The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Committee recommended several rules changes that will have minor, but still noticable, impacts on the 2011-2012 season.
The biggest change involves the false-start recall. The NCAA has matched most of the world’s other major swimming leagues in instituting a “no-recall” policy, except in the case of a blatant false start that might have negatively affected competitors. In the NCAA, the first false start leads to an immediate disqualification.
Under this change, for small false starts at the beginning of races, the race would be completed, and only then would the swimmer be informed of their false start.
NCAA Swimming and Diving Secretary Brian Gordon said that the logic is that “it’s in the best interests of everyone to let the race continue.” He also pointed out the belief that since FINA changed to the same rule, false-starts have become virtually non-existant.
Finally, he believes that this will make for an easier transition for athletes who are already used to this rule from both high school and USA Swimming meets.
Because this is what is deemeed a “playing rules” proposal, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel must vet it before it goes into effect. That approval is expected to come this Wednesday during a conference call.
Every incarnation of every false start rule ever used at any level of swimming (or track & field for that matter) has disadvantages. For swimming’s purposes, I think that this version probably makes the most sense, as it can be quite challenging to recall swimmers, especially those who are in the middle of a pool. Then, when one swimmer stops and others don’t, there is a huge advantage gained.
A few other changes the swimming & diving committee recommended include:
- Allowing the use of the wedge-backed, track start blocks that are becoming more common in elite swimming (though not requiring them).
- Swimmers found wearing an illegal suit will be disqualified from that meet, except in the case of a multiple-day dual, where they will be allowed to compete the next day.
- Allowing the use of Kinesio-type tape during competition if the referee determines that no advantage is gained and is presented with documentation from a doctor or certified athletic trainer that there is a medical purpose for the tape. This is an issue that has begun to flare up, as more-and-more swimmers are using this sort of tape to help support joints after certain strains and injuries.