View Full Version : Change to the backstroke start rule

June 28th, 2002, 06:27 PM
USA-Swimming has modified the backstroke start rule slightly to conform to the corresponding FINA rule. Accordingly, USMS has, by action of the rules committee, chosen to accept the change in our rules (see USMS rule 601.4.6B for an explanation of this procedure). The change allows a swimmer to raise their toes above the surface of the water AFTER the start signal is given. The swimmer is still NOT allowed to place the toes or feet in or on the gutter at any time. So in a pool with the water level at or above the gutter, this rule change has no effect. In a pool with the water level below the gutter or with a flat wall, the swimmer can move their feet up after the start has been given.

Rule 101.1.2 B now reads:

B – All courses – The swimmers shall line up in the water facing the starting end with both hands placed on the gutter or on the starting grips. Prior to starting signal, the swimmer’s feet, including the toes, shall be placed under the surface of the water. Standing in or on the gutter or curling the toes over the lip of the gutter is not permitted at any time. A backstroke starting block may not be used.

The change is permissive therefore the start as currently practiced is still legal.


for the Rules Committee

July 2nd, 2002, 01:24 PM
I had not heard this yet. As a USA Swimming official, I assume I would have been informed at some point. Do you know the date this becomes effective?

July 2nd, 2002, 01:44 PM
Here is a link to the USA-Swimming change. It was posted June 23 with an effective date of June 1.



July 8th, 2002, 01:26 PM
I've wondered a couple of things since this came out.

1) What's the definition of the starting signal? I did a quick search of the on-line rule book and didn't see it.

2) If it's OK to have your toes above the water after the starting
signal then why not amend the rule to allow the toes to be above the water period? Wouldn't that make it much easier for everyone involved?

July 8th, 2002, 02:11 PM
I dont know if the starting signal is defined nor should it be. In USA Swimming 102.14.1 The equipment is defined "electronic stobe signal" or "a 22 caliber starting pistol may be used."

102.14.2.c ". . .The starter gives the starting signal." I guess it is just assumed that the starter uses the starting equipment which generates a signal.

The quick answer to why toes are kept under the water is because FINA says toes are to be under the water before the start and USMS wants its swimmers meters records to be considered for world records.