2021-2022 Virginia Swimming Officials - TIDE Affiliated

Thank you for your interest in USA Swimming officiating. We have a great crew of parents on deck and are excited for you to join us.

Note: If you have officiated high school or summer league, certifying as a USA Swimming official will mean starting from scratch. If you have held an officiating position with another sanctioning body other than USA Swimming, please contact us as the process may be different for you.

Here is a shortcut of to-do's all officials must follow with more detailed information below.

New Officials

  1. Contact us at [email protected] to begin the process.
  2. Register as a non-athlete on the USA Swimming website.
    • Complete a USA Swimming background check
    • Complete Athlete Protection Training
    • Complete Concussion Protocol Training
    • Register and complete Stroke & Turn or Admin Official virtual training courtesy of USA Swimming
    • Pass a final test (courtesy of USA Swimming) and provide your training card to Virginia Swimming.
  3. Sign up for training at TIDE home or away meets
    • New as of February 1, 2024, training may also take place in another LSC outside of Virginia Swimming, so long as that LSC is a part of USA Swimming.
  4. Complete 4 on-deck training sessions, split between two meets, to certify as an official. Each session will range around 3-4 hours.
    • For Stroke & Turn (Wet Deck):
      • You will be paired with an experienced S&T official who will work with you to explain the position, help you to observe all strokes, and provide guidance on disqualifications. Remember, the benefit goes to the swimmer!
      • Distance sessions are typically not available for training unless IM is a part of that session. This is to ensure you see all strokes during your training period
      • After your 4th training sesson, if you require no further training, you will submit your training card paperwork to Virginia Swimming. Once your paperwork is received and all of your requirements are met, you are on deck and are making your own calls.
      • Anyone who would like additional training time, please let us know.
    • For Admin Official:
      • You will be paried with an experienced Admin Official who will work to explain both positions on the dry deck.
      • Your sessions will be split between Split between the Colorado Timing System and Meet Manager (Hytek).
        • The Colorado Timing System interacts with the starter, the in-water touch pads, and the push buttons from the timers.
        • The Meet Manager (Hytek) system interacts with the Colorado by pulling in times. From there, AO's will adjudicate any time discrepencies, process any disqualifications, and work with the Referee to certify each event. They will also push results to Meet Mobile.
  5. Once you have completed your sessions, background check, athlete protection training, concussion protocol training, and have passed your USA Swimming test, you are "officially" an official.
  6. Certified Officials are active within the USA Swimming system for 3 years. Any official must work a minimum of 8 sessions over 3 years to maintain certification.

Returning Officials

  1. For any current official, at the end of 2024, you will need to re-take a clinic and pass a test based on your highest officiating level you are certified in. If you are a Stroke & Turn, Chief Judge, and Starter, your test would be for Starter. Once we complete this, we end the same 3-year cycle that new officials will participate in, where we must complete a minimum of 8 sessions worked over 3 years to maintain certification.
  2. Make sure to maintain your Athlete Protection Training and Background Checks as needed
  3. Complete 8 sessions per calendar year to maintain certification.

Officiating in New Positions

  1. Contact us at [email protected] to let us know you are interested in a new position.
  2. Starting February 1, 2024, any official can progress to a new position under the following conditions:
    1. If you are looking to advance your position to another level on deck, you must first ensure you have worked a minimum of 8 sessions in your current position.
    2. If you are a Stroke & Turn, you can certify for Starter or Admin Official. Additionally, Virginia Swimming will still recognize Chief Judge, although USA Swimming no longer requires that certification.
    3. If you are an Admin Official, you can certify as Stroke & Turn.
    4. If you are a Chief Judge, you can certify as a Starter or Admin Official.
    5. If you are a Starter, you can certify as an Admin Official or Chief Judge.
    6. If you have completed Stroke & Turn, Admin Official, and Starter, you can certify as a Referee.
  3. Training will mirror new officials in that 4 sessions are required over 2 meets. After that, you are certified in that position with a passing test grade and training card submitted to Virginia Swimming.
  4. Make sure that your Background Check and Athlete Protection Training are up to date.

New Officials

Register for a Training Clinic

Anyone who has not previously held a certification from USA Swimming will need to complete a virtual clinic courtesy of USA Swimming. All new officials ae required to participate in the entry positions clincs which are for Stroke & Turn or Admin Officials. Registration for a Stroke & Turn clinic is available on the USA Swimming website. Registration for Admin Official is coming soon.

Upon completion of your clinic, you will receive a PDF training card. Please print it and have it with you for all on-deck trainings. Those cards will be filled out by a mentor who will provide training to you and will be submitted to Virginia Swimming once your training is complete.

Register as a non-athlete account

Once you have completed a clinic, you may register as a non-athlete official on the USA Swimming website. Please go to https://hub.usaswimming.org/ and create a parent account (if you haven't already). Once you have registered for a parent account, follow the unique link for TIDE (and only for TIDE parents) via the button below.

