Please Read This Before You Begin :
Step 1 (Training Video): Everyone wanting to be certified as a Stroke & Turn Official must each year watch the training video either in the Classroom training or by borrowing a copy from your team Volunteer Coordinator/SAIL Rep. This is an “honor system” element of the training and the expectation is that you make sure you view the video even if you have seen it each of the last ten or more years. There are seven video segments that are linked in the on-line training below.
Step 2 (Instruction): If your name appears on the list of Stroke & Turn officials that attended classroom training last year and the year before (two consecutive years), you are welcome to become certified this year by completing this On-Line Clinic for Stroke & Turn. Of course, if you prefer, you are also welcome to attend one of the classroom training courses that are scheduled.
If your name does not appear on the list, you must attend one of the classroom training courses to become certified.
Step 3 (Test): Everyone wanting to be certified as a Stroke & Turn Official must successfully complete the test. If you have attended the classroom training and need to take the on-line test to complete your certification, proceed directly to the test or you are welcome to review the material below as a refresher before taking the test.
Upon successful completion of the test, the certified list of Officials will be updated with your name. “Pending” will show next to your name if the Officials Chairman needs to certify your attendance at a Classroom session.
Care has been taken to make this Clinic informative. Some terms may be confusing or unfamiliar to you as you review the material. A glossary is available in the Officials section of the website that may help your understanding of the material.
Course Instruction Summary: Please read and study the following material carefully. When you have finished the material you will be presented with an on-line test. After successfully completing the test you will be certified as a SAIL Official for this position. Thank you. Please send any comments, improvement suggestions, etc. to email@example.com.
Introduction (Watch Introduction To Officiating Video)
The Stroke & Turn Official is responsible for knowing the rules for each stroke. The annually approved and published SAIL Technical Rules govern SAIL swim meets and they mostly (with a few exceptions) refer the USA Swimming Technical Rules for the bulk of the rules as they pertain to Individual Strokes.
At a swim meet the Stroke & Turn Official observes the swim while the swimmer(s) are swimming in the jurisdiction of the Stroke & Turn Official. A fundamental principal of the Stroke & Turn responsibility is that the benefit of doubt goes to the swimmer. There are no disqualification quotas or goals for the Stroke & Turn Official; if they observe an infraction they raise their hand and recommend to the referee that the swimmer be disqualified for an infraction of the rules. If they do not observe an infraction, do not know they are observing an infraction or think they may be observing an infraction, then no action is taken by the Official.
Officiating a swim meet requires clarification of certain terms so that confusion can be minimized. For the benefit of this course the following terms are listed.
Body – the torso, including the hips
Horizontal – parallel to the surface of the water
Scissor – use of the top of the instep of one foot and the bottom of the other foot in a propulsive part of the kick
Simultaneously – occurring at the same time
Swimming venue – fenced area around the pool or other designated areas by meet director or referee
Touch – contact with the end of the course
Vertical – at a right angle to the normal water level
2012 Rules Changes
There are no significant rule changes for Stroke & Turn Officials.
A minor revision was made to allow two swimmers to age up to form a relay at Dual and Tri meets (not Divisionals). See explanation under “Relays” below.
To properly perform the responsibilities, an individual shall have a thorough understanding of these USA Swimming Rules and be familiar with the SAIL Technical Rules that apply:
Relays (101.7) Select To Review Rules For Relays
The stroke and turn judge shall ensure that the rules pertaining to the style of swimming designated for the event being swum are observed by the judge when competitors are within the judge’s jurisdiction.
Stroke and Turn Card (Typically a laminated yellow colored reference) – A good reminder but not a substitute for reading the rules prior to each meet.
NOTE: A stroke/turn does not have to be stylish to comply with the rule.
Remember – The Benefit of the Doubt goes to the Swimmer.
SAIL Rule Exceptions, Clarifications & Interpretations
These exceptions, clarifications and interpretations are made from the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations and contained in the SAIL Technical Rules.
