Thank you very much for supporting the 2016 Lloyd Morrison Aquatic Official Sponsorship. This grant enabled me to travel to Suva, Fiji to attend FINA schools for both Open Water and Pool swimming , and to attend and officiate at the 2016 Oceania Swimming Championship and 2016 Oceania Open Water Championship.
The trip was 12 days from start to finish. Every day was taken up with schools, meetings, briefings and/or competition.
FINA Schools are important because there are required by FINA for officials who are considered for the FINA lists (officials who are eligible to officiate at international meets). The Fiji Schools were held at the Fiji Olympic Committee offices in Suva over four days.
The Open Water School was taken by John West, who is on the FINA Technical Panel for Open Water swimming. John had just returned from the FINA Open Water competition in Setubal Portugal which added some fresh insights for the School. Twenty officials from around the Oceania region (including Fiji, Australia, Palau, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand) attended the Open Water school. The course material was vast and we needed the full two 2 days to learn and discuss the content. The course concluded with a 90 minute written exam which requires a 70% pass mark .
The 2 day Pool Swimming School was run by Ryan Arblaster (Member of the Technical Committee Swimming FINA) and Soren Korbo (Honorary Secretary, Technical Committee Swimming FINA). Around 25 officials attended the School from around the Oceania region. The School provided extensive background information about the process used by the FINA Bureau and its Committees to establish the rules. There was a multi choice test at the conclusion of the School.
For the 2016 Oceania 10k championships, on the first day of competition, I was appointed as Feeding Boat Judge. The conditions were very stormy with buoys coming loose from moorings and boats breaking down, but it was very exciting to be out on the course. The swimmers handled the conditions magnificently and there was some excellent racing and some very close finishes - I loved it!
At the pool competition I was appointed to Judge of Stroke and Inspector of Turns, working alongside officials from other countries, it was a great experience. The facility at Damodar City in Suva was excellent. The Fijian government was a major supporter of the meet, and Prime Minister Bainivarama attended the opening ceremony and opened the competition. The entire meet (heats and finals) was covered on national Fiji television.
I had a scheduled night off for one of the finals sessions but I volunteered to help out in the control room and was given the job of controlling the vision on scoreboard - switching between the results and the television coverage - a new experience for me.
I would like to thank WHiPA for the opportunity that the scholarship gave me to advance my officiating career. The experience of officiating alongside senior officials from other countries is hugely beneficial and an essential stepping stone towards future international appointments.