Swim Officiating

Swim meets are an essential part of the sport of swimming, allowing athletes to test their skills 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, swim officials are volunteers, including parents, family members, and individuals dedicated to the sport of swimming. To qualify as a swim official, individuals are certified by Swimming Canada, attend clinics, and receive on-deck training.

The Toronto Swim Club, like most swim clubs in Canada, relies heavily on parents participating as officials in order to host consistent and fair racing opportunities.


How to Become a Swim Official


To volunteer on deck as an official at a sanctioned swim meet, you must be 14 years of age or older and Swimming Canada requires that individuals are registered. For the 2023/2024 swim season if you’ve never officiated before, please fill out the following link to get registered:



Once completed, this registration link process automatically informs TSC’s Club Officials Administrator (COA), Jane Brind, that you have filled out this online form and selected TSC as your club.

Once you are registered, there are two ways for a new volunteer to get started:

  1. You may sign up to attend the first two officials’ clinics – Introduction to Swimming Officiating and Safety Marshal – which are offered by the club several times per year. These two clinics are offered together and will be advertised by email, through your Group Parent, and/or on the TSC website.
  2. Alternatively, you may take the first two clinics (Introduction to Swimming Officiating and Safety Marshal) online through the Swimming Canada education system. To take these clinics online, please e-mail TSC Club Officials Administrator (COA), Jane Brind, asking to be registered with Swimming Canada and you will be sent login details for the education system.

Once you have successfully completed both of these clinics (either through TSC or online with the Swimming Canada education system), agreed to abide by the Swim Ontario Code of Conduct, and signed the PIPEDA form, you will then be certified as a Level I official with Swimming Canada.

As a Level I official, you can now start volunteering as a Timekeeper or Safety Marshal during sanctioned swim meets.

A Note About Certification Cards

  • The Officials Certification Card is a record of your completed officiating positions.
  • If you completed the Introduction to Swimming Officiating and Safety Marshal clinics virtually, please contact our COA, Jane Brind, and she will make sure you receive your certification card.

Next Steps 


Once you have gained on-deck experience and feel comfortable in the Timekeeper position, you should sign up for a deck evaluation. Before the start of a sanctioned swim meet session (with a minimum duration of 2 hours), ask the Session Referee for a deck evaluation. Typically, there’s a sign-up form for deck evaluations at the desk where you check-in as an official before the meet starts. Successful deck evaluations will be recorded on your Certification Card so please try to bring your card to each meet. In addition, if you officiate at non-TSC hosted meets please let our COA, Jane Brind, know about your successful deck evaluations so these can be recorded or confirmed in the Swimming Canada officials’ database.


Once you have two successful deck evaluations (or at least a few officiating experiences as a Timekeeper), the next clinic to take is the Inspector of Turns and Judge of Stroke (also known as Strokes & Turns). This allows you to begin to volunteer as an Inspector of Turns or a Stroke Judge.


Officials' Dress Code

The dress code for Swim Ontario-sanctioned competitions consists of:

  • Black Pants, Shorts, or Skirt
  • Black Shoes
  • White T-shirt or Polo (Timekeeper and Chief Timer)
  • Red Polo (all other officials)

Higher Level Positions and Moving Up the Ladder


The most common positions at meets are Timekeeper, Inspector of Turns, and Judge of Stroke. All volunteers are encouraged to move beyond these positions. The club’s ability to host and/or assist at other club’s meets relies on officials progressing through the levels of certification. TSC offers an incentive in the form of a fee discount to members who are certified and active as a Level III Official and higher.


TSC has two Club Officials Coordinators (COCs), Alisha Swinnerton and Joey Herrington. They are responsible for developing TSC’s base of officials.


If you are interested in moving up the ladder (officiating roles beyond Timekeeper, IT and JS) please reach out to Alisha Swinnerton.  She can help you in setting up opportunities to shadow specific officiating roles, make a note of officiating roles you are pursuing, and assist in scheduling on-deck opportunities to help you work toward completing the next level.



If you plan to move beyond a Level I official it’s important that you track all your on-deck experiences in a personal log. 

Swim Ontario provides a template of a personal log you can use here.

While any time you are evaluated and signed off in an officiating role it will be recorded with Swim Ontario, the rest of your on-deck experiences are not recorded.  Another helpful practice would be for you to take a photo of the sign-in sheet and/or the evaluation sheet at all meets you participate as an official.

Click here to learn more about the Certification Pathway from Swimming Canada
Click here to learn more about the Education and Development Pathway from Swim Ontario

Click here to read the Swim Ontario Code of Conduct

Click here for Officiating videos on each stroke


Description of Officials' Positions


Safety Marshal
A Safety Marshal is assigned the important responsibility of maintaining a safe swim environment during warm-up by monitoring the behaviour of swimmers in and out of the pool.


As a Timekeeper, you operate various timing devices, such as stopwatches or plungers (electronic buttons) attached to the automatic timing equipment. Timekeepers 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.


Inspector of Turns (IT)
An Inspector of Turns or IT observes the swimmers from either the start/finish end or the turn end of the pool. The inspector of turns is responsible for judging the starts, finishes, and turns during each race. At the start end this position was formerly referred to as Head Lane Timer or HLT.


Judge of Stroke (JS)
A Judge of Stroke or JS walks the distance alongside the side pool, typically between the backstroke flags, and observes the swimmers on their half of the pool. The JS ensures compliance with the rules pertaining to the mechanics of the swim such as the arm stroke and kick.


Chief Timer

The Chief Timer assures that all lanes have timekeepers, working stopwatches and/or electronic timing buttons, clipboards, pencils, and timing cards or sheets.  If a Timekeeper didn’t start their stopwatch or needs to step away from their lane during a race the Chief Timer will step in to temporarily backfill.


Administration Desk (formerly called Clerk of Course)
The Administration Desk 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 Admin Desk may also shepherd swimmers from a staging area to the starting blocks or other necessary tasks during a meet session.


Chief Finish Judge (CFJ) / Chief Judge Electronics (CJE)
The Chief Judge Electronics determines official times when electronic timing equipment is in use.


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 timekeepers in their duties.


Chief Recorder and Recorder (formerly called Recorder-Scorer)
If you know your way around a computer, the Chief Recorder and Recorder, may be the place for you. Swimmers' times are received electronically through an ARES timing system or manually by stopwatch. These times are received or entered using Hy-tek software, and are matched to the individual swimmer's name. The Recorder is responsible for bringing all this information together for posting the results of races.


Meet Manager
The Meet Manager is responsible for planning, organizing and executing every aspect of the meet. This individual makes sure the meet 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.


Club Officiating Team Email and Who to Contact 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of our Club's Official volunteer leaders who manage recruitment, development and administration.  

Jane Brind (COA - Administration) - main point of contact for new registrations and deck evaluation sign-offs.                            [email protected]  

Alisha Swinnerton (COC - Recruitment & Development) - point of contact for progressing up the official's ladder and coordinator for TSC-hosted meets. 

[email protected] 


Joey Herrington (COC - Recruitment & Development) -  contact for a swim meet sign-up and recruitment for hosted TSC Meets.

[email protected]