While our Dolphins will dive in the water and represent the nation at the 2019 World Championships, another three Aussies will also be striving to make our country proud – our FINA technical officials.
New South Wales’ Faye Lewis has been selected for the upcoming long course champs, along with Bill Ford who officiated at the open water events, while Ryan Arblaster is Australia’s representative on the FINA Technical Committee.
This will mark Lewis’ first Long Course World Championships – and her first visit to South Korea – since she began her career as a technical official in 2003. After attending two Pan Pac meets, a Commonwealth Games, New Zealand’s Short Course Championships, a World Cup in Japan and an Oceania competition in Fiji, Lewis is beyond excited to finally attend the “pinnacle” competition for Swimming.
“I started officiating more than 15 years ago when my children’s club – Blacktown City – needed volunteers,” she said.
“I reached level three and was really enjoying the great friends I was making within the technical official (TO) community, so I decided to continue pursuing this career.
“To think years later I would be travelling the world is just amazing. Going to FINA events and now the world championships, the pinnacle of the sport, is just such a wonderful opportunity and why I love doing it.”
One of those opportunities also came in 2015 when Lewis was selected to officiate at the World Junior Championships in Singapore. To this day she can still recall the magical feeling she experience as she took her position on pool deck – it’s a highlight for Lewis.
“When I was in Singapore for the Junior World Championships and I walked out on pool deck, knowing all the work I had done as TO had come to a point where I was representing my country as TO was pretty amazing,” she said.
“It was a spine-tingling moment; the Australian team was doing very well, so we heard the Australian anthem a lot.”
Being so close to the action is one of the perks of the gig, with Lewis given a moment to remember by USA’s Katie Ledecky back in 2014.
“When the Pan Pacific Championships were on the Gold Coast, Katie Ledecky was breaking world records for distance events.
“I was lucky enough to be refereeing the 400m when she broke the world record and I got to meet Katie after that – being referee at an event where a world record is broken is pretty amazing.”
When it comes to our Aussie Dolphins, Lewis loves watching Griffith University’s Emma McKeon.
“I guess I was fortunate enough when I went over for the World Cup, I got to meet Emma McKeon and it has been amazing watching her career ever since. Every now and then she will recognise me; it is nice to have that recognition from the swimmers.”
Lewis will arrive in South Korea on 19 July, with the 2019 World Championships kicking off on Sunday. The day after she arrives, Lewis will attend the technical official meeting which gives an introduction to the pool environment.
During the meet, TOs could clock up 10,000 steps in sitting – depending on what position they are assigned to – so it’s vital they look after themselves according to Lewis.
“You’ve got to keep you’re routine as it’s important to keep well rested and refreshed. Staying hydrated is very important as well and the big one is keeping the same level of concentration on last day as what you do on the first day.”
Good luck, Faye!
Would you like to become a technical official? Learn how you can be involved here.
Top Image: Faye Lewis stands front and centre (third from the right) alongside Australia's FINA starters and referees in Adelaide at the 2019 Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships.