Swim Meet Officials

Below is an explanation of the various officials at a swim meet.  All MCSL swimming officials are volunteers, most of them parents of current swimmers.  Each team must provide certain officials for each meet so it is important that we at Inverness have a good sized group of parents certified in the official positions.  Please visit the MCSL Web site to sign up for a certification clinic held each year in late May and early June. 

Officials are present at all competitions to implement the technical rules of swimming and to ensure that the competition is fair and equitable. Officials attend clinics, pass a written test and work meets before being certified. All parents are encouraged to get involved with some form of officiating.


Timers — operate timing devices (watches or automatic timing systems) and record the official time for the swimmer in his lane.

Turn Judges — observe from each end of the pool and ensure that the turns and  finishes comply with the rules applicable to each stroke.

Stroke Judges - observe from both sides of the pool, walking abreast of the swimmers, to ensure that the rules relating to each stroke are being followed. 

The positions of Stroke Judge and Turn Judge may be combined into one position called the Stroke and Turn Judge.

Relay Takeoff Judges - stand beside the starting blocks to observe the relay exchange, ensuring that the feet of the departing swimmer have not lost contact  with the block before the incoming swimmer touches the end of the pea1.

Clerk of the Course — arranges the swimmers in their proper heats and lanes.

Starter — assumes control of the swimmers from the Referee, directs them to "take your mark’ and sees that no swimmer is in motion prior to giving the start signal.

Referee — has overall authority and control of the competition, ensuring that all  the rules are followed; assigns and instructs all officials, and decides all questions relating to the conduct of the meet.

If your child is disqualified (DQ’d) in an event, be supportive rather than critical. For beginning swimmers, a disqualification should be treated as a learning experience,  not as punishment. A DQ alerts the swimmer and the coach to what portions of the swimmer’s stroke need to be corrected. They should be considered in the same light as an incorrect answer in schoolwork. They point out areas which need further practice.

The DQ is necessary to keep the competition fair and equitable for all other competitors. A supportive attitude on the part of the official, the coach, and the parent can also keep it a positive experience for the DQ’d swimmer.