Tips for Mentors and Mentees

By Melissa Hellervik-Bing // Florida Swimming

July and August are the two busiest months on the swim calendar for Officials Qualifying Meets and mentoring/evaluation opportunities for officials to improve their skills.  Every year we have more and more officials seeking mentoring and national certification, in large part because USA Swimming’s outstanding volunteer base wants to be the very best they can be at their “hobby.”  Everyone possesses an attitude and enthusiasm to learn more and improve, and in response the National Officials Committee is trying to support that interest with a variety of efforts.

In order to make the mentoring and evaluation experience educational and beneficial for everyone there are a couple tips for both evaluators and those being mentored to remember.

For Evaluators:

  • From time to time review a couple documents that will help you stay on top of the mentoring and certification process.  Those documents include the Rule Book, Professional Documents for the positions in which officials are seeking mentoring, and certification and evaluation guidelines and standards.
  • Both N2 and N3 Evaluators should be familiar with the Tips for Successful Mentoring provided in the online webinar.  It can be found on the Education & Training page of the USA Swimming website.
  • Review the official’s previous evaluations and officiating history.  The evaluations should detail areas they have mastered, as well as opportunities in their officiating where you can help them improve.  The detail report outlines the sessions they have worked in that position since the previous evaluation.  It will show you whether they have spent a minimum of eight sessions practicing the newly-learned skills prior to seeking an evaluation. That practice is paramount to a successful mentoring experience.
  • Those reports can be sent to you from a variety of people:  the official can send you their own history and evaluations from OTS, as can the Officials Chair from the LSC in which they’re registered.  You can also get that information from myself, Bob Griffiths, and Clark Hammond, to name just a few.
  • Evaluators also need to remember that their role is not meant to interfere with the officiating at the competition.  Sometimes in our zeal to “help” someone learn we can actually have the exact opposite impact if our officials are more concerned about their evaluation and how to do the job rather that actually doing their jobs.

For Officials seeking mentoring:

  • Be prepared for your mentoring experience by reviewing the Rule Book, Professional Document for the position you’re seeking mentoring, and your past evaluations.
  • Make sure you have been to a couple meets and served in the desired position at least eight sessions to show that you have been practicing and trying to improve/perfect your skills before seeking another evaluation.
  • Let your Mentor know when and how you prefer feedback.  Very often it helps you if tips are given early in your experience, which offers you the opportunity to practice the new skills during the mentoring process.
  • Be open to advice and suggestions for improvement.  Sometimes just the willingness to try a new skill can help the mentoring experience prove beneficial.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: An evaluation is only the first step towards certification.  It doesn’t come to you automatically after a successful evaluation. There are other requirements you must fulfill:

    • you will need to have a learning and teaching activity logged in your OTS account.  The teaching activity can be the most difficult to come by, but you are likely doing it already!  Mentoring an apprentice official is considered a teaching activity, so log that into your OTS activity account if it hasn’t already been done for you by the administrator of a meet where you fulfilled that role.
    • Work six sessions a yearIf you are seeking certification at the N3 level for CJ, Deck Ref, Admin Ref or Starter, you need to work at a national championship meet.
    • And most important, you must submit a certification application from the Testing and Certification page when you are logged into your account on the USA Swimming website.


When you receive notification from the USAS Webmaster that an evaluation has been logged into your profile, please consider submitting a survey about your experience.  The survey helps us improve our Mentoring & Evaluation Program, as well as provides individual mentors with thoughts and feedback that may help everyone improve. 



We hope you will find these tips constructive as you travel along the road to officiating improvement and success.  Please contact me anytime you have questions, concerns or input into the process by emailing me at

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