Becoming An Official with USA Swimming & North Carolina Swimming

Thank you for your interest in becoming an Official with USA Swimming (USA-S) and North Carolina Swimming (NCS). The sport of swimming relies heavily on the spirit of individuals that get involved and step-up in the form of volunteering as a certified swim official. The success of well-run swim meets and good competitive results are directly related to good officiating. As the sport of swimming continues to grow, the need for experienced USA-S officials also continues to grow. When working as a USA-S Official, there is not a better seat in the house to watch your swimmer(s) and others, while meaningfully contributing to the sport. Below is a brief outline on what is required to become an USA-S/NCS Official and to help guide you through your apprenticeship as simply as possible. This outline will cover the costs as well as some of the other benefits to becoming an official. All this will be reviewed again in more detail at your Stroke and Turn Judge Clinic, so take a few moments to look it over and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Thank you again for taking the first step in becoming an Official with both USA Swimming and North Carolina Swimming.

Let’s get started on your apprenticeship. The course summary to become an USA-S/NCS Stroke and Turn Judge Official is broke down into two categories:

(1) Off-Deck Training
(2) On-Deck Training


It is required that every USA-S/NCS Apprentice:

1. Create an account online with USA Swimming
2. Attend a USA-S/NCS approved Stroke & Turn Judge Clinic
3. Complete an open book Stroke and Turn Judge test online at USA-S
4. Register with both USA Swimming and NCS
5. Pass the Level 2 Background Check
6. Complete the Athlete Protection Training

NOTE:” Within (60) days from the date of your stroke and turn judge clinic; (1) you must be registered as a non-athlete member with USA-S/NCS, (2) obtained a Level 2 Background Check, (3) completed Athlete Protection Training online with USA Swimming. Every appprentice should be fully familar with current Stroke & Turn Judge certification program outlined in the NCS Policies and Procedurces. All steps in both categories must be completed and verified prior an apprentice being certified. We recommend you complete these steps as soon as possible, even prior to attending your Stroke and Turn Judge clinic.

Let’s go through each of these steps in more detail:

• Create Your USA Swimming Account. Creating an online account with USA Swimming is essential, free, and a great first step. You will see later that it links all your registration records (USA-S/NCS registration, Level Two Background Check, Athlete Protection Training) to your apprenticeship. Your USA-S account will help you and the NCS Officials Committee track swim meets that you have officiated, your USA-S online test, evaluations you have completed and other activities. Creating the account is free, easy, and takes only five (5) minutes to complete. USA Swimming’s website is found at (; then check the top right-hand corner; sign-in, create an account. Note: Be careful, create your own username and password that’s exclusively your own, do not use another family member’s, doing so may not correctly link your information/tests.
• Sign up for a USA-S/NCS Stroke and Turn Judge Clinic. You need to attend an approved USA-S/NCS Stroke and Turn Judge Clinic. To find a clinic, simply go to the North Carolina Swimming website. Under the Officials tab, click on Officials clinics -> find a Stroke and Turn Judge clinic. Then, click on the clinic sign-up link for the clinic you would like to attend. Once you complete clinic application, you will need to send it to [email protected] The Training Coordinator will send you a Stroke and Turn Judge clinic workbook, confirm your registration, and inform you of the name of your Clinician. North Carolina’s Swimming’s website can be found at (

• Complete an open book Stroke & Turn Judge test online at USA-S. You will need to complete an online, open-book test at USA Swimming. It is recommended that this Stroke and Turn Judge test first be downloaded and printed out. You can then take the test at your own pace. A large portion of the test will be reviewed during your clinic and your Clinician can help you with any questions you don’t understand. The remainder of the test is to be completed by the apprentice. The test must be completed with a satisfactorily score of 80% or better, and should be complete prior to apprenticing your 3rd on-deck session. To download the test, go to the USA Swimming website, go under Officials tab, click the Testing and Certification and just follow the directions. NOTE: Be careful “NOT” to take the Re-certification test for Stroke & Turn Judge. This test is for an individual who already is a certified official for a number of years. Once you have passed the test, the NCS Training Coordinator will receive notification.

• USA-S/NCS Registration. You will need to register with both USA Swimming and North Carolina Swimming as a Non-Athlete member. (NOTE: Every apprentice must be registered as a non-athlete member with USA Swimming/North Carolina Swimming, within 60 days after their stroke and turn judge clinic.) You can do this on the North Carolina Swimming website. On the NCS website, look under Registration and click on registration forms and documents. You will need to fill out the NCS Non-Athlete Registration form and either mail it to the NCS Registrar (address is located on the form) or bring it with you to the Stroke and Turn Judge clinic. There is a power-point presentation to help guide you through the process. The cost for the 2014-2015 Non-Athlete registration membership is $62.00, (fee changes annually). Some teams may reimburse their officials for the cost of their USA-S/NCS Non-Athlete registration. Please check with your team.

