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To become an official in swimming requires some knowledge of the sport.

You can gain that knowledge very quickly by helping out at swim meets. All swim competitions must follow the Swimming Canada/World Aquatics rules and as such must be properly staffed to provide a consistent and fair competition environment. The Officials Development Program (ODP) approved by Swim Ontario, encourages clubs to engage their official’s progression through levels of certification, complementing the club’s ability to host and/or assist at meets. Better officiating means better and more efficient meets.

Certification as a swimming official follows the Swimming Canada Certification Pathway with 5 levels of national certification. Additionally an official can be certified as a PARA swimming official and/or Open Water swimming official.

The requirements for certification, evaluations procedures and resources for each level of the certification pathway and beyond are available by clicking the level of certification found below.

2023-24 Season - ODP

The ODP procedure will not be in effect for the 2023-24 season. Instead, clubs are encouraged to focus and continue with the rebuilding phase, hosting competitions, and encouraging officials to transition to role-based positions. In its place for the 2023-2024 season:

  • Swim Ontario will ensure sufficient officials at various stages of development are registered through the Swimming Canada RTR system
  • Swim Ontario can request either or both an official development plan and progress report on the officials grid to ensure that they have sufficient officials.
  • Swim Ontario can withdraw a sanction at any time if insufficient officials are in place to ensure a fair and safe competition.

The Swimming Canada Certification Pathway was refreshed in September 2023.

Each level has been updated to the current wording for Level 1 through to 5. Swim Ontario has introduced two new terms to help with the progression of an official and the Referee Position. The Level 2 Developing Referee and the Level 3 Referee. See Level 3 Certification requirements for details.

Related Topics

An entry level official working and gaining experience with junior level and administrative positions such as timekeeper, safety marshal, inspector of turns, judge of stroke, clerk of course, recorder-scorer etc.

A level 2 official has gained additional experience through clinics and working at competitions and is certified in the more than 2 junior level and/or administrative positions.

A Level 3 official has completed all clinics with the exception of the referee clinic and is able to work those positions at a competition. They begin to teach clinics with mentors. The focus of Level 2 to Level 3 certification is to gain more experience and progress through the various positions and begin learning and working the Referee position.

A Level 4 Senior Official has focused on self-improvement through travel afield in the region and the province, gaining experience with different types of competitions and has been active in providing mentoring to upcoming officials at the local club. They have gained experience in not only the referee position but other deck positions. They may be assigned as a Competition Coordinator.

The more diversified experience the candidate gains as a referee and continues to gain as an official in other roles on deck, will serve them positively in their development as an effective and successful Referee.

A level 5 Master Official is the highest level of certification in Canada. A Level 5 official can be assigned as Competition Coordinator and can teach all clinics including the Referee clinic. They can begin providing referee assessments for upcoming officials. They have diversified their experience with not only referee roles but in other positions on the deck at competitions to help them positively in their development as an effective instructor, mentor and evaluator.

Maintaining Level 5 Certification

In order to remain an active Level V official in Canada, an official must:

  • work a minimum of four sessions over a minimum of two meets in each swim year;
  • conduct or supervise a clinic in each swim year;
  • maintain their registration information in the Swimming Canada Officials Registration System.

Officials who do not work or instruct as required may apply to their Provincial Officials Chairperson for reinstatement, at which time a review of clinics may be required for certain positions.

Para Swimming Official

A para swimming official is an official that has knowledge of the rules of para swimming and experience officiating at meets with para swimmers in attendance. There is a Domestic Pathway and an International Pathway with three levels of certification.

Domestic Pathway Process

  • Attend a Domestic Para Officials Course which provides a good overview of the exceptions to the rules for para swimming
  • Local, regional meets, could act as a Technical Advisor (TA) with sufficient experience
  • National Meets, expect to be an Inspector of Turn or maybe a Stroke Judge

International Pathway

Open Water Swimming Official

An Open Water official has knowledge of the rules of Open Water swimming and experience working at Open Water events. There are three levels of certification for Open Water officials.

Swimming Canada National Officiating

New Certified Officials

Swim Ontario would like to recognize the hard work the following officials have done to achieving their next level of certification.

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