"Around the Deck" masthead

Summer, 2008

The summer swimming season is upon us. Summer swimming is where most of our kids started with the sport; summer swimming is where most us started as officials. It was nearly 20 years ago this summer that my oldest started swimming. I remember watching in amazement that season as she quickly learned the four strokes. It took a little longer for her to master the art of diving into the pool, but by the end of the summer she could start just like the big kids. That was also the summer that one of the senior officials recruited me to be a timer. After my initial resistance, I discovered that I genuinely enjoyed the experience. The following season, another official invited me to attend the clinic and become a deck official. That’s how it starts. Maybe you have a similar story. Never forget that you are the best ambassador for our ranks. You are the prime agent to recruit new officials. Make it a goal to recruit at least one new official this summer.

Volunteers Needed Upcoming Meets

June 2008

Date Meet Location Officials Contact
5/30-6/1 Maryland State LC Championships Rockville Jim Garner
14-15 2008 Swim Like a FISH Invitational GMU John Firestein
15 PVS Senior and Age Group I Lee District Park &
Fairland Aquatics Center
Scott Robinson
& Peter Nichols
21-22 PVS LC Distance Meet Claude Moore Rec Center Art Davis
29 PVS Senior and Age Group II Lee District Park &
Fairland Aquatics Center
Brian Johnson &
Rick Moyer
. . . .

July 2008

Date Meet Location Officials Contact
10-13 PVS Senior LC Championship Univ of MD Jim Van Erden
10-13 PVS Junior LC Championship Univ of MD Art Davis
17-20 PVS Age Group LC Championship Fairland Aquatics Center Ed Dona
17-20 Speedo Championship Series, Eastern Zone Sectional Penn State Univ. Eastern Zone

August 2008

Date Meet Location Officials Contact
6-9 Eastern Zone LC Championships Rockville &
Montgomery Aquatic Center
Eastern Zone
10 Eastern Zone Open Water Competition Pohick Bay  

The Relay Take-Off Judge

The Relay Take-Off Judge determines whether the swimmer in each leg of a relay (other than the first) leaves the starting block before the incoming swimmer touches the pad or the wall at the end of their leg. A swimmer may be in motion before the touch of the in-coming competitor as long as his/her feet have not completely left the starting platform before the touch. A take-off violation only occurs if the incoming swimmer touches after the departing swimmer has completely broken contact with the starting platform. When judging take-offs, it’s important to concentrate on the departing swimmer’s toes, not on the incoming swimmer. When the departing swimmer completely leaves the starting platform, glance down immediately. By refocusing the eyes in this manner, if the hand of the incoming swimmer has not yet touched, a early take-off has occurred. Whenever dual take-off judging is being used, you should receive a form to record your decision. Mark the form after each set of exchanges. Record a legal take-off by circling the appropriate lane(s) and exchange number. Record an early exchange by making an “X” in the same place on the form. When you observe an early take-off, only make an appropriate mark on the form. Do not raise your hand.


Summer Clinics
Clinics from several local summer swim leagues can be used as a USA Swimming certification or re-certification clinic for the Stroke and Turn Judge position. Dates for these clinics and links to the league web sites can be found on the PVS website.


Olympic Swimming Trivia
At the 1900 Olympics in Paris, the most bizarre competition to be held was Underwater Swimming. In this event, two points were awarded for each meter swum underwater. In addition, one point was added to the scoring of each individual for every second he (it was an event for men only) stayed below the surface. France’s Charles deVenderville won the event swimming 60 meters and staying submerged for 1:08.4. Denmark’s Peder Lykkeberg stayed underwater for a longer period, nearly one and a half minutes, but only managed to travel 28.5 meters. This was the first and only time this event was held at the Olympics.


Top Ten Things a Referee Doesn’t Want to Hear

  1. Does anyone know how to run the Colorado?
  2. I’m sure we have lap counters somewhere.
  3. We still don’t have enough timers.
  4. The lane-line just broke.
  5. Was that thunder?
  6. But my video shows that she didn’t do that.
  7. The heat sheets will be here soon.
  8. I left a few swimmers off the Meet Entry by mistake.
  9. What coach’s registration card?
  10. But, we told everyone there would be time trials.


Did You Know?
Tracy Caulkins is the only swimmer ever, man or woman, to own American records in every stroke.


You Make the Call
The meet program includes an 11-12 Boys 400 Meter Freestyle Relay. A coach comes up to you and says “I only have three 11-12 boys, but I have a good 10-year old, he can ‘swim up’ in age in a relay, can’t he?What do you tell the coach?
See the answer at the bottom of this newsletter.


