"Around the Deck" masthead

December, 2008

Seasons Greetings!
The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s may be the busiest of the year. But while the number of PVS swim meets may be fewer, the quality of swimming remains high. A number of championship and high-level invitational meets are scheduled for December. Championship meets require championship officiating — can we count on your help?

Another reminder that your USA Swimming membership must be renewed for the new season before December 31. For more information regarding membership registration, see the PVS website.

May your holidays be slightly hectic and thoroughly enjoyable!


Upcoming Meets

December 2008

Date Meet Location Officials Contact
4-6 Short Course Natl. Championships Atlanta, GA USA Swimming
4-7 Tom Dolan Invitational GMU Art Davis
5-7 Christmas Championships Fairland Lynne Gerlach
6-7 Reindeer Mini-Meet Providence Ben Holly
11-13 Short Course Junior Natl. Championships Austin, TX USA Swimming
11-14 Sport Fair Winter Classic
GMU Brian Johnson
12-14 Turkey Claus Showdown Takoma Scott Robinson

January 2009

Date Meet Location Officials Contact
3-4 PVS January Distance Meet Lee District Art Davis
3-4 Speedo Eastern States Senior Circuit Audrey Moore  

December Clinics
Several officials clinics have been scheduled for Saturday, December 13 during the Turkey Claus Showdown meet at the Takoma Aquatic Center.

  • Starter: 7:30-9:30 am
  • Stroke & Turn: 10:00-12:00
  • Colorado Timing System: 12:30-2:30 pm
  • Hy-Tek: 2:30-4:30 pm

Need re-certification? Looking to upgrade your current certification? Here’s your chance. Pre-Registration for the clinics is encouraged, but not required. You can just show up at the time of the clinic. Attendance at a clinic at least once every two years is a requirement for your certification. Be sure to check the website throughout the year for additional officials clinics.


Keeping Track of Sessions
It is recommended that each official maintain his/her record of sessions worked on the PVS Official’s Record Card and have this card signed by the Referee at the conclusion of the session. PVS is not currently submitting LSC meets and clinics to the USA Swimming Officials Tracking System — although this may change in the coming months. If and when this occurs, the recommendation is to continue using the PVS Official’s Record Card to document your sessions. Is your card full or nearly-full? Email your mailing address to Rita Page, our certification officer, and a new one will appear in your mailbox shortly.


Freestyle in the IM and Medley Relay
In the Individual Medley as well as the Medley Relay, freestyle is defined as any stroke other than the previous three. USA Swimming interpretations on the judging of the freestyle leg preclude a DQ for the swimmer who momentarily uses the butterfly kick off of the wall during the freestyle turn and then transitions into a normal freestyle as well as the swimmer who is momentarily on his/her back when leaving the wall for the freestyle turn and is rolling over to begin the normal freestyle. Back in 1997, USA Swimming adopted the following FINA Technical Committee interpretation regarding the freestyle leg of these events: “When a swimmer has traveled a sufficient distance that the official can with certainty judge that the competitor is swimming in the style of butterfly, breaststroke or backstroke, then a DQ is appropriate.”


Swimmers with Disabilities
The Disability Swimming Committee has prepared a ten-page handout with sample situations and resolutions as an aid to coaches and officials. Check it out here: http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/_Rainbow/Documents/90c4e84a-2f0f-44fa-b775-49a4c28dd724/adapted_officials_brochure.pdf


You Make the Call
At a championship meet with the men and women swimming in separate courses, the 1650-yard freestyle is after the 200-yard freestyle with no break. A coach requests that a swimmer who is in the final heat of 200-yard freestyle and the first heat of the 1650 be moved to another 1650 heat to give the swimmer a break between swims. What should be done?
See the answer at the bottom of this newsletter.


Did You Know?
Johnny Weissmuller, the first man to swim 100 meters in less than a minute, was a hero in real life too? He saved the lives of 11 people when an excursion boat capsized on Lake Michigan. Of course, he also played the role of a hero in reel life - Tarzan the Ape Man in the movie series based on Edgar Rice-Burrough’s novel.


