Handbook for Officiating
Referee and Administrative Referee
The Referee must be a leader whose natural inclination is to serve; an inclination that may lead one to accept this leadership role in the sport of swimming. To serve others, means to understand and be aware of the athletes, officials, coaches, parents and others in the sport. The referee leads by example in showing respect, honesty, fairness, integrity and responsible behavior that characterize authentic sportsmanship.
The Referee provides the example to the swimming community through his/her commitments to the sport of swimming. The Referee is committed to:
- ensuring the integrity of the sport and the profession of officiating;
- conducting him/herself with dignity and good humor, while ensuring fair and equitable conditions for the competition;
- remaining impartial, while sustaining positive relationships and building trust in the swim community;
maintaining a current understanding of the rules and their application; and
- fostering the growth in expertise of all officials through teaching, providing workshops and working with officials on the deck. The referee is the primary leader and educator for both new and experienced officials.
The magnitude of the referee's responsibilities is quickly realized by a review of Article 102.13 in USA Swimming Rules and Regulations. The referee:
- Shall have full authority over all officials and shall assign and instruct them;
- Shall enforce all applicable rules and shall decide all questions relating to the actual conduct of the meet;
- Can overrule any meet official on a point of rule interpretation, or on a judgment decision pertaining to an action which the Referee has personally observed;
- Shall also disqualify a swimmer(s) for any violations of the rules that the Referee personally observes and shall at the same time raise one hand overhead with open palm. If the Referee does not make such a signal there shall be no penalty;
- Shall signal the starter that all officials are in position, that the course is clear, and that the competition can begin, before each race; shall assign marshals with specific instructions;
- Shall give a decision on any point where the opinions of the judges differ; shall have authority to intercede in a competition at any stage, to ensure that the racing conditions are observed;
- When automatic or semiautomatic officiating equipment is used and an apparent malfunction occurs it shall be his/her responsibility to make an immediate investigation to determine whether the swimmer finished in accordance with the rules and/or if there was an actual equipment malfunction;
- He may at his/her discretion prohibit the use of any bell, siren, horn or other artificial noisemaker during the meet;
- The Referee may modify any rule for a competitive swimmer who has a disability. Such modification shall be in accordance with Article 105 of the current edition of United States Swimming Rules and Regulations;
- Refer to 102.11 concerning protests. Specifically, rule 102.11.1 stipulates:
"Protests against judgment decisions of starters, stroke, turn, place and relay takeoff judges can only be considered by the Referee of the meet and the Referee’s decision shall be final."
The referee must be knowledgeable of:
- Timing procedures, equipment and the specific rules that apply to each type of equipment used;
- Across-the-board judging procedures;
- Check in and seeding procedures;
- Starting procedures, rules and application;
- Recording and balloting procedures;
- Stroke and Turn Judging, stroke rules, jurisdiction, application and enforcement.
The referee must have mastered the application and use of the starting and of stroke and turn rules, their fair enforcement and appropriate judging. S/he is responsible for the effective functioning of the meet and will monitor, and assist as necessary, all officials in performing their functions to ensure the participants are provided with a quality competitive swimming environment.
The referee must have learned, acquired and posses: a sound swimming leadership, a positive swimming attitude and active administrative skills.
1. Sound Swimming Leadership
Sound swimming leadership is based on a thorough knowledge of the rules and the reason for the rules - to ensure fair and equitable conditions of competition and uniformity in the sport. Swimming leadership is a skill that can only be developed through participation. Substituting opinion for rules, no matter how well intentioned, invites protests and challenges.
2. Positive Swimming Attitude
The referee's confidence in understanding the swimming rules, his respect for the other officials and his/her understanding for those who are still gaining knowledge of the sport contribute to a positive swimming attitude. The attitude is manifest in the referee’s efforts to ensure that all other officials, swimmers and coaches are able to perform their respective tasks to their highest potentials within the meet and the sport of swimming.
3. Active Administrative Skills
The referee has responsibilities before, during and after the competition.
