Open Water Officials 2009

After two years of using the revised Open Water qualifications scheme it has become apparent that we need to make the process more focused on the candidates and to give more direction as they progress with their experience and qualifications.

A decision has also been made to align the qualification steps with those  being used for pool officials.  Thus there will now be an Open Water Official Level 1 and an Open Water Official Level 2.  New applicants will follow these new procedures starting with the 2009 season, existing BS Open Water officials will be contacted by their mentors to assess how their experience and qualifications fit into the Open Water Official Level 1 and Level 2 syllabi, to decide what qualification they will be given.  The procedure for becoming an Open Water referee does not change, although the mentoring and guidance given to the candidate referee will be greatly improved.

How to become a British Swimming Open Water official level 1 and level 2

The finish
The finish

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

When completing the form you should indicate which level you are applying for.  You can only apply for level 2 if you are already a qualified Open Water official Level 1.

Level 1 applicants will be registered as candidates for Open Water official and will have an experienced referee appointed as a mentor.  Your mentor will arrange an introductory course as soon as possible and will direct you through the processes, theoretical work and practical experience required.  A workbook will be issued (or you can download it). During your training you will be expected to work alongside qualified officials. Once you have completed your training you will be qualified to act as an Open Water timekeeper, chief timekeeper, finish judge, and turn judge.

Level 2 applicants will work directly with their appointed mentor to meet the additional targets and experience required for this level.  You will be expected to perform the duties of starter, race judge, chief judge, assistant referee, safety officer, course officer, clerk of the course and recorder. Some of these will be under close supervision so that you can gain the experience, particularly when assisting the safety officer or course officer.  Once you complete the training you will be qualified to act as race judge, chief judge and assistant referee. This is in addition to the roles you qualified for during level 1.

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:

You must be an Open Water official level 2 as outlined above with experience in all of the roles; particularly, chief judge, course officer and assistant referee. You will need to have worked closely with a safety officer to understand his role thoroughly.

Once you have gained enough experience, and your mentor believes you are ready, you can apply to register as an Open Water referee candidate, this will be done at the beginning of the season and you and your mentor will decide what extra experience you need in the coming season and, where possible,  you will be given priority to be appointed for the roles you need at events around the country.  In the autumn you will sit the British Swimming 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.

Once you have achieved a pass in the referee written examination, you will be assessed as you referee two separate events during the next season. These practical assessments must be at different locations and one must be outside your own region. 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


The fee of £8.00 to register for British Swimming Open Water official level 1 or Level 2 is £8 for each.
The fee to start the British Swimming Open Water referee training including the written examination is £10.


Click to download BS Open Water official level 1 and level 2 application form

Click to download BS Open Water referee application form

If you have any questions, please direct them in the first instance to the BS Open Water administrator