"Around the Deck" masthead

November, 2012

Did You Know . . .
As of September 1, 2012 there were 10,500 athletes in Potomac Valley Swimming—and the numbers continue to climb dramatically. We are currently the fourth largest LSC in the country in terms of number of swimmers, yet geographically the smallest in size. Additionally, with the start of the new season Potomac Valley has added six new clubs. Expect lots of new faces on deck this season!


Upcoming Meets

November 2012

Date Meet Location Officials Contact
3-4 Fall Gator Mini Meet Washington-Lee HS Chris Palmer
3-4 National Age Group Challenge Meet Germantown Scott Witkin
3-4 DCPR November Distance Meet Takoma John Fraser
9-11 November Open Cub Run
Fairland 1
Fairland 2
Mt. Vernon
Alan Goldblatt
Brian Baker
Cherlynn Venit
Ed Dona
11 YORK Friendship Mini Meet Madeira Ben Holly
16-18 RMSC November Invitational MLK Swim Center Carrie Sanidad
16-18 Swim & Rock Oak Marr Nora Burke
17-18 Odd Ball Challenge Fairland Randy Bowman
18 Go the Distance Oak Marr Nora Burke
18 Pilgrim Mini Meet Claude Moore Art Davis
29-1 AT&T SC National Championships Austin, TX USA Swimming
30-2 Christmas Championships Fairland Lynne Gerlach
30-2 Turkey Claus Championship Univ. of MD Stewart Gordon

Next Officials Qualifying Meet:
Sport Fair Winter Classic, December 6-9
We are fortunate in Potomac Valley to have several Officials Qualifying Meets each year where officials can be evaluated by National Evaluators. Many officials around the country must (and do) travel to meets where they can be evaluated under the National Certification Program.

Officials Qualifying Meets (OQMs) provide the opportunity for evaluation for N2 and N3 level. But more importantly, they are a great way to get feedback about our skills as officials. You can request an evaluation solely for educational purposes, if you wish. USA Swimming strongly emphasizes that the process should focus mentoring to ensure success or eventual success in achieving advancement. Mentors make sure officials know the certification expectations for the position and provide constructive feedback and active mentoring during the meet.

To be evaluated at an Officials Qualifying Meet (OQM), you must work at least 4 sessions as an official at the meet. Complete information regarding the National Certification Program is available on the USA Swimming website.

The following meets have been designated by the PVS Officials Committee as Officials Qualifying Meets for this season: Sport Fair Winter Classic, December 6-9; PVS Short Course Championships, March 7-10; and PVS Long Course Championships, July 18-21.


Background Check
For those officials who were in “the first wave” of completing the USA Swimming criminal background check in 2010, you will need to renew your background check in January or February of 2013. Check your registration card for your expiration date.

The criminal background check is an integral part of USA Swimming’s efforts to foster a safe and positive environment for our athletes. Renewing your Level 2 background check is easy. Simply go to the USA Swimming website (Member Resources > Safe Sport > Screening and Selection). Complete directions can be found at http://usaswimming.org/backgroundcheck. Assuming this is a renewal, you will choose “Option 2: If you need to renew your USA Swimming background check” and follow the prompts. As was the case with the initial screening, a fee is charged by AISS for the background check. Once again, the PVS Board of Directors has generously committed to reimbursing qualified officials who request reimbursement using the form on the PVS website.


You Make the Call
In the 100-yard backstroke, a swimmer takes a starting position with the toes curled over the lip of the gutter. The Starter fails to notice this and gives the signal to start the heat. The Turn Judge for that lane signals a disqualification for having the toes curled over the lip of the gutter during the swim. Is this a valid DQ?
See the answer at the bottom of this newsletter.


The Uniform
Officials look more “official” when they’re uniformly and neatly attired. The customary PVS uniform for officials is: Navy blue slacks (but no jeans) or shorts, a collared white shirt and predominantly white rubber-soled shoes. Women may wear navy blue skirts. PVS Championship meets have a slightly different uniform.

But how did the zebra-like uniform for officials in many other sports come to be? Legend has it that the striped uniform was developed by Lloyd Olds, a high-school and college referee from Michigan. As the story goes, he usually wore a solid white shirt. At a college football game in 1920, the visiting team also wore white. When their quarterback mistakenly handed off the football to Olds, he knew he had to come up with a different uniform. Olds decided that wearing stripes would be the best way to avoid confusion. He had a friend make him a black and white striped shirt, which he wore for the first time during the 1921 state basketball championships. Other officials saw his outfit and started copying it. The rest, as they say, is history!


