Read of Young Official Amy Hughes’ officiating experiences.
Name: Amy Hughes
Role: Level 2 Official from Hertfordshire
I joined Hemel Hempstead Swimming Club as a swimmer, shortly after I had started my parents got involved as club helpers. Before long they were helping at galas that I wasn’t swimming at and so I had to find something else to keep me occupied.
I started working on poolside when I was 9, doing all the “non-tech” jobs, for example refreshments, results runner and competitor steward. When I turned 14 (after doing some timekeeping for my new club Berkhamsted Sports Centre SC at a non-qualified level) my mum ran a timekeeper course at Bushey Swimming Club and I went along so I could try doing some different things on poolside. There were 4 teenagers on the course and we were the first teenage officials in our county.
As both my parents are qualified officials, (my mother is a referee and my father is a starter) it was relatively easy to find enough galas to practise at as well as continuing to swim for my team. By the time I was fifteen, I felt confident enough on poolside to take the next step and apply for the Judge 1 course, which added turn judge to the timekeeper qualification. Once again my parents helped by volunteering for every gala possible so that I could get the practise in which enabled me to pass my Judge 1 assessment when I was 15 years old. I soon after signed up for the next qualification, my Judge 2.
Unfortunately this is where my progress hit a speed bump, with GCSEs looming and a large amount of my time now needed to be spent revising a decision needed to be made; swimming or officiating. I chose officiating and went on to pass my Judge 2 assessment as well as doing well in my school exams.
In October, I began my Starter training and I hope to do my exam sometime before my summer AS modules. My parents have also introduced me to refereeing and I have done a few galas where one of them has been mentoring me. However it seems unlikely that I shall do my referee exam before I leave for university, but it’s still a possibility.
Swimming has broadened my horizons both through volunteering and competing, it also meant that I made so many friends on the poolside as well as in the pool. Since I began at the age of 9 it has helped me develop as a person as I used to be shy and afraid to talk in front of large groups of people. Being a starter means that I am now much more confident, this shows not only in my swimming and officiating , but also in my school life where I am an AS level student. This new found confidence also means I now attend the courses my mum runs to help and assist her in any way I can.
For a teenager, becoming an official not only can develop you as a person but can open certain doors too, especially when it comes to university applications. Being an official shows universities that you are a responsible individual and have the ability to think on your feet. I have also found that as a swimmer becoming an official has given me a greater understanding of the rules, which can only improve your performance and help to avoid disqualifications.
This summer I am going to start to learn how to drive, I am hoping this will allow me to branch out and attend higher level galas to improve my skills. At the moment the highest level of competition I have volunteered at is county level, with some Level 2 meets. I have also had the opportunity to volunteer at disability galas such as the Special Olympics, aimed at swimmers with learning disabilities and at the Amputee Games at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for people recovering from losing limbs.
Officiating is a lot of fun and very rewarding, the people you can meet through it make even the longest galas really enjoyable.