Swim Meet Officiating
Hosting a swim meet gives AMAC swimmers the opportunity to race without the need to travel. Since swimmers are in a familiar environment, home meets are a great introduction to the swim meet culture for new families and often you will see some of your athletes’ best time reductions – especially in the development groups. Additionally, AMAC swimmers are not charged entry fees into home meets and they are also a source of revenue for the club.
We host two large invitational meets (these have been postponed due to COVID-19). These are sanctioned events, meaning that certain rules and requirements have been followed in order for the times the swimmers achieve to be considered official. If AMAC cannot staff the pool deck in accordance with Swimming Canada’s requirements, the swim meet will not happen, and/or the swimmer’s results will not be recognized. Since AMAC has swimmers at all levels trying to make official qualifying times, it’s important for the club to meet all the specified requirements, including having the right number of properly trained volunteer officials.
For those new to the sport, it is safe to say that swim meets require possibly the largest volunteer numbers of any sport out there. For example, our two-day fall meet has 4 sessions (2/day) and each session is in the range of 4-5 hours. Each of those sessions requires at minimum 40 volunteer officials. If you figure it all out, that totals up to 600-800 volunteer hours worked in a single weekend – and that is not including the prior prep work behind the scenes. Needless to say, with a club ours size, it literally takes all hands on (the pool) deck.
Officials Training and Family Commitment Requirements
If you haven’t been scared off yet, thank you…
In order to fill these volunteer positions, you are required to take some training. There are 10 different clinics covering the various officials positions on deck and in the office but the one that all new families start at is the Level 1 clinic (in the past referred to as the timers’ clinic). Clinics can be instructor lead or self-reviewed online and now NEW E-Learning modules!!
Many clubs require families to become certified in a new position each year and penalize those families that fail to do so. Due to the size of our membership we do not have such policies (at this time) but it is encouraged and greatly appreciated that members broaden their knowledge base and train for different positions. Training is not complicated. It primarily involves taking a clinic and then shadowing an experienced official on deck (or in office) for a couple sessions and that’s it – your certified! With the departure of veteran families every year, succession planning of officials is vitally important to keeping the club strong, vibrant, and knowledgeable and the only way to achieve that is for everyone to be willing to learn new positions.
We do require families to provide one volunteer per session per meet. If this commitment is not reached your bond cheque will be cashed. That being said, we normally have a very engaged group of families in our club and very few cheques ever need to get cashed – it’s quite impressive. In fact, we have many families – mainly in the older groups – that often will provide more than one worker and to those we are very thankful.
But beyond all this, volunteering your time and participating at our swim meets is a great way to learn about the sport and increase your understanding of the skills your swimmer is working on in all those countless laps in practice. We are all just trying to provide the best experience for our young athletes and not one of us from the referee on down is getting paid with anything more than smiles and tears. And you will hear many times (and its true) - Volunteers get the best seats in the house!!