Training for swimming technical officials

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. Clubs must complete Timekeeper training application form.

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).


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.

Swimming officials training resources

FINA rules and updates

Officials training application form (March 2020)

Timekeeper workbook (October 17)

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

Pre-requisites and application process for Referee training. 

Record of Mentoring Action Plan

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

British Swimming / Sussex ASA official DQ Report (updated April 2019).

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.

Guidance on the use of wetsuits in open water competitions.

Useful information

There are different qualifications and processes for Water Polo and Diving officials.

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

Register for the British Swimming Officials Newsletter here.