> Hi Paul (and others),
> I am frequently amazed at some of the posts here regarding swim rules
> and their interpretations, but usually refrain from comment - perhaps
> after reading this you'll suggest I continue my refrain! However ...
> I am a qualified swimming Referee in England and come across some
> strange DQ calls, but I've never heard this one before.
> I'm assuming your technical swim rules are based on FINA rules. This
> being so, then, as English rules are also based on FINA, we shouldn't
> have too much difference.
> >I understand that the rules state that some part of the body must
> >break the surface of the water throughout the race (except on the
> >start and turn)
> The English rule states, "Some part of the swimmer must break the
> surface of the water throughout the race, except that it shall be
> permissible for the swimmer to be completely submerged during the turn
> and for a distance of not more than 15 metres after the start and each
> turn. By that point, the head must have broken the surface."
> >and, if a swimmer were to dive underwater at the flags and dolphin
> >kick several times into the wall, then they'd be obtaining an
> >unfair advantage.
> Seems a reasonable call and, by the rule, would be a DQ.
> But ... have you ever seen anyone do this? Is this the latest thing
> coaches and swimmers are trying out? I suppose it's possible, I know
> of some of our National coaches and swimmers who will test the rules
> to the limit to gain advantage - and quite right too, providing they
> don't test over the limit.
I've read about this because it was posted on the USS Officiating page and
has been discussed both here and at meets for about a year now.
> >However, if the swimmer simply dives for the wall and, by
> >chance, his/her body is totally submerged, I don't see any reason
> >for the DQ.
> Now here's where I see the Referee needing to make a fair judgement,
> and the key, as you've already said, is did the swimmer gain an unfair
> Of course VERY STRICTLY it's a DQ, but can anyone be sure, absolutely
> positive, without doubt, that, at the finish, the swimmer did not have
> some part of their body breaking the surface of the water? I'd suggest
> everyone would be far to busy judging the finish to observe anything
> like that absolutely positively, without doubt. And, even if they
> claim it, just what possible advantage did the swimmer get anyway?
Personally I've never seen this and, in a way, it penalizes someone who's
really working on finishing properly. BUT...the rule says that you have
to be on the surface and an official saw a swimmer who made the last few
meters underwater and DQ'd that swimmer. The ruling eventually went to
United States Swimming who issued a ruling that the interpretation was
> Also, again going STRICTLY by the (English) rules, the call would have
> to be made by either the placing judges or the Referee (or by the
> turning judges appointed to the finishing end of the pool - if you are
> well endowed enough to have this rare luxury) as these, STRICTLY, are
> the only officials judging at the finish. (You may not have come
> across rulings on the limitations of a judges' jurisdication, but I've
> heard of a turn judge who pointed out a stroke fault and was told by
> the Referee that he wouldn't accept the call because it wasn't that
> offical's job to judge stroke - STRICT again, and perhaps coaches and
> swimmers might take note - but also take note there's nothing that
> stops the Referee from making a dual appointment and asking a judge to
> cover more than one judging task).
United States procedures, rather than rules, give this call to the TURN
JUDGE who as juristiction for the swimmer ON THE BACKSTROKE between the
turn flags and the walls. There is no procedure for for placing judges
just to make this call.
Jurisdiction of judges is something that we're keenly aware of in USS
officiating, especially at the national meets although we attempt to teach
and maintain the concept locally. If it's not in your jurisdiction we
don't "see" it even if it happens.
> As an aside - do you see swimmers of all ages 'diving' for the wall at
> the finish, or only the more senior swimmers? I notice our younger
> swimmers tend to look over their shoulder when coming in to finish -
> and thus risk a (strict) DQ for being 'off their back' (90 degrees or
> more from the horizontal) before the touch. The more senior swimmers
> tend to dip their head back to see the wall upside down as they
> approach the finish, and in doing so would have the front part of
> their body submerged as they touch.
Unfortunately the most common problem with the backstroke finish is not
being on one's BACK, not being under water. This typically happens to
swimmers of moderate experience who are just beginning to go fast...or on
the IM where everyone is looking for a very fast transition between back
> I'd be most interested to find out how English rules measure up to US
> and whether you have different sets of rules for different levels of
> meets (I've been following the High School swimming 'Jewelry' thread
> with some amu***t).
You need to understand there are at LEAST four different governing bodies
for swimming in the United States: USS, YMCA, NCAA, and High School. The
rules for competitive swimming that choose a national champion at
Nationals, or select various world competative teams are USS. NCAA
oversees a vast majority of college competition (which is all short course
yards), while High School does...yep, high school. I've not particiated
in any way with YMCA meets but they have their own championships and their
own take on the rules.
And then there are the Rec Leagues which modify the rules to suit their
own purposes and extent of competition.
The transition to and from high school rules is, in my opinion, a problem
for teaching and sustaining technique in swimming. In our area most meets
don't HAVE stroke and turn officials until the championship meets. (this
is in the Central Valley of northern California.) HS rules are much more
liberal on the backstroke in starts (only SOME PART of the body must be in
the water) and turns
(you can pass vertical and float into the wall). HS rules are more
strenuous that FINA/USS rules on butterfly where the shoulders must be
parallel to the surface of the water before the first pull OR THE FIRST
KICK. That's a killer for me when I go back to doing USS officiating.
> Perhaps there's some officials out there who'd like to comment on my,
> sometimes flippant, attitude and stance to over zealous and
> inappropriate officiating?
The answer is: it's up to the Referee. A demand by stroke and turns to
call the backstroke finish can be nixed at the meeting by saying those
calls won't be sustained so don't embarrase yourself by making them. The
Referee generally has an idea of staff and how they are handling
themselves on deck. And we all blow calls from time to time. (except, of
course, me.... :-) )
> I'd also be interested in any swimmers or coaches comments on anything
> I've said and also on their thoughts on this apparent new feature -
> perhaps another change in the backstroke rules. Is one to parallel the
> great backstroke turn change on its way, and give us officials
> something new to argue about for the next few years!
> Steve Davies
> (WebPages) http://SportToday.org/~istar/