The Cayman Islands Amateur Swim Association (CIASA) has taken several steps to upgrade and certify swim officials.
The first CIASA Officials certification cards were recently awarded to a group of ten dedicated officials, followed by four days of free officiating classes open to all, taught by one of the Caribbean’s foremost swim officials, Errol Clarke.
Clarke is the vice president of the Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swim Confederation (CCCAN) and a member of the technical committee of the Amateur Swim Union of the Americas (ASUA). From Barbados, Clarke has officiated at most of the major international events in the Caribbean and beyond. He is on the FINA Officials list and recently officiated at World Champs in Shanghai, China.
Clarke came to Cayman courtesy of a FINA grant to CIASA and additional CIASA funding. For the past ten years, Stingray Swim Club brought in officials mostly from the U.S. and Canada, to referee the larger meets and train local officials. FINA rules are somewhat different from USA Swimming rules, Cayman swimmers attend meets ruled by both.
President of CIASA, Peter Mackay, commented, ‘Knowledgeable officials are an integral part of this great sport, as any. We appreciate all the people who help by working the meets so kids can compete in local, yet sanctioned meets, and especially the efforts to upgrade and complement the swim program by attending classes. It really helps us become a part of the international swim community. We encourage all swim supporters to take advantage of these opportunities.’
In an effort to establish a high level of officiating locally, the CIASA has as part of its structure a Technical Swimming Committee that is chaired by Amanda Robert and includes Olive Balderamos. A Technical Committee enforces swimming rules, disseminates new rule changes, certifies local officials and is responsible for improving and maintaining the quality of local officiating.
The first group to receive certification cards was: Amy Cofer, Christine Cleaver, Dunston Groome, Sara Mackay, Catherine Philip, Adam Roberts, Amanda Roberts Melinda Robertson, Kelly Rooney, and Toni Rombough. Certification cards were complete with a list of each position qualified for and expiration date. Certification was earned thru a combination of attending classes and working pool meets.
Additionally a number of people attended several of Clarke’s five classes, then had the opportunity to work under Clarke’s tutelage at the Progressive Distributors four session swim meet put on over the weekend by Stingray Swim Club. Clarke also served as a VIP observer at the Flowers Mile Sea Swim.
Clarke identified several candidates for nomination to progress to officiate regionally. Regional Championships include the CCCAN Championships, the Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships (CISC) and the junior championships like CARIFTA. Experience gained at a meet of that level is invaluable and is prerequisite to officiate at the next levels and obtaining certification by the World governing body (FINA). All the English, Spanish and French islands of the Caribbean participate in the CISC championships. The CCCAN championship further includes swimmers from the Central American countries, Venezuela, Surinam and Colombia.
Every two years FINA publishes an Officials List which gives world recognition and certification to Referees and Starters who have gained international experience, Clarke explained. Each List is valid for four years and each country may have a maximum of 3 Referees and 2 Starters on each list. At any given time there are only two Lists in existence. CIASA will recommend for inclusion on the FINA International Swimming Officials List local individuals who have gained the required local and international experience. He or she must also be officiating at the regional level.
One person per country from the FINA Officials Lists is selected to officiate at international swim meets such as the Pan Am Games, the CAC Games, the Commonwealth Games, the FINA World Long and Short Course Championships and the Olympic Games.