Welcome to the World Of Officiating and Swim Meets

The mechanics of a Meet

Swim meets are complex and mimic a small business with many employees.

The ingredients that are needed include:

  • USA Swimming Certified Officials and Trainees
  • Meet Director
  • Parent Timers
  • Equipment Setup/Teardown
  • Safety Marshalls
  • Meet Admins
  • Bull-pen
  • Hospitality
  • Announcers
  • ...

If anyone of these ingredients are missing there is not meet and the swimmers times would not count. A typical meet at Thunderbolts has over a 100 volunteers over the course of 2.5 days. Many of these volunteers spend 60+ hours making sure that any given meet is succesful.

Setting up a meet

The planning of each meet starts many months before the actual meet date. The typical sequence is as follows:

  • The Coaches decide what type of meet they would like to have and which teams to invite (if invitational).
  • The Meet Director, Meet Referee and Sanction Document Co-ordinator begin the process of putting together the Sanction Document (more in this later).
  • A meet File with events is sent to teams participating in the meet.
  • The sanction is approved by the LSC (in our case Oregon Swimming)
  • The meet referee starts the process of recruiting officials
  • The meet director finalizes the time-line and does initial seeding of the meet
  • A call goes out for other volunteer positions.
  • and finally the day of the meet arrives.

The Sanction

The most important document that comes out of the process. The Sanction document applies to anyone that participates in the meet parents, spectators, volunteers, coaches, atheletes, officials ...

 The Sanction Document defines:

  • The type of meet (e.g. long course, number of lanes).
  • The class of meet: Invitational / Open
  • The sessions
  • The time standard (if any)
  • The rules of the meet -> This is used by the referee to run the meet. 
  • Awards

Once the sanction is signed off by the Coach, Meet Director and Meet Referee, it goes to Oregon Swimming for Sanctioning. A sanction is required for a meet to be held under USA Swimming and for the times of the atheletes to count.

Volunteer Positions

Volunteer positions fall into two classes:

  • Trained Positions - Requires that individuals have trained or are certified for the position.
  • Non-trained Positions - Requires some basic guidance on day of meet.

Trained Positions


Officials are required by USA Swimming for a meet to be sanctioned and for times to count. The required positions are:

  • Meet Referee.  (1)
  • Deck Referees (>1)
  • Starter (>1)
  • Admin Official (1 or more)
  • Electronic Timing
  • Stroke and Turn.

Please see official page for more details.

Meet Director

The Meet Director is required to attend a few training sessions with the Head Meet Director. This position requires understanding the mechanics of the meet and being fluent with the Meet Management Software.


The announcer is responsible to work with the Deck Referee team to run the meet. This includes making announcements during the meet, but most importantly announcing events and heats. This position is a trained position.


Bull-pen is typically used to control the flow of the meet and more specifically for younger children. Parents are not allowed on deck and thus bull-pen provides a way for ensuring that atheletes are ready to swim when their heat is called. This position requires some on the job training.


Timers are critical to the running of a meet. Since relying just on the PAD is not sufficient, timers are required to ensure that we capture the most accurate time. Typically for most meets we require 2 timers, but when running 25 yard events we require 3 timers. For parents, this is the best position on the deck. 

Admin Positions

There are a number of admin positions required at a meet. Some of these positions require some on the job training. The two main locations are:

  • Clerk of Course: This position is located in the Admin are on the pool deck. This position interacts with athletes and coaches, is responsible for putting out heat sheets, posting results, answering questions, etc.
  • Front-Desk : This position is at the entrance of the pool. They answer questions, check credentials, register volunteers, etc, 

Safety Marshalls

The Safety Marshall is required position on deck. This position requires 4 individuals at each meet. There role is to monitor the environment around them (eg making sure atheletes are walking not running, that atheletes are using the pool in an appropriate manner (i.e. not playing, jumping in, etc).


Hospitality is responsible for providing food service to Coaches and Officials throught the meet. Since these positions are committed for the entire session, they are not allowed to leave the facility. This position requires some basic training.

Door Marshalls

USA Swimming has strict rules around safety of a meet. This position is required to check credentials of any adult wanting to get on deck. At Thills we use badges to indicate that someone may be on deck and the role of a Door Marshall is to check and enforce this rule.


Equipment setup and tear down is a critical part. This position has three specific roles:

  • Setup - Before the meet, the electronic equipment is setup
  • During the meet - Helping if we have an equipment failure
  • Tear-Down - At the end of the meet pack the equipment away.


There are other positions that we from time-time advertise on the signup. 

Getting Involved

If you are interested in any of the positions outlined email any of the following:

Meet Director or Cleck of Coarse


Other Positions