Who are officials?

Officials at swimming meets are otherwise known as ‘the people in white’! They are often (but not always) parents of swimmers. They have chosen to support their swimmer and club by giving up their time to train as an official and volunteer at events. 

Why do we need to have trained officials as part of our club? 

All swim meets require a license. To obtain this license, each meet needs to have a specified number of qualified officials to cover the various roles. Each meet is required to have about 22 qualified officials (trainees don’t count in the licence numbers). It goes without saying, therefore, that we wouldn’t be able to run our open meets without our own officials. In addition, as a club, we are also asked to provide officials, ideally 1 for every 10 swimmers, when we compete at away meets, county and regional championships. I’m sure that you’ve realised by now, that our officials are vital for our swimmers to be able to put all their hard training into practice at our home and away meets. 

How do I train to be an official? 

Be assured that the club will support you every step of the way! The training can be completed to fit in with your schedule (some people have completed their training in 6 months, others in 18 months). It is at your discretion how much time you allocate to your training. Some people volunteer at all the meets their swimmer is entering whilst others choose to only volunteer for one session and watch from the spectator gallery for other sessions. 

Click here to find some Top Tips for Trainee Officials

What are the benefits of becoming an official? 

There are many bonuses of volunteering as an official, including the following:

  • You learn more about your swimmer’s sport (imagine the technical conversations you can have over the dinner table!)
  • You don’t have to pay to get into a swimming meet 
  • If you are officiating for a whole day you often get your parking paid for, lunch and occasionally a bottle of wine 
  • You get a sense of pride from helping support your swimmer and the club
  • You meet lots of new people 
  • You can add this impressive qualification and volunteering to your CV! 
  • Last, but not least, you’ll get a lovely white Wiltshire ASA polo shirt once you are qualified, to recognise all of your hard work! 

For more information, please email: Officials in the heading)

Qualification Pathway

All individuals officiating at any meet of any level must be a member of a club affiliated to either Swim England, Scottish Swimming or Swim Wales or be a member of the IOS, or be a FINA listed official if from a foreign country.

When you volunteer to train as an official, you will need to complete an ASA registration form, an officials application form (found on the swim England website – see links below), and a DBS check (the head of safeguarding at the club will advise you on how to do this and which documents you need). The club will cover the costs of your ASA registration and training. 

There is a recognised pathway to follow to become an official:

Timekeeping qualification (minimum age 14 years) – This is an introduction into the world of the swimming official. It covers the practical aspects of what is required of a timekeeper by means of a short theory session followed by a practical assessment. All timekeepers need to be registered members of a British Swimming affiliated club or a member of the Institute of Swimming (IoS).

Judge Level 1 (minimum age 15 years) – This is the first level of the British qualification. It encompasses the role and duties of a Timekeeper, Chief Timekeeper and Inspector of Turns. Candidates are required to undertake some formal theory instruction and gain practical experience working on poolside alongside a mentor. A course workbook is provided for completion. Once this is done, there is a practical assessment (this sounds worse than it is). During the practical assessment, candidates are required to answer questions orally and demonstrate their knowledge. Upon qualification, candidates will be accredited as a Judge Level 1 on the British Swimming Database and are encouraged to become Licensed Officials.

Judge Level 2 (minimum age 16 years) – This is the second level of qualification. It encompasses the role and duties in relation to all aspects of judging and the theoretical role and duties of stroke and finish judge. All candidates must have already qualified as a J1 and completed 15 hours at this level. The training follows a similar format to that of Judge level 1 with formal instruction, mentored poolside training with workbook followed by a practical assessment. When qualified, candidates are accredited as a Judge Level 2 on the British Swimming Database.

Judge 2s – this is the qualification for a Starter at a meet.  Candidates wishing to qualify as a Starter need to have completed Judge Level 2 qualification and have completed a minimum of 20 hours post qualification experience as Judge Level 2. Training consists of a prescribed number of practical experiences as a Starter before undertaking a formal practical assessment. Successful candidates are attributed with the Starter qualification: Judge 2s.

Referee – The minimum age for training is 19 years providing the candidate is aged 20 years as at 30 November in the year of the theory examination. This course consists of theoretical instruction and specified practical experiences. It is followed by a formal examination in November after which successful candidates take a final poolside practical assessment leading to qualification as a British Swimming Referee. Several months are allocated between registration and the formal examination to enable candidates to undertake all practical experience required to complete the course as well as theoretical instruction.

Reading all of the above may feel a little overwhelming, so please feel free to talk through any questions that you may have with any officials in the club.  

You can find lots of useful information on the British Swimming website. 

The Wiltshire Swimming Officials website page provides useful local information about officiating opportunities, training and up-to-date rules and regulations.