NFHS Approves 4 High School Rules Changes, Including Lifting Jewelry Restrictions

One of the most heated rules in the sport of swimming without any real competitive significance has officially been lifted by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS), the organization announced today.

Rule 3-3-5 of the NFHS rule book that governs almost all high school swimming in the United States no longer makes any reference to the restriction of wearing of jewelry.

“We’ve been working for the past 10 years on the role of prohibiting jewelry, and we finally came to the conclusion that prohibition presented little concern for injury,” said Becky Oakes, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Swimming and Diving Rules Committee. “We determined the penalty’s severity was no longer based in sound rationale.”

As lanes have become wider and interaction between competitors have become less likely, the risk from jewelry has greatly decreased.

This rule, often ignored at high school meets and more often scoffed at, will now be more in line with uniform rules in USA Swimming’s rule books, which do not bar jewelry.

According to a press release, the rules committee decided that “the wearing of jewelry presents little risk of injury to the competitor or opponents,” calling it an “unnecessary restriction.”

Other changes:

  • Rule 4-1-7 regarding officials’ uniforms was amended to allow state associations to make any instruction on official uniforms, and eliminate any confusion that existed under the new rule that said officials must wear all white or the approved uniform by the state association. According to Oakes, “We felt that it was more appropriate for state associations to handle officials’ uniforms, so long as, in each state, every official wears the same uniform.”
  • Rule 4-3-1 allows the starter to designate another individual to ring the bell (or sound the equivalent devide) for the lead swimmer during the 500 yard free/400 meter free to indicate that an athlete is entering their final lap + 5 yards.
  • Rule 9-6-1 (diving) now allows the official diving referee to be one of the judges on the scoring panel or a separate official.

Leave a Reply

3 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

Yes, finally!!! That jewelry rule was always so annoying. Some girls on my high school team had gotten their ears pierced just before the season started, which was kind of a bad idea because you’re really not supposed to take out new piercings, but they had to anyways, which caused a lot of pain. Glad they finally lifted this rule


Hiding nose piercings was always interesting. Girls would leave hairbands around their wrist, which count as jewelry. I’d like to see a hairband hurt someone, but a rule is a rule. Glad this rule is gone.


As someone who officiated as well as swam. I always hated playing the role of fashion police.

My team will be dressing as Mr T at our championships this year. We are gonna wear so much jewelry to celebrate this and there is nothing they can do to stop us! MWAHAHHAAAHAAHAAAAA!

Come on team! Let’s go get piercings together!

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, …

Read More »

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!