By Rita Mingo
Just as athletes yearn to take part in major events, those who are charged with officiating also have similar aspirations.
After years of training, Daryle Martin has worked her way into that rarefied position and is as thrilled as a competitor in the pool.
“It is exciting to go and to represent Canada as an official,” noted Martin, who has been honoured by Swim Canada with the Ken Filippelli Excellence in Officiating award for 2021.
“It’s like the swimmers who are representing Canada. We want to make sure we’re doing everything right and we don’t mess anything up. I think that’s one thing our Canadian officials do very well; our training and our mentorship program is very good.
“It was a nice surprise,” she said of the award. “It caught me off guard a little bit. I’m pleased to be recognized in this way.”
Based in Thunder Bay, Ont., Martin started on the path to international swim official when her daughters began in the sport in the early 2000s.
“Initially we all start out as parents with swimmers in the water who need to help out on the pool deck so everyone can get a time,” she explained. “That’s why our kids swim. It takes so many parents to be able to do that. What I found that as my daughters progressed and we went to more and more swim meets, it’s a lot more fun to be on the pool deck meeting other parents than it was to be sitting up in the stands.
“Then I just started to meet people from across the country and it became like a family-type atmosphere.”
Martin worked her way up the ladder, becoming more involved in the northwest Ontario swim scene and that of Swim Ontario.
“Swim Ontario and the Ontario swimming community have been fortunate to have Daryle supporting local, regional and provincial competitions for years,” said Swim Ontario CEO Dean Boles. “It’s especially exciting to see her pitching in at the national level and now see her reach a pinnacle for an official’s pathway however it is clear Daryle has made a difference for so many.”
Her involvement grew with Swimming Canada and in 2016, she was nominated to the FINA list of officials. She is now in her second rotation (each rotation is four years).
She was selected for the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in 2017 and last December was chosen to officiate at the World Swimming Championships (25m) in Abu Dhabi. Just like the competitors on the biggest stage, she felt the nerves working as chief inspector of turns.
“I think it was neat to be there,” she admitted. “I had friends send me pictures off the FINA website and saying ‘look, Daryle, there you are!’ ”
Martin, a trained respiratory therapist who retired from her job at GSK Pharmaceuticals in March, recently officiated at the Bell Canadian Swimming Trials in Victoria followed by the Speedo Western championships in Edmonton.
Officials must continue to hone their skills and Martin is grateful for the opportunity to do just that.
“We’ve got our Canadian rule book so it’s always pulling it out and brushing up on things,” she said. “We do a lot of mentoring and training of new parents stepping on the deck, which keeps us sharp. We’re running clinics. We had to dust off the rust when we got back on the pool deck again, just to make sure we were ready.
“Things are changing in the officiating world when it comes to videos and cameras … there are bulletin updates that we make sure we’re all aware of.”
Retaining that international status is high on her priority list.
“Absolutely,” she stressed. “I will be done my second tour at the end of 2024 and maybe I’ll get another international posting. But even locally here in Thunder Bay and in the northwest region I’m very active with the local parents. Helping them learn the rules so that if they decide, if their kids aren’t swimming, they want to continue on. You need experienced senior officials to mentor all these new parents.
“I continue to do what I do,” she added, “because of the friends that I’ve made.”