Before the meet - The referee should contact the meet director and coordinate any special requirements for the meet before the day of competition. On the day of competition the referee should arrive in time (at least one hour) to adequately perform pre-meet responsibilities. S/He should confer with the meet director; obtain a list of meet officials; inspect the facilities, with specific attention to any safety issues in the meet venue; review seeding and administrative procedures; conduct a
coaches' briefing (if needed), and assign and instruct the other officials. The referee's attitude during the pre-meet briefing can establish a tone for the meet. S/He should assume complete control, but do so in a pleasant, confident manner. A sample referee's check list is included at the end of this chapter.
During the meet - The referee's (or a designated deck or assistant referee’s) full attention must be given to every start. The rules require that the referee both observe and concur with the starter’s false start disqualifications. Between the starts, the referee oversees the competition and evaluates the performance of the other meet officials. If a rule is misunderstood, the referee must correct the misunderstanding. If the referee personally observes an infraction, he/she must disqualify
the swimmer and then determine why the assigned official(s) did not. The referee clarifies rules and jurisdictions, suggests appropriate judging techniques, assigns and may reassign officials. He/She also answers questions, protests and appeals, maintaining his/her sense of humor and keeping a positive attitude. All questions should be politely answered to the best of his/her ability. Protests and appeals are sometimes difficult because they tend to be emotionally charged. The referee must
always display a moderate temperament. It is inexcusable for the referee to become visibly angry at a distraught swimmer, coach or parent.
The following communication guidelines for dealing with a concern arising during the competition, are recommended:
- The referee listens to the person who has a complaint or concern. The referee must avoid becoming defensive.
- The referee indicates that he/she understands the person's perspective, and that he/she wants to resolve the conflict. He/She repeats his/her understanding of the protest or appeal to the person who has the complaint.
- The referee then confers with all parties involved to ensure proper interpretation and understanding.
- The referee then communicates his/her understanding of the problem and his/her decision to all affected parties.
After the meet - The referee must remain at the pool long enough after the last race to ensure that final results have been announced in case there is a problem or a protest. This time can be used to evaluate the meet with meet director and to sign any referee forms pertinent to the meet. As soon as possible after the meet, the referee should write an evaluation of the meet officials. This will be filed with the Official's chairman or with the meet according to the regulations of the local
swimming committee sanctioning the competition. A sample form follows at the end of this chapter.
In summary, a referee must attend to many responsibilities during a swimming competition. The referee's knowledge, honesty and fairness will create a climate for an equitable and rewarding competition. The referee’s service is a source of building the entire swim community for the betterment of all those who participate in United States Swimming. It is a challenge worth accepting, and doing well.
While the Meet Referee is in charge of all competition and administration of the meet, he or she will frequently delegate certain areas of responsibility, such as Deck Referee who supervises the actual competition, and Administrative Referee who supervises the logistical part of the meet. The larger a meet becomes, the more useful the positions of Deck and Administrative (Admin) Referee become.
The position of Admin Referee encompasses not only knowledge of the Technical Rules found in Part One of US Swimming Rules and Regulations, but also the Administrative Rules of Competition found in Part Two, Articles 201 through 206. If a meet is conducted under the Age Group or Senior Program of an LSC, then specific rules concerning eligibility, registration and conduct of the meet may apply which will be addressed in the LSC’s Handbook. Therefore, this position requires a Referee with
a high level of experience.
