Open Water Officials 2008

The qualification route to become an Open Water swimming official changed at the beginning of the 2007 season.  We now have two new British Swimming qualifications; Open Water officials and Open Water referee.  This note tells you how to qualify as an Open Water official and also how to progress to become an Open Water referee.

How to become a British Swimming Open Water official

  • locate the application form on the British Swimming website Open Water section;
  • complete the form and send it with your registration fee to your Home Country Open Water swimming administrator;
  • you will be registered as a candidate for Open Water official and have an experienced referee appointed as your “mentor”.  You will also be issued with a workbook to guide you through the qualification process and tell you what experience you need to gain and what training courses you should attend;
  • from then on it is up to you to complete the milestones in the workbook; you will be guided in this by your mentor;
  • once you have completed the first two milestones you will be entered on the list of qualified British Swimming Open Water officials, this list is used by event organizers when selecting officials to staff their events.  You will be qualified to act as an Open Water timekeeper, finish judge, turn judge or race judge;
  • from then on it is up to you to add to your experience.  You will be expected to be able to perform a wide range of duties including chief judge, chief timekeeper, clerk of the course, course officer and assistant referee. You will need to have done these duties if you wish to progress to become an Open Water referee;
  • use you mentor to get advice and guidance on how you should add to your experience and he will also help you by trying to ensure that you get invited to officiate at a wide range of events.

How to become a British Swimming Open Water referee:

  • become an Open Water official as outlined above;
  • complete the tasks, training and perform the roles detailed in the workbook;
  • once you have gained enough experience and your mentor believes you are ready you can apply to sit the Open Water referee examination paper.  This will be a written paper the aim of which is to determine whether you are ready to act as a British Swimming Open Water referee.  The examinations will be held in the autumn each year;
  • achieve a pass in the Open Water referee written examination;
  • gain experience refereeing at least two different events, including at least one outside your own region;
  • apply for the Open Water referee practical assessment.  This will be carried out at two different events and you will be expected to cover the full range of referee duties and will be assessed on how you perform and how you respond to practical situations.  Some of these situations will be live as they occur at the events and some will be posed by the assessor as theoretical questions;
  • once you have passed the practical assessment you will be registered as a British Swimming Open Water referee.  You can be called upon to officiate in this role at any event throughout the three home countries; you will also be eligible to act as an assistant referee at LEN and FINA Open Water events held in England, Scotland and Wales.

Transition arrangements

  • All existing fully qualified Open Water referees have been automatically added to the list of British Swimming Open Water referees.
  • All existing Open Water specialists have been automatically added to the list of BS Open Water officials.


  • The registration fee to start training as a British Swimming Open Water official is a one-off payment of £8.00.
  • The fee to start the British Swimming Open Water referee training including the written examination is £10


Click here to apply.

Do you have any questions?