Officiating the sport of water polo and basketball is tough. Whistles are blown throughout the game. Many times, the athletes disagree with the calls and occasionally voice their displeasure of the athletes.

Whistles are also often blown in the sport of open water swimming, but the marathon swimmers have a hard time voicing their displeasure at the referees who are standing near the swimmers in boats.

Besides whistles which are used as warnings, a Head Referee, an Assistant Referee and Turn Judges can give yellow cards and red cards to the open water swimmers for infractions they see.

A yellow card (or yellow flag) is a penalty card (or flag) that indicates an official warning to a swimmer due to unsportsmanlike conduct or an infraction of the rules due to impeding another swimmer. When two yellow cards are received by an athlete, this equals a red card.

A red card (or red flag) is a penalty that leads to an immediate disqualification of a swimmer due to unsportsmanlike conduct or a serious infraction of the rules.

During the 2009 USA Swimming Open Water Swimming National Championships, head referee Sid Cassidy was caught on tape giving a yellow flag to one of the swimmers. The process of blowing a whistle, giving hand signals to the athletes, writing the swimmer’s number on the white board and reporting the infraction to the Chief Referee is rarely seen from shore or by spectators. However, the entire process can be seen in the following race video off the coast of Fort Myers, Florida.

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