PREFACE
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MANUAL
FOR
SWIMMING OFFICIALS & TRAINEES

 

[Adapted from FINA's "Manual for Officiating at Swimming Events," February 1999 edition & USA Swimming's "Handbook for Officiating," June 1999 edition.]

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PREFACE

Any discussion of Swimming Officiating and a Manual to help with that activity must start with a sound understanding of the Rules of the sport. The basis for the BSF's Rules of Swimming is found in the Rules used by the Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA). FINA Rules govern all international swimming competitions. The BSF's Technical Swimming Rules conform directly to the FINA Swimming Rules. A few minor differences exist for local circumstances. The Technical Swimming Rules automatically change whenever FINA amends its Swimming Rules.

The Rules form the basis upon which officials decide fairly. In the sport of Swimming, the Rules of competition is the one constant and forms the foundation for decision-making and evaluation. One of the most frequently asked questions by trainee officials is: "Why aren't the Rules written sufficiently clearly that we do not need interpretations?" The answer is that when it comes to rules interpretations, situations sometimes occur which have no right or wrong answers.

William A. Lippman Jr., a former Chairman of USA Swimming's Rules Committee, stated it best when he said: ". . . we cannot, in advance, provide a 'How-To-Do-It' for every possible happening. Nor can we always strongly see alike on everything that can take place. If we cannot, as the foremost authority on USA Swimming rules, strongly agree on interpretation, then we should leave such adjudication for referees and juries who are at the scene."

Lippman also said: "Let's not try to cover every possible situation in the swimming rules. Let's not write rules to cover those strange and rare possibilities. Leave something for the referee to decide. Let the humans present consider the facts, and come to their own decision on how to handle it. It is impossible to make absolute rules in every instance. There must be room for human judgment to adapt to the incident and to the physical factors and make the final decision. That is my philosophy. It is based too on a belief that most adults involved in our sport are fundamentally honest and are willing to exercise their judgment for the best interests of all parties concerned." Lippman's statements are universally applicable, whether the swimming official is in the USA, The Bahamas or elsewhere.

The competent swimming official is a judge of the competition, not a judge of the rules:

Officials must follow the swimming rules. The official who has standards that differ from those in the rule book will open him or herself to criticism on every decision made. Following the Rules draws a line on the ground that tells everyone concerned with the competition that you will decide fairly and equitably against a "known" standard.

As a Swimming Official, you must operate from a strong base. That base comprises two factors: - (1) the authority of the rule book; and (2) the basic philosophy that the officials will conduct the competition according to the Rules. Each time an official explains a Rule and the purpose for the Rule, the Rule becomes easier to accept. Rather than hiding behind the brusque statement "It's the Rule," an official should (with permission) explain why he or she made a disqualification, so the official does not seem arbitrary. An official's job is to uphold the Rules by applying them intelligently and expressing his or her interpretation effectively.

The BSF adapted Officiating Manuals issued by FINA and USA Swimming to provide a tool for learning, consistency, training and application by swimming officials in The Bahamas. Please use this Manual as a supplement to the rule book and not as a standalone document. It does not replace "knowing the rules."

VINCENT WALLACE WHITFIELD
January 2001
FINA Referee, Bahamas (2001 - 2004)
BSF Director of Officials (1998 - 2003)




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