USA Swimming Rules and Regulations Committee Releases Rules Changes Recommendations

The USA Swimming Rules & Regulations Committee has released their thoughts on 46 proposed rules changes to the USA-Swimming rule book. These recommendations are not binding, but are heavily considered when rules changes are officially made. Rules changes are voted on at the annual USA Swimming House of Delegates meeting, where a 90% vote is required for amendment.

Typically, these rules changes are wholly insignificant to the everyday, but this year there were several on the books that would have made a bigger impact than these rules usually do, though most of those seem to have been rejected.

For a full list of the recommendations, along with further elaborations of the reasoning for the proposal and the committee’s recommendations, click the link below:

2011 Rules Recommendations.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the more significant rulings, and the committee’s recommendations:

Health Protection

There were several rules that applied to the ability of athletes to participate in swim meets on the basis of illness. These ranged from listing an outbreak of disease as a reason to postpone or cancel a meet (R-2 & R-4); requiring sick athletes to stay home (R-10 & R-14); requiring meet programs to include an announcement about health (R-14); and a request to include athlete hygiene under the Athlete Protection portion of the rules that includes how to protect athletes from sexual abuse by coaches (R-22). All of these were proposed by the Maryland Swimming LSC as a way to prevent athletes from being pressured into competition while sick, and to take the burden of these subjective decisions off of competitive-minded coaches, parents, and staff.

All of these measures were rejected by the committee. The rules regarding cancellation of meets were rejected with the logic that the meet referee already has broad powers to cancel meets for an extenuating circumstances, and that an attempt to list all of these potential circumstances would be a bit of a Pandora’s Box.

As for the other rules, the committee recommended that they would be better placed into educational materials rather than legislated. I think that’s probably the right call, as legislation of which diseases, conditions, and symptoms are worthy of removal from a meet can cause some huge issues. For example, a coach could claim that they saw another team’s athlete cough, and thus petition to have them removed from a meet. Instead, furthering the education of these issues will encourage people to be smarter about making decisions with their athletes’ health.

Change of Direction

There was only one rules change among the proposals this year that would have fundamentally changed a stroke, and that was Rule R-1. It would have changed language that defined breaststroke to allowing the stroke to begin with either a kick or a pull.

The only strokes in the race where this rule is actually relevant are those immediately following the underwater pullout, because after that it’s hard to define which comes first: the pull or the kick. Under current rules (and coaching methods), a swimmer must begin a length after the underwater pullout with a breaking of the hands, which indicates an initiation of the pull.

The rationale on this one seems pretty innocent: it shouldn’t matter whether a swimmer kicks or pulls first, so long as they don’t do two in a row of either. But this one was “rejected” because it would put USA Swimming out of line with FINA guidelines, which would open up a whole new can of worms with FINA officials versus USA Swimming officials and whether certain swims qualified for international FINA meets.

This is one I’d like to see explored further, though the committee was absolutely correct in their rationale for rejecting it. If the rule had been passed, it would open up an interesting time for swimming, that only comes around once every five or six years or so, where coaches have the opportunity to experiment with different techniques and learn which is really better, or if perhaps different swimmers excelled at different methods.

The Hot-Button Issue

There were several rules that revolved around automatic timing systems

The USA Swimming Rules & Regulations Committee has released their thoughts on 46 proposed rules changes to the USA-Swimming rule book. These recommendations are not binding, but are heavily considered when rules changes are officially made. Rules changes are voted on at the annual USA Swimming House of Delegates meeting, where a 90% vote is required for amendment.

Typically, these rules changes are wholly insignificant to the everyday, but this year there were several on the books that would have made a bigger impact than these rules usually do, though most of those seem to have been rejected.

For a full list of the recommendations, along with further elaborations of the reasoning for the proposal and the committee’s recommendations, click the link below:

2011 Rules Recommendations.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the more significant rulings, and the committee’s recommendations:

Health Protection

There were several rules that applied to the ability of athletes to participate in swim meets on the basis of illness. These ranged from listing an outbreak of disease as a reason to postpone or cancel a meet (R-2 & R-4); requiring sick athletes to stay home (R-10 & R-14); requiring meet programs to include an announcement about health (R-14); and a request to include athlete hygiene under the Athlete Protection portion of the rules that includes how to protect athletes from sexual abuse by coaches (R-22). All of these were proposed by the Maryland Swimming LSC as a way to prevent athletes from being pressured into competition while sick, and to take the burden of these subjective decisions off of competitive-minded coaches, parents, and staff.

