Olympic Trials Official - By Invitation Only

By Jim Holcomb // Chair - National Officials Committee


NOTE: This article originally appeared in the Officials Newsletter for December 2015.


Several times in the past few weeks, I’ve been asked “when can I apply to officiate at the upcoming Olympic Team Trials in Omaha?" Not to be flippant really, but the answer is to have been making plans starting four years ago just after the last Trials. However, the OTT is a “by invitation only” event for officials, i.e., no application will be posted on the website. Officials for the OTT are invited to officiate. We have only a couple of these type meets in the quad. Another is the Duel in the Pool. The follow up question is “well then, how do I get selected?”


The answer to that begins with another question, one a bit easier to answer. “How do I get selected to officiate at a National Championship event?” The direct answer comes from the policies and procedures of the national committees, that is, “the officials chair, together with the Vice President of Program Operations, will review and approve the selection of officials for all USA Swimming Championships.” Those specified meets are all those above the level of sectionals-think two stars and above on our meet logos-including Futures, Juniors, Arena Pro Swim Series, Nationals, and team selection events such Olympic Team Trials and World Team Trials. With the exception of OTT, these meets have an application process. Send in an application and the selection process begins. The vice president and I select a meet referee from among the qualified officials and then involve the meet referee in the process to select the remaining officials for a meet. So, how do you get selected? First, apply. You must be at least an N2 to apply as a stroke and turn official. You must be an N3 official in that position to apply for one of the “assigned” (chief judge, starter, deck referee, administrative referee) positions. We do not select administrative officials (AO) for national championships at this point. The number of applications varies from meet to meet but regularly we receive fewer applications than we would like to take to the meet.


To improve your chances of selection and perhaps selection into one of the “assigned positions,” e.g. deck referee or starter, begin to officiate outside of your LSC. The ideal starting place is a sectionals meet. Multiple sectionals take place in both long course and short course seasons. Also, there are six or seven Arena Pro Swim Series meets each year across the country. Get out there and get yourself known. Do a good job in your position, be a positive team player and you will get noticed. Getting noticed is the first step to working those meets with “more stars in the logo.” As you work more of these “multi-starred” meets, your chances of being selected for the 2020 Olympic Team Trials improve.


There are seven months to go before the 2016 Olympic Team Trials and the selection process is being finalized. Invitations to officials have been sent out.

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