I wholeheartedly apologise to all parents whom I criticized in the past for not becoming swimming officials.
It sounds stupendous but that is what I literally did. I told people off for not officiating when the pressure of cancelled meets brought me to have a go at parents.
Yet over the years, I had the privilege to speak to many parents who told me their reasons for not being an official. Some are emotional and others are unspecified.
If you compare sports, swimming has the highest requirement of officials, as each lane requires individual attention. Depending on the level, where level one and two are the highest possible, competitions can require a minimum of 22 qualified and licensed officials.
Yet all those officials are volunteers within a framework that is more or less regulated.
Whilst qualifying standards for officials are high and follow strict FINA guide lines the way that training is run depends on the volunteers in local clubs and associations.
It is extremely time-consuming but a mere by-product of having a swimmer in the club.
Yet when being an official one has to deal with other officials and those who teach us and those who are in charge of clubs and associations.
I think it must be up to each individual how comfortable they are in helping how they decide their activities within clubs or the sport as a whole.
Often clubs vary tremendously because of their location, demographic make-up and personal motivations. It all depends how well one gets on, how good one feels about doing the job and how fair we think it all is.
If competitions have to be cancelled for lack of officials then it is up to the sport’s governing bodies to find out why there is such a lack. It starts within the clubs and goes right through to local county associations, Swim England, Scotland, Wales and British Swimming.
There is little regulation apart from the yearly handbook and FINA rules. Many clubs have variations in their club constitutions and rules are hardly enforced *. There is no quality control compatible to Ofsted for schools.
So it is literally up to the people who make up the clubs, how they perceive what is good to do.
Officiating is always completely voluntary. There is no reward other than knowing that one has contributed to a positive environment with positive contributions.
Whatever happens in between is a matter for the people who are involved and that is all confidential and it depends how well people can work out their log jams how good the sport can progress.
* Of course the swimming rules are enforced if an official can spot an infraction and the referee accepts it. But rules how clubs are run or associations of officials are run are in my view quite fragmented.