By Mike Watkins//Contributor | Thursday, December 26, 2019
Lisa Vetterlein remembers her first and only Olympic Trials being filled with feelings of trepidation and wonder.
And, oh so much fun.
“The magnitude of the venue and the space on deck made me a little nervous as an official as we first walked out onto a pool deck clear of coaches and athletes,” she said. “But the ultimate was finals. It was a fantastic production, building anticipation, excitement and ultimately celebration of the best performances from the athletes.”
Returning to Trials next summer in Omaha, Vetterlein will serve as a Chief Judge, and she said she’s excited to be reunited with other officials who have become like family. It’s one of the main reasons she is ecstatic about coming back to officiate at her second Trials.
Below is a Q&A with Vetterlein about her parental connection to swimming and how much she loves officiating at all meets – but especially Trials.
Q: Where do you live? What do you do for work, fun, hobbies? Family? Names?
A: I live in Seattle, Wash., with my husband Malcolm. I am a bookkeeper for occupation, but Malcolm and I own an expedition-quality duffel bag business “BADBags” (acronym for Best American Duffel – shameless plug there). My pastimes are Pilates, Orange Theory and walking.
Q: What was your first Trials like? Most recent Trials?
A: 2016 was the most recent, and my first Olympic Trials.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working swim meets (in the various roles you've played)?
A: Every meet provides an opportunity to be with officiating friends, to help officiating friends, to be mentored, to mentor. It doesn’t get old or stale regardless of the competition level.
Q: How many meets (including Trials) would you say you've officiated?
A: Across a lot of different types of swim meets – too many to count.
Q: What will you be doing as an official (what is your role, duties, where will you be, etc.) Have you done multiple officiant roles at meets before?
A: I will be part of the Chief Judge team at Trials. Communication in this role is the key – communication to the deck officials on protocols that have been set forth, and between deck officials and deck referees as needed. Across all meet levels, I have worked in every position on deck.
Q: Do you have kids who swam (I know this is how a few people got into officiating)?
A: Yes, I have twin daughters who began swimming in a summer league program and then swam through college.
Q: Have you been a Trials official before? If not, have you been to Trials before as a spectator, coach or participant?
A: Officiating as a Stroke and Turn Judge in 2016 was my only Olympic Trial experience.
Q: How long have you been officiating at swim meets? How did you get started doing this?
A: I have been officiating for just over 15 years. My two daughters committed so much time and energy to the sport, it was easy to commit. However, years ago, I would have laughed if you told me I would spend so many hours a week/weekends at a pool. My first meet, I was the volunteer timer, and then a friend asked if I might consider becoming an official. I did and have never stopped.
Q: I imagine this is quite an honor to be chosen for Trials?
A: It is an incredible honor to have been selected from among the number of officials that meet the criteria.
Q: Are you a swimmer/former swimmer yourself?
A: I was never a competitive swimmer.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about Trials?
A: Besides watching the Olympic Team chosen, I am excited to be part of this officiating crew of friends, and to work as a Chief Judge, gaining the experience and perspective that role will provide.