Swim Caps – SAIL (new 2010)
Swim caps worn must be from swimmer’s affiliated SAIL team or solid colored.
Backstroke (new 2011)
In USA Swimming, if a swimmer chooses to turn towards the breast at the turn, the action must be “continuous”. SAIL has adopted the high school swimming turn rule that allows gliding into the wall and is stated:
“The turn requires that some part of the swimmer’s body contact the end wall. After the swimmer’s head has passed the backstroke flag, prior to the turn, the swimmer’s upper shoulder may (but is not required to) rotate past the vertical toward the breast before the touch is completed provided such rotation is accompanied by an initiation of the turning action or continuation into the wall. The initiation of the turning action shall be accomplished by a single-arm or simultaneous double-arm pull, or in the absence of such pull, by a downward underwater movement of the head.
After the initiation of the turning action, no additional arm pulls may be started; however, kicking and gliding actions are permitted.”
In USA Swimming, the arms must be brought forward over the water. In SAIL, both arms must break the surface of the water while being brought forward. The arm is defined from the shoulder to the wrist.
Age Group Competition
Unlike USA Swimming, SAIL recognizes an 8 and under age group.
No swimmer may swim more than one medley relay and one freestyle relay in any meet.
At Divisional Championships, Relays must consist of at least three swimmers in the designated age group and no more than one swimmer may be “aged up” from the immediate prior age group.
At Dual & Tri meets Relays must consist of at least two swimmers in the designated age group and no more than two swimmers may be “aged up” from the immediate prior age group.
Under no circumstances may a:
- relay consist of more than one (Divisional) or two (Dual/Tri) swimmer(s) from another age group;
- swimmer “age down” for a relay (or any other reason);
- swimmer swim in more than one medley relay and one freestyle relay in any meet;
- swimmer “age up” more than one age group;
- swimmer “age up” if the team has enough swimmers in the age group to form a relay.
The names of the four relay participants must be listed on the relay card. The order in which the participants will swim in the relay must be clearly designated.
Dual/Tri meets are not scored.
Division meets are scored as follows: 12 places – 13,11,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 Relay scores are not doubled.
To determine the division assignments for the next season, all division results are combined and scored 60 places with a value of 60 through 1.
Applicable except for racing starts shall be a water depth of 3.5 ft. It is recommended that teaching racing starts should conform to the stated rule. Each team must follow the stated USA Swimming rule in section 103.2 to teach safe racing starts.
Disqualifications (New 2011)
At the 1st meet of the season, swimmers disqualified in the 8 and under age group will not be notified by the Officials. The DQ will be properly documented in records and entered into the computer.
The Referee will position Stroke & Turn judges around the swimming pool so that their locations mirror each other from end-to-end and side-to-side.
Six Lane Pools: Turn judge jurisdiction shall be lanes 1 – 3 and 4 – 6 and shall stand in the over center of assigned lanes. The side stroke judges in the center of the side of the pool or walking the deck if both sides will allow.
Eight Lane Pools: Turn judge jurisdiction shall be lanes 1 – 3, 4 – 5 and 6 – 8 and shall stand over the center of their assigned lanes. The side Stroke judges in the center of the side of the pool or walking the deck if both sides will allow.
The Turn judges will have jurisdiction for strokes & turns between the end of the pool and the backstroke flag (except in Breaststroke).
The stroke judges on the sides of the pool shall have jurisdiction between the backstroke flags (except in Breaststroke). The Referee may alter the position of officials to meet the needs of the venue.
Backstroke Start – The responsibility for judging the feet on a backstroke (including medley relay) start shall be the responsibility of the Starter and Deck Referee rather than the Stroke & Turn judges.
Breaststroke Start and Turn - The end Stroke & Turn judges shall be responsible for judging the stroke immediately after the start and turn until the swimmer’s head breaks the surface of the water or until the swimmer reaches the backstroke flags, whichever occurs later. The side Stroke judge shall be responsible for the swimmer once the swimmer leaves the end Stroke & Turn judges’ jurisdiction as outlined in the previous sentence.
