VIDEO: An Examination on FINA’s Tweak to the Backstroke Finish Rules

Two weeks ago, a group of swimmers from the Chattahoochee Gold Swim Club in Atlanta, Georgia went viral when they Tweeted a picture at us of a full 8 swimmers who were disqualified for illegal backstroke finishes, and specifically for submerging at the finish.

While the inability to submerge prior to touching the wall isn’t new, FINA recently changed the wording of the finish rules so as to emphasize this portion of the rule, and it has been noticed. Especially as we head into the long course season, officials at every level across the country have been calling this rule with some frequency.

Because the rule still was causing some confusion, we asked two of our video producers, Jenna Haufler and Hugh Berryman, to put together a video demonstrating the difference between a legal backstroke finish and an illegal backstroke finish.

With the help of Jean-Paul Gowdy, the head coach of Pomona-Pitzer’s swim team, and a few of his swimmers, Haufler and Berryman explain and demonstrate the subtle differences between a legal and illegal backstroke finish.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago

So where is the video?

6 years ago

Where is the video?

Backstroker For Life
6 years ago

This rule is dumb to me! Butterflyers can finish under the water, why can’t backstrokers?! It’s too picky. A swimmer’s body may break down and cause them to be tired and just misjudge the finish. You don’t hear stories about people abusing the old rule so why change it to something so picky!?

Reply to  Backstroker For Life
6 years ago

I’ve been called for this several times as an age group swimmer. People abuse it all the time, and then they get DQ’ed and learn. Not knowing where the wall is shouldn’t be a valid excuse, thats why we practice.

Reply to  Backstroker For Life
6 years ago

No, it is illegal to be fully submerged in Butterfly after 15 meters. I’ve seen it called on Butterflyers as well.

A Referee
Reply to  Widebody
6 years ago

Actually – the rule is that butterfly swimmers must have some part of their head surface by the 15m mark. They can be submerged until then and thereafter UNLESS their arms are doing a recovery (forward movement) which must be made over the water. Semantics – yes but it’s those fine details that determine whether a swimmer is performing a legal or illegal stroke.

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 »