Becoming an Official


10. They give you free food and a heat sheet.
 9. You don’t have to time.
 8. The meets go much faster.
 7. It’s cooler on deck than in the stands and not as crowded either.
 6. You don’t have to decide what to wear to a swim meet.
 5. You meet new and interesting people - across the state and country.
 4. You may be able to deduct travel expenses on your taxes.
 3. You get to see your child swim up close and personal, and they know where you are when they need money.
 2. You have the satisfaction of knowing you are contributing to your child’s swimming efforts.
 1. All teams need to provide officials in the meets we participate in, or they won’t happen.


Join thousands of parents around the country who support their children in competitive swimming by becoming certified Stroke & Turn Judge.

What is required to become a Stroke & Turn Judge?

1.   Become an Adult non-athlete member of USA Swimming.  You will receive a rule book and other materials related to training.

2.   Attend an officials training clinic.

3.   Take and pass an online, open-book test.

4.   Work as a shadow with experienced Judges on deck at 5 sessions of sanctioned competition. 

What is required once you are certified?

1.      To maintain your certification, you must work a minimum of 8 sessions at Pacific Swimming -sanctioned swim meets every 12 months.

2.      The dress code is a white shirt, navy slacks, shorts etc. and white or mostly-white shoes.

USA Swimming Website:

Steps to follow for the USA Swimming website in case the link below doesn't work:
Become an Official USA Swimming page.
Visit > Swimmers and Parents tab > Becoming an Official.

ElitSwim Club (ELIT) - Officials Handbook

For detailed information, the Introduction, and the benefits of being an official, please check HERE.


Common Questions:

  1. When will you work?  When you choose to.  Clubs hosting swim meets are required to ensure there are at least 2 Stroke & Turn Judges on deck at each session of a meet.  When ELIT hosts a meet, you may be expected to fulfill your share of the work by working the meet as an Official. 
  2. Do you need to know how to swim?   No.

As the swimmers grow and develop, you can too, by choosing to train to become a Starter & then a Referee.  You must be an official for 1 year before you can certify at the next level. 

Call ELIT’s Officials Chair: Suchit Bhatia  - 
[email protected]

Officials are present at all competitions to enforce the technical rules of swimming so the competition is fair and equitable. Officials attend clinics, pass a written test and work meets before being certified. All parents are encouraged to get involved with some form of officiating.

Clerk of the Course (Administration): Arranges the swimmers in their proper heats and lanes prior to a race (most meets held across the state do not use a clerk of the course. Meets are preseeded).

Referee: Has overall authority and control of the competition, ensuring that all the rules are followed; assigns and instructs all officials, and decides all questions relating to the conduct of the meet.

Relay Takeoff Judges: Stand beside the starting blocks to observe the relay exchange, ensuring that the feet of the departing swimmer have not lost contact with the block before the incoming swimmer touches the end of the pool.

Timers: Operate timing devices (watches or semi automatic timing systems) and record the time for the swimmer in their lane. 2 or 3 timers are needed for each lane. This volunteer position offers an ideal opportunity for new parents to work in a swim meet.

Turn Judges: Observe the swimmers from each end of the pool and ensure that the turns and finishes comply with the rules applicable to each stroke.

Starter: Assumes control of the swimmers from the Referee, directs them to "take your mark," and sees to it that no swimmer is in motion prior to giving the start signal.

Stroke Judges: Observe the swimmers from both sides of the pool, walking abreast of the swimmers, to ensure that the rules relating to each stroke are being followed. The positions of Stroke Judge and Turn judge may be combined into one position called the Stroke and Turn Judge.