New FINA Rules Changes Kick in Wednesday, September 25th

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 17

September 24th, 2013 News

On Wednesday, September 25th, 2013, a slate of new FINA rules kick in.

To see the full rule-book that will be in effect from 2013-2017, click here.

The major among these is the fact that for the first time, FINA will be recognizing World Records in mixed medley relays. The race will be on to see who can put up the first sanctioned relays in mixed medleys and stamp their names on the World Record book. Odds are that the winners of that battle won’t be a big national-team relay that will eventually hold it at some point in the next year, but someone is going to get a bit of a free pass into the history books.

Remember that while these swims can count for mixed relay records, their lead-off legs will not be able to count as individual records.

There are also many changes to Masters’ swimming’s rules book, though those specific to that level are administrative. Specifically, Masters swimmers must now, by rule, belong to a club to swim a time recognized in the FINA World Rankings top 10 or break a FINA World Record.

Other new rules that apply to both levels include:

In breaststroke and butterfly, two-hand touches can no longer be overlapping. The hands must be separated when the wall is touched.

In backstroke, FINA took out the wording that a swimmer is allowed to be completely submerged at the finish of a race (though they can still do so at the turn). This means that the big lunges we see, most often in younger age groups, that put the swimmer entirely underwater into the wall are now eliminated. This is important for all coaches to keep an eye on.

All of FINA’s new rules books can be seen here.

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The “new” backstroke rule is what the officials in Pacific Swimming have been calling forever. So no change for us!

The change in the backstroke rule seems silly to me. Why? Throwing the head back with the lunge for the wall has the potential to drive you under water just by momentum. It’s not designed to gain an advantage, why rule it out? Especially when we’ve added dolphin kick to breaststroke (a MAJOR break from allowable form in the stroke).


And the reason for the change is?
If anything the wording now leaves it open for interpretation. What exactly constitutes “under water”? When the backstroker is going full out towards the finish and there is the wave that follows then into the wall, many times they are submerged by this wave. Is that a DQ then?
Do they have to be entirely on the surface plane of the water or anything below the surface is a DQ?
Again, what was the reason for this change?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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