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Meet Officials and Their Duties

MEET DIRECTOR (requires training)

There shall be one-Meet director for each meet.

Your main function is to oversee the overall fairness of the meet. To this end, you may overrule any meet official on a point of rule interpretation or on a judgment decision. (You should first explain any such overruling to the coaches and appropriate officials.)

Before the meet, introduce yourself to the home and visiting team coaches and to stroke and place judges.

Meet with stroke judges to discuss DQ standards and to ensure comparable enforcement of standards.

Meet with place judges to remind them not to exchange information by hand signals.

Monitor stroke judge DQs during the meet; if DQ standards are significantly different, call stroke judges and coaches together and attempt to reach a consensus.

Attempt to observe the order of close finishes; keep an ongoing and accessible record of all finishes you observe, including event name and heat number. Be available to the scorers to assist in resolving disagreements on place judge finishes. Periodically check with scorers to see if assistance is needed.

Act as an independent arbiter in the event of questions about rules or disputes of any sort. (The home team parent rep should have a current copy of USS Rules and Regulations, DSSL By-laws, and the DSSL Parent Rep Handbook for ready reference.)

STARTER (requires training)

Direct swimmers to step up onto the starting blocks (or into the water for backstroke). Announce to the swimmers and spectators, the distance, event and heat number. Have a notepad and pencil to help keep track. Ask if stroke judges, place judges, and timers (for the lanes in which a swimmer is on the block) are ready before starting each heat. A raised hand is a ready signal. Do not start the heat until all officials have given the ready signal.

Call 'Swimmers, take your mark,' then pause just long enough to ensure that all swimmers have assumed a motionless ready position, and fire the starting gun. No swimmer may be in motion when the gun is fired. If a swimmer is in motion after assuming a ready position but before the gun is fired, tell all swimmers to stand up, explain the reason to the swimmers, wait a few seconds, give the 'Swimmers, take your mark' signal, and start again.

If a swimmer false-starts and the gun has been fired, a false start is signaled by firing one or more blank shots, sounding a bullhorn, and/or dropping the recall rope. (At the starters' discretion, the next scheduled heat may be swum before restarting the false-started heat; be sure all judges and timers are aware that a heat is being delayed.)

Identify which lane(s) false-started. (Swimmers entering pool because of motion by another swimmer have not necessarily false-started.) If a particular swimmer false-starts twice in one event, he/she is DQd. The starter shall ask the swimmer to leave the starting block.

Although it is preferable to use a buzzer at dual meets, not all teams own a starting system. Therefore, in order to give the younger swimmers the best opportunity to swim well in a dual meet, swimmers in the 6&U and 7&8 age groups will be started using a whistle instead of a gun. The DSSL also recommends that coaches who anticipate using the whistle for starting these age groups practice meet starts using a whistle in practice.

STROKE AND TURN JUDGE (requires training)

Stroke judges must be properly trained in that capacity. Each judge is responsible for observing those swimmers in his/her designated lanes with regard to stroke, turn, and touch at the finish.

Swimmers in all age categories are expected to swim the strokes in the proper manner, obvious infractions of stroke, turn or finish rules should be disqualified, regardless of swimmer age.

For each infraction observed, fill out a stroke DQ slip indicating the event, heat, lane number, and explanation of the fault. An infraction must have dual confirmation from both Judges. At the end of the heat, raise your hand, displaying the DQ slip, to indicate to the runner that you have stroke slips to be collected.

Explanation for the DQ may be given to the coach, but should not unnecessarily delay the meet in so doing.

The stroke judges switch sides of the pool after the last breast stroke event.


Prior to each heat, circle the appropriate event identifiers at the top of the place form, being particularly careful that you have the correct age, gender and heat number. Decide the order of finish in each heat based on the order in which the swimmers touch the wall. (You may call a tie between two or more swimmers.)

Fill out the place judge form accordingly, 1 form per heat. Only fill in finishes for which you are sure. (You may leave out places, e.g., in a 6-lane pool if you saw lane 3 first, lane 4 second, lane 6 third, weren't sure which lanes finished fourth and fifth but saw lane 1 finish last, complete the slip accordingly.)

Give your place slips to the runner.

