Sunday, May 17, 2009

Online Open Water Swimming Certification Test

Under the leadership of Chip Carrigan (shown on left), John Kinney and the USA Swimming On-Line Testing Sub-committee, USA Swimming has added a new online Open Water Certification Test on its website.

Any registered member of USA Swimming is eligible and encouraged to take the latest and newest test at USA

Instructions on how to take the test can be located here on the USA Swimming website (under Volunteers > Officials > Officials Online Test.

The purpose of this 50-question test is to certify the knowledge and understanding of open water swimming rules by officials who are working at USA Swimming national championship events and Local Swim Committee-sanctioned open water competitions.

The Open Water Certification Test has been years in the making and will prove invaluable to standardize and confirm the level of knowledge among open water swimming judges, officials and referees in the US. As an online test, any eligible USA Swimming member can take the test at their convenience. The ease of modern technology is being utilized effectively to help the sport grow and prosper.

Like most sports, most of the open water swimming rules are cut-and-dry. But like water polo, the dynamic nature of open water swimming requires its officials to be well-versed in the sport’s rules and how athletes tend to move in the water against their opponents. An experienced official can make the correct call and help create fair competitions, especially when large packs of swimmers are barreling down a straightaway towards the finish or fighting for position around a turn buoy,

But, similar to the foul of charging in basketball or pass interference in football, sometimes making a call in open water swimming can be difficult. However, unlike basketball or football, there are no replays in open water swimming. The open water swimming referee has to get it right the first time when he/she must make a judgment call on the spot.

The test combines a variety of cut-and-dry questions with questions that cover different scenarios that officials will experience in many open water swimming competitions. The test-taker will be questioned on a variety of real-world scenarios that will help them prepare for actual competitions.

Because open water races are held in venues with all kinds of shapes and distance under conditions that vary from oceans with heavy surf, lakes shrouded in mist and rowing basins under glassy conditions, open water swimming officials need to be confident in their knowledge of the rules – and the new USA Swimming online Open Water Certification Test is a great step to achieving this goal.

Upper photo of the famous photo-finish at the 2005 World Swimming Championship men's 25K finish by Dr. Jim Miller.

Lower photo of professional marathon swimmers in Lac St-Jean also by Dr. Jim Miller.

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