Register for a USA Swimming Officials Account

Make sure as you are filling out the form that you select Official and not Official Apprenticeship as the later expires after 60 days.

Athlete Protection Training

All USA Swimming officials and trainees must complete the online Athlete Protection Training course annually. The core course takes approximately 90 minutes to complete and is offered at no charge. The renewal course, offered in alternate years, is about 45 minutes long. When the course has been completed, the membership database is updated and Virginia Swimming is notified automatically.

Athlete Protection Training is provided through the Education > Course Catalog section of the USA Swimming website and is provided by the U.S. Center for Safe Sport. https://www.usaswimming.org/resource-center/athlete-protection-training

Concussion Protocol Training

All USA Swimming officials are required to complete an approved Concussion Protocol Training course to be eligible for a Non-Athlete membership. These courses are provided by third-parties.

Please complete one of the courses below and save a PDF of your completion. Your online account should reflect the completion, but if not, we will submit your certificate to the Virginia Swimming team.

USA Swimming approved concussion protocol training courses:



When you have registered, and completed your background check, APT and concussion training, please send me a screen shot so I can add it to our officials tracker. Please keep all receipts so that once you have completed your 8 sessions, TIDE can reimburse you for the registration fee and background check.

On Deck Training

As mentioned above, new officials will be provided a training card at the end of the clinic. The card breaks down the number of "walks" or sessions needed to certify as an official. Each trainee will complete a clinic and 4 sessions on deck before becoming a certified official. The clinic and all training sessions count toward your certification requirements for USA Swimming.

For the beginning of your deck training, you will wear whatever clothes are comfortable to you. Keep in mind that Stroke & Turn officials do get wet and our first few home meets are outdoors at Princess Anne. Sun hats, sunscreen, raincoats are always allowed. If the weather is cool, we also allow jackets or sweatshirts.

For your training sessions, you will be assigned a mentor (one of our certified officials) who will work with you to begin to understand the rules and strokes, how to spot infractions, how to write DQ slips, and deck protocol. For Admin Officials, you will learn the systems we use to adjudicate times, how to interact with Referees and Chief Judges, and the setup and tear down procedures of the equipment.

At the completion of your training, you will wear the traditional officials uniform which consists of a white polo, navy blue shorts/skirt/pants, and white shoes. At this point, you are considered certified and can make calls on your own.

Upon completion of your training, Virginia Swimming will issue you a white polo and a name tag.

At the Meet

For each session you complete, your mentor will fill out your training card and provide feedback for you for the next session, At the end of your training, that form will be submitted to myself and Virginia Swimming. Please make sure to bring your training card to each session you work.

All Officials

Meet Signups

We maintain a list of all officials and trainees throughout the year. This is a transparent list that shows the number of sessions you've worked, whether any of your certifications are close to expiring, and the upcoming meets.

A few weeks before every meet, we will send out either a Google Sheet or Google Form to sign up for the meet. Depending on the length of the meet, the Google Sheet will have multiple tabs by day and session / age group.

If you are a certified official, sign up for the day(s)/session/position you would like to work. Please note, we will make every effort to place you in your preferred position but there will be times we need to shift you around to achieve the best coverage.

If you are in training, you will enter your name in the trainee section of any session you wish to work along with the session number you are on during your training.

If we send out a Google Form link, this will ask you for all of your contact information, what sessions you are available, and whether you are certified or training, and for what position. The differences between a Google Sheet vs. a Google Form are typically the preference of the Meet Referee.

The fun stuff

Being an official is fun. You have the best view on deck! In addition, here are some benefits to being an official:

  • Any official or trainee will receive hospitality at almost all meets and drinks throughout each session.
  • Ask questions! Our crew on deck is one of the best and we have a wealth of information. The goal is to get you comfortable on deck to make your own calls.
  • So long as an official maintains their 8 sessions per calendar year for USA Swimming certification, they are exempt from TIDE service hours. This includes trainees that complete training before the end of the TIDE season in August.
  • We have Virginia Swimming clip boards to hand out to all new officials. Please find us on deck if you need one.
  • Have fun. Officiating is a great way to involve yourself in the sport and support your swimmer(s). Sign up to work away meets as well. Our fellow teams in the South East District have great officials and we support their meets as they do ours. There is no limitation on whether you work a TIDE home meet or an away meet that TIDE is attending.

On behalf of Virginia Swimming and USA Swimming, welcome! If there are any questions we can answer for you, please don't hesitate to ask.

Todd Stowell
TIDE Swimming Officials Co-Chair
Kate Stowell
TIDE Swimming Officials Co-Chair
Admin Official, Timing System Operator, Recorder, Stroke & Turn Starter, Chief Judge, Stroke & Turn

Please also visit the Virginia Swimming's Officials webpage for an comprehensive information about becoming an official.

Last Updated: May 13th, 2024