Page Topics

        Review seeding and administrative procedures
        Conduct a Technical Meeting with Team Leaders and Coaches
        Conduct a meeting with Technical Meet Officials
        Eligibility, Registration and Proof of Entry Times
        Meet Entries
        Chief Finish Judge/Timing Equipment Operator
        Computer Operations and Desk Personnel
        Heat Sheets
        Meet Day Pre-Meet Duties



The Referee should confer with the Meet Director and co-ordinate all requirements for the Meet at least the day before the competition. On the day of the competition, the Referee should arrive in plenty of time to adequately perform all pre-meet responsibilities:

Review seeding and administrative procedures

The Referee should inspect the pool facilities, with specific attention to any safety issues in the meet venue. Pre-meet preparation is highly important to the success of a Meet. The difference between a mediocre or poorly run Meet and a highly successful one usually correlates to a high level of advance planning. If the Referee in conjunction with the Meet Director pays significant attention to the details of preparation, he or she will have a significant effect upon the success of the Meet.

Usually, it is too late to make changes on the day of the meet. By that stage, there is only time to execute the running of the meet. For these reasons, the establishment of time lines by the Referee are critical and can only result from adequate planning. REMEMBER: "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."

Conduct a Technical Meeting with Team Leaders and Coaches

The Referee's actions during the Technical Meeting can establish the tone for the competition. The Referee should assume control pleasantly but confidently. Discuss any unusual circumstances regarding the meet format, the pool facility, etc. Be very reluctant and very careful before agreeing to changing the meet format or any meet procedures. Anticipate issues prior to the meeting and deal with them in advance. Listen to questions and comments. Do not be afraid to ask for opinions. It is not a sign of weakness or lack of knowledge. Verify that the coaches have reported all known scratches to the Meet Director, Announcer or Marshall. Find out if there are any last-minute deck-seeded entries.

Conduct a meeting with Technical Meet Officials

Obtain a list of the Meet Officials. Review their appearance: ensure that they all similarly dressed in officials whites; ensure that there are no advertisements or club affiliations on their clothing. Review the Meet Officials' individual assignments and positioning. Remind them of meet procedures for disqualifications, reporting, starting, turning and finishing. Clearly explain each Meet Official's jurisdiction. Clearly state what you expect from each person. Balance the deck assignments of the Meet Officials, physically and by ability and experience. Build a sense of cooperation and team spirit, while delegating various duties and responsibilities. Discuss any unusual circumstances regarding the meet format, pool facility, etc. Have everyone sign the Officials Sign-In Form. Review declared scratches with Computer Desk Control personnel, Marshall and Announcer, combining heats where appropriate. Establish procedures with the Marshall and Announcer for dealing with no-shows and time-only swims. Ensure that the Chief Timer conducts a timing resolution check of all stopwatches. [Refer to the sample "Referee's Checklist"].

Eligibility, Registration and Proof of Entry Times

Situations may arise or protests lodged regarding the eligibility, registration or proof of entry times of any swimmer, particularly in relation to non-Bahamian swimmers. The Referee may have to check the meet information as it pertains to eligibility and make sure there are no conflicts with BSF Rules. Be prepared to address issues of eligibility and what a swimmer might have to do to ensure eligibility. Determine how he or she has met BSF registration requirements. Be alert for potential problems dealing with club transfer issues. Regarding entry times, is proof of time required? If so, what is the methodology used to verify times and who will perform the verification? In age group meets, be alert to time standards and how they apply to eligibility in qualifying for events.

Meet Entries

At the least, the Referee should request that the computer personnel supply a Psyche Sheet or Entry Summary prior to seeding to catch potential errors. This may prevent re-seeding an event and reprinting heat sheets. At the worst, the Referee should check the heat sheets well before the session starts to head off any potential problems.


Although all BSF Meets are pre-seeded, the Marshall is a valuable asset at all levels of competition. At a meet where deck entries or time-only swims are permitted, a Marshall is indispensable. This is especially true at BSF Meets where there are no pre-meet check-in procedures or penalties for not doing so. The Marshall helps with scratches and relays, and is a general communicator with coaches. The Marshall properly arranges the heats' area before directing the swimmers to the starting area.

Chief Finish Judge/Timing Equipment Operator

Apart from the pool deck, this is the next most visible area that the Referee works in. Therefore, developing an early rapport and mutual respect with the Chief Finish Judge/Timing Equipment Operator is important for the Referee. Find out how experienced and familiar the Chief Finish Judge/Timing Equipment Operator is with the timing system equipment. Ideally, the BSF should seat a Referee or Timing Judge in the timing booth between the computer and timing system, to perform timing adjustments if required. The Referee should ensure that the timing system is set up to collect secondary timing information, if needed. The Referee should certify all event results, and in particular those events where the Chief Finish Judge/Timing Equipment Operator resorts to secondary or watch times.

Computer Operations and Desk Personnel

Typically, the Chief Recorder/Computer Operator has set up the meet entries. Referees should establish a rapport with this person as he or she will be an invaluable ally during the meet. The Referee should find out what meet software is in use. Also, whether the system is flexible enough to generate time lines, and flag swim-offs for finals, cut times and records. Occasionally the Chief Recorder/Computer Operator must make a change to the software's database, such as name, team or age. The Referee is responsible for establishing control procedures for these changes. The Referee should ensure that the Chief Recorder/Computer Operator has set up the correct point scoring system for the Meet (see Competition Rule CR11.1.2):

  • 5 Lane Pools 6-4-3-2-1 (1st to 5th)
  • 6 Lane Pools 7-5-4-3-2-1 (1st to 6th)
  • 8 Lane Pools 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (1st to 8th).

