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Officials Diary – Developing Across The Ditch

Diaries from our technical officials who took part in development opportunities in Australia in early 2023

Over the first couple of months in 2023, Swimming NZ has supported some of our technical officials to further develop their skills at competition in Australia, with financial support provided from Prime Minister Scholarships. This is an exciting initiative where we have established a strong relationship with Swimming Australia, whom are supportive of providing opportunities for our Kiwi official to be involved.


Celia Honiss (Northland) and Ross Gillespie (Northland) took part in the Australian Open Water Championships from 25 – 28 January, held in Busselton, Western Australia. We also had a third Kiwi part of the event, with SNZ Life Member John West (Auckland) also involved.


At the recent 2023 Para Swimming World Series held in conjunction with the Victorian Open LC Championships from 17 – 19 February, we had Yvonnette Fox (Southland) and Carlrine Gillespie (Northland) developing their officiating skills as part of the Para Swimming racing.


A few of our Kiwi officials have taken the time to share a bit about their experience in Australia.


Celia's Diary - Busselton


The event was held in Busselton, which is a 2.5 hours drive south of Perth. Busselton is famous for the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere, as it juts out 1.8km from the shore. This meant that the course, which was set along the shore line, had to incorporate swimming through the jetty which enabled spectators a birds eye view alongside excellent viewing from the shore.


The event was held over 4 days, which included the first time Swimming Australia had hosted a community participation event, which was held on Australia Day. This is very similar to our Orangetheory Epic Swim we have here in NZ. There were approx. 370 swimmers for this event all swimming different distances at the same time (well it felt like that). They staggered the different distance start times, but once everyone was in the water we had 370 swimmers to keep an eye on.


The main Championship events comprised of the standard distances 5km, 7.5km, 10km, 2.5km and 4 x 1.5km relays for both male & female set over a 1.25km course that followed the shoreline.

As one of the 40 officials, I was allocated various roles during the course of the week. These were Turn Judge, Assisting Clerk of Course, Chief Timekeeper, and Referee. Being able to work alongside my Australian counterparts and also working with larger fields of swimmers enabled me to call on and build upon my knowledge, skills and experience. I thoroughly enjoyed my time away and I’m very appreciative at being given this opportunity.


Thank you to Swimming NZ and the PM Scholarship for giving me the opportunity to represent NZ at the Australian Open Water Championships.


Ross' Diary - Busselton


This wasn’t the first time that I’d been involved with this event, but it was the first time I’d been at the course based at the Busselton Jetty (previous years this event was held at Brighton Beach in Adelaide).


This was a great venue, as the finish judges & timekeepers could be down on the platforms with a good view of the finish. The other side of the jetty had another platform which worked well for feeding. The registration tent was also in a great spot near the course.


The event was held over 4 days which worked better than previous years when it had been held over 3 days. There were very early starts for the technical officials, we were onsite from 4.30am, but that meant we had early afternoon finishes.


The roles I was assigned to for the races included:

• Referee

• Chief Finish Judge

• Feeding Judge

• Turn Judge

• Starter


It is always valuable to officiate at other competitions outside of New Zealand & experience different scenarios that occur, as there was a situation where we had to stop & restart a race during the weekend. It was great to work with our Australian officiating counterparts.


Many thanks to Swimming New Zealand, the PM Scholarship & Swimming Australia for the opportunity.




Yvonnette's Diary - Melbourne


The racing was in an outdoor pool, which was new to me as this was the first outdoor pool I have officiated at. The weather felt like it was forever changing, with the high being 40 degrees and in the evenings a cold breeze would appear off Albert Park Lake. At any time, a breeze would cause a ripple across the water, then the next event everything would be calm again.


There were some long days, as we started at 7.30am and would leave the complex at 9.30pm, with a three hour break in the middle of the day. The sessions were long, but the racing was to a high standard. I enjoyed all the sessions, but I really enjoyed being a Judge of Stroke, alongside a very experienced Judge of Stroke, who shared her knowledge and was so positive about Para Swimming and all swimming in her region. There were slightly different protocols observed for the Para Swimmers and she taught me all of these.


I was able to observe the three different levels of administration attempt to run the meet, and then see the strength (maybe experience) of two people pull them all together to see the event run smoothly. One clear takeaway from this event was it doesn’t matter what level you are officiating at, the rules and procedures remain the same.


One of the highlights of the trip for me was being poolside and seeing the New Zealand team race. They looked calm and collected on the blocks, ready to race. It was special to hear their teammates supporting them.


Thank you to Swimming NZ and the PM Scholarship for their support in this opportunity to officiate in Melbourne.

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