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Officials Diary - 2024 World Aquatics Champs

Reflections from our NZ Technical Officials from the 2024 World Aquatics Championships - Doha

As part of our ongoing support for technical officials, we were pleased to assist with having three New Zealand officials part of the 2024 World Aquatics Championships held earlier this year in Doha, Qatar, from 2 - 18 February. These World Aquatics listed officials had the opportunity to officiate at the highest level, which is great recognition for their dedication to their craft within New Zealand competitions.


The three officials were:

  • Greg Forsythe (Wellington - Open Water)

  • Jacqui Forsythe (Wellington - Pool)

  • Ross Gillespie (Northland - Pool)


All three have taken the time to share their experiences from Doha.


Greg Forsythe (Wellington)


Greg was appointed as an International Technical Official (and ITO), and was assigned as turn judge, timekeeper, finish judge, assistant referee and assistant relay judge at the five events of the Open Water Championships.

 

The open water venue was a bespoke 1.6km course at the Old Doha Port (even though it was not old, as it was a facility developed to coincide with the recent FIFA World Cup). The event was run to a high standard with amazing facilities. Despite all the planning, as with all Open Water events, there’s always the unexpected and decisions must be made quickly to ensure the events proceeds smoothly and the safety of the competitors is always top of mind. 


Greg noted it meant a lot to him to receive this opportunity to officiate at these World Championships.

"I am very grateful to SNZ and WA for the opportunity to officiate at the meet. I have attended many Open Water meets in NZ, and some in Australia and the Pacific, but this was the first time I had been appointed to a World Aquatics competition. It was great to be involved and to experience it first-hand." 

 

Greg loved his time in Doha, with many favourite moments to reflect upon. From a racing point of view, the highlight was the Mixed 4 x 1.5km Relay on the last day of competition.

"As usual in Open Water, there is more involved than just turning up to officiate. In addition to being the chief relay platform judge, we had to measure the platform and help the events team to paint individual changeover zones for each team on the platform, only achieving this with about 10 minutes to spare. And like most events at the meet, despite the race being over 6kms, the finish came down to a fingertip between two teams – very exciting!"

Away from swimming, Greg got to see the other aquatics sports (diving, water polo and artistic swimming) during afternoons. And on one of their days off, a group of ITOs got the chance to see a desert sunrise south of Doha.  

 

Greg found that he was always learning whilst being a swimming officiating, particularly when officiating at Open Water. He enjoyed the great chance to see how all the technology comes to together to support the officials to deliver an event for the world’s best swimmers and a worldwide audience.


Photo: Kiwis Greg Forsythe and John West as part of the Open Water officials team in Doha


Jacqui Forsythe (Wellington)


Jacqui held a few roles across the championships, including Judge of Stroke (JOS), Inspector of Turns (IOT) and being in the Video Review Room.


The competition venue was a big multi-purpose arena with the 50m competition pool and 50m warm-up pools installed as drop-in pools specifically for the Word Champs. It was a massive venue and easy to get lost. Water Polo and Artistic Swimming were in the same arena and Diving was very close. Open Water and High Diving were at the Old Port about 20 minutes away.


What did it mean to you to be able to officiate at this international event?

Jacqui was also grateful for the opportunity officiate in Doha.

"It means a lot and is a privilege to be appointed to a World Aquatics meet, I’m really grateful to Swimming NZ and World Aquatics for the opportunity."

Jacqui shared a few of her favourite moments from the championships as well.

"I really enjoyed this event. Being on pool deck to watch the NZ swim team do very well was pretty special. Getting to meet officials from around the world was insightful, including sharing information and stories with them. I also loved the chance to watch the Open Water relays and the High Diving Final - that was very exciting too!"

Jacqui's biggest learning from the championships was from her opportunities to be assigned to the video review room. She felt it was a great learning experience, and could see the way the sport was heading over the coming years with the inclusion of more technology.


Ross Gillespie (Northland)


Ross was humbled to be appointed as the Starter for the Women's events.

"I was very privileged & honoured to be appointed Starter of the Women’s events at the World Champs in Doha."

Ross was impressed with the facility hosting the World Champs in Doha, catering for swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming.

"The venue, Aspire Dome, was massive! It is the world’s largest multi-purpose indoor dome with drop-in pools & support structures to accommodate the different world aquatic events."

Ross' favourite moment of his time in Doha was those he worked alongside.

"It was a highlight to work with 4 different Referees from around the world. They each had different styles & their own personalities. They were all very supportive & great to work with. It was great meeting up with old friends as well as making new ones, playing my role as part of the international technical officials team."

Overall, Ross felt it was a great privilege to witness the performances of newly-crowned World Champions as well as those that were selected to represent their country at these World Championships.

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