PHOENIX, Arizona, January 2. A few new swimming rules went into place worldwide a couple of months ago after FINA approved new legislation that will change the way athletes swim backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. For the most part, the new rules deal with turns and finishes on the three strokes, making mostly cosmetic changes to the rulebook.
With FINA making these rules, USA Swimming has followed along, editing the 2014 Rulebook to reflect the changes. Though the short course yards season is at its midway point in the United States, we felt the start of a new year was a good time to remind athletes and coaches of the new rules.
The new wording is in boldface below, with any replaced wording crossed out.
.2 Stroke — The swimmer shall push off on his back and continue swimming on the back throughout the race. Some part of the swimmer must break the surface of the water throughout the race, except it is permissible for the swimmer to be completely submerged during the turn, at the finish and for a distance of not more than 15 meters (16.4 yards) after the start and after each turn. By that point, the head must have broken the surface of the water.
.3 Turns — Upon completion of each length, some part of the swimmer must touch the wall. During the turn the shoulders may be turned past the vertical toward the breast after which an immediate continuous single arm pull or immediate continuous simultaneous double arm pull may be used to initiate the turn. The swimmer must have returned to a position on the back upon leaving the wall.
.2 Stroke — After the start and after each turn when the swimmer leaves the wall, the body shall be kept on the breast. It is not permitted to roll onto the back at any time except at the turn after the touch of the wall where it is permissible to turn in any manner as long as the body is on the breast when leaving the wall. Throughout the race the stroke cycle must be one arm stroke and one leg kick in that order.
All movements of the arms shall be simultaneous and in the same horizontal plane without alternating movement.
The hands shall be pushed forward together from the breast on, under, or over the water. The elbows shall be under water except for the final stroke before the turn, during the turn and for the final stroke at the finish. The hands shall be brought back on or under the surface of the water. The hands shall not be brought back beyond the hip line, except during the first stroke after the start and each turn.
During each complete cycle, some part of the swimmer’s head shall break the surface of the water. After the start and after each turn, the swimmer may take one arm stroke completely back to the legs. The head must break the surface of the water before the hands turn inward at the widest part of the second stroke.
.3 Kick — After the start and each turn, a single butterfly kick, which must be followed by a breaststroke kick, is permitted during or at the completion of the first arm pull. Following which, all movements of the legs shall be simultaneous and in the same horizontal plane without alternating movement.
The feet must be turned outwards during the propulsive part of the kick. Scissors, alternating movements or downward butterfly kicks are is not permitted except as provided herein. Breaking the surface of the water with the feet is allowed unless followed by a downward butterfly kick.
.4 Turns and Finish — At each turn and at the finish of the race, the touch shall be made with both hands separated and simultaneously at, above, or below the water level. At the last stroke before the turn and at the finish an arm stroke not fol-lowed by a leg kick is permitted. The head may be submerged after the last arm pull prior to the touch, provided it breaks the surface of the water at some point during the last complete or incomplete cycle preceding the touch.
.2 Stroke — After the start and after each turn, the swimmer’s shoulders must be at or past the vertical toward the breast. The swimmer is permitted one or more leg kicks, but only one arm pull under water, which must bring the swimmer to the surface. It shall be permissible for a swimmer to be completely submerged for a distance of not more than 15 meters (16.4 yards) after the start and after each turn. By that point, the head must have broken the sur?face. The swimmer must remain on the surface until the next turn or finish. From the begin?ning of the first arm pull, the body shall be kept on the breast except at the turn after the touch of the wall where it is permissible to turn in any manner as long as the body is on the breast when leaving the wall. Both arms must be brought forward simultaneously over the water and pulled back simultaneously under the water throughout the race.
.4 Turns — At each turn the body shall be on the breast. The touch shall be made with both hands separated and simultaneously at, above, or below the water surface. Once a touch has been made, the swimmer may turn in any manner desired. The shoulders must be at or past the vertical toward the breast when the swimmer leaves the wall.
.5 Finish — At the finish, the body shall be on the breast and the touch shall be made with both hands separated and simultaneously at, above, or below the water surface.
E No swimmer is permitted to wear or use any device, substance or swimsuit to help his/ her speed, pace, buoyancy or endurance during a race (such as webbed gloves, flip?pers, fins, power bands, adhesive substances, etc.). Goggles may be worn, and rub?down oil applied if not considered excessive by the Referee. Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless approved by the Referee.
103.13 /M/ STARTING PLATFORMS
.4 Backstroke starting grips: Starting platforms shall be equipped with firm starting grips located between 0.3 meters (12 inches) and 0.6 meters (24 inches) above water surface. The front edge of the grips shall be parallel to and flush with the face of the end wall.
Editor’s note: The rules regarding the newly-approved backstroke starting platform went into effect Wednesday. FINA, however, has not provided any information regarding the implementation or specifications of this platform.