Don’t Assume . . .

  • Don’t assume that because there are experienced swimmers in your jurisdiction, they will always swim legally. Even Olympic medalists DQ sometimes.
  • Don’t assume that because you’ve already called one violation you can skip the next one on that swimmer. The first might be overturned and the second might have been upheld—had it been called.
  • Don’t assume that, because you’ve seen a hand go up at the other end of the pool, the swimmer has already been disqualified. It could be a different swimmer, a different violation, or a violation that is ultimately overturned.
  • Don’t assume that, if the Referee or the Chief Judge questions you about your call, he/she doesn’t believe you or is trying to talk you out of it. This official likely did not see the violation and needs to be able to describe the details to the coach.


What’s the Call?
We’ve all seen it—just after the starter gives the signal to start the heat, a swimmer jumps up on the block and dives into the pool. What’s the correct call?

According to Article 101.1.5 B, the swimmer should be disqualified for failing to appear at the starting platform ready to swim in time for the initial start of his/her heat. Jumping up on the block after the proverbial “last second” and diving into the pool is a very dangerous practice. At many PVS meets there is no penalty for missing an assigned heat. So the better solution for the swimmer is to report to the Deck Referee and see if a reseed is possible.

Note that this is not the same scenario as a swimmer stepping on the blocks after “Take your mark” but before the starting signal is sounded. In this case, the swimmer clearly arrived prior to the start of the heat. The Referee certainly has the option to question the swimmer regarding his/her reason for being late. But, at most PVS meets, the Starter asks the field to “Stand,” gives the swimmers a few seconds to collect themselves, and gives the “Take your mark” command again.


Upcoming Clinics
Date Clinic Location Time
November 8
Stroke and Turn KSAC 7:30-9:30 pm
November 15
Advanced HyTek KSAC 7:30-9:30 pm
November 17
Starter Oak Marr 2-4 pm
November 17
Stroke and Turn Oak Marr 4-6 pm


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.


Timer Requirements and Recommendations
The Timing Rules are Section 102.24 in the USA-S Rulebook. As defined in the rulebook, there are three possible primary timing systems: Automatic (touchpads), Semi-Automatic (electronic button finish), and Manual (stopwatches). The rules and recommendations for timers are different for each of these systems.
Automatic Timing - When Automatic Timing is used as the primary system, a minimum of one timer is required to operate both the secondary (button) and tertiary (stopwatch) backup systems. Having to operate a backup button, a watch, and handle the clipboard is too much to ask of a single timer, particularly when doing dive-over starts with a 15 sec. heat interval. So, the recommendation is for a minimum of two timers; one timer operates a stopwatch and button, the other timer operates a button and handles the clipboard.
Semi-Automatic Timing - When Semi-Automatic Timing is used as the primary system, a minimum of two buttons is required. Each must be operated by a separate timer. A backup consisting of at least one stopwatch is required. The recommendation is for a minimum of two timers; one timer operates a stopwatch and button, the other timer operates a button and handles the clipboard.
Manual Timing - When using Manual Timing, three stopwatches per lane are required, each operated by a separate timer.


10 Ways to Be a Better Mentor
Mentors make a significant and important contribution to Potomac Valley Swimming. Mentoring is an effective process that helps all officials improve their knowledge and skills, and also influences their motivation. Great mentors understand how to develop strong relationships and provide valuable support and advice.

Here are ten ways to be a better mentor:

  1. Be sure to get the person’s approval to be mentored. Nobody likes unsolicited advice!
  2. Help the person understand and feel that you’re there to support them.
  3. Honor confidentiality – everything the person tells you stays with you only.
  4. Listen to their story to show interest and understand their issue.
  5. Identify with the person’s concerns.
  6. Ask questions to help the person build awareness of good skills and areas for improvement.
  7. Identify and confirm performance/behavior that demonstrates good skills.
  8. Be compassionate when you discuss areas for improvement.
  9. Discuss no more than 1 or 2 areas for improvement per mentoring session.
  10. Provide a couple of options for correct practice for each area of improvement.

Ideally, mentoring is an ongoing process that provides a loop for self-analysis that generates awareness, commitment to change, and applying correct practice. For the process to be effective you must provide honest feedback, what the person needs to hear; not what they would like to hear.


Resolution to ‘You Make the Call’
No. Prior to the start it is the Starter’s responsibility to make sure the swimmer has the correct starting position. If not corrected before the starting signal is given, no penalty may be assessed. Curling toes over the gutter from a legal position after the starting signal is a violation that would be in the Turn Judge’s jurisdiction.