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Young Officials at Rykneld Swimming Club in Derbyshire

The ASA catches up with 6 young Officials from Rykneld Swimming Club whilst officiating at the Rykneld Masters Open Meet to find out why they love what they do!

Rykneld Club Young Officials

(Left to right: Jessica Hopkinson, Lucy Roberts, Ruby Brunt, Alex Thirkell, Amy Roberts, Jade Thirkell)  

All 6 young Officials (each under the age of 21) regularly officiate at local events, including the Derbyshire County Championships. All 6 were trained and are mentored by committee member and experienced Official Dr David Hunt. David strongly believes that training young people as officials is an ideal way to keep them in the sport once they have decided to stop competing. He quoted:

“The younger end of swimmers are disappearing, they have all the knowledge of the sport so officiating is a great way to put this knowledge to good use. I enjoy training them as it keeps me young, chatting to the teenagers! I also like to see the success of the officials and swimmers I look after – our club has produced five FINA Officials in Open Water which is unusual for a small club. It’s very rewarding. The Young Officials also benefit socially because they learn to interact with adults. They’re not couch potatoes and their volunteering looks great to universities; it gives them something outside of their studies.”

David also believes that Officiating makes the young people feel wanted in the sport providing them with a new challenge. “It’s a big responsibility because you have to be able to make decisions and stand by them,” says Lucy. “If you disqualify someone and it’s questioned you have to be able to back it up.” 

Alex says he thinks being an Official "looks really good on your CV, especially if you want to study sports at college or university, it shows leadership skills, improves your organisational skills and your concentration. It shows that you are willing to do things in your spare time, not just watching TV!"

Amy and Lucy are currently doing their referee course, and both have high aspirations of what they would like to do in the future. Amy would like to become an Open Water Official, “I’d like to get on the FINA list and go to events abroad. With Officiating there are always things to aim towards and I hope to have the opportunity to go to international events.”

All 6 officials hold Judge Level 1, Judge Level 2 or Starter qualifications, with club support they have undoubtedly progressed in both experience and confidence.

We will definitely be looking out for these young stars in the near future! 

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