Officials training and development

Everyone working on poolside at all events organised by Swim England East Region are volunteers.

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 swimmers, 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.

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/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.

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.


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.


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! 

To get started, you must register by completing an application form.  Once you have completed the form, please email it to our Regional Open Water Manager and Officials’ Co-ordinator, Paul Kendall.

Training courses in the Region can run with a minimum of three people at a location convenient to the participants.

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 for a minimum of five years.  Refereed a minimum of five home and four other regional events (two of which must be at different venues), plus four National Championships. Performed as Chief Referee on at least four occasions at a minimum of two separate venues, with 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.

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. Training is standardised across the UK.

There are five levels of technical officials with each one a progression. For the latest information please visit the British Swimming Officials webpage.


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, and all need to be registered members of a British Swimming affiliated club or member of the Institute of Swimming (IoS). 

Further details on how to enrol on a timekeeper course please contact your local County Coordinator shown below.

Judge 1

This is the first level of British qualification. It encompasses the role and duties of a Timekeeper, Chief Timekeeper and Inspector of Turns.

The minimum age to start training is 15 years. Candidates will be required to undertake some formal theory instruction and gain practical experience working on the poolside with a mentor. A course workbook is provided for completion after which there will be a practical assessment.

During the practical assessment, candidates will be required to answer questions orally. Upon qualification candidates will be attributed with the qualification Judge Level 1 on the British Swimming Database and will be encouraged to become a Licensed Official.

Judge 2

This is the second level of qualification. It 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 ahave already qualified as Judge Level 1. The training follws a similar format to that of Judge level 1 with formal instruction, mentored pool side training with workbook followed by a practical assessment.

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

Judge 2S (Starter)

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.

Training will consist of a prescribed number of practical experiences as a Starter before undertaking a formal practical assessment.

Successful candidates will be attributed with the Starter qualification: Judge Level 2S.


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.

Several months have been allocated between registration and the formal examination to enable candidates to undertake all the practical experience required to complete the course as well as the theoretical instruction.

Application forms must be submitted by 31 December of the previous year to allow sufficient time for completion of training in preparation for the November examination.

Officials training is delivered through sub regions and counties, please contact your county co-ordinator for more information on local courses before applying.

The pre-requisites and application for Referee training. Please ensure that you have familiarised yourself with them before applying for training.

David Metcalf is the Regional Swimming Officials’ Manager, David coordinates all applications for Timekeeper (TK) and Judge courses within the region. Once the applications have been processed with Swim England, the candidate’s details are forwarded onto the County Officials’ Coordinator to arrange a local course and contact the trainee.

CountyCounty CoordinatorContact email address
SuffolkStephen (Podge)

In addition, you can access information on topics such as continuing professional development, officials’ licensing or additional qualifications from British Swimming.

Para-Swimming CPD

A CPD is usually run before the annual Regional Para Swimming Championships to enable qualified officials to learn more about the specifics of officiating at Para-Swimming events.  Please contact our Regional Swimming Official’s Manager, David Metcalf , if you would like to attend a Para-Swimming CPD.


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.  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.