PVS Officials

USA Swimming Officials Newsletter
May 29, 2012

In This Issue
1. Building A Team - The Intangibles
2. From The Inbox

May Newsletter Corrections
We apologize that some of the links in the past newsletter were broken. Here are the correct ones:
National Certification Program Updates

Are you familiar with the new breaststroke interpretation?

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Welcome to the June 2012 Officials Newsletter. The purpose of the officials newsletter is to provide a foundation that allows for direct on-going communication with each of you. Articles will cover the technical rules and interpretations, situations, application deadlines for upcoming meets, news from the officials committee, etc. If you have any feedback, comments, or suggestions for stories (or even want to submit an article), please e-mail us at officials@usaswimming.org.

Look forward to hearing from you.
Clark Hammond, National Officials Chair


By Jayne Spittler, Illinois Official

There’s so much more that happens at a swim meet, beyond the actual competition, at least as far as officials are concerned.  There’s learning, training, mentoring, socializing……. Attention to these aspects can create a strong sense of teamwork that helps create a positive, relaxed meet environment for athletes, coaches and officials.

Here are some tips for meet referees looking to optimize the performance of the officials’ team and the fun level of the meet.
  • Share your dream/vision/hopes for the meet with your assigned and/or veteran officials. Gain buy-in, and ask them to reach out to create one team of officials. Suggestions for them: attend all officials’ meetings when other duties don’t interfere; sit with new faces in hospitality and socials; don’t act or be perceived as a closed group or the “in crowd.”
  • Share that same dream with all officials, and issue a challenge for the meet. For example: “Enjoy what you’re doing, learn something, and have fun.”
  • Communicate with officials prior to the meet. An email to officials from clubs attending the meet can serve as a recruiting tool. Invite other officials to your meet that you have met at other meets in and outside your LSC. All of us like to be asked to help. Let officials new to your facility know where to park, what entrance to use, where to sign-in for the officials meeting, what to expect for the meet. Ask about training needs or genders/ages of children if you are running a two pools, or two-ended meet. 
  • Be very aware of newer people working the deck, and help them to acclimate and fit in. At a local meet, this might be the new trainee who could be paired up with a seasoned official as a mentor/trainer during the session. Or something as simple as a quick tour of the pool deck and overview of the meet by the referee. At National Championship meets, first timers meet with a veteran official working as a S&T judge in advance of the first officials meeting for exposure to some of the basics of protocol and procedures of the national deck. This can work at a sectional or Grand Prix meet as well. Asking a couple of seasoned officials working the line to meet with the “rookies,” keep an eye out for them, and introduce them to other officials expedites the “one team” concept.
  • Appoint a “social director.” Task this individual with creating at least one or more opportunities for the officiating crew to get together, and communicating time/location/menu with the group. This could be a friendly debrief after a day at the pool, at a specified location where a reservation has been made to accommodate the group. It could be a more formal “social,” worked out with the meet host. At meets where many people are commuting from home, finding fun places for a lunch gathering to pass the time between prelims and finals works well.  
  • Have fun. Yes, your officials’ meetings need to cover stroke briefings, assignments and protocols, but use some of the time for officials to get to know each other. Simple introductions, a “getting to know you” trivia game, other trivia games, prizes for deck situations (bulkhead wave-eaters, “on-the ball” acknowledgements) all break the ice and make people and the meet experience memorable.
  • Thank your officials. Verbally during the meet, with a follow-up email afterwards, when you see them at another meet. If you want them to come back for your next meet, let them know their efforts were appreciated. Some clubs conduct a raffle for gift cards from Starbucks, Panera, Subway, etc. Non-host club officials receive an entry slip for each session worked, encouraging officials to work multiple sessions. This club’s meets ALWAYS have enough officials.
Building a cohesive officiating team takes a conscious effort on the part of the meet referee.  It is as important to our sport, especially our officials, as knowing the rules of competition and logistics of the meet.  Articulating a vision and asking veteran officials and friends to help make it a reality creates an atmosphere where officials learn, teach, mentor and have fun.


Responses by Dan McAllen

Often officials send their technical questions to the Rules & Regulations committee for clarification. And since we often get repeats of the same question we thought it might be good to share them with you. If you have a question you would like answered, please forward them to officials@usaswimming.org.


It’s the same question but in two parts…….. What is the “minimum number of officials” for; (a) all meets other than a Dual Meet, (b) for a Dual Meet

(a) The absolute minimum is 3 officials. The configuration would be (1) Referee, (2) Starter who also acts as a Stroke and Turn Judge, and (3) Stroke and Turn Judge who also acts as the Administrative Official. This is not recommended and should only be considered when there is no other choice. It is very difficult for one to act as both a Stroke and Turn official and also as the Administrative Official unless that person has considerable experience in both positions.

(b) For dual meets the minimum number of officials is two. In that configuration both the Referee and Starter would also serve as Stroke and Turn Judges.


I have some more questions about what constitutes a false start even though the call is not my jurisdiction.  What about any kind of movement for example a flinch or a shift of a foot after the swimmer has reached the set position but before the race is released that DOES NOT result in the swimmer entering into the water early?  The swimmer resets him/herself before the race is sent. Is that a false start?

Rule 101.2C requires a swimmer to be "stationary" at the start. The term stationary means that the athlete is in a fixed or established position on the starting block. An athlete can be in a stationary position and not be motionless.  As long as the swimmer did not change his/her relative position on the blocks, a muscle tic or flinch, or moving ones foot back to get a better set, would all fit within the definition of stationary, and movements of those types would not rise to the level of a false start. A swimmer who initiates a starting motion, and then stops and resets to a stationary position prior to the starting signal should not be charged with a false start.


I would like to see a discussion on situations where a swimmer adjusts their goggles during the swim, particularly during the breaststroke and butterfly.

Breaststroke rule 101.2.2 requires all movements of the arms to be simultaneous and in the same horizontal plane. Butterfly rule 101.3.2 requires that the arms be brought forward over the water and pulled back simultaneously. These requirements make it difficult for a swimmer to remove goggles without running afoul of the rules unless the movement has been practiced. Since the breaststroke recovery brings the hands forward from the breast, it is possible for a swimmer to remove goggles during the recovery and stay within the rules. However, the natural instinct is to reach up with one hand, rip the goggles off and continue. Clearly, this results in a rules infraction for non-simultaneous arms that are not moving in the some horizontal plane.  Removing goggles during a butterfly recovery is also possible, but difficult.  Butterfly swimmers do not routinely bring the hands and arms near the head during the recovery. Again, the instinct is to rip the goggles off with one hand, which breaks the stroke so that the arms are no longer moving simultaneously. Unless a swimmer invests considerable time practicing movements to remove goggles and stay within the rules, the safest method is to complete the length with a legal touch and then remove the goggles before proceeding.