Marshalls are important to the safe, efficient and timely conduct of a Meet. They are responsible for behaviour at the
starting platform, the sides of the course and the finish (see Competition Rule CR18.9.1). Marshalls maintain crowd
control; deck access; and proper behaviour by competitors, spectators and coaches in the reporting or marshalling area.
They should supervise and control the warm-up sessions.
Marshalls should be responsible adults who can express instructions to swimmers, coaches and spectators without
creating a hostile atmosphere. They must be polite but firm in exercising their authority, as this goes a long way towards
ensuring a safe, amicable and efficient Meet.
Marshalls operate under the supervision of the Referee. He or she will give them their instructions and assignments for
the Meet. Marshalls should familiarize themselves with the BSF Rules and standard Meet
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Marshalls should arrive at the venue well ahead of the start of warm-up sessions, and, obtain their preliminary
assignments and instructions from the Meet Director. If assigned to oversee warm-ups, they should be in position
before the warm-up session begins. They should remain there until relieved or the start of the Meet. If assigned to
oversee warm-ups, the Referee or Meet Director should not give Marshalls any other duties like crowd and access
control. If assigned deck duties, they should make regular inspections of their area, to deal with unsafe situations
or unsportsmanlike behaviour.
Controlled warm-up procedures should be in place at all BSF-sanctioned competitions. The details of these
procedures may vary from club to club or according to the nature of the Meet. The BSF suggests the posting of
Marshalls at each end of the warm-up pool and properly instructed on the Meet host's warm-up procedures.
Typically, a general warm-up period of 60 to 90 minutes precedes the Meet, with or without specific lane
assignments for teams. During this period, the Meet Director may assign Lanes 1 and 6 (in 6-lane pools) or Lane 1
and 8 (in 8-lane pools) for pace work and sprinting, respectively. The Referee or Meet Director should prohibit the
use of paddles, kickboards or pull buoys. Signs or cones should be placed on the starting platforms for Lanes 2 to
5 (6-lane pools) or Lanes 2 to 7 (8-lane pools) to prevent diving or racing starts during the warm-up period.
During the warm-up period, swimmers should not dive into the pool from Lanes 2 to 5 (6-lane pools) or Lanes 2
to 7 (8-lane pools), but should cautiously enter feet first. They should not practice backstroke starts in these lanes
during the warm-up period. All swimmers should enter the pool from the starting end only. The Marshalls should
strictly control sprint lanes (one-way). Swimmers in sprint or pace lanes can start from the blocks or the deck, but
should exit the pool at the opposite end. They should not permit swimmers on the blocks when the swimmer in
the water is practicing a backstroke start.
Marshalls should identify and report anyone who refuses to follow their instructions to the Referee and/or the
Meet Director, for further action. The BSF Rules authorizes them to warn or order anyone to cease and desist.
With the Referee's consent, they can remove or have removed from the venue anyone behaving recklessly or
dangerously; using profane or abusive language; smoking or using alcohol; or, whose actions disrupt the Meet
Preparations for the reporting process should include a covered or tented area; clipboards; heat sheets or meet
programmes; pencils; tables; and chairs. Signs and/or chalkboards for information and posting heat sheets should
be available or prepared in advance.
An appropriate location should be selected for the reporting /marshalling area, to avoid crowding and interference
with the Meet. The Meet Director should provide a minimum of 3 (but preferably 4 or 5) rows of chairs for the
assembled swimmers (6 chairs per row for 6-lane pools, 8 chairs per row for 8-lane pools). For long course meets
or where circumstances require, the Meet Director should provide walkie-talkies or radio handsets for the
Marshalls to speak with the Referee and/or Announcer.
The Marshalls should obtain information on all reported scratches or time-only swims from the Announcer, Chief
Recorder or Referee before the start of the Meet. The Referee decides whether to combine any heats or events and
notifies the Announcer. The Marshalls should mark off the names of all known scratches on their heat sheets or
The Referee, the Announcer and the Marshalls should agree on the procedure in case of swimmer "no-shows."
The Referee should instruct the Announcer to advise all swimmers and coaches the scratching of all swimmers
who fail to report to the marshalling area after the announcements of their heat. The Referee should instruct the
Announcer to advise all swimmers and coaches that the Marshalls will not permit swimmers to report to the
starting blocks without first reporting to the marshalling area.
Marshalls take positions assigned by the Referee and maintain stillness in the rear of the starting platform. At each
start, they prevent spectators and nonparticipants from entering the pool deck area.
The Referee may also assign Marshalls the duties of the Clerk of Course. As Clerk of Course, the Marshalls must
notify the Referee, the Announcer and the Chief Recorder of any scratches, withdrawals, no-shows and time-only
swims (see Competition Rule CR18.7.2). They are also responsible for assembling the competitors before each
heat (see CR18.7.3) and reporting any violation regarding advertising under Rule CR15 (see CR18.7.4).
The purpose of reporting to the marshalling area is to find out which swimmers will actually compete in an event.
The Marshalls should inform the Referee of all swimmer "no-shows" for the start and scratches occurring during
the progress of the Meet. This allows the Referee and Marshalls to combine and seed entries in the most efficient
manner with the minimum number of heats.
Heats of the same event (e.g.: 8 & Under Boys 50m Freestyle) can be combined whenever the total number of
swimmers or teams in 2 or more heats equals (or, are less than) the number of pool lanes. For example, in a 5-lane
pool, the Referee can combine heats if scratches and no-shows reduce the number of swimmers or teams to 2 in
Heat 1 and 3 in Heat 2.
For distances of 200 metres/yards or longer, the Referee may permit any combination of strokes, ages, sexes
and/or distances in the pool simultaneously. There must be one empty lane between any competitor(s) of different
strokes, ages, sexes and/or distances (see Competition Rule CR4.6). Heats of different events (e.g.: 8 & Under
Girls & Boys 200m Freestyle Relay) can be combined whenever the total number of swimmers or teams in 2 or
more events or heats is less than the number of pool lanes. For example, in 5-lane pools, the Referee can combine
events or heats if scratches and no-shows reduce the number of swimmers or teams to 2 in Event 1 and 2 in Event
2, allowing for one empty lane between them.
If deck cards are used at the Meet, the Marshalls may distribute the cards to the swimmers when
they report for their heat, or give the cards directly to the Lane Timers.
Marshalls must remain clam and composed throughout the Meet. The nature of the duties and
responsibilities requires that the Marshalls control their emotions at all times. Additionally, they should address
the swimmers, coaches, spectators and Meet Officials respectfully and courteously. Whenever any problems or
difficulties arise, the Marshalls should refer to the Referee for a determination.
- Return all clipboards, supplies and heat sheets or Meet Programmes to the Meet Director.
- Deliver any unclaimed deck cards to the Referee.
- Discuss any problems that occurred during the Meet with the Referee and/or the Meet Director.
- On the way home following each Meet, review and critique your performance as Marshall. Decide on those
matters that you handled well and consider those matters that you will handle differently the next time.