USA Swimming approved national standards for certifying officials while also preventing LSCs and clubs from requiring any additional certifications on Saturday at its Annual Business Meeting in Colorado Springs.
The national standards will be “set by USA Swimming with a recommendation from the National Officials Committee in conjunction with the Coaches Advisory Council.” The proposal was supported by both the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) and the Coaches Advisory Council.
“This change ensures a standard by which all officials are certified and trained and should allow increased access and entry/participation with officials, which in turn means more opportunities for competition, specifically lower-level meets,” ASCA said in its endorsement of the legislation.
4-9 102.10.2 Officials amendment:
“All officials acting in the capacity of Referee, Starter, Stroke and Turn Judge, or Administrative Official, or Stroke and Turn Judge at a sanctioned or approved USA Sswimming meet shall be certified and trained in such position by their LSC to the uniform and consistent standards set by USA Swimming with recommendation from the National Officials Committee in conjuction with the Coaches Advisory Council prior to being assigned to officiate in that capacity. LSCs and clubs shall not cannot require any additional certifications. Uncertified trainees may perform the duties of such positions when they are under the direct supervision of a certified official in said position. See Article 202 and the Corporate Bylaws for USA Swimming membership requirements.”
“ASCA fully supports the decision of the House of Delegates today to create a uniform standard for officials,” ASCA added in a statement to SwimSwam on Saturday. “This will help clubs run more meets and serve more swimmers. What’s good for our clubs is good for swimming.”
The issue became a financial burden on clubs and coaches because some onerous LSC requirements made it difficult to find enough officials to host meets. One coach told SwimSwam that it took a year to certify an official for club-hosted meets and required those officials to travel several hours each direction in order to meet his LSC’s requirements, where the certifying was concentrated with a single individual.
The coach lamented that the current roster of meet referees “average in their 60s” and no longer have children swimming, but that antiquated certifying processes meant that the next generation of parents were unable to take over.
The vote passed with 58% approval, clearing the required 50% threshold. USA Swimming’s current standards for officials are available here.
- USA Swimming also voted to remove some limits on its Development Competition Program, such as scheduling requirements and a maximum of four Development meets per season. The 12-and-under age limit remained a rule, which ASCA said did not go far enough in expanding access to Development Competitions. “ASCA agrees with the changes being suggested to create greater flexibility for these meets, however the rule continues to define Development Competitions as 12 and under,” ASCA said in its voting recommendation. “Many clubs have athletes that are developmental level/first time swimmers, and are not allowed within Development Competitions. Multiple LSC’s are required to offer Development Competitions, but must follow USAS definitions, and therefore cannot offer meets to a large demographic. ASCA supports this proposal but would like to see the age group broadened to be more inclusive.” Over the summer, SwimSwam reported on how some clubs are considering a dual membership system with USA Swimming for their competitive swimmers and AAU for their non-competitive swimmers.
- Rules regarding virtual LSC-level house of delegates meetings (already approved at the national level) were also approved. Now LSCs can hold virtual votes, though they are not required to.
- The threshold for optional wetsuits in non-national championship open water competitions was lowered from 20 degrees celsius to 18 degrees celsius.
- A few stroke rules, previously announced, were updated to reflect the latest World Aquatics rules.
You can read a full list of proposed amendments to USA Swimming’s rules and regulations here. All of the proposed updates were approved. USA Swimming’s House of Delegates also elected former American record holder Sabir Muhammad to a four-year term on its Board of Directors. They also reelected Kathleen Prindle to another four-year term on the Board.