Becoming an open water official

Open water swimming is becoming increasingly popular. And like any other aquatics discipline it needs officials to insure events run smoothly. If you would like more information about becoming an open water official, read on.

How to become a British Swimming Open Water Technical Official

It costs £20.00 to register to train as a British Swimming Open Water Technical Official.

The theory aspects of the course are delivered face to face or by zoom as one session. The course leader will direct you through the processes, theoretical work and practical experience required. Courses will normally be run in the spring in advance of the start of the season, please contact if you wish to be advised of any upcoming opportunities.

Once you have completed the theory training, you will be sent a log book to record your practical experience. During your training, you will be expected to work alongside qualified officials in the areas listed in the log book. Once you have been deemed as competent in all of these areas you will be qualified to act as an Open Water timekeeper, chief timekeeper, turn judge, finish judge, chief finish judge, clerk of course, starter or recorder.

How to become a British Swimming Open Water Referee

Firstly, you must be an Open Water Technical Official as outlined above with experience in all of the roles. You will need also need to have an understanding of the other event roles such as safety officer and course officer.

Once you have gained enough experience, you can apply to register as an Open Water Referee candidate - this should be done at the beginning of the season and you and your mentor will decide what extra experience you need in the coming season. Where possible, you will be given priority to be appointed for the roles you need at events around the country.

In the spring you will sit the British Swimming Open Water Referee examination paper.  This will be a written paper, the aim of which is to determine whether you are ready to act as a British Swimming Open Water Referee.

Once you have achieved a pass in the referee written examination, you will undergo a practical assessment at an agreed event. You will be expected to cover the full range of referee duties and will be assessed on how you perform and how you respond to practical situations.  Some of these situations will be live as they occur at the events and some will be posed by the assessors as theoretical questions. If you are unsuccessful at the first assessment, then a second one may be arranged.

Once you have passed the practical assessment you will be registered as a British Swimming Open Water Referee.  You can be called upon to officiate in this role at any event throughout the three home countries. You will also be eligible to act as an assistant referee at LEN and World Aquatics Open Water events held in England, Scotland and Wales.

For more details regarding registering for Open Water Referee training please contact