Officiating 101

Down on the deck is the best place to watch a swim meet!  By “climbing the ladder” through the various roles required to run a swim meet, you’ll be supporting our swimmers by volunteering your time, and you’ll also be helping to ensure our club has enough officials to be able to host meets.

Swim meets are an essential part of the sport of swimming allowing athletes to test their skill and reach their swimming goals! Swimming officials implement the technical and administrative rules of swimming and ensure the competition is fair for all athletes.

In Ontario, officials positions are filled by volunteers including parents, family members, and individuals dedicated to the sport of swimming. To qualify as a swim official individuals attend clinics, receive on-deck training and are certified by the Swim Ontario.

Throughout the season officials' clinics run by our club are found on the Events page. Without qualified officials we can't host meets. It's the single most important way you can directly benefit your swimmers, and also the best seat in the house when it comes to watching your child compete!

Officials Positions

The MEET MANAGER is responsible for planning, organizing and executing every aspect of the meet.  This individual makes sure it runs without a hitch. They prepare the swim meet package, complete the sanction application with Swim Ontario, arrange for equipment and items needed for the meet right to the awards presentation.  This job requires someone with patience, perseverance and attention to detail to ensure the swim meet is a success.

The REFEREE has the overall authority and responsibility for seeing that the competition complies with all of the appropriate rules and regulations. The referee resolves all questions related to the conduct of the swim meet and reviews any disqualifications.

The STARTER ensures that all swimmers receive a fair and equitable start. The starter works closely with the referee, and assumes responsibility for the start at the referee's signal. The starter steps the swimmers onto the starting blocks or into the water, directs the swimmers to "take their mark", and in conjunction with the referee, determines when a false start has occurred. The starter is also responsible for making sure that the starting equipment is in working order prior to the start of a session, and may instruct the timers in their duties.

The CLERK OF COURSE greatly contributes to a well-run meet. The clerk of course checks swimmers into the meet, "scratches" swimmers that are absent or do not intend to swim an event, and seeds swimmers according to their entry times. The clerk of course may also shepherd swimmers from a staging area to the starting blocks.

The CHIEF TIMER assures that all lanes have timers, working stop watches and/or electronic timing buttons, clipboards, pencils, and timing cards or sheets.

The STROKE JUDGE walks the distance alongside the side pool, typically between the backstroke flags, and observes the swimmers on his half of the pool. The stroke judge ensures compliance with the rules pertaining to the mechanics of the swim such as the arm stroke and kick.

The TURN JUDGE observes the swimmers from either the start/finish end or turn end of the pool. The turn judge is responsible for judging the starts, finishes, and turns during each race.

As a LANE TIMER, you operate various timing devices, such as stopwatches or electronic buttons attached to the automatic timing equipment. Lane timers are responsible for starting their watches at the starter's signal, and stopping their watches or activating their buttons when any part of the swimmer's body touches the wall at the finish. The watch time is then recorded and used to determine the race results.

The SAFETY MARSHALL is assigned the important responsibility of maintaining a safe swim environment which may include supervision of warm-up sessions, crowd control on deck, and supervising the behaviour of swimmers in and out of the pool.

If you know your way around a computer, RECORDER/HYTEK OPERATOR, may be the pace for you. The swimmers' times are received electronically through the ARES timing system or manually by stopwatch.  These timing results are received or entered into the Hy-Tek MeetManager software, where they are matched to the individual swimmer's name. The recorder is responsible for bringing all this information together, for posting the results of races, and for printing labels for the awards.