Duties of the Administrative Referee
- Deputy Meet Referee who may be in charge when the Meet Referee is called away
- Supervision of:
- Clerk of Course
- Timing Equipment Operator & Timing Judge
- Computer Operators and Desk Personnel
- Results from Preliminary and Final Heats
- Director of Intelligence for Meet Referee
- Develop a feel for what Issues are arising
- Coaches frequently bring concerns or questions to you first
- Maintain an objective view of DQ’s
- Often, preventive officiating starts with you
- Entry Problems/Scratch Issues/Timing Resolution
- Be a sounding board for the Meet Referee
- Trainer for Apprentice Admin Referee
**MOST IMPORTANT** Obtain a copy of the meet information for review prior to sanctioning and mailing to clubs
The difference between a mediocre or poorly run meet, and a highly successful one is usually found in the level of advance planning. If an Admin Referee pays attention to the details of preparation, he or she will have a significant influence upon the success of the meet. Being pro active really pays off. Before the LSC individual responsible for sanctions has reviewed the meet information and approved it, either the Meet or Admin Referee should double check to insure conformance with
all US Swimming and LSC technical and administrative rules and policies.
This is true for a meet that is being held for the first time, as well as the "annual" meet which has been held for several years. Simply copying the previous year’s meet information, while only changing the dates, is fraught with problems. It is usual for LSC policies to change which may impact significantly upon the "annual" meet and render the previous year’s meet information invalid.
Particular attention should be paid to clarity of information. Any statements regarding procedures which conflict with rules, and potential areas of confusion must be corrected prior to granting the sanction, printing and general distribution. At the very least, the Admin Referee must know how the meet information presents direction and guidelines to the coaches. Having studied the meet information in advance will enable you to intercept many situations and answer many questions.
Particular points that an Admin Referee should remember in his or her pre-meet preparations include the following:
- Eligibility, Registration, and Proof of Times
Check the meet information as it pertains to eligibility, and make sure there are no conflicts with LSC or USA Swimming rules. Particularly review relays and who is allowed to swim. Be prepared to address issues of eligibility and what a swimmer might have to do to ensure eligibility. Determine how USA Swimming registration requirements have been met. Be alert for potential problems dealing with club transfer issues. In regard to entry times, will proof of time be required? If so, what
method will be used to verify times? Will a post meet verification of time be required? In age group meets, be alert to time standards and how they apply to eligibility in qualifying for events.
- Meet Entries
Check with the Meet Referee to see if he or she wants you to supervise the entry process. The logistics would need to be worked out with the Meet Director and the computer personnel. At the least you should request that a psyche sheet, or entry summary be prepared prior to seeding to catch potential errors and prevent reseeding an event and reprinting a heat sheet. At the least check the heat sheets well before the session to head off any problems.
- Clerk of Course
Even though many meets are pre seeded, a clerk of course is a valuable ally at any level of competition. At a deck seeded meet, or prelim/finals meet where there are deck seeded events, they are indispensable. This is especially true for distance events and/or relays which often require a positive check in. The clerk of course helps with scratches, relay cards, and is a general communicator with coaches. Often the clerk’s station will handle heat sheets for coaches as well as general
information. At the younger levels of age group meets the clerk and assistants usually see that heats are arranged properly and directed to the starting area. If a scratch box is used at meets, the clerk supervises it. The clerk must be informed as to how you want scratches handled. In the case of scratches from finals, you may prefer to have this scratch reported directly to you from the swimmer or coach. Meet with the clerk early and explain how you wish to handle relay cards. When do
relay swimmers need to be listed on the card? What time do the cards need to be returned to the clerk’s station so they can be distributed to the lane timers? If the meet will have time trials, the clerk is the most logical person to take those entries and keep you advised. In the case of an event reseed, the clerk and assistants can help distribute reseed sheets to coaches.
- Timing Equipment Operator and Timing Judge
This is the most visible area that the Admin Referee works in. It is most important to develop rapport and mutual respect early on with your Timing Equipment Operator. Make sure you are familiar with the equipment being used, and features of the system. Hopefully, the equipment operator will be experienced with his equipment. During the meet sit next to the operator if at all possible. Identify what he or she can deal with and what you will approve or adjust.
Remember. You are responsible for the official time for each swimmer.
Determine early whether you will use a Timing Judge, or perform timing adjustments yourself. Make sure you have set up to collect the necessary, secondary information needed. Run system differences between pads and watches during non pressure parts of the meet. This will give you an idea of timers’ accuracy and consistency. Determine in advance how you want all timing records maintained and filed. Determine who and how you will watch for records.