OTS - Officials Tracking System
OTS is a web based application that will assist the documentation of individual official’s participation in the officiating program and manage the qualifications achievement of officials. As an Official, you will be able to view your participation in Officials Qualifying Meets (OQMs) in the National certification program, any evaluations as well as participation in LSC meets and other activities. You will also be able to enter your participation in PVS meets and activities. You may also apply for National certification advancement and re-certification if you have met all of the requirements.

To access any data in the OTS, you must first create an account on the USA Swimming website. First click on Sign In found in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. If you’ve never created an account, click on Need to create an account? and follow the instructions. If you already have an account, enter your username and password. Note that, if you’ve taken the online officials test, you’ve necessarily created an account already.

After logging in, click on the Volunteers tab near the top of the page; click on Officials and then Officials Tracking on the left-hand navigation. To view system tracked meet and activity participation and to add items not tracked by the system, click on View My History. This page will list all of the OTS meets that are in the system that you have attended in the last 2 years. You can view any evaluations that were done for you at a meet by clicking on View Evaluations. You can also enter sessions worked at local PVS meets as “Other Meets for:” by clicking on Add Other Meet. Similar to meets, you can track participation in various activities such as seminars, workshops, clinics, mentoring activities, meetings, etc. by clicking the tab for Activity History. The complete User’s Guide for the Officials Tracking System can be found on the USA Swimming website:


Questions? Suggestions?
Do you have a question about officiating or a tip you’d like to share? Is there a rule that you’d like to have clarified? Do you have a suggestion for a future item in this newsletter? If so, please send your questions/comments to the newsletter editor, Jack Neill.


Ladies on Deck
Take a look around the deck the next session you work. You’ll see that while there are usually more female swimmers than male swimmers, the overwhelming majority of the deck officials are men. In Potomac Valley Swimming the ratio of certified male officials to females is nearly 2 to 1. PVS is certainly not unique in this situation; in every LSC in the country, there are more male officials than females, often by a vast degree. At National Championship meets, the men typically outnumber the women on deck by a 4 to 1 margin or greater. And the gender disparity increases when counting officials who advance to positions of Starter or Referee.

Why the scarcity of female swimming officials? “I believe that we have fewer females on deck for a number of reasons,” says Denice Wepasnick. “Officiating of any kind has been traditionally a male dominated group. I know that I personally started officiating because my summer team was in dire straits for officials. Otherwise I probably would have left it to the men.” Amy Hsu observes, “Often I hear the comment ‘I don’t like to DQ the kids.’ I also hear that ‘I like to talk to the kids and cheer for them.’ My own daughter pointed out, she thinks that women like to time so they can have contact with the kids.”

Amy has noticed something about our female officials: “I looked at the female RMSC officials who work as S&T, Starter, Ref – the group I know the best. A large percentage of them are doctors, nurses, scientists. I think that points to a certain mindset: a willingness to make decisions, to see things in more ‘black and white’ terms, to work through from beginning to completion. However, this idea tends to play into stereotypes.”

Do stereotypes figure into all of this? We are, after all, a society that thinks it’s remarkable that a woman with a family could run for president or vice president. Both Amy and Denice feel that stereotypes do indeed play a part. “I believe that still in this day and age, women are perceived as the caregivers,” Denice notes. “This causes many women to hesitate volunteering for officiating due to the time involved.” But she also sees a positive side to it: “I think we are less intimidating to the swimmers. I have noticed that when I am standing with a group of male officials, swimmers tend to directly ask me questions.”


Resolution to ‘You Make the Call’
The rulebook does not authorize the Referee to change the seeding of the 1650-yard freestyle. The meet announcement should have clearly stated the order of events so the coach should have realized the possibility of this situation arising. However the referee could find a timing system problem or have an issue with counters/timers that might delay the start of the 1650 a minute or two.