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.
There are 5 levels of qualification for a technical swimming official:
Basic qualification (usually for young volunteers)
British Swimming qualifications
(The previous levels of qualification are still valid and will remain so.
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 Kentswimming.org
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.