BECOME AN OFFICIAL AT CSLA!
Officials are the backbone of a swim meet.
Competitive swimming requires an army of officials and volunteers to ensure that each competition runs smoothly. On the officials side the tasks are numerous and require some training. We provide the training sessions here at CSLA so watch Upcoming Events on our Home Page for information about sign up for training sessions
Please contact our CSLA Official’s Coordinator, TBD, by e-mail
Without sufficient officials meets cannot happen.
How to sign up as an official at a swim meet:
To sign up:
1) Watch for the email or listing of a request for officials for a meet your child or our club is participating in and click on the sign up link.
2) Sign up for the session or sessions that you would like to work at. You may request the task you would like to do however meet management of the meet will ultimately decide what task they will be able to offer you.
3) Our CSLA Officials’ coordinator will count your participation based on the sign up. If you work at a meet and have not signed up in advance, it is your responsibility to let the CSLA Officials’ coordinator know what session(s) you worked.
There are many positions for officials which are outlined here with a brief description of their tasks:
Timer: There are many timers on deck and they take the split times and final times for races to be sure that the times that appear in a swimmer’s file are accurate. An ideal meet will have three timers in every lane. If a meet is short of timers they will ask parents in the stands to come down and help out. If you are asked, please consider accepting this opportunity. It is easy to do and your kids will thank you.
Marshal: These individuals ensure the safety of swimmers during the warm-up period. During meets for very young swimmers they will help coordinate the groups of swimmers (heats) in each race so that they don’t wander off or forget their race because they were playing with their friends. This is a great way to start volunteering at meets with young children.
Chief Timer: This individual is in charge of a group of timers. Ideally a meet should have one chief timer for every 3 to 4 lanes. This person is the one who briefs the timers on how to do their task and makes sure they stay on task during the meet. If a timer misses their time on a given race, the chief timer is ready to take the time on their behalf.
Stroke Judges: These judges are positioned at either side of the pool and walk along watching the races to be sure that during the race the specifics of the strokes are adhered to. The judge on one side will judge the swimmers from his or her side of the pool inward to the middle and the judge on the other side will judge the swimmers from the middle to their side of the pool. They are watching for any infractions of the rules governing the stroke being swum for a given race.
Turn Judges: These judges are positioned at either end of the pool and will come forward into a lane (they will change from one lane to another throughout a race) and look over the swimmer as they pass the flags and come into the wall. They are watching for infractions in the execution of turns. For some swims, like backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly, there are very specific rules on how turns must be done. They ensure that all the swimmers do this correctly. Ideally a meet should have one turn judge per lane, but usually a turn judge will have to move from lane to lane, judging one lane at a time. The more turn judges we have at a meet, the more fair the meet will be for all swimmers.
Clerk of Course: These individuals take care of all the paperwork that has to be distributed to officials and coaches on behalf of the secretary. They receive the meet fees from participating clubs, verify attendance of swimmers for races requiring positive check-in, announcing deadlines for scratches as well receiving scratches and updating programs for major officials regarding these changes.
Chief Finish Judge: Commonly referred to in Quebec as JAC (Juge d’arrivée en chef), this individual reviews all the times recorded for each swimmer and verifies which time will be the time that appears as the “official” time for that swimmer for the meet. If the swimmers “touch” time is accurate it will be the “official” time. If it is deemed to be a “light touch” then the average of the timers recorded times will become the “official” time.
Electronics: Most meets in Canada are run electronically. Although we still use timers and stop-watches, these are used as backups because electronics equipment can fail and we don’t wish to delay meets while we wait for equipment to be repaired, so having timers ensures that meets go on without a hitch. Electronics equipment includes the “pad” that hangs into the pool in a given lane which is what records the touch by the swimmer. Where there are scoreboards, you will see the times go up immediately. Sometimes the swimmer, especially a young swimmer will have a “light touch” so the electronics people will be aware of this anomaly and they will correct for it by referring to the times recorded by the timers.
Secretary: : This individual posts the results for the meet, verifying results in the computer and double-checking all the recorded results for each event with the referee in charge of that event. When the results are approved by the referee, the secretary posts the results: on a wall somewhere in the building where everyone can find them; on the SPLASH ME app that can be purchased for use on smartphones; on the Direct Results page of the Host Club for the meet; on Swimming Canada (when the meet is completed).
Starter: This person is another highly trained volunteer who will have a microphone/starting mechanism in their hand and sometimes a starter pistol. They ensure that everyone gets a fair start to their race.
Referee: This is a highly trained volunteer official who wears a whistle during the meet. You will see them blow their whistle and raise their arm at the start of each race. This individual is very familiar with all the rules of swimming and is in charge of the session of the meet.
Meet Manager: This individual is the person who has been in charge of the planning of the meet by the host club.
Each of these individuals ensure that the meet is fair for all the swimmers. If the swimmers can have a fair environment to swim they ultimately have an enjoyable experience while competing.
What is a “session” at a swim meet?
A session is a portion of a swimming competition. It usually lasts about 3-4 hours (sometimes longer). Regional and Provincial Development meets (for 10 and under swimmers) are generally between 1 and 4 sessions long depending on the structure of the meet. Age Group meets (for 11 and older swimmers) are generally between 2 and 8 sessions. Usually a competition that is 1 day long will comprise 1 to 2 sessions. A competition lasting 2 or more days will generally comprise 4 or more sessions. Championship competitions will have “preliminary” sessions in the morning and “finals” sessions in the evening. You will get to know how this works as your child participates in competitions. So when we are asking for a “session” it is a single 3-4 hour period during the meet that we are asking you to volunteer your time.
It is important that when you volunteer as an official for a session you remain for the whole session. The tasks that officials take are important to ensure that the meet is fair and equitable for all the swimmers. For example, timers are there to ensure that all the children get accurate times for their swims so if we are missing timers or they don’t remain for the entire session, some swimmers may have accurate times for their swims while others might not. This would create an unfair situation for competitors. Our role as officials is to support the swimmers in competition, to ensure that the rules of the meet are adhered to by all, and that swimmers come away having the best possible environment to develop as athletes. By offering our time we ensure that meets can run in the fairest possible way for all swimmers.
Thank you for considering to become involved as an official at CSLA!
What kinds of volunteers do we need?
The most significant volunteering requirement will be for the swim meets that we will be hosting each season. At these meets we require OFFICIALS and HOSPITALITY VOLUNTEERS at every session (each meet will comprise more than one session per day of the meet).Because the meets that we host are such significant fundraising opportunities for the team we require that every member follow our volunteering requirements and get involved in these events:
Officials require a little bit of training. More information can be found in the Officials section.
Hospitality Volunteers require no training. Their job is to ensure that the food for the swim meet, purchased by the Club is set out in the Officials’ room or served on deck at the appropriate time. Snacks and light meals are a necessary feature at a swim meet and are distributed to all Officials, Volunteers and Coaches participating in the meet.
This is actually quite an important task: if officials, volunteers and coaches that come to a meet are able to do their jobs without worrying about hunger or thirst during the session, the hospitality volunteers have done their job!
For each session of a home meet we require 2-3 HOSPITALITY VOLUNTEERS. Links to sign up for these tasks will be sent along with each competition e-mail.
We are confident that if everyone contributes the necessary sessions no one will have to work more than their share. As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work”.