The NCAA breaststroke rules will remain unchanged for the 2014-2015 season according to NCAA Swimming & Diving Committee Secretary-Rules Editor Brian Gordon.
This is significant news given that FINA, USA Swimming, and American high school rules will all, effective immediately, now be different from NCAA rules.
According to Gordon, the NCAA does not allow for rules to be changed in-season, and “the new rule will be considered by the NCAA Swimming & Diving Rules committee during the normal rule change process this spring and if a similar rule is adopted it will take effect on 9/1/2015.”
The NCAA rules, as copied and pasted below, are effectively the old FINA rule – requiring that visible separation must be seen between hands before the beginning of the dolphin kick.
Some part of the swimmer’s head shall break the surface of the water at least once during each complete cycle of one arm stroke and one leg kick, in that order, except after the start and each turn when a single butterfly kick, which must be followed by a breaststroke kick, is permitted during or at the completion of the first arm pull. After the start and after each turn, lateral movement that shows clear visual separation is considered to be the initiation of the first arm pull. The head must break the surface of the water before the hands turn inward at the widest part of the second stroke after the start and after each turn. There shall be no sculling with the hands at the end of the first arm stroke after the start and each turn.
This leaves a situation where swimmers attempting to achieve qualifying standards at non-NCAA officiated meets, such as the upcoming USA Swimming Winter Nationals, will be bound to a different set of standards than their competition. Even more significant is that during the upcoming Short Course World Championships, a vast majority of the officials will not be versed in the differences between NCAA and FINA rules, given that most of the officials are not from the United States.
There is also a clause that any bona-fied USA Swimming meets are allowed as NCAA qualifiers, but that they must “follow NCAA rules and regulation.” Short Course Worlds are named specifically as an acceptable qualifying meet without any such qualifier. Team USA won’t have any collegiate breaststrokers or IM’ers on their Short Course World Championships roster, though athletes representing other countries will run into this dichotomy. Several collegiate teams will race at Winter Nationals.
The NCAA rules committee says that they’re still working through the issue if different rules for the different meets.