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Officials Diary - Kiwis at the World Championships

Reflections from our NZ Technical Officials from the 2023 World Championships

Whilst we had some great performances in pool, we also had five of our New Zealand officials at the recent World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka and the Para Swimming World Championships in Manchester. Congratulations to each of the following for the way they handled themselves and for their roles at the respective championships:


· John West (Auckland)

· Celia Honiss (Northland)

· Lesley Huckins (Canterbury West Coast)

· Christine Cassin (Canterbury West Coast)

· Carlrine Gillespie (Northland)


We would also like to wish Greg Forsythe (Wellington) the best as he officiates at the upcoming World Aquatics Junior Swimming Championships in Netanya next month.


Some of our officials have taken the time to share their experiences from the recent World Championships.



John West (Auckland)


John is the Honourary Secretary of the Open Water Technical Swimming Committee for World Aquatics, which effectively means he was the Event Manager for the Open Water competition. Some of his responsibilities were:

  • Managing the officials roster to ensure all roles were covered

  • Organising the transport to/from the venue each day

  • Supervising the draw for starting position and for feeding position

  • Ensuring all swimmers had a feeder for the 10km event

  • Leading the Pre-race and Post-race briefings each day

  • Liaising with the OC on coordination of the competition

  • Liaising with World Aquatics management when required

  • Fixing any issues arising during competition

John said one of his favourite moments was the end of the competition, where the teams and World Aquatics management were happy with the way the competition was delivered without any major incidents or controversy.


“My learnings were communication, coordination, & cooperation. These are the key elements in the success of the competition delivery, both within the officials group and in working with the Organising Committee. We were one team the worked together to present and deliver the competition well.”

John also received the Dennis Millar award in recognition for his work with Open Water Swimming over many years. Dennis was a strong advocate for the sport and Oceania and John said he felt his legacy.




Celia Honiss (Northland)


The 2023 World Aquatics Championships were the first international competition for Celia. Celia officiated the Open Water swimming and held the roles of Assistant Referee, Timekeeper, Finish Judge, and Turn Judge during the event.


Celia had a less than ideal start to her experience with delayed flights, rerouting connecting flights and the bus from hotel to Open Water Trial run not showing up! After communications with the event organisers and John West, Celia arrived at the venue in no time, and it was smooth sailing from this point!


Celia was not sure what to expect at the Open Water course but saw that it was organised the same as how we run events here in NZ, she felt her nerves ease and fall into her normal routine. The weather was very calm and hot! The only day with rain and wind was on Celia’s rest day which made the last day of competition choppy on the water.


“What a wonderful opportunity to represent NZ as part of the Technical Official contingent at the World Championships in Fukuoka. I loved the experience, I learned a lot from those both older and wiser than me, and from other IOT’s from around the world. It was also an honour to be there when John West was awarded the Dennis Millar award for Service to Open Water 2022.”

Christine Cassin (Canterbury West Coast)


Christine held the positions of Call Room official, IOT, Judge of Strokes, and Resolution Desk with her favourite role being Judge of Strokes. Christine said she learned a lot in a workshop held the day before competition started. The workshop was good to get the full explanation of the new rules and of the intention and interpretation of the new rules.


Christine loved every moment of the World Championships.


“It was a privilege and a pleasure to attend the World Championship, and a very valuable experience. The finals sessions were spectacular and seeing new World Records set was probably my favourite moment.”

Christine also found the Japanese people to be wonderful and very welcoming. She met many amazing people from countries all over the world and it was very special to be part of a team with such professionalism and passion. Christine said it is an honour to be on a World Aquatics List and be part of a World Championship event.


Carlrine Gillespie (Northland)


Carlrine was honoured to be one of the 15 international officials appointed to these championships alongside 24 national officials from around the UK. Carlrine was a referee for 3 of the 7 days, where she continued to develop her knowledge and gain further experience.


Carlrine thought that every day was a highlight, as there was some excellent racing across the championships.


“It was a great team of technical officials, some of whom were existing friends but also meeting new ones. We were well supported by the Local Organising Committee, media, & Field of Play, coming together to deliver an excellent championship. There were 547 Para athletes from 67 nations competing across 169 events, with an incredible 22 new world records set to highlight the quality of racing.”
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