The Swimming Referee exam was introduced by Swimming Australia (SAL) earlier this year. I sat it last week and people have asked me to give some tips about how to prepare. Here are my suggestions. I reserve the right to change these once I get my result!!
1. Know how to Referee!!
Yes I know that I’m stating the obvious, but the exam content matches it’s title. Expect to be asked about:
- duties, powers, protocols and equipment
- officials required to run a meet
- how to referee an event
- determining placings and times
- applying for records
- receiving and deciding about infraction reports
- handling complaints and protests
About the only thing that I was expecting that wasn’t in there were questions about Multi-class swimmers and events.
2. Memorise all of the infractions
The head did not break the surface of the water before the hands turn inwards at the widest part of the second stroke after the start or turn…
Yes learn them all so that you can write them all down correctly. There are 17 for breaststroke, 11 for Butterfly and 10 for Backstroke, depending on how you count them. Did not touch the wall with both hands separated and simultaneously at the turn / finish is counted as 3.
The SNSW quick reference guide is invaluable. I made an audio recording of them for playing in the car (sad or what) and practised writing them out. I know this will help me enormously when I am on pool deck.
3. Take full advantage of the SNSW study aids
These are excellent. Read everything and complete all the questions. I discussed all the answers with my tutor, Peter Shell, which was great for identifying errors, clarifying issues, and reinforcing learning.
4. Familiarise yourself with the swimming referee exam format
The paper consists of a multiple choice section followed by written paper. There is no time limit. Combined it took me about 3.5 hours to complete, and I was the slowest in the room. In practice exhaustion sets in so I can’t imagine that many people can go for much longer.
It’s a closed book exam. There are 236 marks and the pass mark is 85%. There are well over 100 questions and the marks for each are clearly stated in the paper.
5. Don’t get phased by the few curly questions
There are a few questions where there could be different answers, or they mention strange terms. Even in the multiple choice section just explain your reasoning and answer. There aren’t many of these so I am hoping that they won’t have a material impact on the result.
6. Read beyond the rules
Some of the questions relate to issues that are not in the Rules, but are covered in other documentation e.g. taping on swimmers, key dimensions. There is also reference to a ‘Technical Manager’ which is a position at SAL meets but not SNSW ones.
7. Don’t rush the preparation
I booked the exam 2-3 months ahead of time and tried to pace my preparation throughout that period. In the final fortnight I put a lot of effort in, but I would not have been able to compress all the learning into that time alongside everyday life.
8. Gain practical experience
Although this is a theory exam, practical experience still helps enormously. I was rostered for various duties at meets prior to the test (e.g. JOS, AOE, Starter, Marshal, Check Starter and trainee Referee) and each helped. Just watching other Referees at work is invaluable.
The worst that can happen is that you are unsuccessful and need to do it again. We officiate because we enjoy it, so don’t get stressed by an exam.
And did I pass?….