Below, you will find information on how to become a USA Swimming certified official and resources for those who are already certified and may be looking for advancement or training.

How to Become and Official

Just like you can’t run a meet without timers, you can’t run a meet without officials. 

There is no previous experience necessary.  You don’t even need to know how to swim. 

While officiating does take training and dedication, there are there are some great perks: no scrambling for a seat in the stands, the best seat in the house and that LSC renown Clippers hospitality.


Below is information regarding the process for becoming an official.

  1. How Do I Become a USA Swimming Official.  The first level of officiating is the Stroke & Turn Judge
  2. Non-Athlete Registration with Ohio Swimming – You must register as a Non-Athlete member of USA Swimming.  Clippers does cover the cost of the membership, however you will need to pay for your membership when you register.  Send the receipt to Jenny Kunkel at [email protected].  She will reimburse your payment.

  3. USA Swimming Background Check
    Option 1 for a New Member Background Check.
    Option 2 for renewing the USA Swimming background screen
  4. Athlete Protection Training & Instructions Link - Must have a USA Swimming Membership record before completing this training.  Instructions on how to access the APT.
  5. Online Officials Tests - link to USA Swimming website where the officials tests are located.  You must complete each test with an 85% or higher.  You may begin a test and save the information as you go.  You may exit a test wand resume it later without having lost you initial answers.
  6. Apprenticeship – You must satisfactorily complete 6 sessions as an apprentice.  During these sessions, you will be paired with a veteran official with whom you will discuss protocols, strokes, turn and disqualifications.  As you move through your sessions, you will transition from observer to official.  During the 5th and 6th sessions, you will be making the calls. 


Certification/Recertification Requirements – As you become more experienced as an official, you may wish to complete the process for increasing your skills.  Following is brief description of each additional level of certification:

Chief Judge – the official who works with the referee to facilitate a disqualification to insure it is accurately identified and recorded.  The “CJ” is the individual who will discuss a potential disqualification with a Stroke & Turn Judge then report to the referee who will make the final decision whether a “DQ” is accepted or not.  As you have heard in the clinic, Ohio Swimming is implementing a training process for the CJ position.  At Championship meets the CJ plays a significant role facilitating the meet.

Starter – The starter has the responsibility to ensure all swimmers receive a fair and equitable start. It is important each competitor be given the opportunity to achieve the best start possible within the confines of the rules. The starter must know the rules governing starting procedures.

Referee – To be eligible to be a referee, you must serve as a certified Starter for at least two years. 

The Deck Referee has authority has responsibilities during the meet.  He/she has jurisdiction over all officials on the deck and is responsible for enforcing all applicable rules and decides all questions relating to the actual conduct of the meet.  The Deck Referee signals the starter before each race.

The Meet Referee has responsibilities before, during and after the competition.

Administrative Official - works directly with the Meet Referee and supervises/directs the Entry and Registration Personnel, Clerk of Course, Timing System Operator, Scoring Personnel, Timing Judge

Meet Management Software Operator.  The Administrative official is responsible for insuring all times are accurate and any adjustments are made within the guidelines specified by US Swimming.  You do not need to be a certified Stroke & Turn Official to be an AO.  Having worked the timing console and/or meet management software is a good foundation for AO work.

Each level of officiating has an on-line test and apprenticeship component.  During the apprenticeship, you will work with a veteran official who will evaluate your progress through each step.  As an apprentice at any level, you are responsible for providing you mentor with the evaluation form.  Click on the appropriate link to access and print the necessary form: