How to Become an AMS Official
There are a number of steps that need to be completed to become a certified USA Swimming Official. These steps do not have a strict order (you do not need to follow an exact sequence of steps), but some steps are required before completing others.
The following list contains the steps necessary. Each item with a bold capital letter (A, B, C, etc.) must be completed. As of Sept. 1, 2017, an introductory clinic is required prior to certification.
A. Complete a regularly offered “Intro to Officiating” clinic, either in person or in one of our online webinars. The clinic must be completed prior to being certified as an official.
- Sign up for the next available clinic. Some clinics are offered online via Skype and others are offered "in person." Check the sign up sheet and the AMS Officials' Calendar to find a clinic that you can attend.
- Contact the AMS Officials Chair, Kathy McFaden, at email@example.com to confirm your participation in a clinic.
B. Before setting foot on a pool deck, you must Register with with USA Swimming either as an Apprentice Official or a full non-athlete Official member.
- The Apprentice Official designation allows you to be “registered” without paying the registration fee upfront. This allows you to see if you enjoy officiating prior to paying any money. As an Apprentice Official, you have 60 days to complete your full USA Swimming non-athlete Official registration. If you have not completed your USA Swimming non-athlete Official registration after 60 days, you will no longer be allowed to shadow on deck and must become a full non-athlete member of USA Swimming to continue. To complete the electronically submittable Apprentice Official Application, click here.
- When your 60 day Apprentice Official registration expires, you will need to register as a full non-athlete member of USA Swimming to continue on deck. Contact your club’s registrar and Laura Hartman (firstname.lastname@example.org). Some clubs will pay for the cost of your USA Swimming registration.
C. Complete the online Athlete Protection Training course on the USA Swimming website. This must also be done before beginning your on-deck training.
- There is no charge for this training and generally takes less than an hour to complete.
- Click here to complete the APT.
D. Successfully complete the USA Swimming Background Check (for coaches and officials).
- Note: If you have security clearances from other areas of your life (teachers’ clearances, work, volunteering, etc.), you’ll still need to complete USA Swimming’s Background Check. USA Swimming does not allow exceptions.
- There is a fee for completing this step. Some clubs reimburse their non-athlete members for this requirement, others don’t. Click here to initiate a Background Check.
E. Complete a minium of six sessions on deck as an Apprentice Official before you can certify as a Stroke & Turn.
- Sessions take place at AMS sanctioned swim meets. Trainees will move around the deck and work with a number of Stroke & Turn Official mentors during each session shadowing. This is where most of your learning will take place. While reading and understanding the rules is critical, nothing is better than actually seeing the swimmers in the pool to learn what officials really do.
- "Bronze" and “10 and Under” level meets are often the best meets to learn to officiate because there are more opportunities to see swimmers performing incorrect stroke technique.
- There is a maximum of one training session per day and two sessions per meet. This allows you to train at different types of meets and learn from a variety of mentors.
- The sixth or final session will be an observed working session, and all other requirements, including the written test (see F. below) must be complete before this session. You will be observed making calls by a CJ and/or Referee. This is not intended to make you nervous, but to make sure you feel comfortable and confident on deck in the Stroke & Turn position before being certified. The Officials Training Card can be found here.
- The referee must sign that you are ready to become certified as an official.
F. Take the online Stroke & Turn/Timer test administered by USA Swimming. A passing score is 90% or higher. Click here to initiate a test.(Note: this is higher than the USA Swimming minimum passing score.)
G. When you have completed all requirements, scan or photograph your completed signature card and email it to the Officials Chair: email@example.com
Benefits of becoming an AMS Official
- The pool deck is the best view to watch a swim meet. You won’t feel like you’re watching paint dry.
- AMS Officials are volunteers and one of the nicest groups of people you’ll ever meet.
- USA Swimming is one of the few sports that relies on a well trained, all-volunteer group for its Officials. By becoming an Official, you are helping our athletes in a very meaningful way.
- Becoming an Official is a wonderful way to spend time in the sport your child is invested in, and to support your child’s swimming “career.”
- Each team, depending on its size, is required to maintain a minimum number of officials. By officiating, you help your team stay in compliance with its AMS team/club registration requirements.
- At some meets, you actually get preferential parking.
- Learning the rules of the sport, will make you dangerous at the dinner table.
- AMS Officials will tell you that standing on deck and being involved in the action of the meet is far better than sitting in the stands (yes, those incredibly hard stands), exchanging recipes with your friends.
- As your child advances in swimming, there are also opportunities for you to advance as an Official by becoming a Chief Judge, Starter, or Referee. With additional training and N2 or N3 certification, you can attend various National Level Meets as an Official.
- Being an AMS Official will undoubtedly be one of the more rewarding things you’ll do!