Become an Official



Timers - For most parents, the first direct involvement volunteer position they will have is timer. This is an incredibly important, though quite simple, role at a swim meet. Timers start a manual stop watch when the strobe light starts a heat, stop the manual stop watch when the swimmer in their lane finishes, possibly also stop a push button at the same time, and write down the time their watch indicates. That’s it!

Timers are right on the deck, behind the blocks or at the end of the lane. It is the best view and puts you right where the action is, without requiring any experience or knowledge of swimming. You will never miss your child(ren) swim if you are timing! SMAC and all other teams need to provide timers at meets in proportion to the number of swimmers entered. Nothing makes the Meet Host happier than additional volunteer timers.

The timer is the best position if you like to cheer on your child(ren) and their teammates.

Certified USA Swimming Official Positions – All of the following are certified positions. Each official will go through an apprenticeship so they learn exactly what to do and are confident that once they are certified, they know what they are doing. Some of the certified positions require USA Swimming membership. It is important to SMAC and to swimming in Virginia to have certified officials among our parent volunteers, so SMAC pays the USA Swimming membership for all officials whose position requires it.

SMAC and all other teams need to provide certified officials at meets we attend. Nothing makes the Meet Referee and Meet Director happier than lots of officials volunteering to work. You’ll see many of the same faces at meets and will make friends from all over the state.

Certified Officials need to be disinterested spectators. They may be very interested, but must be impartial at all times. Most certified officials are “fans” of the sport as well as being parents, former parents, or grandparents of swimmers. They are very interested in certain swimmers’ performances, but you wouldn’t know which swimmers by watching the offical working.

Dry Deck (called this because you will stay dry in these positions)
Timing Equipment Operator (Colorado Timing System) – This position runs the Colorado timing system, which is the machine which gives the swimmers their time from the pads and buttons and displays it for the audience. Requires attention to each heat as it swims. Most of the time this person is pushing a few buttons while watching each of the heats swim.

Timing Judge – This position takes the data from the Colorado timing system and the backup times from the manual watches and applies the rules to arrive at the official time for each swimmer. This is a paper and pencil job – no computer is used by the Timing Judge. If you like math and problem solving, this is your job. Doesn’t require attention to each heat as it swims because the Timing Judge is working with historical data after the heat is over.

Recorder – This position takes the data electronically from the Colorado system and combines it with the data from the Timing Judge to put it into a specialized database (Meet Manager). This is the “computer person”. Prints reports, handles changes to the swimmers or heats during the meet, this position also doesn’t require attention to each heat as it swims because it is working either after or before the heat swims.

Wet Deck (called this because you will be next to the pool – your feet will likely get wet)
Stroke & Turn Judge – This position is the official who watches swimmers while they are in the water to ensure they are using legal form. The stroke & turn judge is one of the officials who can disqualify a swimmer for illegal swimming technique. This is the official who you may see on the pool deck raising a hand to indicate a potential disqualification.

Starter – This position is the official who says “Take Your Mark” and starts the timing system. The Starter’s sole function is to do everything possible to ensure a fair start for each swimmer. One needs to be an experienced stroke & turn judge before becoming a Starter.

Referee – This position is responsible for everything having to do with swimmers at a swim meet. The Referee blows the whistle to begin the heats, watches the swimmers in the water, adjudicates potential disqualifications identified by the Stroke & Turn judges, evaluates (wth the Starter) false starts, and is responsible for the overall conduct of the meet. One needs to be an experienced Starter before becoming a Referee.