April 28, 2015
Becoming a USA Swimming Official
I encourage all of you to consider earning certification in a very rewarding and important volunteer position as a swimming official. There are no pre-requisites in terms of your time on the team, the age and experience level of your swimmer, or prior swimming participation in your younger years.
In my opinion, becoming officials helps solidify your family’s interest and commitment to this team and this sport. Officiating (and many other volunteer positions) enabled you to fully engage with the team parents and coaches, show interest in your swimmer’s activities, and better understand the challenges and successes our kids will meet along the way. To the point of ‘new’ members starting down this road, gaining parent officials for our younger age groups also helps to balance out the overall number of officials available at any meet, no matter if the meet is split between age groups, is designed for younger swimmers, or combined by all age groups. The minimum requirements are that you are 18 years or older, are able to pass a background check, pass the training, and volunteer your time in support of the athletes at swim meets. Similar to office staff, timers and coaches, officials are mandatory for the conduct of a sanctioned swim meet.
The officiating body is very supportive in assisting anyone to progress from the bread and butter position of Stroke and Turn, to Starter, Chief Judge, Administrative Referee and Meet Referee. Some parents are very much interested in running the computer based timing and scoring systems and programs, and for them, the important position of Administrative Referee is available. Those officials who enjoy more in on-deck operations move through the positions of Starter, Chief Judge and Referee. None of these positions are exclusionary; however you will figure out for yourself which to focus upon, if not all of them. At every meet and level, you will be meeting interesting and fun-loving adults who share this common skill set and spirit of volunteerism.
But all the talk about certification levels is for the future! For the here and now, let’s get going. A training clinic is scheduled for Sunday May 9th at Evanston High School. You are welcome to attend, even if you do not immediately want to become an official, but just want to learn a little more about why those people in white over blue have such big smiles on their faces all meet long.
We are not trying to make you a coach or instructor for your athlete....leave that to the staff, but as a parent, understanding the rules may come in handy when you have the occasion to provide support and comfort to your simmer who says “I got DQ’d for something called underwater recovery”. Instead of just giving a hug, a shrug, and a “whatever”, you’ll have some appreciation for how hard it is to swim a 50M butterfly as an 8 year old, and keep your arms out of the water!
If the above isn't enough to convince you, let's look at numbers:
- You need to work 10 sessions per calendar year to MAINTAIN your credentials -
- We will end up going to as many as 32 swim meets this calendar year. Each meet normally has 5 session for a grand total of 160 sessions... shouldn't be too hard to make 6.25% of the meets :)
If you would like to gather more info, there is a wealth of information available on line, at both the IL Swimming website and the USA Swimming website. Rulebooks, articles, listing of officials, etc., all included and provided for by the dues you are paying. USAS is a well run organization that is continually providing education and resources for volunteers at every level. I encourage you to browse these sites; there are articles and tips for all facets of this sport.
I hope to see you on deck with the white polo :)
Questions: contact Kate Lindberg at firstname.lastname@example.org