Swimming Technical Officials - STOs


AASC is run by volunteers, coaches, technical officials, committee members etc.

Swimmers’ parents / guardians are expected to help in some capacity, be it assisting on poolside during competitions, fundraising, administrative tasks, organising and helping at AASC, Local or District competitions etc.

At least one adult from each family will initially be required to qualify as a minimum level of club timekeeper and be prepared to regularly time keep at competitions. Courses are arranged on a frequent basis. As your child progresses through the club, at least one parent will be required to gain further technical official qualifications. At District Squad level, at least one parent must commence training to become a judge and will be expected to qualify by the time their swimmer reaches National/Performance Squads.

We work on the principle that if everyone contributes a little then no one should have to do a lot (unless they want to!).

Technical Officials

At any swimming meet there are a range of different people involved in running the competition. Technical officials are the people in white who are responsible for ensuring that the rules of swimming are upheld and that all swimmers have the opportunity to compete fairly in whatever events they swim. At any meet there are a range of different officials including referee(s), starter, judges (stroke, finish and turns) and timekeepers. We need at least 20 officials across the different levels of qualification to run a meet!

Why should I become an Official

As a ‘swimming parent’ you spend a lot of time attending swimming meets. Becoming an official gives you an insight into how swimming meets work, provides you with something to do when son/daughter isn’t swimming and is a great source of free sweeties. From the Club’s perspective we need a pool of officials inside the club so that we can run our own meets and support District level meets where we must supply a minimum number of officials or risk a financial penalty.

How do I become an Official

The first qualification to obtain is usually that of timekeeper. All that is required is the attendance at one course, lasting no more than 2 or 3 hours. If you are interested, please let us know & we can organise in-house training for this.

In order to extend your qualification beyond timekeeping you need to attend a small number of workshop sessions and then complete a series of practical mentored sessions, recorded in a workbook, focusing upon the duties associated with the qualification being worked towards. Apart from the Referee course there are no written exams. There are 4 grades of officials as follows:- (a) Judge level 1; (b) Judge level 2; (c) Judge level 2 & starter and (d) referee. No prior knowledge of swimming rules is assumed at the start of training to become an official. All you need is a clipboard, a pen and an enthusiasm for swimming. In addition, AASC will organise informal mentoring sessions during squad training sessions where trainees can spend time with a qualified judge in a relaxed non-competition environment to practice their observation skills.

Judge Level 1

This is the first level of British qualification for which the minimum age is 15. It encompasses the role and duties of a Timekeeper, Chief Timekeeper and Inspector of Turns.

Timekeeper - You record the time the swimmer takes to complete the race using a stopwatch and record it on the heat sheets. If the meet is working with Automatic Officiating Equipment (AOE) i.e. electronics then there will also be a secondary ‘back-up’ button that you need to push when the swimmer completes the race. If the meet is using manual times the Chief Timekeeper will collect the time sheets for each event.

Chief Timekeeper – to ensure the timekeepers perform their role. If the meet is manual (ie not electronic - AOE) they collect the time sheets from the timekeeper after each event and work out the finishing times for the swimmers based on the order of the finish in agreement with the referee.

Inspector of Turns – as a J1 you are also expected to be responsible for looking at the swimmers turns and finishes. Do not worry - you cannot disqualify a swimmer, all you do is report an infringement if you see it to the Referee or Chief Inspector of Turns. The only person who can disqualify a swimmer is the Referee. If you “think” you saw an infringement then you must give the swimmer the benefit of doubt. This part of J1 requires knowledge of the rules relating to the turn and finish for each stroke but this is where the mentoring will help since you will be attending meets and placed with more experienced officials who will ask questions and explain what you should be looking for.

Chief Inspector of Turns – is the link between the Inspector of Turns (J1) and the Referee. He/she takes the report from the time keeper to the referee.

Relay take-Off Judge – another role that J1s are expected to do is to watch the take-over when the incoming swimmer touches and the swimmer on the blocks dives in. If you see an infringement you report it to the Chief Inspector of Turns/Referee. Again training is given in the rules operating for this element of the race.

Judge Level 2

This is the second level of qualification. It encompasses the role and duties in relation to all aspects of judging and the theoretical role and duties of Starter. This is based around a workshop session followed by practical sessions with an experienced official and a final practical session.

Judges of stroke: J2 officials are responsible for ensuring that all stroke rules are complied with. As with J! Stroke judges do not disqualify swimmers. Rather they report observed infringements to the Referee who will disqualify the swimmer.

Finish judge: writes the lane order of swimmers as they finish and passes these to the Referee. An important role even in the meets with electronics as sometimes these systems fail!

Judge Level 2 - Starter

This role is the most visible and easiest to understand role. The starter’s role is to ensure that the start is fair for all swimmers. As with J2 this is based around a workshop session followed by practical sessions with an experienced official and a final assessed practical session.


This role is the highest level of qualification in British Swimming and combines several theory sessions, an exam and assessed practical sessions. The Referee is in overall control of all aspects of the meet and is responsible for health and safety as well as ensuring that the competition is fair. It to the Referee that judges report observed infringements and who decides whether these will be accepted.


Some parents may prefer to undertake a role that is not poolside so the recorders position is ideal. In summary the recorder captures and logs all the times and other information for a meet on specialist software. There is training available for this and a small exam at the end. This would suit someone who enjoys working with numbers.

What do I do next

Contact the club STO Training Coordinator (Andy Coueslant – andrew.coueslant@gmail.com) to register your interest & we will try to source an appropriate course for you to attend as soon as possible.

Click here to download British Swimming Judge Application Form

Click here to download British Swimming Recorder Exam Application Form