All of these measures were rejected by the committee. The rules regarding cancellation of meets were rejected with the logic that the meet referee already has broad powers to cancel meets for an extenuating circumstances, and that an attempt to list all of these potential circumstances would be a bit of a Pandora’s Box.

As for the other rules, the committee recommended that they would be better placed into educational materials rather than legislated. I think that’s probably the right call, as legislation of which diseases, conditions, and symptoms are worthy of removal from a meet can cause some huge issues. For example, a coach could claim that they saw another team’s athlete cough, and thus petition to have them removed from a meet. Instead, furthering the education of these issues will encourage people to be smarter about making decisions with their athletes’ health.

Change of Direction

There was only one rules change among the proposals this year that would have fundamentally changed a stroke, and that was Rule R-1. It would have changed language that defined breaststroke to allowing the stroke to begin with either a kick or a pull.

The only strokes in the race where this rule is actually relevant are those immediately following the underwater pullout, because after that it’s hard to define which comes first: the pull or the kick. Under current rules (and coaching methods), a swimmer must begin a length after the underwater pullout with a breaking of the hands, which indicates an initiation of the pull.

The rationale on this one seems pretty innocent: it shouldn’t matter whether a swimmer kicks or pulls first, so long as they don’t do two in a row of either. But this one was “rejected” because it would put USA Swimming out of line with FINA guidelines, which would open up a whole new can of worms with FINA officials versus USA Swimming officials and whether certain swims qualified for international FINA meets.

This is one I’d like to see explored further, though the committee was absolutely correct in their rationale for rejecting it. If the rule had been passed, it would open up an interesting time for swimming, that only comes around once every five or six years or so, where coaches have the opportunity to experiment with different techniques and learn which is really better, or if perhaps different swimmers excelled at different methods.

The Hot-Button Issue

There were several rules that revolved around timing systems. Two involved certain “fudge-factors” that are used during meets that are hand-timed, which were voted to be eliminated. A third involved touch pads, and clarified that the .3 second discrepencies is not a hard floor for possible equipment malfunctions; rather .3 is an approximate guideline. The latter of those rules was approved by the committee.

There were no rules proposals in this document concerning relay takeoff-pads, which has been the topic of much-heated discussion over the past few weeks after the girls High School State Championship in Texas was decided by their apparent malfunction.

Say Cheese!

Rule change R-6 is a significant one, as the committee recommended adding a rule that allowed an underwater camera to be used in disqualifications. Under the version approved, these cameras can only be used to overturn disqualifications upon appeal, and not to call them initially. The officials can “confirm the call made on deck, overrule the call, or advise the referee that the review proved inconclusive.”

 Open Water Safety

The rules committee approved a number of regulations that stand basically as a formality to officially put on the books the recommendations made by the Open Water Safety Committee. This includes adding rules about minimum and maximum temperatures, water cleanliness, and other safety factors.

There were also several changes made in terms of a chain-of-command for monitoring safety conditions at Open Water competitions. The sport was more loosely organized in the past, and hopefully these rules changes help shape up the safety measures to better ensure that they are adhered to.

False Allegations

The committee also recommended altering rule 306.3 to clarify language surrounding frivelous accusations of sexual abuse towards coaches. There is some concern amongst the coaching ranks that while the heightened sense of awareness is a positive thing for athlete protection, it also makes it fairly easy for a malicious person to ruin someone’s career (not to mention their life) by making similar accusations.

Check out all of the rules changes in the link above, and sound off below on whether or not you agree with the committees recommendations.

2
Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
billy

coacherik

No real arguments here.

I am curious as to when “people” are going to realize that noncontinuous stroke for backstroke needs to be revisited. Why can we change a rule to give BR swimmers an advatange but we can’t change one that is a disadvantage to backstrokers? I have never seen a swimmer break this rule to there advantage. I was a Backstroker for years and never did me breaking rule (in practice or the one time in a meet) give me an unfair advantage.

I understand it’s not technically backstroke if you break the rule, but limiting it to one crawl stroke into the wall would be sufficient and clear. Am I taking crazy pills??

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. 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 »

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!