For swimmers the annual State Teams event is a State of Origin style clash between all Aussie states, territories and the Kiwis. For technical officials it’s kinda like High School Movie meets Police Academy (without the singing and with more grey hair)!
This year I was one of the few lucky ones to be selected to attend this 3 day technical official national training camp. It was a totally awesome experience.
Karen and the Swimming Australia (SAL) team delivered a cleverly crafted and powerful blend of classroom training, team building and practical pool deck experience. Us students were thrown into new positions and experiences, well supported and overseen by expert mentors and instructors.
Officiating education can often be dry and uninspiring – not here. Want to brush up your knowledge of the Rules? OK let’s do it TV quiz show style! Want a dress rehearsal before going on stage? No problem, simply move the chairs around in the classroom to create a mock pool!
There may have been competition in the water but those dressed in black around it really were #oneteam. It was far more than the slogan on our uniform.
Across the 4 pool sessions I was both delighted and nervous to be rostered in the control room twice. As Automatic Officiating Equipment (AOE) operator, any errors and delays are very visible. Thankfully I had ‘Professor’ Rod from Swiss Timing alongside me to accelerate my learning and ensure nothing went badly wrong.
I continued to nurture my inner geek on the High Speed Video (HSV) timing equipment. Steve appeared totally relaxed as he handed over the controls to me. Appearances must have deceived! His fingers were never too far away in case I needed assistance.
One of the most pleasing parts of the weekend were the definitive answers to all questions. Too often I have sat through endless inconclusive debates about interpreting the rules of swimming. This weekend the answers were clear and direct. I hope that I can use this new found clarity to support others on their officiating journey.
An added bonus was the unseasonably warm weather in Canberra. Ideal conditions to dry the shoes and socks of Inspectors of Turns during the lunchtime break.
Now I’m only reporting here what happened at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). Out of hours…. well as they say, what goes on tour, stays on tour….
Some people who don’t understand officiating seem to think that we are cops looking to snare poor defenceless swimmers who transgress the regulations. Although the rules are important, the overall theme of the weekend was one team staging a competition for swimmers. It was all about them, not us. Dot in marshalling typified this with her passion for creating the best experience for swimmers before they mount the blocks.
Thanks again to Karen, Elise and team for creating and running this unique and fantastic event. Massive shout out to John for mentoring us NSW/ACT peeps. Can’t wait to see everyone again on pool deck soon.