on swimmers’ times, placings and any disqualifications. Charlie Bagot
J2S - Starter Operates the starting equipment. Is responsible, together with the Referee, for a safe and fair start. Can act as an assistant referee at a Level 3 or 4 meet or an unlicensed gala. Peter Roycroft
Nicola Bellamy
Sue Hollingsworth
Nina Bagot
J2 - Judge Level 2 Observes the stroke and assists the J1s with watching swimmers’ turns and relay takeovers. May also record the finish order. Jo West
Mary Stalker
Sarah Jones
Adeline Walters
J1 - Judge Level 1 Can act as a Timekeeper (recording the times) or Chief Timekeeper (collecting the times and liaising with the Referee). Manual times are recorded, just in case, even if electronic timing pads are in use. The other role of a J1 is to observe swimmers after the start, at each turn and when performing relay takeovers. Bob Odell
Ian Everett
Tracy Lock
Liz Ashby
J1(T) In Training

Has completed the Timekeeper’s qualification and the J1 course and is working towards completing the J1 training.

Morag Wall
Nicky Main
Marc Ronchetti
Marc Jones
Jo Glen
Simone Tyson
Lara Edwards
Rayna Butcher
Graham Andrews
Jenni Sawyer
Taeona Hutton
James Woolven
Toni Chapman
Lotte Grant
Remus Nistorel
Timekeeper Can time the swimmers at an unlicensed competition or a Level 4 meet. Becky McCall
Julia Mowbray
Nicola Conner
Fiona Williams
Brenda Byrne
Leigh Passingham
Paul Schiavi
Ian Howell
Pankaj Sharma
Sonal Amin
Angelique Tambourine