OFFICIALS UPDATE #1
In this Issue:
The Starter's Job
Officials Shirts Update
Did you ever wonder "What topics should be covered in a coaches meeting prior to the meet?" and "What about the officials meeting?" Here is a suggested outline for each:
Expectations - swimmers ready to swim, responding to starter instructions (coaches can help by letting the starter know of any scratches)
Reminder about suits and caps rules
Address in the water starts for shallow-end relays
Confirmation of any special athlete needs (any type of disability concerns)
Expectations - jurisdiction, walking the sides, processing of DQs
Reminder about raising hand high when making a call
Mindful of the 2 "officiating rules" - "have to SEE it in order to CALL it" and "benefit of the doubt goes to the swimmer"
Review of swimming competition rules (as needed)
How relay take-off judging coverage will work
The Starter's Job
There might be some concern about the responsibilities of the Starter. While they are responsible for the start of each race, they are also the person responsible for managing the meet pace, making sure timers are doing their job (along with the head timer), interacting with coaches, answering questions of stroke & turn and relay take-off officials, and making sure the computer results are handled properly. There is a "natural flow" to the work of the starter which looks like this:
Whistle start, announcer process
Start the heat
Check all swimmers swimming
Processing DQs/addressing computer issues (if any)
Observing Stroke & Turn officials to see if anyone needs help
Writing Order of Finish/Blowing whistles for next heat (simultaneously)
If something goes awry (or a safety concern needs to be addressed), don't be afraid to pause the meet for a moment. Getting those things in order will let you be less stressed and allow you to concentrate on having a fair start for the next race.
Officiating has a lot of good and bad - from being able to support a sport for everyone, creating a positive environment to fielding some criticism and feeling bad for swimmers who don't get their stroke completely correct. Being watched by spectators, coaches, swimmers and other officials is also part of the job - and a good reminder that we also bear some burden for making sure we're being positive role models and having a good attitude about our work. And as we are a team, a healthy dose of cooperation and an approach where we are all learning will go a long way to help everyone have a good experience at the meets (even if the swimmers get disqualified). As I shared in our training sessions, I learn something new EVERY meet - whether it is a better way to explain a rule or learning how to better interact with others - you too should take the opportunity to be open to learning new things.
Officials Shirts Update
Officials shirts have been ordered and are on their way, expected to be delivered by the middle of this week. As a reminder, because of the ordering timeline and our quick season, we were only able to accommodate those officials who attended the first 2 sessions. If you have any concerns or questions about this, let me know. If you didn't have a chance to order one, please feel free to wear any white non-USA Swimming team logo shirt to help identify you as an official (the design of the Midlakes provided one hasn't changed).
Q1:Can a swimmer use the backstroke handles of the block for an in the water start (if they choose to do so) for non-backstroke events?
A1:The USA Swimming rulebook defines the wall as: WALL— vertical portion of the pool, contiguous surfaces of the deck and overflow gutter, the front portion of the starting block or platform, or the touchpad at the end of the course. So the swimming starting in the water must use the forward start (facing the course) and yes, can use the front portion of the starting block which in some cases would include the backstroke handles. However, they would realistically only use one hand, then be sure to orient themselves towards the course (facing down the pool), and follow all the remaining requirements of the start (starting position, remaining stationary for the starting signal, etc.).
Q2:I saw a swimmer in their heat wearing a non-Midlakes club cap. Should they be disqualified?
A2:Non-Midlakes club/team caps (and suits) are not allowed to be worn during competition. If a swimmer is in the water with the club cap/suit on, and the starter let them swim with it on, then there is no DQ - because the swimmer must be given a chance to correct the situation. If the swimmer has been warned and continues to swim with the cap/suit, then there would be a DQ which would be in the jurisdiction of the Starter/Referee. An observant Stroke & Turn official will bring any cap/suit issues to the attention of the Starter/Referee for proper handling - but you can also give the swimmers a friendly reminder if you see something out of place as swimmers approach the starting area.
As always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns. If you know of others that would like this information or if you are no longer interested in receiving these, let me know and I'll update the distribution list.
Midlakes Swim League