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Training for Officials in 2021 Season

With most of the swim meets being virtual this season, the needs for officials will be different from normal. This year, the only full scale training will be for new Stroke and Turn officials. Also much of the training is being done through videos and written documents. The primary emphasis in meets this year should be to give our kids full opportunities to swim and assure they do not develop bad habits with regard to strokes and starts. Proper entry procedures and compliance with rules intended to level the playing field are much less important.

Recertification of Returning Officials

A document entitled “Guidance for Officiating Virtual Meets” has been prepared and is available in the Judges Info area of the League website. All returning officials should read this. You can also print or download the current handbook from that same area. There will not be any requirement to come to an in-person refresher this year but there will be some online Zoom meetings scheduled to discuss the season requirements, especially for virtual meets.

One meeting will be held on Wednesday June 23 starting at 7:00 pm and a second one on Sunday June 27 starting at 2:00 pm. Refer to the Judges Info for access links. The sessions will cover the same material so you only need to attend one.

As always, returning officials are encouraged to do additional refreshing on their own. The sections below show the resources that are available.

Stroke and Turn Officials

Training for new Stroke and Turn officials will have three parts. The first will be video on “Being a Swimming Official” which introduces new candidates to swimming officiating. The video will be accessible through the league website. The second part will be a video on “Swimming Stroke Rules” also available through the league website. The final part will be an in-person session at a pool deck to observe actual swimmers demonstrating the strokes. Returning stroke and turn officials are also welcome to attend these sessions.

Three in-person sessions were held in late May. At this time no teams have indicated a need for additional in-person sessions so none are scheduled. If you have trainees who need the session and would be interested in hosting a session, please contact Bruce Anderson.

Referees and Starters

This year, we will not be doing full scale training for new referees. Many of the typical duties of referees will have less emphasis for virtual meets and it is very likely that some meets will not have a fully trained referee available. Also we likely will have shortages of Stroke and Turn officials and returning referees will need to help fill those roles.

One important aspect of virtual meets is to assure the swimmers follow the proper starting procedures. The whistle start procedure the League follows is used in all swimming organizations so the new swimmers should learn it properly from the beginning. Two people are needed to do the procedure properly. Normally that is the Referee and Starter but can be done by other volunteers for the upcoming virtual meets. A training video will be available in the Judges Info area on “Whistle Start Procedures”. If teams do not have enough returning referees and starters, they should have some volunteers watch the video and fill in the roles at your virtual meets. The Judges Info area has a Starter handbook available to print which has the pertinent information from the League handbook condensed into a simple document.


No formal rules training is planned this year for new coaches. In past years, much of the emphasis for coaches was to give them a proper understanding of entry requirements and procedures. For this year’s virtual environment, we will need to be more flexible and forgiving in managing swimmer entries so rules training is not as critical.


A number of resources are available on the League website under the Private/Judges Info tab. Several are referenced above. USA Swimming also has many resources available (see They have developed training videos for officials that are available on YouTube. In the Judges Info area you can find a document titled “USA Swimming Training Videos” that has the links to useful videos.

Looking Forward to 2022

Assuming that we return to normalcy next year, we expect to also return to normal training clinics, etc. Any official who was certified for the 2019 season will be eligible to recertify for the same position. This will allow officials from teams that are not active this year to join back in as their teams become active again.

Since there is full training for Stroke and Turn officials this year, they will be able to recertify next year. Their recertification likely will be slightly more extensive in recognition of the limited opportunities to gain experience this year. Formal Starter and Referee training will be reinstated next year. Any who help fill those positions this year will need to go through the formal training next year.

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