Swim meets are an essential part of the sport of swimming allowing athletes to test their skill and reach their swimming goals!

Swimming officials implement the technical and administrative rules of swimming and ensure the competition is fair for all athletes.

In Ontario, officials positions are

filled by volunteers including parents, family members, and individuals dedicated to the sport of swimming.  To qualify as a swim official individuals attend clinics, receive on-deck training and are certified by the Ontario Swimming Officials Association.  

Officiating for ISS

ISS, like all swim clubs in Canada, relies heavily on parents participating as officials.  Most parents complete the Timer and Safety Marshall Clinic and the Stroke and Turn Clinic and spend their time on deck as Timers, Head Lane Timers, Stroke Judges or Turn Judges. However, all volunteers are encouraged to move beyond these entry-level officials’ positions. It will add a little variety to the volunteer experience and help fill an ever-present need to develop deck officials (learn more about Moving Up the Ladder Document).

How to Become a Swim Official

The Ontario Swimming Officials Association osoa.ca, requires that all officials register with OSOA. This allows individuals to track their deck evaluations, officiating levels and progress ‘up the ladder’. It is also a requirement that each official be registered with OSOA before taking any on-line officiating course. 

Swim Officials – Who What Why and When?

The following officials are on-deck at each session of a swim meet:

Referee: 1 or 2

Starter: 1 or 2

Clerk of Course: 1 or 2

Chief Inspector of Turns: 1 to 2

Chief Timer: 1

Chief Finish Judge/Chief Judge Electronics: 1

ARES Timing Equipment Operator: 1 or 2

Recorder/Hytek Operator: 1

Turn Judge-start end: 8

Turn Judge-turn end: 4 or 8

Stroke Judge: 4

Timer: 8

Description of Officials' Positions

The MEET MANAGER is responsible for planning, organizing and executing every aspect of the meet.  This individual makes sure it runs without a hitch. They prepare the swim meet package, complete the sanction application with Swim Ontario, arrange for equipment and items needed for the meet right to the awards presentation.  This job requires someone with patience, perseverance and attention to detail to ensure the swim meet is a success.

The REFEREE has the overall authority and responsibility for seeing that the competition complies with all of the appropriate rules and regulations. The referee resolves all questions related to the conduct of the swim meet and reviews any disqualifications.

The STARTER ensures that all swimmers receive a fair and equitable start. The starter works closely with the referee, and assumes responsibility for the start at the referee's signal. The starter steps the swimmers onto the starting blocks or into the water, directs the swimmers to "take their mark", and in conjunction with the referee, determines when a false start has occurred. The starter is also responsible for making sure that the starting equipment is in working order prior to the start of a session, and may instruct the timers in their duties.

The CLERK OF COURSE greatly contributes to a well-run meet. The clerk of course checks swimmers into the meet, "scratches" swimmers that are absent or do not intend to swim an event, and seeds swimmers according to their entry times. The clerk of course may also shepherd swimmers from a staging area to the starting blocks.

The CHIEF TIMER assures that all lanes have timers, working stop watches and/or electronic timing buttons, clipboards, pencils, and timing cards or sheets.

The STROKE JUDGE walks the distance alongside the side pool, typically between the backstroke flags, and observes the swimmers on his half of the pool. The stroke judge ensures compliance with the rules pertaining to the mechanics of the swim such as the arm stroke and kick.

The TURN JUDGE observes the swimmers from either the start/finish end or turn end of the pool. The turn judge is responsible for judging the starts, finishes, and turns during each race.

As a LANE TIMER, you operate various timing devices, such as stopwatches or electronic buttons attached to the automatic timing equipment. Lane timers are responsible for starting their watches at the starter's signal, and stopping their watches or activating their buttons when any part of the swimmer's body touches the wall at the finish. The watch time is then recorded and used to determine the race results.

The SAFETY MARSHALL is assigned the important responsibility of maintaining a safe swim environment which may include supervision of warm-up sessions, crowd control on deck, and supervising the behaviour of swimmers in and out of the pool.

The ARES TIMING OPERATOR is responsible for the set up and operation of the ARES timing system which consists of the ARES console, touch pads and electronic buttons, starting system and scoreboard.  The timing console collects and stores the starts and times obtained from the touch pads and electronic buttons.  This information is passed to the Hytek MeetManager software for results posting through a direct flow of data or manual entry from one system to the other.

If you know your way around a computer, RECORDER/HYTEK OPERATOR, may be the pace for you. The swimmers' times are received electronically through the ARES timing system or manually by stopwatch.  These timing results are received or entered into the Hy-Tek MeetManager software, where they are matched to the individual swimmer's name. The recorder is responsible for bringing all this information together, for posting the results of races, and for printing labels for the awards.


With the implementation of a new brand for Swimming Canada(http://www.swimming.ca/brand/) there is also a new policy regarding Attire for Canadian Officials:

  • Shirt (men and women):  White Polo or T-Shirt 
  • Pants (men and women): Black
  • Capri Pants or Skirts (women): Black
  • Shoes (men and women): Black


 If you have any questions regarding Officiating please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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