TORONTO – With April 16 designated as National Officials Day in Canada it seems only fitting we feature Bill Hogan, Canada’s most senior swimming official.
Hogan is in Toronto this week to meet with the Pan Am group regarding the current construction of the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatics Centre which will host the swimming races at next summer’s Games.
“We went over all the blueprints,” said Hogan about his Pan Am meeting. “From the space we have for the athletes and coaches to making sure all the technical dimensions are correct and the field of play meets the international standards.”
In addition, Hogan will help select the technical officials including the referees and starters and make sure all the quotas are met for athletes, coaches and officials. “There’s a fair amount to do to put together a swimming competition of that size.”
The St. John’s N.L., resident is once again in high demand this year for his technical expertise in assuring many of the world’s most important swimming competitions run smoothly and efficiently.
He also travels to various countries to do FINA officiating and technical clinics. He was in Latvia in February; next month he’ll be doing similar duties in St-Croix, the Virgin Islands and he is already booked for September to work at a 25-sport Festival in Mexico.
“Between UANA (Americas swimming group) and FINA, they know me, so they often ask if I can make it to these clinics. Since I retired I have that free time and I enjoy doing it.”
At a recent clinic in St. Georges, Grenada, Hogan outlined his four-day clinic for the FINA website. Topics included the duties of deck officials where Hogan went into thorough discussions and explanations for all deck position including the referee, starter, turn inspector and so on. He also touched on decision making for officials including discussions about the race, start, disqualification, protests, seedings, etc.
On day three, the focus was on strokes and he showed elite swimmers demonstrating legal and illegal strokes in real time. Finally on day four, the participants headed to the pool. A 4X50-m freestyle relay was organized to give officials some practical experience.
Hogan, who retired in 1998 after a successful career in high school administration, is thrilled that a day is set aside to recognize Canada’s sports officials.
“It’s very important,” he said. “Most of the technical officials in swimming and other sports are volunteers and it’s nice that they are recognized as a group. They are contributing in many ways from their involvement in clubs, community sports and schools all the way to the highest levels. It means a lot.”
Sports has always been a part of Hogan’s life. His wife was a synchronized swimmer and his four children were all involved in swimming right up to the university level. He was initially a basketball and hockey coach when he was a young school teacher.
“Sports has been in my daily routine for quite a while,” he said. “But I started out like most parents. You get involved and support your kids and eventually as a volunteer you’re asked to contribute a little more. I guess it came to the point I was running competitions first in Newfoundland and moved on from there.”
Positions Hogan has assumed over the years include president of the Aquatic Federation of Canada, vice president of Swimming Canada and he is currently on the FINA technical committee. He has officiated at the past three Olympics Games and numerous FINA World Championships.
Once he returns home from Toronto, Hogan knows it won’t be long when the phone rings for another assignment
“There’s never a dull moment.”