How to Become an AMS Official

There are many benefits to becoming an AMS Official…

  • Unquestionably, being on deck at the edge of the pool is the best view to watch a swim meet. You won’t feel like you’re watching paint dry.
  • AMS Officials are volunteers and without a doubt one of the nicest group of people you’ll ever meet.
  • Each team, depending on their size, is required to maintain a minimum number of officials. By officiating, you help your team stay in compliance with their AMS team/club registration requirements.
  • There likely is no better reason to officiate than to get free food and drink at the meets that you work. The Host Clubs provide hospitality to the coaches and officials.
  • At some meets, you actually get preferential parking. Heaven forbid we should have to walk any further than absolutely necessary.
  • Learning the rules of the sport, as promulgated by USA Swimming, will make you dangerous at the dinner table.
  • Most AMS Officials will tell you that standing on deck and being involved in the ebb and flow of the meet is far better than sitting in the stands (yes, those incredibly hard stands), exchanging recipes with your friends and talking about all the other club families who don’t happen to be sitting nearby.

Steps to Becoming an AMS Official

There are a number of steps that need to be completed to become a certified official. These steps do not have a strict ordering progression (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 as well as the dependent steps. Starting in October 2014, all officials on deck need to be registered with USA Swimming, either as an Apprentice Official or a full non-athlete Official member. The new 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. To get a copy of the Apprentice Official Application, click here.

USA Swimming Registration

  • Submit registration to the AMS permanent office (usually done through your swim club’s registrar)
  • Successfully complete the Level 2 Background Check (for coaches and officials). If you have security clearances from other aspects of your life (teachers’ clearances, work, etc.), you’ll still need to complete the Background Check administered on behalf of USA Swimming. No exceptions. There is a fee for completing this step. Some clubs reimburse their non-athlete members for this requirement, others don’t. To get to the site to initiate a Background Check, click here.
  • You must complete the online Athlete Protection Training (found on the USA Swimming website). There is no charge for this training and generally takes less than 30-45 minutes to complete. To get to the site to complete the APT, click here.

Generally, you’ll need to complete six sessions on deck as an Apprentice Official before you can certify as a Stroke & Turn. These take place at AMS sanctioned swim meets (not championship meets). Trainees will move around the deck and work with a number of different Stroke & Turn officials during each session shadowing. This is where most of your learning will take place.  While reading the rules and having a good grasp of these rules is critical, nothing is better than actually seeing the swimmers in the pool to learn what officials really do.  For any meet, a trainee can only satisfy two of their minimum required training sessions. In addition, a trainee can only count one session per day against their minimum required training sessions..  It is possible to get up to 4 or more sessions completed in a single weekend.  “Bronze” and “Mini” level meets are the best meets to learn to officiate because these meets offer the most opportunities to see swimmers performing incorrect stroke technique.

In addition to the training requirement, you must also complete the online Stroke & Turn/Timer test administered by USA Swimming. A passing score is 90%.

Being an AMS Official will undoubtedly be one of the more rewarding things you’ll do.