Note: Place judges work in pairs, one from each team. The two teams should stand on opposite sides of the finish line. All judges should observe as many finishes as possible. Only one judge from each pair writes a slip. You need not agree. In case of disagreement, write the finish as observed by each place judge. The scorers and the meet director will resolve any conflicts. Do not use hand signals to communicate results to the other pair. Again, the scorers and the meet director will resolve conflicts.


Approximately 15 minutes before start time, gather all timers together. Run a test of stopwatch and timer accuracy. Give a start signal, wait about 20-40 seconds and give a stop signal with your hand. Repeat the test if necessary. All watch times should be within about 0.2 second.

If there is a discrepancy, determine whether the problem is with the timer's technique or the stopwatch by trading watches and repeating the test. Make adjustments as needed to ensure fairness to all swimmers.

Generally, oversee the timing function, answer questions, and act as a back-up timer. Be available to substitute (or to assign one of the alternate timers) for any timer who misses the start or who is assigned to the lane in which their own child is swimming.

Ask timers to report to you if they are consistently recording differences of 0.2 second or more. Attempt to determine the cause of such differences by timing several heats in that lane yourself. Assign an alternate timer to replace any timer having significant difficulties obtaining accurate times.


Approximately 15 minutes before start time, meet with head timer for instructions and accuracy testing.

Be sure you have your stopwatch and the home team timers should get clipboards and pencils from their parent rep.

There shall be one timer from each team for each lane, plus 2 alternate timers (1 per team). Prior to each heat, a runner (or the swimmer) will provide to you an entry time card if there is a swimmer on the block in your lane. Verify that the lane number on the card is the lane you are timing. When asked by the starter before each heat, give a raised hand signal to indicate that you are ready.

Verify the swimmer's name on the card, either when he/she steps up on the block for 2 (or 4)-length events, or after the heat has been swum for 1 (or 3)-length events. Do not change heat and/or lane numbers on the cards. Get assistance from the clerk-of-course.

Time each heat in the following manner: start your watch when you see the smoke or flash of the starting gun or, if nothing is visible, when you hear the sound of-the gun; stop your watch when the swimmer touches your end of the pool with any part of-his/her-body. If you miss the start, signal the head timer to assist your lane with a third watch.

Timers may cushion a swimmer's head with his/her hand, but no external object (e.g., kick board) may be used. Cushioning is not advised; it may distract from your primary job of getting the correct time. Cushioning will not be allowed at the championship meet.

Legibly record stopwatch times of both timers (or more if alternates or head timer also timed) to the nearest hundredth of a second on the swimmer's card. If the swimmer false-started twice and was DQd by the starter or if the swimmer did not finish the race, write 'DQ' as the time. Give the card to the runner. Do not indicate ready to the starter for the next heat until the card has been picked up.

At the end of the meet, return the stopwatch, clipboard, and pencil to your parent rep.


The clerk-of-course is critical to keeping the meet moving without delays between heats.

At all times there should be one heat of swimmers on the blocks, one heat waiting behind the blocks, and 3-5 heats lined up, with the first of these ready to move to the starting area.

You will need a pencil or pen to make changes as required on the time cards. For each event, call out swimmers' names in order of participation, using the presorted time cards, and direct the swimmers to be seated on chairs/benches by heat and lane number. Give swimmers their time cards as they are directed to their seats. Remind the swimmers that they must not leave their seats until directed to do so by the clerk-of-course or an assistant.

Try to keep three to five heats lined up and ready throughout the meet. Direct the front row of swimmers to the starting area as each heat is started. An assistant clerk-of-course will lead younger swimmers to the starting area. Move swimmers forward in rows.

In the event of no-shows, mark the card(s) with 'NS' and give to a runner. You may either leave those lanes empty or adjust swimmers in heats to decrease the total number of heats. If you make adjustments, be sure to change the heat and lane numbers on the time cards of all affected swimmers. Never let just one swimmer swim in a heat - move a swimmer up or back, or combine events if needed. Also, move swimmers to lanes adjacent to other swimmers, rather than leave them alone on the outside lane. In both cases, be sure to change the heat and lane numbers on time cards as appropriate.


