Open Water Technical Officials

Technical Officials

As in all the Disciplines, Swimming Technical Officials in Open Water (OWSTOs) are a central part of every swimming event and play an important role in ensuring the events run smoothly, safely and within the regulations. In Open Water Swimming the various roles are grouped into Judge Level 1, Judge Level 2, Referee and Safety Officer.

Open Water Swimming is growing in popularity so there is a continuing need to increase the number of OWSTOs across the country.  There are lots more opportunities to get involved for those with an interest, an enthusiasm to learn and a desire to help the aquatic sports while enjoying the fresh air.

How do you become an Open Water Swimming Technical Official?
Firstly, you must be a member of Scottish Swimming so that you are insured for your activities.  You must also be at least 15 years old.

Make contact with any of the Committee Members listed under ‘Key Contacts’, fill in the application form and we will arrange the rest.

Open Water Judge Level 1 is the first step to become an Open Water STO.  Material for the course is in the form of a workbook and the course itself comprises workshops and practical training at events with a mentor.  There is no examination at the end of the course - just a final assessment. Open Water Judge Level 1 qualifies you to be a Timekeeper, Turn Judge and Finish Judge.

Once you have completed this and are at least 16, you are then eligible to continue to Open Water Judge Level 2 which is completed in the same manner. Open Water Judge Level 2 qualifies you to undertake the duties of Race Judge, Starter, Clerk of the Course, Course Officer, Feeding Platform Judge and Assistant Referee.

Open Water Referee is the next step in the progress and you will be eligible once you are a certificated Open Water Judge Level 2. For an experienced OWJL2, training takes around 1 year and there is a written examination and a final assessment before you are certificated as a Referee.

Licensed OWSTOs qualified as above will be entitled to officiate at any Open Water event in Scotland, England or Wales, since the courses and qualifications are identical across the home countries.  A link to the appropriate section of the British Swimming website, which includes copies of the workbooks, is here. 

Safety is paramount in Open Water Swimming and although all OWSTOs have important roles to play in terms of health and safety, the Safety Officer is the key link between the STOs and the Safety and Medical crews, ensuring that all personnel are aware of hazards at all times, informed of anything which affects the safety of the event as it proceeds and with the power to curtail or cancel the event if he/she considers it prudent.  Training for this role comprises practical mentoring under the Scottish Swimming Open Water Safety Co-ordinator.