Becoming an Official

How does one become an official?

The first place to inquire is around your child’s team or club. There are probably other parents locally who are officials.   There are many benefits to becoming an official.

Why get involved in swim officiating? Video

  • Best view of the pool
    • When your child is swimming, you can get another official to watch your assigned lanes, so you can watch your child swim
  • Working with a great group of volunteers
  • Help your team
    • Based on the number of swimmers that are each team has swimming, teams are required to provide a certain number of officials.  Fines are levied against teams that do not provide enough officials.  Some teams provide incentives to become an official since it becomes financially advantageous for them to do so.  Check with your team.
  •  Free food and drink
    • The teams hosting swim meets provide hospitality to the coaches and officials.
  • Preferential parking at some swim meets
    • Some teams hosting swim meets provide reserved parking for officials.  This is quite convenient because parking at some meets can be difficult.  Please only use this parking if you are actually officiating that particular meet.

Steps to Becoming an Official

There are a number of steps that need to be completed to become a certified official.  These steps do not have a strict ordering progression (you do not need to follow an exact sequence of steps), but some steps are required before completing others.   The following list contains the steps necessary as well as the dependent steps.  Starting in March 2014, all officials on deck need to be registered with USA Swimming, either as an apprentice official or a full non-athlete member.  The new apprentice official designation allows you to be registered without paying the registration fee upfront.  This allows you to see if you enjoy officiating prior to paying any money.  As an apprentice official, you have 60 days to complete your full USA Swimming registration.  This 60 day limit is completely separate from your official certification.  I.E. you do not need to complete all of your shadow sessions within the 60 days.  After 60 days, you will need to upgrade your membership from apprentice to a full membership, otherwise you will no longer be allowed to shadow on deck.  That means, you will need to complete the full USA Swimming registration before you can complete your shadow sessions.  The form for apprentice officials is available here: si-swimming-apprentice-official.  If it is June, July or August, it makes sense to just fill out the apprentice official form and then submit the full membership in September, when the membership forms for the next year become available.  That will give you 15 months of membership until the end of the following year.  Apprentice official forms should be turned into the meet ref at the swim meet where you perform your first shadow session.  Your first shadow session is the start date for your 60 day timer.  He/she will submit it to the office.

You can alway bypass the apprentice official membership and go straight to a full membership.  But if you do, please complete your background check and athlete protection training as soon as possible.  We will not be able to record your shadow sessions in OTS (Officials Tracking System) until you have completed the background check and athlete protection training.

  • USA Swimming Registration
    • Background Check
    • Athlete Protection Training
    • On-line Stroke&Turn/Timer test
  • Six shadowing sessions at swim meets
  • Attend an introductory officials clinic

More detailed information about each step is contained in the following paragraphs.  Finding the specific information you need on the USA Swimming website can be difficult.  The links that are provided below are for your convenience.

  • USA Swimming Registration – All officials need to become non-athlete members of USA Swimming.  Your individual team may handle the registration process for you (teams do this so they can pay your registration fee for you).  Please check with your team. Otherwise, the form for registration is available here:2017 Registratioin.  Some teams will reimburse officials for their registration fees, even if you submit your form individually
  •   Please check with your specific team.
    • USA Swimming requires all officials to clear a level II background check.  No fingerprinting is required for this level of background check.  It is possible to get your background check prior to completing your USA Swimming registration, but it is better to get your registration completed so that the background check can be properly associated with your USA Swimming membership.  The process is easily completed online.  To start the background check process, go to this link: backgroundcheck
    • USA Swimming has initiated the “Safe Sport” program and requires all officials to complete the Athlete Protection Training.  Having completed the USA Swimming registration process is required to have the training associated with your USA Swimming membership.  Officials are considered non-athlete members of USA Swimming.  Please complete the non-athlete version of the training, and not the parent version.  To complete the Athlete Protection Training, go to this link: Athlete Protection Training
  • Attend an introductory clinic for officials.  These clinics are held a couple of times each year and go over the basics of officiating stroke and turn.  Please send email to john.a.m.smigal@gmail.com if you are interested in attending a clinic and do not see one currently scheduled.
  • Complete the on-line test. USA Swimming has on-line tests for all of the different official positions. The initial position is a stroke and turn official. Once you are a registered member of USA Swimming, you can log into the USA Swimming website and take the on-line test. The on-line tests are available at this link: USA Swimming Online Test. Each question on the test has 2 parts, a question on the rule and the rule or rules that specifies the answer. This requires using the an up-to-date version of the rule book while taking the test. The latest version of the rule book is always available on the USA Swimming website. Here is a link to the rule book: 2017 Rule Book
  • Participate in a minimum of 6 shadow sessions.  These take place at the regularly scheduled swim meets that are not championship meets or freestyle only meets.  Trainees will be assigned to a certified official to shadow.  This is where most of your learning will take place.  Nothing is better than actually seeing the swimmers in the pool to learn what officials really do.  Depending on the format of the meet, there may be multiple sessions in a single weekend.  It is possible to get up to 4 sessions completed in a single weekend.  “C” level meets are the best meets to learn to officiate because these meets offer the most opportunities to see swimmers performing disqualifiable swimming.  On the 5th or 6th shadow session, trainees will start making calls, with the trainer overseeing the trainee.  Before shadowing, you need to complete either the apprentice official registration or the full USA Swimming membership registration (see above for a link to both registration forms). NEW – please complete the following google form for each meet you do shadowing.

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