See the Recommended Stroke and Turn Jurisdiction sheet for additional information.
Relay Takeoffs Procedures
You may be asked to judge relay takeoffs. The Referee will usually not ask a Stroke & Turn Official to judge both relay takeoffs and the strokes, finishes or turns so you will only have to observe the exchange between the swimmer finishing and the swimmer about to start. Two independent judges are used and should be positioned opposite each other. Each judge shall judge each takeoff and write the results on the takeoff pad. The judges shall confirm the takeoffs after the last swimmer in their jurisdiction has entered the pool. If there is a confirmed early takeoff, the judges shall notify the referee.
The proper procedure is defined below:
- The relay takeoff judge shall watch only the assigned lanes.
- The feet of the starting swimmer should be watched until the feet (toe) lose contact with the block. The feet of the starting swimmer need not be at the front edge of the block. If the incoming swimmer has not touched the wall, an early takeoff should be noted by marking the form with an “X”. A correct takeoff shall be noted with a circle.
- The finish occurs when any part of the incoming swimmer body touches the wall, regardless of the legality of the touch.
- The judge should compare the takeoffs with the other judge. If the judges agree that an early takeoff has occurred, the one judge should raise their arm and notify the referee
- All relay takeoff forms shall be turned into the referee at the event’s conclusion.
Disqualification signal – immediately raise hand over your head until acknowledged by the referee or chief judge except dual confirmed relay take-offs. If you do not raise your hand, the Disqualification will be overturned; it is a rule.
Common disqualifications that may apply to any stroke are addressed in sections;
- Unsportsmanlike or unsafe manner within the venue
- Swimwear (102.8)
- Start and finish in same lane
- Standing on the bottom except in freestyle
- Obstructing or interfering with another swimmer
- Entering the pool unless authorized barred from next event
- Dipping goggles permitted unless interference is observed
- Device or substance to aid with speed, pace or buoyancy
- Grasping lane line to assist in forward motion
The primary exchange between a Stroke and Turn Judge and Referee should be: WHAT DID YOU SEE? WHAT’S THE RULE? WHERE WERE YOU AND THE SWIMMER? Of course additional clarification and discussion may occur. Also, it is always a good practice to write down notes about your call so you can recall the facts at a later time.
In general, the Referee will discuss a disqualification with the swimmer. But, depending on the meet and number of disqualifications that occur in a heat, you may be asked to speak to the swimmer and/or write the disqualification.
When talking to a swimmer regarding a disqualification, tell them clearly and succinctly what they did wrong and that they are disqualified.
If directed by the referee, sign and mark the disqualifications on the back of the swimmer’s card in such a manner so that the coach and swimmer will fully understand the infraction later. Also, place a red “X” across the entire face of the card so that records will be able to easily identify it as a disqualification. If asked by the timers, please confirm that they should still record the times on the card.
What to Wear
Wear white (or light khaki) shorts and shirt. Do not wear any item that has your team’s logo or name. You are encouraged to participate in the SAIL shirt/T-shirt program.
Radios are used strictly for the efficient administration of a meet. The primary purpose of the radios is to efficiently call in a disqualification to make sure that the swimmer(s) are notified clearly and in a consistent manner. Thus:
- Never use radios to call attention to a swimmer.
- Never use radios to tell jokes or stories of any kind.
- Foul or abusive language of any kind, in any language, should never be used on radios.
- Never use radios to discuss a disqualification or any incident regarding the swimming competition.
- Never use radios should to talk about any coach, swimmer, volunteer or any situation dealing with meet operations.
Radios often have a “voice activated” switch, which picks up any audible activity and can cause embarrassing situations. Therefore it is critical that radios only be used in the “manual” mode and should be checked for proper position before usage.