Referee’s Safety Checklist
USA Swimming has recently published a Referee’s Safety Checklist. All officials are encouraged to review it, and meet referees are expected to use it as a resource for their meets. Here is a direct link to the form, which is found on the USA Swimming website under Officials, Training Resources.


U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials on TV
Several PVS athletes will be competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha this summer. Three PVS officials will be on deck for the meet. If you can’t make it to Omaha, you can watch our country’s best swimmers on TV.

Date: Time: Network:
Sunday, June 29 8 - 9 pm NBC
Monday, June 30 8 - 9 pm USA
Tuesday, July 1 8 - 9 pm USA
Wednesday, July 2 8 - 9 pm USA
Thursday, July 3 8 - 9 pm USA
Friday, July 4 8 - 9 pm NBC
Saturday, July 5 8 - 9 pm NBC
Sunday, July 6 8 - 9 pm NBC


Don’t Assume . . .

  • Don’t assume that because there are experienced swimmers in your jurisdiction, they will always swim legally. Even Olympic medalists DQ sometimes.
  • Don’t assume that because you’ve already called one violation you can skip the next one on that swimmer. The first might be overturned and the second might have been upheld—had it been called.
  • Don’t assume that, because you’ve seen a hand go up at the other end of the pool, the swimmer has already been disqualified. It could be a different swimmer, a different violation, or a violation that is ultimately overturned.
  • Don’t assume that, if the referee or the chief judge questions you about your call, he/she doesn’t believe you or is trying to talk you out of it. This official likely did not see the violation and needs to be able to describe the details to the coach.
  • Don’t assume that because you’ve raised your hand you are obligated to make a call. Upon further thought, you might realize that what you saw was not a violation of the rules.


More Olympic Swimming Trivia
Electronic timing was in its infancy at the 1960 Olympics, where it was used as a back-up timing system. For finishes, three judges watched for 1st place, three for 2nd, etc. In the 100 meter Freestyle, two of three 1st place judges called John Devitt of Australia as the 1st place finisher, but two of the three 2nd place judges called him as the 2nd place finisher! Three stopwatches used for each swimmer showed Lance Larson of the U.S. with the faster time, 55.1, to Devitt’s 55.2. The electronic timing had Larsen at 55.10, Devitt at 55.16. The head judge decided that Devitt won the gold medal, even though the decision should have been based on the back-up timing system, as per the rules at the time. Needless to say, it was a controversial decision.


Questions? Suggestions?
Do you have a question about officiating or a tip you’d like to share? Is there a rule that you’d like to have clarified? Do you have a suggestion for a future item in this newsletter? If so, please send your questions/comments to the newsletter editor, Jack Neill.


Cameras At the Pool
Did you know that video technology is now in place at major national and international swim meets to assist with timing and judging?

Omega Swiss Timing has a system of overhead cameras used for back-up timing. Each camera records two lanes at the rate of 100 frames per second, coordinated with the start system. If there is a pad failure, the admin referee can look at the video to see exactly when the swimmer touched the wall, to the hundredth of a second. This kind of system has been used at the Olympics since 1988, as well as at many major national and international meets.

In recent years, the media have been questioning why swimming is the only major Olympic sport that doesn’t take advantage of video replay technology. This has caused FINA to begin testing underwater camera systems. USA Swimming likewise began conducting its own experiment with cameras during the 2007 National Championships in Indianapolis. A total of 24 underwater cameras were used at the 3 meter, 9 meter and 15 meter marks at both start and turn ends. The experiment was designed to address several questions:

  • Just how well can the camera see underwater?
  • Which types of violations should be reviewable – Stroke violations? Turn violations? Which ones?
  • Should the video replays be used to make, confirm, or overturn DQs?
  • Should the video replays be used only when there is a formal protest over a DQ?

Of course, the cost for such a video system is significant, making it an option for major meets only. And many wonder how USA Swimming will be able to write the rules for video use without “encouraging” participation in the judging from parents sitting in the stands with video cameras.

At this point, no final decisions have been made regarding the use of video replay in judging by FINA or USA Swimming.


Resolution to ‘You Make the Call’
Your answer should be “No.” According to Article 205.2.4, “A swimmer must compete in the age group events corresponding to the swimmer’s age,” except in a few very specific situations. If the event had originally been scheduled as a 12 & under relay, the 10-year old would have been eligible.

U.S. Olympic Trials:
June 29 - July 6

Beijing Olympic Games:
August 8 - 24
Swimming Events:
August 9 - 16