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How to Become an Official

Welcome to the world of swim officiating! This page contains all the information you need to become an entry level swim official. If you have any questions, or for more information contact Warren Scribner.

 

Why be an official?

There are lots of great reasons to become a swim official…

  • We need you! Maybe it looks to you like we have plenty of folks on deck…but the fact is that at most meets we have about half the number of folks we need to effectively officiate!

  • Contribute meaningfully to the sport! Sitting in the stands or in a lawn chair on deck is better than not showing up for your children, but becoming an official demonstrates to them the kind of parent you are --- caring and active.

  • Great view! You are right there at the point of the action.

  • Hospitality! At most all meets you are ‘fed and watered’ to your hearts content.

  • Camaraderie! Meet and make friends with lots of other folks from all over your area and the state, and enjoy the energy and spirit of the officials group.

  • We are NOT little league…in swimming, unlike many sports, we pay for professional coaching, and rely on volunteer officials…that’s the way it should be, not the other way around!

 

What do ‘Stroke and Turn Judges’ do?

The officials help the coaches and swimmers by maintaining a fair competitive environment. Stroke and Turn Judges (S/T) will observe the swimmers after the start and report any violations of the stroke and turn rules to the Referee. Officials should never incorrectly report a violation of the rules, as it is expected that all reports are based on 100% certainty that what is reported as a disqualification is a violation of the rules. The swimmers ALWAYS get the benefit of the doubt!

 

Officials—Levels

Swimming officials are divided into several levels, and once you have become a S/T judge, you can choose to progress to additional levels if you wish. There is no level more important than the Stroke and Turn level, but you learn additional skills at each level. The additional levels are:

• Starter

• Deck Referee

• Meet Referee

• Clinical Instructor (someone who teaches clinics)

 


 

How to become an official

Certification at each level requires formal instruction (a clinic), testing, and supervised experience on deck. For Starter and Referee, experience at the preceding level is also required.

Here are the specific steps required:

  1. Become a USA Swimming non-athlete member here.
  2. Create a login/password for USA Swimming / Deck Pass (if you don't have one already) and link it to your non-athlete membership.
  3. Complete a (level II) background check here
  4. Complete the Athlete Protection Course here.
  5. Attend a Stroke and Turn Clinic.
  6. Take and pass the Stroke and Turn online test here. You will need to use the USA Swimming rule book as a reference.
  7. Complete six sessions on deck as an apprentice official during which time you will shadow an experienced official.

The above steps can be completed in about any order, although step #5 must precede step #7.