Radios are an optional accessory at a meet. If there are enough Officials, the meet can often be set up so that Stroke & Turn Officials do not even benefit by having a Radio. When radios are used the Stroke & Turn Official should minimize broadcast and communicate in a very succinct and consistent manner. As an example(s):
- OFFICIAL – “Recommended disqualification lane ____, turn end, side, start end. Disqualification is for _____________.”
- REFEREE – “Disqualification for lane ____ for _____________ CONFIRMED, please write it up and notify the swimmer.”
- REFEREE – “Disqualification for lane ____ for _____________ NOT ACCEPTED.”
- OFFICIAL – “I will notify the swimmer.”
- OFFICIAL – “Swimmer has been notified.”
- REFEREE – “Thank you.”
Other Important Information
- It is very important for new Stroke & Turn Officials to “shadow” for at least 2 meets. This means you will stand in position on the pool deck with an experienced Stroke & Turn Official. The experienced Official will be responsible for the jurisdiction but you will be able to observe and ask questions about the variations of strokes and situations you see together.
- Swimmers must begin and finish the race in their designated lane. It is possible and legal for a swimmer to cross into another lane but cross back into the correct lane. It would be illegal if they interfered with another swimmer.
- Watch all lanes equally, even if it means looking at an empty lane. In a five lane pool, the judge having two lanes should observe “away for the action” for some of the time to compensate for the judge who is responsible for three lanes.
- You are not doing the swimmer a favor by allowing him to compete incorrectly without disqualifying him. Correctly swimming strokes is an accomplishment. Stroke & Turn Judges validate swimmers swim according to the rules.
- Arrive at the meet early for officials meeting and instructions (30 minutes).
- Stroke and turn officials rotate every ten events. This means you will move around the pool (and your jurisdiction will change) as the meet progresses.
- An official can only make a disqualification in their assigned jurisdiction.
- Style is not judged. Only determine if a swimmer conforms to the rules. A wide variety of stroke styles are allowed under the rules.
- Always look and act professional.
- Avoid conversation with spectators and coaches regarding disqualifications.
A Final Note
At the end of a swim meet you may wonder how well you did as a Stroke & Turn Judge. First and foremost, thank you very much for taking your time and going to the effort to be trained. Although you have a “front row seat” to the action and someone will bring you a cold beverage now and then, many folks are justifiably uncomfortable serving as a Stroke & Turn Judge. You may not feel fully qualified or you may feel badly reporting to the referee that a swimmer did not swim the stroke correctly when you watched them … “try so hard.” Nonetheless, the Stroke & Turn Judges are critical to making the meet legitimate and something worthy of accomplishment by the swimmers. When everyone in SAIL works together, in the same ways, the swimmers know they have valid times, under similar conditions and have swum their strokes correctly. They have achieved something worthwhile and meaningful.
Preparation is the key to being as effective as possible by the day of the meet. It always helps to read the key stroke rules the night before, wear the proper attire and observe the swimmers in your jurisdiction. The following sheet is offered as a way to review your actions as a Stroke & Turn Official. 2012 Post Meet Review
Code of EthicsAll members of the League shall adhere to the following Code of Ethics.
- As a participant, I will refrain from all personal action that might provoke other participants, spectators, or officials to unsportsmanlike conduct.
- As an individual, I will refrain from offensive or abusive language and will confine myself to proper remarks at the proper time to officials in charge.
- As a participant, I will respect the dignity of the meet in which I am engaged, the officials, the opponents, and the communities they represent.
- As an individual participant, parent, coach, team, league representative or league officer, I will do nothing that would give myself or my team an unfair advantage over another participant or team.
- As a coach or parent, I will not engage in nor permit actions which will interfere with the operation of the league or its meets; nor will I intrude upon the area of the league and meet officials.
- As a meet official or league officer, I will return courteous answers to legitimate questions and recognize remarks made by authorized persons. I will not allow any acts by others which do not uphold the standards set forth in the by-laws of the league.
- As a participant of the meet, I will maintain an attitude of true sportsmanship.
- As a member of SAIL, I pledge myself to create a mature, healthy, and fair atmosphere for all swimmers at all times.