"Around the Deck" masthead

December, 2012

Seasons Greetings
Happy Holidays from the PVS Officials Committee!

The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s may be the busiest of the year. In the midst of all the holiday activity, a number of PVS meets (including a couple of high-level invitational meets) are scheduled for December. Championship meets require championship officiating — can we count on your help?

Upcoming Meets

December 2012

Date Meet Location Officials Contact
30-2 Christmas Championships Fairland Lynne Gerlach
30-2 Turkey Claus Championship Univ. of MD Stewart Gordon
1-2 MAKO Holiday Invitational GMU Tony Fitz
1-2 Reindeer Mini Meet

Providence REC Ctr.

Ben Holly
6-8 Short Course Jr. Natl. Championships Knoxville, TN USA Swimming
6-9 Sport Fair Winter Classic GMU Mike Rubin
6-9 Tom Dolan Invitational Univ. of MD Art Davis
15 Candy Cane Meet Manassas Park Art Davis


Ready to Recertify?
Are you due to recertify this year? Many local PVS certifications expire on December 31, 2012. To find your expiration date, go into OTS, the Officials Tracking System on the USA Swimming website, and click “My Certification Card.” To review the recertification requirements, go to the Officials section on the PVS website: http://pvswim.org/official/recertification_requirements.html. There you’ll also find the link to contact the Certification Officer to request your recertification. What could be easier?


National Certification
USA Swimming recognizes two distinct levels of National Certification for officials: N2 and N3. N2, the first National level in a position, is administered by the National Officials Committee and recognizes that an official is experienced and has been evaluated as capable of working the position at Sectional, Zone, Grand Prix and similar higher profile meets. N3, the second and highest National level in a position, is likewise administered by the National Officials Committee and recognizes that an official has the experience, skills, and knowledge to be considered for selection to work National Championship level meets in the position. Requirements for progression to N2 and N3 levels in the positions of Stroke and Turn Judge, Chief Judge, Starter, Deck Referee, and Administrative Referee can be found on the USA Swimming website.


Why N2 or N3?
The 2012 Sport Fair Winter Classic has been approved by USA Swimming as an Officials Qualifying Meet for N2 and N3 certification. The meet will include opportunities to be observed for N2 and N3 certification in most positions

Why would you want to attain National certification as an N2 or N3 official?

  • To have the satisfaction that you’re recognized as a highly motivated official who demonstrates superior performance standards on deck.
  • To receive practical constructive feedback regarding your performance from very experienced nationally-recognized officials.
  • To qualify to work at higher level meets. N2 certification recognizes that an official is experienced and has been evaluated as capable of working the position at Sectional, Zone, Grand Prix and similar higher profile meets. N3 certification recognizes that an official has the experience, skills and knowledge to be considered for selection to work at National Championship level meets in the position.
  • To strengthen and enrich the sport of Swimming and Swim Officiating in the National Capital area.
  • To be viewed as a mentor by your fellow officials.
  • To help insure that all swimmers, from novice to Olympian, will have the most professional, most consistent, and fairest officiating possible.

Complete requirements for progression to N2 and N3 levels in the positions of Stroke and Turn Judge, Chief Judge, Starter, Deck Referee, and Administrative Referee can be found on the USA Swimming website.


You Make the Call
The Starter invites the field to assume their starting positions by saying “take your mark.” A swimmer leaves the set or stationary position prior to the starter activating the starting signal. The swimmer, upon realizing the early starting motion, attempts to catch himself. The Starter says “stand please” after observing the athlete leave the set or stationary position. The other swimmers stand, but the offending swimmer struggles and falls into the pool. Is this a false start?
See the answer at the bottom of this newsletter.


Are You New?
It can be easy to get lost if you’re a new PVS official, but your first point of contact should be your club’s Officials Chair. If you don’t know who that individual is, you can find the listing here. Your Club Officials Chair can provide you with additional information on what officiating positions are available, as well as when and where training clinics are held.

Just because your club doesn’t host meets doesn’t mean that you’re not needed. Many of our clubs don’t have enough officials to host a meet on their own. By working together and working at each other’s meets, we all make sure that we have a sufficient number of officials and that no particular individual is overworked.


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 on OTS 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.


Did You Know?
The suggested Timers’ Briefing has been updated. It’s a lot more concise and conversational. See it on the PVS website.


Keeping Track of Sessions
Potomac Valley Swimming uses USA Swimming’s Officials Tracking System to maintain the records of sessions worked by officials at PVS meets. For each meet, the Meet Referee or the host club’s Officials Chair is responsible for recording the sessions worked for all officials at the meet. It is recommended that you verify your record in the OTS a week or two after the conclusion of the meet at which you work, to be sure that the information is correct. If there is a discrepancy, please contact the Meet Referee.

The complete User’s Guide for the Officials Tracking System can be found on the USA Swimming website. Information for Meet Referees regarding the simple procedures for recording officials’ participation at your meet can likewise be found on the USA Swimming website. View your history of meets, tests, and other activities by logging in to your account, and going to Member Resources > Officials Tracking System > View My History.


Urban Legends
We hear a lot these days about “urban legends,” that modern form of folklore consisting of so-called facts that can rarely be traced to a source, but are sufficiently plausible to believed by many reasonable people. Swimming officials have their brand of urban legends, some of which we can dispel.

“Stroke and turn judges must have their right foot forward when observing the pool.” While it is recommended that judges put one foot slightly forward in order to better balance themselves (and to avoid falling into the pool!), there is no right or wrong foot to put forward.

“This is national protocol!” I’ve had the privilege to have worked a dozen national championship-level meets and numerous Sectional and Zone meets, and I can verify there is no one single set of protocols and procedures. Each meet has its own protocol, set by the Meet Referee. He/she takes into account the idiosyncrasies of the venue, the staffing, the equipment, etc. I’ve worked meets where the protocol changed in the midst of the meet because a better solution was found.

“Briefings must be read verbatim.” Stroke briefings and timer briefings must be complete and thorough, but they don’t necessarily need to be read word for word. If it’s a stroke briefing, keep it rules-based and avoid adding your own interpretations and emphasis. Keep the briefing conversational and try to make occasional eye contact with the judges or timers.

“No artificial assistance is permitted in Freestyle.” If “artificial” means something other than pure swimming, this is simply not true. The rulebook never mentions “artificial assistance”; it only prohibits walking on or springing from the bottom of the pool and grasping lane dividers to assist forward motion. One could argue that pushing off the wall with the feet is not swimming and thus artificial assistance—but it’s perfectly legal. Distance freestylers in the pool can legally engage in drafting, swimming closely behind another swimmer in order to ride their wake.


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.


Resolution to ‘You Make the Call’
While the Starter said “Stand please,” that does not change the false start result. Article 101.1.3A is clear that the “Stand” command is for the benefit of the other swimmers on the starting blocks. When the stand command is issued, the athletes have the option of standing or stepping off the blocks. The offending swimmer did neither. This is a false start.

Note: the USA Swimming Officials Committee has issued guidance on judging false starts, which can be found on the USA Swimming website.