Why do we have qualified officials?

The officials are there to ensure that a competition between swimmers is safe, equal and fair. Health & Safety as with all aspects of life is fundamentally important. The promoter of a swimming event, with the Referee, has the overall responsibility for Health & Safety, but due to it's importance, all officials on pool side must also keep their eyes peeled to try to prevent any accidents occurring. Fair play is achieved by following the laws and technical rules of the various national and international swimming bodies, which leads to consistency not only within a single event, but also across all events in a league or championship.

What types of officials are there?

There are 5 levels of qualification for a technical swimming official:

    Basic qualification (usually for young volunteers)

  • Timekeeper: An introduction to the world of the swimming official. Competent with a stop watch.
  • British Swimming qualifications

  • Judge Level 1: Duties of Timekeeper/Chief Timekeeper/Inspector of Turns/Chief Inspector of Turns.
  • Judge Level 2: Duties of Stroke Judge/Finish Judge plus continued poolside mentoring.
  • Judge Level 2S: Duties of Starter/Voice clarity/Starting equipment/ Introduction to Refereeing.
  • Referee: Responsible for running the event safely and fairly.

(The previous levels of qualification are still valid and will remain so.

  • Timekeeper: Equivalent to the Club Timekeeper plus the Chief Timekeeper section of Judge 1
  • Judge: Equivalent to Judge 2
  • Starter: Same as Judge 2S
  • Referee: Same as British Swimming Referee above, but limited to certain events ) 

There are also other "non-technical" volunteers such as recorders and announcers, controlling the AOE computer system . These do not require any particular qualification, but are still vital for the successful running of an event.

Dates and venues for Courses can be found on the Calendar tab at

What is involved?

Each level of technical official consists of some classroom training and some poolside experience with a mentor. The referee qualification also involves sitting an examination. Examples of the workbooks for each level and other helpful material can be found on the British Swimming Web site. If you are interested, have a look at the British Swimming site and speak to other members of your club about it. Most of the officials at an event are also approachable, so why not ask them about their experiences.

Remember, the officials are all volunteers and give up their time freely so that swimmers can enjoy their competition. Without them there would be no competitions.