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Officiating Swimmers with Disabilities

Big Sky! Big Dreams! Big Success!

Resources to help officials and coaches better serve swimmers with a disability.

Best Practices for Safe Sport with Athletes with Disabilities from USA Swimming

Pamphlet: Guidelines for Officiating Swimmers with a Disability: A Pocket Guide A concise 2 page reference for USA Swimming Officials. Designed to be printed on the front and back of the same paper and used as a tri-fold pamphlet.

Course: Officiating Swimmers with a Disability: Course used to teach officials about officiating swimmers with a disability. (Thank you Colorado Swimming for sharing!)  Click for PDF file of course.

  • Target Groups for Course and Some Key Responsibilities
    • Meet and Deck Referees
      • Athletes or athlete representative are required to inform referee of impaired swimmer and request accommodations.
      • Meet Referee is the final decision on Disqualifications
      • Meet Referee will determine if accommodations can be met and will instruct officials as to the accommodations/modifications.
    • Stroke and Turn Officials
      • Officials observe swims based on rules.  Officials are instructed to become familiar with Article 105.5 (this is encouraged during training of new officials).
      • An impaired athlete does not have to inform the referee because they do not want to be officiated under Article 105.  This is their choice. 
    • Coaches 
      • Senior Coach – Swimmers who are at the High School Level and swim with HS can be a member of club swimming, and impaired swimmers are not always aware of this opportunity.
      • Age Group Coach – athletes as this level are wanting to be involved in club sports, are competitive, and are involved with friends.
      • Both set of coaches can help athlete be competitive, grow both athletically and socially.
      • Can help athletes move to Para if warranted
  • Rationale for Course
    • Face to face conversation, instruction and discussion is always better. It helps with comprehension and development of programs.  It also provides the means to offer support to all affected groups.
    • Explanation of what impairments are and different impairments in each group. Provide specific examples.
    • Instruct officials on what they should be aware of when observing swims. (Article 105 of USA Swimming Rulebook)
    • Show what support staff is and how it looks
    • What starting devices are and examples of types
    • How modifications look for an impaired swimmer and what happens during observing swims
    • How rules are observed and implemented
    • How integrating impaired swimmers into clubs affects swimmers