Our Kids Initiative - Putting Our Kids First

By Jay Thomas // Rules & Regulations Chair; OKI Committee Chair


As our athletes are transitioning into short course season, so are many of our USA Swimming officials. This is the time of year when officials start working at meets that are sanctioned under different governing bodies with different rules. As officials, we need to take some extra time to reacquaint ourselves with the different rules. Fortunately, the differences between the organizations today are minimal compared to 10 years ago thanks to Our Kids Initiative.


Our Kids Initiative is a cooperative effort of the leadership from the swimming member organizations to “Put ALL of Our Kids First.” The goal of this committee is to find ways for competition to be as fair as possible regardless of the organization the swimmer is representing. Additionally, members are working together to find ways to help each other in making swimming in the United States the best activity for all Americans. The OKI rule-making organizations include: FINA, USA Swimming, NCAA, YMCA, NFHS, USP and USMS.  The non-rule-making organizations include:  ASCA, CSAA, CSOA and NISCA. All have a seat at the table and all work collaboratively for “Our Kids”.


Over the past several years OKI has spent considerable time working together to bring more commonality between the rules of each organization. They have also made it easier for you as an official to transition between governing organizations. They have prepared two documents, which are posted on the OKI website that will be invaluable to you: The OKI Rules Differences Summary Chart and the OKI Water Depth Summary Chart. You will also find rule interpretations from the governing bodies posted. For all of us who officiate meets under different organizations, please take the time to review and be very careful to apply the rules as appropriate for the meet you are working – we owe that to the “kids”. Nobody will ever criticize an official for reversing a call because they accidently applied a rule incorrectly – admit the error and fix the call.


Hopefully these efforts will help you to “Put ALL of Our Kids First”. If you have any questions, please contact Jay Thomas at

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