NFHS Proposed Rule Changes For 2020-21 Includes Suit Clarification

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has released its rule change proposals to the NISCA (National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association) for the 2020-2021 school year. Below is a link to a survey asking for coach input on the proposed changes.

One of the notable changes proposed is an amendment made to the rules regarding suit etiquette that created controversy back in September when a 17-year-old female student was disqualified (and ultimately reinstated) over the fit of her suit at a meet in Alaska.

The proposed change reads: “Suits worn for competition must be non-transparent and conform to the current concept of the appropriate.” Previously, it said: “A competitor shall not be permitted to participate wearing a suit that is not of decent appearance.”

In the rationale section, it’s noted that the rules as they’re currently written “requires officials to make subjective calls.”

The change aims to take the ambiguity out of the decisions officials need to make, as it uses language from USA Swimming bylaws 102.8 1D.

“As seen this year in Alaska, this puts officials in a precarious position and potentially causes shame to a student. By substituting the language regarding ‘decent appearance’ with language from USA Swimming bylaws 102.8 1D, the official is still able to eventually address the issue. While both still speak to the appearance of the suit and not how the suit fits the athlete, the word ‘decent’ still carries a stronger moral connotation.

Another proposed change eliminates the distinction “developed from a flexing and extending of the knee” when describing that “no scissors, flutter, or downward butterfly kick” is allowed during breaststroke.

This revision puts the NFHS rule in congruence with USA Swimming, the NCAA and FINA, and “eliminates the misperception that has arisen in some areas that the only vertical leg movement that can be sanctioned is one involving both flexion and extension of the knees.”

It adds: “The change also eliminates the unfair advantage gained, and inappropriate tactic employed in some coaching strategies, of teaching the swimmer to utilize vertical leg movements developed from other than knee flexion/extension.”

NISCA is asking its membership to complete the survey by March 20th, 2020. The committee will be meeting Mar.22-23 to discuss the proposed rules.

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Coach Chackett
2 years ago

so officials will still have to make subjective calls on suits…….

2 years ago

The NFHS just needs to adopt all USA swimming rules. Allow backstroke ledges, ect. The differences in the rules are confusing to the swimmers and often trivial. This is coming from an official. The NFHS needs to stop thinking they know more about swimming than USA Swimming. This way the certification for officials is the same and all meets will be sanctioned and times can go into USA Swimming database. There will be more officials available to work and the quality of high school meets will improve from that standpoint. Some officials who just work high school meets for the $ are incompetent. Bad for the swimmers because some of these individuals do not know the rules and kids end… Read more »

No Pools Open
Reply to  AZswummer
2 years ago

Some USA swimming officials are incompetent. Changing the rules to align will not make officials competent.

Reply to  No Pools Open
2 years ago

I agree that some are not. However, the majority are more competent than some high school officials I have worked with. Some don’t know that bucket and crossover turns are legal.

ct swim fan
Reply to  AZswummer
2 years ago

USA swimming officials will have to bone up on their diving judging as that is part of high school meets. Not sure how many will want to do that.

2 years ago

So under the new breaststroke guideline, would Molly Hannis be DQed in a high school meet?

Reply to  JAK
2 years ago

I think it’s the opposite.

“This revision puts the NFHS rule in congruence with USA Swimming, the NCAA and FINA, and ‘eliminates the misperception that has arisen in some areas that the only vertical leg movement that can be sanctioned is one involving both flexion and extension of the knees.’”

It’s removing those DQs from officials that thought that if there was any other vertical movement of the feet it was a DQ, even if there is no intention of power behind it. Experienced officials and swimmers know that’s nearly impossible to keep the feet still on that plane.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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