NFHS Releases High School Swimming & Diving Rules Changes for 2021-2022

The NFHS, which governs most high school sports in the United States, has released its new swimming & diving rules changes for the 2021-2022 school year.

While most of the rules are minor, there are a handful that coaches need to know about.

One such rules change involves allowing competitors to wear suits providing full body coverage for religious reasons. This eliminates the need for individual state associations to authorize suits providing full body coverage.

Full body suits must still adhere to Rule 3-3-4, namely that it must be made of a woven/knit textile material, must be permeable, may not aid in buoyancy, and may not have fastening systems other than a waist tie or elastic material in the terminal ends.

This national change allows swimmers to wear current iterations of modesty suits already being made without having to receive state approval.

Most of the significant changes involve diving, which now allows a standing forward takeoff as part of efforts to attract more competitors to the sport. To use the standing forward takeoff, a diver must declare their intent ahead of time and will receive an automatic 2-point penalty.

Most levels of diving already allowed standing dives, including international competition and NCAA competition, so this catches the high school rules up to that standard.

The rule book also clarifies that four oscillations of the board are permitted before a diver leaves the board, which the NFHS rules committee hopes will remove some vague language.

While the nature of the rules proposals are approved, the exact language is still in a draft stage.

2021-2022 NFHS Rules Changes and Rationale

3-2-5Changes protocol for declaration of the lead-off swimmer in a relay to be submitted prior to the start of the event.
Rationale:  The lead-off swimmer must be declared at the specified time and place prior to the start of the event, which is consistent with entry procedures for identification of all relay participants.

3-3-5: Permits competitors to wear suits providing full body coverage for religious reasons.
Rationale:  Eliminates the need for state association authorization of suits providing full body coverage. Added language allows for exercise of religious practice without creating a competitive advantage for the athlete.     

3-3-5b,c,d Permits the application of temporary adhesives for divers.
Rationale:  Allows divers to protect themselves from hand slippage, minimizing risks for the diver.

5-4-3 NOTE: Clarifies protocol for conducting swim-offs and what purposes the time can be used.  
 Updated language clarifies the impact of the swim-off time on future seedings.

9-2-1 During championship meets, new language establishes when diving boards should be open for practice if breaks between sessions extend longer than ten minutes.
Rationale: Defines when diving boards shall be made available for practice during the break between sessions of a championship meet unless the meet director establishes specific guidelines prior to the start of competition.

9-3-7 PENALTIES, 9-5-2, 9-5-5, 9-7-4f, 9-7-5k, 9-8-2c:  Permits standing forward takeoffs, clearly defining the proper procedure for performing a standing forward takeoff and the protocol for application of the mandatory two-point deduction.
The standing forward takeoff is a critical part of the educational process in teaching new dives. This provision allows divers to participate in competition sooner and encourages growth in the sport.

9-5-4b: Clarifies that only four oscillations are permitted before the diver leaves the board.
Rational: The removal of vague language clarifies the number of oscillations a diver may take while on the diving board.

9-6-4: Defines process to rectify announcing errors that occur during diving competition.
Rational: Language establishes protocol when an announcer error occurs. The diver should not be penalized for the error of meet personnel; the referee retains broad discretion to resolve such problems in the most equitable and efficient way possible.

1-4-2, 4-1-6, 4-4-1, 4-4-2, 4-5-1, 6-2-2, 6-4-1b(3), 8-3-3


  1. Suggested Meet Warm-up Procedures
  2. Responsibility of Official, Competitor, and Lap Counter in Distance Events
  3. Updating Diving Rules

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner 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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