During my years of following social media and various swimming blogs I have come across criticism of officials and the lack of qualification or professionalism.
Being an official myself, I cannot dunk anybody into the mire but would like to scale back on my defense of the qualification.
There is a severe lack of proper assessment and an even greater lack of noting – a proper measurement of ability.
With the exception of the J2 qualification and the referee, other qualifications are often left to the discretion of the assessors. Often remarks are couched around psychological things like confidence but those remarks may not even be hinged on concrete examples. It really depends whether the candidate is supposed to be passed or not.
In J2 the ability to do finish is exactly measured by comparing how a candidate actually writes down the finish and that can be compared exactly against official results or the marks of other officials around the pool.
A referee has to sit a written exam and a practical one. The written exam has a high impact on the result.
With other assessments, the discretion of the assesssors is prevalent. Seeing that many local officials’ offices are staffed with very long-standing volunteers, who are often of quite advanced age, it seems that at least those who already have achieved the highest accolade of referee get re-assessed in all abilities in regular intervals instead of just leaving them in place.
I have seen referees not being able to concentrate on J1 jobs, unable to turn numbers in 1500 meter races, a sign often of age-related deterioration but the referee qualification remains intact. It may be a sign of Dyscalculia or Dementia. Others are very unfit, though I do not want to engage with fat-shaming, but being in a sport, suggests that everybody should make an effort.
Seeing then that the lower qualifications are not properly measured, it seems rather hit and miss and unsatisfactory. It doesn’t surprise me that complaints about qualifications arise and that in many instances officials cannot be found to run regional or similar events, perhaps due to some being disaffected by the treatment they received.
I would expect a points based system, setting tasks and awarding points per task achieved and deducting points for tasks failed.
However this is not how it works for swimming officials. There is a simply written grid with a few tasks, judged on the impression made on the assessor without precise numbers, results or definite reasons given.
Unfortunately those tested are also unable to appeal upon the result, which is so out of the context of modern society that this really needs looking at. Especially those being assessed for J1, J2 or J2S cannot appeal a refusal. Completely unsatisfactory.
For J1 qualifications much will be moved online from next year, that will help but the assessment itself is still the same.
I don’t want to imply that age is a sign of fitness but that obvious signs should be investigated, regardless how senior the position of the official is.