Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

55 years ago, the swimming world was unknowingly given a gift. In 1960, Jay Thomas was born and has since donated thousands of his free time to officiating and administering both competitive pool swimming meets and local, regional, national and international open water swimming events.

A 20-year commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve and a 24-year veteran of flying commercial 777, 767, 757, and 727 aircraft for American Airlines, Thomas has spent innumerable time setting up turn buoys, reviewing courses, developing administrative procedures, explaining open water swimming rules, as well as blowing whistles and raising yellow cards during some intense national and international competitions.

A well-spoken individual with a careful attention to detail and an ideal level of objective fairness, Thomas was awarded the 2009 Glen S. Hummer Award, given to the individual who makes the greatest contribution to the open water swimming in the United States.

The native of Plantation, Florida is a long-time USA Swimming, NCAA and FINA World Swimming Championship official at who is slated to be a deck official for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

I broke out in a cold sweat when I heard the news,” Thomas said to USA Swimming. “I am honored to be selected as a referee for the Rio Games. I look forward to helping these athletes achieve their dreams by competing in a fair environment. I have had wonderful mentors in my career and I thank them for helping me reach this point.”

When Thomas received the Glen S. Hummer Award, he said, “I can’t tell you how honored I am to be chosen as the recipient of this award. I look forward to the future and stand ready to help out in any way to continue to raise the bar in the open water world. Thanks.”

The gratitude is surely bilateral as the open water swimming community has always been greatly appreciative for the hard work and dedication of experienced, knowledgeable and objective officials like Jay Thomas.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association