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False start recall eliminated in high school swimming

Date: 4/11/06

INDIANAPOLIS (April 11, 2006) — Eight rules changes in high school swimming and diving were approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Swimming and Diving Rules Committee at its March 27-28 meeting in Indianapolis. The rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors. One significant change eliminates the recall of all swimmers in a race when one or more of the competitors gains an unfair advantage at the start of the race. The offending swimmer or relay team now will be disqualified at the completion of the race. The referee/starter may recall a heat under certain conditions. This change followed a year of experimentation with the procedure conducted by six NFHS member state associations.

“Because the first start is generally the swimmer’s best start, the rest of the heat is disadvantaged by the action of one,” said Doug Glaeser, chairperson of the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee.

Rule 8-2-2c was changed to allow a single downward dolphin kick at the start and at each turn in the breaststroke with all other stroke cycles of the swim using the breaststroke kick. “This is a more natural movement for all swimmers,” Glaeser said. “The same rule has been updated by the NCAA and USA Swimming.” Another rule change now requires that a referee notify an athlete’s coach when the athlete has been warned for wearing jewelry/illegal attire during competition, emphasizing the coach’s responsibility to ensure that athletes are properly attired.

Due to an increased availability of pools with more than six lanes and the desire to allow for greater participation, Rule 7-1-2f now allows triangular meets to accommodate as many entries as the host school deems appropriate.

Other rules focused on clarifications — Rule 1-3-7 explains that a triangular meet involves three teams competing for the same points, and Rule 8-2-2f clarifies when the single downward butterfly kick is permitted in conjunction with the breaststroke. Rule 3-3-3 Note clarifies that with written approval from the state association, competitors with disabilities who do not require equipment may be granted reasonable accommodations in the start, strokes, turns, etc. Furthermore, Rule 4-6-4c clarifies that violations observed by any relay takeoff judges must be reported in writing.

According to the 2004-05 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the NFHS, 251,908 student-athletes participate in swimming and diving nationwide.

Click here for detailed rule change descriptions


This article was written by Jennifer Gunnels, a spring semester intern in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department. She is a recent graduate of Indiana University, where she majored in journalism and political science.

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