The point values for relay events are double (CR11.1.3).

The Referee should give Announcers instructions about what to announce and when. At Nationals, the Announcer should give particular attention to recording the time when announcing the names of finalists and alternates following preliminary events. The Referee should review the exact wording and information of meet announcements with the Announcer. Announcements should conform to BSF Rules (Competition Rule CR18.8) and the BSF's Sample Meet Announcing Scripts.

Heat Sheets

Referees should inspect how the Chief Recorder/Computer Operator has laid out the heat sheets to decide whether seeding requirements accord with BSF Rules (Competition Rule CR9). He or she should note time-only swims, deck seeded entries, scratches, heat consolidations and other changes for a system of checks and balances against timing errors or lane assignment mix-ups. If anything appears out of the ordinary, the Referee must investigate and resolve it. He or she should be prepared to consult with the Meet Director and affected coaches.

Meet Day Pre-Meet Duties

The Referee should: tour the areas for meet check-in and deck locations to find out that the set-up is satisfactory and that all equipment is functioning properly; determine his or her deck position during the Meet, preferably next to the Starter; determine how he or she will deliver DQ Slips and watch times to the Announcer/Computer Desk personnel; verify that there are adequate supplies of meet forms, DQ Slips, paper for computers and timing systems; ensure that the Meet Director has provided clipboards, pencils and heat sheets for all appropriate Meet Officials and that they provide one heat sheet for each head coach; review with the Meet Director the frequency of providing drinks to all Meet Officials.


The Referee must give full attention to every start, including close observation and concurrence with the Starter on false start disqualifications. Double check that the number of swimmers in each race is correct, including time-only swims. A swimmer swimming in the wrong lane is not an automatic disqualification. The Referee should first ask if the Lane Timers verified the swimmer's name before the start of the race or not. If they did not, the swimmer's time stands. The Referee should inform the Chief Recorder/Computer Operator of the decision. A good Referee marks off the names of all scratches/no-shows on the heat sheet at the start of each race. Also, record the lane numbers in order of finish for each heat.

Between starts, the Referee should oversee the competition and evaluate the performance of the other Meet Officials. This will include walking the pool deck from time to time during races, to observe the swimmers and Meet Officials. In monitoring the Meet Officials, the Referee should ensure that they are alert during each race and performing as professionals.

The Referee should watch the races and observe the timing. He or she should be alert for specific lane timing problems, and, if needed, make timing corrections or resolve timing conflicts. The Referee should watch the timing splits on the scoreboard to ensure that the timing equipment is recording them.

Referees should occasionally review the event results, particularly for backstroke and butterfly events. Ensure that the timing equipment is recording the touches and that any timing adjustments made by the Chief Finish Judge/Timing Equipment Operator are according to BSF Rules. Ideally, the Referee should approve all event results prior to posting or announcing. He or she should ensure that the Announcer is announcing event results and the winning time.

The Referee is responsible for controlling zealous Meet Officials who are acting outside or beyond their zone of responsibility. If they misunderstand a Rule, the Referee should correct the misunderstanding.

The Referee clarifies rules and jurisdictions; suggests appropriate judging techniques; assigns, and may reassign, officials. He or she also answers questions, protests and appeals while maintaining a sense of humour and keeping a positive attitude. Referees should politely answer all questions to the best of his or her ability. Protests and appeals are sometimes the most difficult situations to resolve because emotions run high. Referees must always display a cool temper. Becoming visibly angry with a distraught Swimmer, Parent or Coach is improper for the Referee.

Referees can adapt the following complaint resolution guidelines for any Meet situation:-

  • Referees should listen to the person who has a complaint without becoming defensive.
  • Referees should show an understanding of the person's perspective and a desire to resolve the complaint. Do not chastise the person.
  • A good Referee should confer with all parties involved to ensure proper interpretation and understanding.
  • The Referee should express his or her personal understanding of the problem and his or her decision to all involved parties.
  • Referees should take all unresolved conflicts off the pool deck. If the matter cannot be quickly diffused, allow a short "cooling off" period for everyone involved to regain their poise.
  • The Referee should call any infraction observed and determine why the assigned Meet Officials did not do so. Reassign Meet Officials who are not performing their duties plus answer questions, protests and appeals of the other Meet Officials' decisions.
  • When notified of an infraction, the Referee should ask the Meet Official 3 questions: (1) "Where were you positioned?"; (2) "What infraction did you observe?"; (3) "What is the applicable Rule(s)?". The Referee should carefully review the reason(s) for the disqualification before deciding to approve or reject the disqualification. The Referee may also want to be satisfied that the infraction is within the Meet Official's jurisdiction. If satisfied, the Referee should ensure that the Meet Official completes the Disqualification Report; that they sign it; deliver the original to the Announcer; and the copy to the Coach or Swimmer. It is the Referee's responsibility to review or answer any questions raised by the Coach arising from the disqualification.


Thank everyone who has worked on your team. They have all worked hard with you and are deserving of your praise. Ideally, there should be a post-meet debriefing session with the Meet Officials, critiquing and complimenting their performance.

Whenever there is a problem or a protest, the Referee must remain behind long enough after the last race to ensure that the Announcer has announced the results. This time can be used to critique the Meet with the Meet Director and to sign any forms pertinent to the Meet. After the Meet, the Referee should write an evaluation of the performance of the Meet Officials and return it to the BSF Secretary or the Meet Director. [Refer to the sample "Referee's Evaluation Report Form"].

On the way home, do your own post-meet self-evaluation, reflecting on what you did right and what you need to do better the next time.

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