Swim England

A nation swimming

British officials 'honoured' after being appointed to FINA list

British officials have expressed how ‘thrilled’ and ‘honoured’ they are after being appointed to the list of FINA Swimming Officials.

Starters Gerry Metcalf and Matt Huntington, as well as referees Jackie Beard Jones, Stewart Murray and Durno Jessiman, began their four-year terms with the world governing body of aquatic sports on January 1.

Their commendable achievements are the result of many decades of hard work and dedication as an official, as well as successful completion of the British Swimming development programme.

After qualifying as a starter in 2007 and a referee in 2010, Gerry – who has more than 30 years of officiating experience – said she was ‘thrilled’ after receiving the good news from FINA.

“I started when my eldest daughter started competing as I realised I could help my local club at galas,” she said.

“I increased my knowledge and understanding from attending many national and home nations competitions, working with a variety of fantastic officials who were willing to share their time and experience.”

Gerry added that the achievement means ‘an awful lot to her’, saying that: “I’m looking forward to some great competitions and mentoring new development programme starters.”

Fellow appointees, Jackie and Stewart, revealed how they both felt ‘proud’ upon hearing the news.

Jackie added: “[I felt] really honoured to have been nominated by British Swimming and be successful in being appointed to the FINA list.”

Her officiating journey started in 2007 when she began training as a judge.

After subsequently qualifying as an official in 2008, Jackie said: “I worked my way through the qualification levels, qualifying as a referee in 2012.

“I had volunteered at national events since 2011. In 2013, whilst officiating at nationals, I was asked to help out and referee one day which led to me applying for, and being accepted on, the Referees’ Development programme between 2014-2019.

“I gained experience of refereeing national events such as Nationals, British Championships, Inter-County Championships and UK Schools Games.”

‘Enjoyable and rewarding’

Stewart celebrates 20 years of officiating in 2021 after first getting involved in junior league competitions.

He said ‘it was a natural progression as a parent to start helping out as an official’.

Of his appointment, he said: “My initial reaction was to be surprised, as I never really anticipated being appointed, followed by feeling proud that I have achieved the position.

“This achievement means a great deal to me as it will enable me to gain a greater perspective and experience, regarding the sport, which I can then use to help support those that are starting and progressing through their journey as an official.

“The development programme has enabled me to experience the challenges and the benefits of being one of the lead officials at national level events, but also to recognise that is essentially still a team of officials doing what we have been trained to do, ensuring that rules of swimming are applied fairly and consistently.”

Stewart spoke highly of his personal experiences as an official throughout the years, saying: “The support given and friendship of others has made the last 20 years of progress from timekeeper to eventually completing the referee programme in 2009, extremely enjoyable and rewarding.

“Many new officials believe that they are not ready to support events at a regional or national level but having stepped into the ‘deep end’ very early on as an official, I would encourage everyone to consider doing the same.

“I still look forward to participating at all levels from club champs, junior leagues and local entry level galas, because we need to help develop the officials of the future as well as the swimmers.

“I really hope that we can all return to poolside in the near future and start doing what we enjoy again.”