• Level 2 Background Check. In the interest of protecting all athletes, USA Swimming’s governing body ruled that all individuals who come in contact with any USA-S athletes must pass a Level 2 Background Check. The current cost is $39.00 and is good for (24) twenty-four months. Some teams may reimburse their officials for the cost of the Level 2 Background check, please check with your team. The background check is done with an Agency approved by USA Swimming and all information is held confidentially between the applicant and that Agency. You will receive a confirmation email of your application and the results when they are available. USA Swimming and NCS receive only a green light or a yellow light notification, normally within (72) hours from the completed check. This is all completed on the USA Swimming website. After creating an account, sign in and click member resources under the “Officials” tab (currently on the right side — halfway down the page). Every apprentice must obtain an Level 2 Background Check within 60 days after their stroke and turn judge clinic.

• Athlete Protection Training. Along with the required USA-S background check, USA Swimming’s governing body created Athlete Protection Training. This is a yearly, required course for all individuals who come in contact with any USA-S athlete. This is a 45-minute to an hour tutorial course and is available online at USA Swimming. It is located directly below the Background Check link. It details behavior that is inappropriate within USA-S and methods on how to report misconduct. NOTE: You must be registered with USA-S/NCS and have set up an account in USA Swimming’s database to access Athlete Protection Training. And every apprentice must complete Athlete Protection Training within 60 days after their stroke and turn judge clinic.


When you walk on-deck, you will work with a number of different officials that will help mentor you through the policies and procedures of a swim official. During the first (5) apprentice sessions, you will not be asked to make calls or recommend disqualifications. Your role will be to observe, ask questions, and get a good feel for the position. The mentor will guide you into the correct position for your jurisdiction and describe how to professionally observe a swimmer(s) during the start, swim, turns, and finish, while always giving the benefit of doubt to the swimmer(s). The mentor will also discuss the proper way to report a possible disqualification and which rule that may be in question. During the sixth (6th) or greater session, the mentor will step back and let you apply all your training skills to give you greater confidence in your ability to become a certified Stroke & Turn Judge. With a satisfactory final evaluation and completing all the requirements of your apprenticeship, the Training Coordinator will certify you as a Stroke and Turn Judge-Official with both USA Swimming and NCS. After a few weeks, the Training Coordinator will mail you a NCS official name badge.
Minimum Number of Sessions. You will need to apprentice a minimum of six (6) sessions at no less than two (2) USA-S/NCS sanctioned or approved swim meets. Note: Six (6) sessions are a minimum number for NCS certification. Additional sessions may be required for an apprentice to finish and obtain a clear understanding and be proficient as Stroke & Turn Judge-Official.

General Information

1. Timeline. Most apprenticeships will only take a few weeks to complete but it’s all completed at your own pace. Be aware that there is a USA-S/NCS requirement that an apprentice must have completed their apprenticeship to become a certified USA-S/NCS Stroke & Turn Judge within 12 months from the clinic date.

2. Cost. There are some costs in becoming a USA-S Official. Some swim teams may reimburse their officials for some or all of these costs, so be sure to check with your team’s policy. The current costs (subject to change) include:

a. 2014-2015 USA-S/NCS registration as a Non-Athlete member is $62.00. This amount changes annually each year, so please check for the correct amount. NOTE: You will need to be registered as a non-athlete member with USA Swimming and North Carolina Swimming within 60 days after your stroke and turn judge clinic. We recommend completing the registration process as soon as possible, even before attending your Stroke & Turn Judge clinic. After your USA-S/NCS registration is completed, USA Swimming will send you the current USA-S rulebook.

b. Level 2 Background Check, which is currently $39.

3. Websites. Please take some time to explore the following websites which will provide you with all the information you need to know to be successful and enjoy working as an official:

USA Swimming:
North Carolina Swimming:


Congratulations! That is the outline to becoming an Official with both USA-S/NCS. USA Swimming, North Carolina Swimming, your swim club, other fellow Officials and the swimmers are here to help and support you. We thank you for your interest in officiating.

Thanks again for your volunteerism and commitment to the sport of swimming and athletes in both USA-S and NCS.

See you on deck!

North Carolina Officials Committee