The NCAA has unveiled a sweeping set of new events and rules for the 2015-2016 college swimming season that will be among the most fundamentally-transforming changes in recent history.
The NCAA on Thursday announced 5 new rules changes:
- Synchronized diving approved for dual and invitational meets to replace any springboard or platform event.
- Backstroke starting wedges approved
- 100 IM approved for inclusion at conference championship meets (though it isn’t required).
- Removing requirement to separate hands before taking dolphin kick on breaststroke pullout
- Requirement for allowing strobe lights for deaf or hearing-impaired swimmers.
We will break down many of these changes in separate articles, but there’s two key themes among them: one is to bring the NCAA in line with FINA rules, with regard to approving backstroke starting wedges, and the breaststroke pullout. Both of those rules were approved for USA Swimming and FINA sanctioned competition in December of last year, which left a gap in the rules between those events and college competition.
The other is a preliminary expansion of NCAA events. While no new events have been added to the NCAA Championship schedule, both synchronized diving and the 100 IM have expanded the opportunity for coaches to add more wrinkles to the standard meet schedule.
More to come on each rule change. The full release from the NCAA is below.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Wednesday approved synchronized diving to be an optional event in non-championship and invitational meets starting in the 2015-16 academic year.
If the teams in a dual-, tri- or quad-meet agree to have a synchronized diving event, it can replace either the 1-meter or 3-meter diving events — or both. In invitational meets, synchronized diving can replace any springboard or platform diving event.
The use of synchronized diving must be mutually agreed to by all the coaches involved in the meet or invitational.
A synchronized diving competition will consist of five dives from each same-gendered pair, and a minimum of three diving judges must be used.
Backstroke starting blocks
The panel also approved making the use of backstroke starting blocks permissible for next season.
The devices have already been developed by manufacturers and the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Committee wanted to allow swimming programs the choice to use them. The backstroke starting blocks are designed to help prevent competitors from slipping at the start of their races.
The panel also approved a rule allowing conferences to add the 100-yard individual medley to championship competition. It is not required.
The event will follow the 1,650-yard freestyle competition on the final day of the meet. The race is commonly held as the last event of international meets.
Other approved rules changes include:
• After the turn in breaststroke races, swimmers will be allowed to do a single butterfly kick before their first breaststroke kick.
• For all starts involving deaf or hearing-impaired swimmers, a strobe light should be positioned so swimmers can view it.