Report to the clerk-of-course at least 15 minutes before start time. Assist the clerk-of-course in lining up swimmers, especially visiting team members, and in leading younger swimmers to the starting area and lining them up behind the proper starting block(s).


Meet with the home team parent rep approximately 15 minutes before the start of the meet. You will be given instructions specific to the home team pool layout and the location of the time-averagers (or scorers) where you will deliver the cards and slips for each heat. You will be told where to locate the place judges, stroke judges, and meet director.

For 1 (or 3)-length events, take the time cards from the swimmers waiting behind the blocks and deliver them to appropriate timers at the other end of the pool (taking care not to disturb them if they are currently timing another heat) as the swimmers are stepping up onto the blocks. Be careful that each card is delivered to the correct lane. (For 2 (or 4)-length events, timers are standing by the blocks so swimmers can hand their cards to the timers directly.)

At the end of the heat, collect the cards from the timers, DQ slips from both stroke judging pairs, place forms from both pairs of place judges, and deliver everything together to the time-averagers (or scorers) as you were directed by the parent rep prior to the meet. Return to starting area, ready to repeat the procedure with another heat.


Prior to the meet, obtain a calculator from your parent rep. Receive from the runner, the results from each heat. Staple any stroke DQ slip(s) to the appropriate swimmer's time card, checking carefully that the event, heat and lane numbers all match. In case of mismatch, have runner recheck with stroke judge that information was correct. The coach may need to be called upon to verify which swimmer was in the affected heat and lane. For DQs, mark 'DQ' as the official time for that swimmer. For all other swimmers, compute the average of the stopwatch times and write the result as the official time. Clip together the time cards for each heat, with the proper place forms and pass these on to the scorers.

Note: Times should be rounded to the nearest hundredth, but.005 should be rounded down. Examples: 31.876 becomes 31.88, 31.875 becomes 31.87.

At the end of the meet, return the calculator to your parent rep.


There will be one scorer from each team. The scorers work together to determine the order of finish of each event, but keep an independent score sheet, checking periodically that they are in agreement, and resolving any differences.

You will receive from the time averagers, a stack of time cards for each heat (DQ slips stapled to the appropriate cards), and the associated place forms. Recheck that DQ slips are attached to correct time card and set those cards aside. Determine event places 1 through 6 by using the 'Rules For Scoring': Appendix B.

Pass all cards except those for the top three places to the time-recorders and/or ribbon-writers. Record the top three finishers on the score sheet, assigning 5 points to first place, 3 points to second place, and 1 point to third place. In the event of ties, points for the tied places are averaged, with the average given to each swimmer (team). For example, if two swimmers tied for first, each swimmer would be assigned first place and receive 4 points, with the next finisher placing third and receiving 1 point. In the case that two swimmers tie for third, each receives 1/2 point.

When finished scoring the top six places, give those cards to the time-recorder and/or ribbon-writer.

For relay events, each swim team has only one official relay team (normally designated the 'A' team.

Determine the order of finish of the official teams, and assign the proper event place on the time card.

Write on the score sheet, the name of each team and assign 6 points for first place, 3 points for second. A tie would result in 4.5 points per team. If an official relay team is DQd, the 'B' team may not be scored; only one team would earn points.

Give relay cards to ribbon-writers.


When you receive a stack of cards from the scorers, separate out all cards for your own team. Fill in swimmer's official times on your official team roster. Any card with a DQ slip attached shall receive an official time of ‘DQ’. (The time is invalid, since the stroke was done improperly). Your coach or parent rep may ask you to record each swimmer’s times on more than one copy of the roster. You may also be asked to indicate what event place each swimmer was assigned. Your parent rep will instruct you appropriately.

Pass to the ribbon-writer all time cards for swimmers on your team who finished in places 1 through 6.

Place all other time cards in box, bag, bin ... as directed by your parent rep. Relay team times need not be recorded but card(s) should be passed to ribbon-writers if the team placed first or second.


The time-recorder will pass on to you all time cards for swimmers on your team receiving an event place 1 through 6. Locate the appropriate ribbon for each swimmer earning an event place. Place ribbons (and associated time cards) in box, bag, bin .... as directed by your parent rep.

Members of a first or second place relay team will each receive an appropriate ribbon. (Names are generally listed on the back of the card.) 

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