- Computer Operations and Desk Personnel
Typically, the computer operator has done the meet entries. Establish rapport early with this individual. He or she will probably be your best friend at the meet. Find out what system and software is in use and determine how flexible the system is. Make sure it will generate time lines and flag swim offs, cut times, and records. Find out how it reports qualifications for Finals. Determine what reports he or she can give you to help manage the meet. Occasionally, a change must be made to the
data base, such as name, team, or age. Establish a control protocol for these changes. A specific "Change Form" should be used, signed by either the Meet or Administrative Referee, and only the computer operator enters that data.
Identify Desk Personnel and their jobs early. If you use runners determine where things get posted and who approves before they post. If they are not near you, establish how you will communicate with them.
Announcers should be given instructions as to what to announce, and when. Particular attention should be given to recording the time when announcing finalists following preliminary events. Review with the announcer the exact wording and information to be announced as it conforms to the LSC scratch rule.
- Heat Sheets
How are heat sheets laid out? Determine seeding requirements (fastest to slowest, circle seed, etc.). For Finals competition, who approves heat sheets before they go to print? Keep some type of log of entries, scratches and changes for a system of checks and balances against the seedings for Finals. If anything appears out of the ordinary, investigate and resolve it. If necessary, be prepared to consult with the Meet Referee and affected coaches. Check scoring at the end of each Finals
session for the next day.
Meet Day Pre-Competition Duties
- Meet with the Referee to determine any special needs or trouble areas
- Find out how the Referee likes things handled-Remember, you may have to step in.
- Meet with the Meet Director to determine any special situations or concerns
- Tour areas for meet check-in and deck locations
- Meet with the individuals handling entries, registration and times
- Find out if there are any underlying issues & how you can help resolve them
- Determine where you will work during the meet
- Try to be next to the timing system operator and computer operator
- If you can observe the competition, you can anticipate problems
- Based on where you are, look at the paper flow-timing info, timer sheets, DQ slips, no show slips and interaction with the clerk of course
- How will watch times be recorded-If you need a time how will you get it
- Meet with Chief Judge or Head Stroke & Turn
- DQ slip routing-Including Deck Referee sign off
- Communications on DQ’s so you understand confirmation language
- Relay take off slips’ availability
- Verify forms and reports you need are on hand
- DQ slips, relay cards, scratch slips
- DQ record form, scratch from finals form, no-show penalty form
- Reports with warning flags regarding age/eligibility, total number of swims
During the Competition
- Watch the races and observe the timing
- If needed do time corrections/resolutions
- Be alert for specific lane problems on timing
- Double check that the number of swimmers is correct
- Watch splits to insure they are being picked up by equipment
- Receive preliminary results and review
- Watch for swim offs-Particularly ties affecting alternates and potential swimoffs in the event of a scratch or multiple scratches
- Approve for distribution to posting and announcer
- Make sure the announcer is announcing preliminary results and the time
- When a scratch from finals occurs, immediately call for the coach of the alternates or any seeded from Consols into Finals (Be proactive)
- Scratches from Finals
- Record and have a sign-off by swimmer or coach (preferably the coach)
- If possible, know when they are called and confirmed or rejected
- Record DQ, who called, and infraction
- Help the Deck Referee watch on deck balance on DQ’s or troublesome ones
- No Shows
- Coordinate with on duty Deck Referee
- Get them posted and distributed ASAP
- Make sure affected swimmers and coaches know
After the Meet
- Make sure the scores are correct before leaving the venue
- Make sure you know of any records and all paper is processed
- Touch base with the computer operator and Meet Director on distribution of final results
- Thank everyone who has been on your team. They have all worked hard with you
- Do the after action report for the Referee if he or she desires
- Leave your address and phone number with the meet host
- On the way home do your own post meet evaluation reflecting on what you’ll do better next time