WHAT IS A “STROKE & TURN” JUDGE?
Stroke & Turn Judges are the eyes of the referee on deck. A well run meet and good competitive results are directly related to good officiating. The swimmers have worked hard to become competitive. They all deserve an equal chance.
The purpose of Stroke & Turn officials is to observe, but not scrutinize, the competition for compliance with the technical rules of swimming. If a Stroke & Turn official clearly observes a disqualification (DQ), then they should report it to the Meet Referee in order to keep the race fair.
“Don’t ask me to judge my child." Many parents are hesitant to become officials because they don’t want to disqualify any swimmer, especially their own child. But that assumes that they are “punishing” the violator where as they are actually working to keep the meet fair and protect all the swimmers in the race.
Another reason that they may hesitate to be a judge is by saying that they don’t want to cause “mental trauma” to a youngster. While this may sound good, it is also grounded in viewing the judge’s role as punitive. Rather, a disqualification should be viewed as: a) protecting the athletes in the competition (including your own swimmer) and b) educating the athlete who commits the infraction. Youngsters are constantly being corrected during their early, formative years; that’s how they learn. Also, if they are not corrected early on they will continue their same practices and then be disqualified at a later meet by another judge. Not correcting their mistakes does them no favors in the future.
Becoming a Stroke & Turn judge takes some time and effort. It requires regular practice to become proficient. It is also rewarding. It is an integral part of every meet. It is a way for a parent to be more involved in both the meet and in teaching their swimmer the correct forms. And, of course, it provides a much deeper understanding of the sport of swimming.