Monday 20 January 2020

With NCASA Championships kicked off I thought it would be an idea to share with parents a few things you might like to consider about officials. Competitions rest on their shoulders, without them there is no organised licensed competition, so a few snippets of insight for you. Swimmers always check with us to see if they swam clean; coaches flinch when we check our clipboards; parents scan the pool deck during their child’s swim to see if anyone has reacted.

For the record, none of us get paid, not one, not even at Nationals. We are all volunteers and most of us are or were swim mums and dads. We officiate so we can give back to the sport and for no other reason (apart from the odd free lunch). So here are a few things we would really like every swimmer and parent to know:

  1. WE HAVE TO BE HERE! Swim England licensing criteria requires licensed officials on deck. Without us, your swim doesn’t count. So no medals, no times on rankings, no qualification for county, regional or national events. Even at world championships and olympics – where everyone is capable of swimming legally – we have to be there to ensure a level playing field for everyone to allow your times to be counted and added to the rankings database.
  2. WE DONT ENJOY DISQUALIFYING SWIMMERS. There is not a single official who enjoys disqualification – whether it involves a 6 year old or an 18 year old. We probably dislike it more than you do! We don’t like to make you cry, we don’t want to ruin your drive home, and we aren’t trying to get you to quit. BUT – if we didn’t do our job it’s not fair to the kid who swam the stroke properly to have to compete against someone who didn’t. It’s that simple. At every officials briefing there is the same mantra “The swimmer gets the benefit of the doubt” alongside “we are observers, not inspectors”. If we disqualify you it’s because we saw something illegal and its our job to ensure it is fair to all swimmers. Through doing this we hope to help you learn to be better swimmers.
  3. DON’T WALK IN FRONT OF US POOLSIDE. The pool deck can be pretty crowded. When you are walking poolside and see a swim official, never walk between the official and the pool during competition. Ever. If we tell you once to move back, please don’t return to your position during the next heat. Our job is difficult enough – walking back and forth alongside a wet, slippery and crowded pool deck. Having to dodge swimmers and coaches just makes the job harder. Please help us. If you’re in the next heat line up behind the officials so they can stop their watches for the previous heat without having to climb over you or dodge your swinging arms and chest slaps.
  4. DON’T WHISTLE IN OUR EARS. There are always 2 or 3 swimmers or parents who can pierce an ear drum from 50 metres away. It’s an amazing skill – much appreciated, from a distance! Please be mindful of officials. There is nothing like officiating for a long session with whistles, screams and shouts in your ear. Remember, most of the time the swimmer can’t hear you with their ear plugs, 2 hats and mane of hair. You are damaging our ear drums!!
  5. THANK AN OFFICIAL. As much as we love it, it’s a tough job. We stand on wet ceramic tiles for hours on end. Our knees hurt, our ankles hurt, we slip and fall, we know we’ve missed phonecalls and texts from loved ones. Every now and then smile at someone in a white shirt, especially the ones you don’t know, and say “Thank you for helping this meet happen this weekend, we couldn’t have swam without you”. It makes all the difference and will encourage us to come back for the next meet.

I hope this is read by a few of you. I’ve plagiarised this from SwimSwam and anglicised it, but the message is the same. Have an amazing county champs, good luck to you all.

Anyone interested in becoming a swimming official please contact our officials co-ordinator at officialsconsc@gmail.com



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