Swim Parent 101: Why do I need to do “Officials” training?


At a swim meet we need about 40 to 70 officials for every 3-4 hour session.  Over the course of a four-day meet that can translate to more than 700 official slots. Whitby Swimming typically hosts 3 meets a year. So finding officials to support every session is critical to our ability to successfully hold meets.  So why hold meets? That is an article on its own, but in a nutshell meets are really the heart of this sport. They

provide an opportunity for swimmers to set and reach goals, cope with disappointment and of course perform.  They are also  an important source of revenue for our non-profit club and allow us to keep our fees as affordable as possible.

While we are very lucky to have many officials from other clubs help us on deck at our events, there just aren’t enough people willing to voluntarily volunteer their time as officials. As a result, all clubs that host meets, require their swimming families to volunteer a certain number of sessions each year.   To ensure our parent volunteers are qualified to be on deck, we also require that each family complete at least one Officials training session per year.

To be eligible to volunteer on the deck, Swimming Ontario requires that you complete a course in each of the roles that you would like to take on.  The first course everyone takes is Introduction to Swimming Officiating.  This course introduces you to the basics of a swim meet and trains you on the role of timekeeping.  A role that I have always argued is the most valuable one on deck, at least from the perspective of swimmers.  

It is also a good idea to take your Inspector of Strokes and Turns in your first year as a parent. This will allow you a little more flexibility when signing up for volunteer opportunities at meets.  More importantly, it gives you a much better understanding of the rules of each stroke.  If this is your child's first few years in swimming, they are going to be disqualified at least a few times.  Taking this course will help you understand why an official could do such a terrible thing to your child! 

If you would like to find out when our next training courses will be taking place, please email Whitby Swimming's Officials Chair, Debbie Hallowell, at [email protected]