Officials training and development

Everyone working on poolside at all events organised by Sussex County ASA are volunteers.  Officials for all of our sports are essential to well-run, high quality competitions for our athletes.

Volunteers make a huge contribution to aquatics in the Region. Everything that happens in our sport happens because of volunteers at some point.

We encourage athletes, parents and fans to get involved with our sport, not just as spectators but as volunteers with clubs, helping us run events with your technical expertise or by training to become an official.Volunteering is a rewarding experience, benefiting everyone involved. It builds upon life skills, work skills, confidence and has a positive impact on both the sport and the volunteer.

Swim England has announced changes to Swimming Judge Level 1 training from January 2020. 


March 2021 see the launch of a national diving judges course.

The Region runs an annual Judge Development Seminar to allow new judges to be trained.  The course involves a theoretical exam at the end and those that pass will then be added to the ‘B list’ of Regional officials and will be invited to officiate at Regional events.

The ‘A list’ comprises more experienced judges and referees. Officials can progress to the ‘A list’ at the discretion of the Official’s working group (a sub-group of the Regional Diving Committee).

Newly qualified judges will be mentored by other judges in the Region to ensure they are supported as they start their officiating journey. 

The Region also sends judges to the National Skills Finals, that are held annually, as a further development opportunity.

Interested in learning more about judging? Swim England Diving have launched and Introduction to Judging-Diving resource.


The scores achieved by each diver are recorded on software designed specifically for diving events.  Recorders’ courses are run on an ad-hoc basis and anyone interested in becoming a recorder should contact their club.

There are several different levels of open water officiating that could potentially lead to becoming an open water referee at an International event! 

Training courses in the Region can run with a minimum of three people at a location convenient to the participants. For the practical elements, many events (not all) will cover travel expenses to minimise the cost of training as an open water official.

Judge Level 1 (OWJ1)
Age: 15 upwards
Training: Candidates must complete a theory course and practical assessment of duties (timekeeper, chief timekeeper, turn judge, feeding platform judge).

Judge Level 2 (OWJ2)
Age: 16 Upwards
Prerequisites: Already qualified as OWJ1 and have officiated at two or more events.
Training: Complete a theory course and practical assessment of duties (race judge, finish judge, course officer, clerk of the course, starter)

Open Water Referee
Age: 20 Upwards
Prerequisites: Already qualified as OWJ2 and have officiated at six or more events since completing OWJ2, one of which must have been in a different region or national venue. Candidates must be nominated by national or regional open water manager/officials co-ordinator.
Training: Mentored development, leading to completion of theory exam and practical assessment of duties.  Travel outside of home region to complete assessment will be required.

International Representation Pathway*
Prerequisites:  Qualified as a British Swimming Open Water Referee and have gained extensive experience as Referee and Chief Referee since qualifying at National and Regional events, with at least one preferably an open sea environment.  Must have received nomination from the sport governing body.
Training: Successfully complete FINA theory course and exam and receive offer to serve on the FINA list.

Guidance on the use of wetsuits in open water competitions.

Swimming Technical officials (STOs) are a central part of every swimming event and play an important role in ensuring the events run smoothly, safely and within the sport’s regulations.

Officials do not need to be experienced swimmers or have a competitive background. Everything that you need to know to work as an official is provided in the training programme. There is an expectation that before you progress to the next level of technical official that you will gain at least 6 months of poolside experience that is evidenced in your logbook.

All three Home Countries now use FINA Technical Rules. As such, trained officials are listed as British Swimming officials. If you would like more information about becoming a STO you can contact our Officials Coordinator, Chis Hobbs.

There are five qualifications for Swimming Technical Officials. These are:


This is an introduction into the world of the swimming official. It covers the practical aspects of what is required of a timekeeper by means of a short theory session followed by a practical assessment.

The minimum recommended age for candidates to undertake this training is 14 years. All candidates need to be a registered member of a Swim England affiliated club or a member of the Institute of Swimming (IoS).

Timekeeper training is often carried out in a club environment with a maximum of 10 candidates on any course. Opportunities exist to complete this training on line at a cost of £5.00. Clubs must complete the Timekeeper training application form. 

Download Timekeeper workbook (updated October 17)

This help sheet aims to support trainees undertaking online Timekeeper and Judge Level 1 training by explaining the registration process.

Download: Online Judge 1 training process

Judge Level 1 (J1)

J1 training this is now all completed online through the British Swimming Officials portal. 

