Officials Qualifications & Training

England, Scotland and Wales are in alignment over the training of swimming officials. This means training is standardised across the UK. Read on for details of the demands of each level of training, and the forms to apply.

England, Scotland and Wales have been working towards common standards in the education and training of all swimming officials.

All three Home Countries now use FINA Technical Rules. As such, trained officials are listed as British Swimming Officials. Below is a description of the various training available.


This is an introduction into the world of the swimming official. It covers the practical aspects of what is required of a timekeeper by means of a short theory session followed by a practical assessment.

The minimum recommended age for candidates to undertake this training is 14 years, and all need to be registered members of an affiliated club.

Judge Level 1

This is the first level of British qualification. It encompasses the role and duties of a Timekeeper, Chief Timekeeper and Inspector of Turns.

The minimum age to start training is 15 years. Candidates will be required to undertake an online instruction and assessment module, and gain practical experience working on the poolside with a mentor. A course workbook is provided for completion.

There is no final assessment or examination. Upon qualification candidates will be attributed with the qualification Judge Level 1 on the British Swimming Database and will be enrolled as a Licensed Official.

Judge Level 2

This is the second level of qualification. It encompasses the role and duties in relation to all aspects of judging and the theoretical role and duties of Starter.

The minimum age to start training is 16 years and candidates must ahave already qualified as Judge Level 1. The training follws a similar format to that of Judge level 1 with formal instruction, mentored pool side training with workbook followed by a practical assessment.

When qualified, candidates will be attributed with the qualification Judge Level 2 on the British Swimming Database.

Judge Level 2S- Starter
Candidates wishing to qualify as a Starter will be required hold the Judge Level 2 qualification and have completed a minimum of 20 hours post qualification experience as Judge Level 2.

Training will consist of a prescribed number of practical experiences as a Starter before undertaking a formal practical assessment.

Successful candidates will be attributed with the Starter qualification: Judge Level 2S

Coronavirus Update 


Volunteers training to become Swimming Technical Officials Judge 1 are to be given an extension to complete their course due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As one of three home countries, Scottish Swimming adopted a new version of the Judge 1 course in January which has two distinctive elements – an online theory element followed by practical sessions.

Once the online theory element is completed, candidates have 11 months from the date of the theory certificate to finish the practical training.

To ensure these who had already started the ‘old’ Judge 1 training were not disadvantaged, it was agreed candidates had until 31 July 2020 to complete all elements of the course.

However, the coronavirus lockdown is preventing people on both the old and new course format from completing the qualifications within these timescales

The impact has been reviewed by the British Swimming Officials Group and the following guidance has been agreed by all home countries:

  • Old style Judge 1 course – each individual will receive an extension equal to the number of months the sport is not operational plus an additional three months. The first aspect will be calculated from Friday 20 March 2020, the date when pools were shut down.
  • Old Style Judge 1 course awaiting final assessment - For those individuals who have all competencies and workshops complete, and are awaiting final assessment only, then the final assessment will be waived. This is in keeping with the concept of the new Judge 1 programme which does away with the final assessment.
  • New style Judge 1 course in progress, with the theory completed and certificate received before the start of lockdown – each individual will have 11 months from the date of their theory certificate with an additional extension equal to the length of the lockdown plus three months. The first aspect will be calculated from Friday 20 March 2020, the date when pools were shut down.
  • New style Judge 1 course, with the theory completed and certificate received during lockdown – each individual will have 11 months from the date competition restarts to complete the practical elements.


Meanwhile, Scottish Swimming and the National STO Committee are encouraging people to consider starting their training for the Judge 1 course during the lockdown period. The course can be found at


Anyone who completes the theory during lockdown will have a minimum of 11 months from the point competition restarts to complete their practical elements.

This start date will be determined by the National Swimming Committee in line with government policies and other decisions relevant to the return to competition.

Volunteers training to become Judge 2 and Judge 2S have now been away from the pool for far longer than ever anticipated. The British Swimming Officials Group has considered this and will now apply the same waiver to the final assessment. If you have completed all workshops and competencies and were only awaiting final assessment, you will be awarded your certificate. For others who are part way through their training, there is no time limit on completion.

Anyone wishing to start training as Judge 2 or starter (J2S) should contact their District Convenor in the usual way, as we anticipate running the initial workshops and courses virtually when there is some indication of competition resuming.

Anyone with queries regarding their training should please email their District STO Convenor or the National STO Chair in the first instance.




The minimum age for training is 19yrs providing the candidate is aged 20yrs as at 30thNovember in the year of the theory examination. In addition candidates must have proven poolside experience at Judge Level 1 and Judge Level 2 and must also have been qualified as Judge Level 2S for at least 1 year with a minimum of 10 hours post qualification experience in that role at the time of application.

This course contains theoretical instruction and specified practical experiences. It is followed by a formal examination in November after which successful candidates take a final poolside practical assessment leading to qualification as a British Swimming Referee.

Several months have been allocated between registration and the formal examination to enable candidates to undertake all the practical experience required to complete the course as well as the theoretical instruction.

Application forms must be submitted by 31 December of the previous year to allow sufficient time for completion of training in preparation for the November examination.

Examinations are normally held in May and November. Both 2020 exams were cancelled.

Coronavirus Update

Volunteers who are in training or intend to start training for the British Swimming Referee qualification are also affected by the current restrictions. The following has been agreed by the British Swimming Officials Group and the Scottish STO committee. Everything is subject to change depending on progression of the pandemic and return to competition.

Referee training has been on hold since 20th March 2020.  Both exams scheduled for 2020 had to be cancelled. No new applications were accepted for training in 2021. Realistically we are not likely to return to normality this year (2021). Plans are therefore being made with that in mind to give some certainty. The next referees exam will be November 2022 (twenty-two). Those who started training in 2020 should have completed their training by then. Those who were due to resit in May 2020 have been away for so long, that they should repeat the training schedule of mentored sessions. This means two cohorts of referee trainees will be aiming for the exam in November 2022, and with training opportunities likely to be restricted for some time, the SOG has reluctantly decided that no new applications can be accepted for training in 2022. We recognise this is a massive disappointment for those who were considering applying in 2021 or 2022, however the situation will be kept under review.