May 18, 2013
A CrossFit Institution: Chuck Carswell
By Jeremy Ridego

“If you can see it is wrong then call it wrong, whether it is Talayna Fortunato on the bar, an athlete from your home gym or a first-year athlete.” 


CrossFit has its share of icons, legends and heroes, but Chuck Carswell is an institution. He is well-respected throughout the CrossFit community and is beloved in the South East, the region formerly known as the Dirty South.  

For 46 to 48 weekends out of the year, Carswell works as a flowmaster on the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Staff. The rare weekend when he's not leading a Seminar are weekends like this when he's acting as Head Judge at Regional competitions. 

“The two tasks are different, just different,” says Carswell, who is quick to point out he enjoys both jobs. “At an L1 cert, you are getting a very authentic experience, which has a certain raw feel to it and involves a ton of learning.” 

“On the other hand, (at Regional competitions) you have a group of experienced CrossFitters typically, and so it is the other extreme — the 1 percent,” he says.

Carswell points out that it all comes back to one thing: community.

“When it comes right down to it, it is friends competing with friends and then more friends watching them throw down,” he says.

Despite being incredibly busy at Regionals, Carswell takes time to shake hands with many of the people he meets weekend after weekend from across the United States and even the world. 

After this weekend at the South East Regional, he takes a 15-hour flight to assist the Africa Regional, then heads off to the South West and Mid Atlantic for their Regional competitions. Carswell credits the various event directors for helping make his job “easier.” 

“These guys and girls, like Johnny Mac [Event Director in the South East], have been doing these events before we really called them Regionals, and they have a great support staff,” he says.

Carswell recognizes that competitions of all sorts and sizes are part of the community and acknowledges that “as long as the athletes and event planners recognize their purpose, then they will successfully bring the community together and that can’t be a bad thing.” 

He also loves the Open stage of competition.

“It allows everyone to compete, but ultimately finds the top athletes,” he says. 

Carswell is passionate about his role, and at the end of the first day of the South East Regional, he could be found coaching, mentoring and providing therapy to fellow judges and athletes who were unhappy with a judgment. As he reviewed various video tapes, he quickly assessed and broke down the movements.

“Dealing with protests is not the sexy stuff obviously, but it is how we protect the significance of the Games and make sure we are getting the right people,” he says.

During competition, Carswell can be found weaving in and out of the rig, circling platforms where standards might be close or questionable, and providing assistance to the other judges. His task is to ensure the movement is legit. 

Carswell says there are three things necessary to judging correctly: vision and the ability to see good movement, quick response and the ability to make a snap decision, and lastly, you must "have the guts to stick to your guns."

“If you can see it is wrong then call it wrong, whether it is Talayna Fortunato on the bar, an athlete from your home gym or a first-year athlete,” Carswell says.

In a matter of 10 minutes during this interview, Carswell dealt honestly and fairly with at least three protests and one worldwide Twitter complaint from an athlete unhappy with his score. While there is no sign that minor controversies like these will disappear, as long as CrossFit ambassadors like Carswell are there, athletes can rest easy in knowing “we are sending the right people to the Games.”