The cost for J1 training is £20. You will be required to pay this amount when you register. On completion of your training your club will reimburse you with £10 and Swim England South East will also reimburse you the remaining £10 for becoming a Licensed Official.

Judge Level 2 (J2) and Judge Level 2S – starter (J2S)

Judge Level 2 encompasses the role and duties in relation to all aspects of judging and the theoretical role and duties of Starter.

The minimum age to start training is 16 years and candidates must a have already qualified as Judge Level 1. The training is made up of formal instruction mentored pool side training with a workbook, followed by a practical assessment.

When qualified, candidates will be attributed with the qualification Judge Level 2 on the British Swimming Database.

Candidates wishing to qualify as a Starter will be required hold the Judge Level 2 qualification and have completed a minimum of 20 hours post qualification experience as Judge Level 2.

Candidates for J2 and J2S must complete the British Swimming Officials training application form (March 2020). This training will now only be available during the Sussex annual CPD day (normally held in March each year).

Download  Judge 2 and Judge 2S workbooks (updated 10 April 18)


The minimum age for training is 19 years providing the candidate is aged 20 years as at 30 November in the year of the theory examination.

This course contains theoretical instruction and specified practical experiences. It is followed by a formal examination in November after which successful candidates take a final poolside practical assessment leading to qualification as a British Swimming Referee.

FINA Rules and Updates

FINA rules and updates

FINA disqualification codes for use with Hy-tech – these need to be used at all Sussex events (updated April 2019).

Para Swimming Technical and Classification Rules and Regulations

Following the changes in January 2018 to the World Para Swimming Technical and Classification Rules and Regulations, the following guidance have been issued by WPS.

If you want to find out more about becoming an artistic swimming judge, Swim England have released an Introduction to Judging – Artistic Swimming


There are three levels of judging for synchronised swimming.  Each requires attending a training course and passing an exam. 

Once qualified, judges must gain a year’s experience at that level before they can attend the course for the next level up.  Judges must also remain active by judging at a minimum of two grading days and/or competitions each year.  Judges must also attend a FINA update every four years.

The Region run Level 1 and Level 2 courses annually and there are multiple grading days and competitions in the region for judges to gain experience.


Competitions require multiple scorers to process marks awarded by the judges for both figures and routines.  Courses are run on an ad-hoc basis and anyone interested in becoming a scorer should contact their club.

Clerks and Callers 

These roles require no technical knowledge of synchronised swimming but are essential to the smooth running of competitions.  Clerks organise swimmers to ensure they enter the water in the correct order and Callers sit with scorers to read out the marks awarded by the judges.


There are six levels of referee in water polo. Each is a progression based on the experience of the referee from newly qualified to all the way through to international level.

Grade D courses are run over two days and once passed, referees will need to be mentored by qualified referees to then be signed off as a Grade D referee.

The Region run introductory opportunities for people to learn more about refereeing before committing to a course.  If you would like to find out more, please contact your club to express your interest in refereeing.

Table Officials

The role of a table official is to act as timekeeper and match secretary, keeping track of the score, time outs, possession time, etc.

The Region run ad-hoc courses for table officials and there are also opportunities to gain experience before you attend a course. Interested? Try the online Table Officials resource first!  If you are interested in becoming a table official, please express your interest to your club who will be able to find appropriate training for you. 

Swimming officials resources

Swim England have brought together all information about courses for officials and volunteers.

Learn how to apply for, or renew, your licence.

Useful information

British Swimming / Sussex ASA Disqualification Report Codes (updated April 2019).

Register for the British Swimming Officials Newsletter here.

Contemporary Issues

The Institute of Swimming have introduced an on-line CPD for Contemporary Issues.

This is an online module aimed at technical officials from across Swimming, Water Polo, Synchronised Swimming, Diving and Open Water who would like to become a British Swimming Licensed official, or who would like to renew their license. Contemporary Issues is a condition of licensing and will up skill technical and educate technical officials in the following areas;

  1. Understand the need to abide by the British Swimming/Swim Englnad (ASA) Code of Ethics
  2. Identify procedures for safeguarding children
  3. Understand the meaning and embrace equality and diversity
  4. Understand health and safety considerations
  5. Raise awareness of the Aquatic structure and officiating pathways within each discipline.

Candidates will have to set themselves up a IOS account and login before completing the CPD.

The importance of Insurance

All clubs, promoters and competition organisers are reminded that, for insurance purposes, everyone on pool side, including all volunteers, team managers and coaches, must be registered members of an affiliated club or a member of the Institute of Swimming.