Officials roles


Our main lifesaving sport officials and their roles are listed below. A fully staffed lifesaving sport competition may also require an announcer, runners to collect paperwork and post results, and volunteers for food, awards, and fundraising activities. As you can see, a competition is a major undertaking that requires a significant number of volunteers and officials to get involved. For a single session in an 8-lane pool, we will have between 10-15 officials on the deck. 

Lifesaving Sport Officials are vital in providing a fair and safe opportunity for athletes to compete. Certified officials establish competition integrity and the credibility of the sport of lifesaving. They foster trust among competitors, coaches and spectators.

A lifesaving sport competition managed by certified officials yields the greatest opportunity for competitors to maximise performance within the rules. 

Types of competitions:

These types of competitions are featured at community, regional, provincial, national and international championships. 

General guidelines, expectations and responsibilities for Officials

Meet Referee

The Referee is the official with the most authority on deck (also the one with the whistle). They will run the briefing at the beginning of the session to let you know what is expected for the session you have volunteered for.

The goal of the Referee is to provide the best possible environment in order to maximize swimmer performance while ensuring the session is run fairly, consistently and smoothly.

 Through the Referee’s instructions prior to the start of the session, all other officials will have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities during the session  


Timekeepers are located behind the starting blocks of their respective lanes at the start/finish end of the pool. They are responsible for the timing of swimmers using the semi-automatic timing equipment (plungers) and / or watches. In Nova Scotia we use an Ultrak print out watch and generally only need two timers per meet as each timer watches for the finish in each lane - providing two times per lane which are then averaged out for the final time and matched with the finish judges list of placings.

Meet Manager

Meet Manager is the general manager of the entire competition. They have duties before, during and after the meet. They may have a team to share in the responsibilities. The Meet Manager submits the entry information to teams and organises the format of the competition.


The role of the coach during a competition is to: 

Safety Marshal

The Safety Marshal is a trained position designated by Meet Management. Safety Marshals shall: 

Judgement, tact and confidence is required and therefore the Safety Marshal should ideally be a more experienced official.


The goal of the Starter is to ensure a fair start for all swimmers

Clerk of Course

The Clerk of Course (CoC) is assisted by marshallers and plays a critical role in assisting with the management of the competition. The CoC arranges competitors into their proper heats and lanes prior to a race. While most competitions are are pre-seeded in advance of the meet (by a computer program), the CoC is still required to check-in competitors, collect scratches and re-seed or condense heats as needed. 

Chief Finish Judge

The key responsibilities of the Chief Finish Judge (CFJ) are to maintain the accuracy and integrity of the official times assigned to EVERY swim. The finish judge visually determines the order of finish for an event.