Team Swim Rules

Introduction

As with all competitive sports, team swimming in the US and internationally is governed by an extensive set of swim rules and regulations. What follows is a look at basic team swim rules set by the governing body for international swim competitions, or *FINA, which serve as a guide for national and local swim clubs. The national governing body for the US, USA Swimming, provides its own official publication of a similar but modified set of rules.

For the complete and current rules for holding swim competitions in the US, see the USA Swimming Rulebook. Complete and current international swim competition rules and regulations can be viewed at FINA Swim Rules and Regulations.

* FINA stands for Federation Internationale de Natation, and is the international governing body for aquatic competitions.

Team Swim Rules

International team swimming rules and regulations cover the following key topics:

Competition Management

The management committee appointed by FINA oversees matters not assigned to the officials. The FINA Bureau appoints officials needed at the Olympics and World Championships. Officials at other international competitions are appointed by the governing body. Prior to events, management makes sure officiating equipment and/or judges are available and that all is in order prior to events.

Officials

Official personnel includes referees, control room supervisors, starters, clerk of course, inspectors of turns, judges of stroke, timekeepers, finish judges, and desk controllers. This rule establishes officials' duties, and how decisions are made during international swim competitions.

For information on officiating swim competitions in the US, see USA Swimming Rulebook, Article 102.

For information on conducting national competitions for swimmers with disabilities, see USA Swimming Rulebook, Article 105.

Seeding of Heats, Finals, Semi-finals

Key points:

For rules on seeding, and assigning lanes and heats for US swim competitions, see USA Swimming Rulebook, Article 102.

The Start

This segment covers the starting procedure for the freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly, and individual medleys. Also covered are the duties of the referee, and disqualifications.

Key points:

For rules on conducting starts in national swim events, see USA Swimming Rulebook, Article 102; Section 12.

Freestyle

This rule covers starts for the freestyle, that is, any style swum in designated freestyle events. In an individual medley, freestyle is any style other than backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly.

Rules concerning freestyle in US swim competitions are found in the USA Swimming Rulebook, Article 101; Section 5.

Backstroke

Key points:

Rules for conducting backstrokes in US swim competitions are found in Article 101, Section 4 of the USA Swimming Rulebook.

Breaststroke

Key points:

Rules for swimming the breaststroke in US competitions are contained in the USA Swimming Rulebook, Article 101, Section 2.

Butterfly

Key points:

USA Swimming rules and regulations for the butterfly are in the USA Swimming Rulebook, Article 101, Section 3.

Medley Swimming

Key points:

USA Swimming rules and regulations for the individual medley are contained in the USA Swimming Rulebook; Article 101, Section 6.

The Race

Key points:

Timing

This portion covers the use of timing devices. Main points include:

Timing regulations for US swim competitions are contained in Article 102, Section 24 of the USA Swimming Rulebook.

World Records

International swim records for various events and their styles and distances are to be recognized and categorized. See FINA rules and regulations for complete rules.

For USA Swimming rulings about records, see page 60, Article 104, Sections 1 & 2 of the USA Swimming Rulebook.

Automatic Officiating Procedure

This section covers the use of AOE used during international competitions.

Key points discussed:

For use of AOE during US swim competitions, see pg. 58, Article 103, Section 19 of the USA Swimming Rulebook.

Age Group Rules

"Federations may adopt their own age group rules, using FINA technical rules." (FINA Swim Rules and Regulations)

Open Swim Rules

The following contains summaries of rules for international open swim competitions. For official rules and details, see open water swimming rules at FINA Swim Rules and Regulations.

Rules address the following:

Definitions

FINA defines open water swimming as: "any competition that takes places in rivers, lakes, oceans, or water channels, except for 10 km events." (OWS 1 Definitions - Rules and Regulations; FINA Swim Rules and Regulations)

Key points:

Officials

They include referees, judges, timekeepers, safety/medical/course officers, clerk of course, starter, announcer, and recorder.

Officer duties of each are detailed in OWS 3, "Duties of Officials" at FINA Swim Rules and Regulations.

USA Swimming open swim rules include conducting and officiating of the races, standards, records, and national championships. For details and official rules, see current USA Swimming Rulebook, Part 7.

The Start

Key points:

USA Swimming Rulebook key points regarding starts:

The Venue

Key points:

Venue standards for open water competitions in the US are found in Article 702 of the USA Swimming Rulebook. This section describes the course, water temperature and quality, the starting standards, turns and changes in course, the finish, and feeding stations.

The Race

Key points:

USA Swimming Rulebook key points:

The course:

Turns and changes:

Water temperature and quality:

The Finish

Key points:

USA Swimming Rulebook key points:

In Conclusion

The aim of this information was to provide a basic overview of some of the more commonly used rules and regulations established by FINA, and used and modified by USA Swimming. They're neither complete nor official, but hopefully they gave you a general idea if you want to organize an event in your locale. For a look at the official governing rules, see the two links provided above, or consult your local swim organization.



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