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Education and Development Pathway

To become an official in swimming requires some knowledge of the sport.  You can gain that knowledge very quickly by helping out at swim meets.  Throughout the swim season, your Club Official Chair (COC) will arrange clinics to be conducted for those wishing to officiate.  Your region may also hold Regional Officials Clinics, where several different clinics are offered over a full day.  All on-deck officials start off with the Intro to Swimming Officiating that includes a timekeeper component.  They then move on to Level II Clinics which includes the majority of other on-deck positions such as Stroke and Turn, Clerk of Course, Chief Timer, etc.  The Referee clinic is a Level III clinic. All clinic material is available under "Officials Clinics" section.

There are other specialized clinics that can be offered at either a regional or provincial level such as Para Swimming clinics and Open Water clinics.  

Swimming Canada is developing a standardized education program for swimming officials across Canada.  As part of the standardized education program, Swimming Canada introduced two new clinics - The Intro to Swimming Officiating and Inspector of Turn and Judge of Stroke.  In the coming months, more clinics will be developed by Swimming Canada which will replace the Swim Ontario Clinics found under "Officials Clinics".

Description of Official's Positions/Clinics

  • Intro to Swimming Officiating (Level I) covers the timekeeper position on the deck.  You will learn about swimming, the official, the coach and the introductory information to be a timekeeper on the deck. 
  • Inspectors of Turns and Judge of Stroke (Level II) - In this clinic, you will learn all the rules of the swimming strokes, turns and finishes.  This clinic has videos and demonstrations that generate discussion.  This clinic covers two positions on the deck: Inspector of Turn and Judge of Stroke.
  • Clerk of Course (Level II) - The Clerk of Course is a position that requires knowledge of the competition and its rules.  They are responsible in making sure athletes are assigned heats and lanes and will ensure swimmers arrive at their assigned lanes for their swims.  They are assisted by Marshals.  They may also act as an information booth and first point of contact for coaches to hand in documents such as scratches, deck entries, etc.
  • Chief Timer (Level II) - In this clinic, you will learn the role of Chief Timer.  As the name implies, the Chief Timer is in charge of making sure that the timers are fulfilling their duties.  The Chief Timer also troubleshoots situations that occur with the timers.
  • Chief Finish Judge / Chief Judge Electronics (Level II) - These clinics are often given together as both of these roles have the responsibility of assigning official times to races. The Chief Judge Electronics (CJE) closely observes the operation and function of an automatic electronic timing system and approves the times produced by that system.  The Chief Finish Judge (CFJ) determines official times through the use of manual (stop watches) and semi-automatic (plunger) timing devices.  Experience as both a Chief Finish Judge and as an electronics operator is beneficial before working as a Chief Judge Electronics.
  • Recorder / Scorer (Level II) - In this clinic, you will learn how to record and score results and placings for every swim.  Most meets now use some type of Meet Management software to help with this.  Swim meet experience is the best way to learn this position. It is called Desk Control in the Swimming Canada rule book.  Deck evaluations are not required for this clinic.
  • Meet Manager (Level II) - As the name implies, the meet manager makes sure that the swim meet runs smoothly from all aspect of the competition including but not limited to off-deck and office duties.  Mentoring is crucial in learning this position.  It is a demanding but very fulfilling position.
  • Starter (Level II) - The central point of the Starter’s role is to ensure a fair start for all swimmers.  The Starter and the Referee must work as a team to ensure fair and consistent starts throughout the session. 
  • Referee (Level III) - In this clinic, you will learn the role of Referee (the General Manager).  The Referee is in charge of all aspects of the “field of play”.  The Referee clinic should be taken once most Level III requirements are achieved  (see certification process).  This position will require more mentoring and experience before evaluations are conducted. The Clinic also touches on the role of the Competition Coordinator (meet referee).

The Official Certification Card

Once you have taken the Intro to Swimming Officiating and answered the questionnaire, you will be given an Officials Certification Card (OCC).  It is important to keep this card in a safe place as it will help with your development as Swimming Official.  Make sure to bring this card with you when you attend a clinic.  The course conductor will initial and date the appropriate clinic information once the clinic is done and you have completed the questionnaire.The first column has the clinic name, the middle column is for when you have taken the clinic and the last column is for your on-deck evaluations.  The card has a front (displayed here) and back portion.  The card will be used to record all clinic attendance and on-deck evaluations and other requirements as well as when levels of certification are achieved.  It will be important for the official to keep their Club Official Administrator informed of any new additions to the Certification Card in order for the official's record to be updated on the Swimming Canada registration system.

For more information on Officials Development please visit

  1. Mentorship/ Evaluation
  2. Certification