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  1. Recently Asked Questions

    by , April 7th, 2018 at 12:42 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    With this entry, we answer a few questions recently received from USMS members.

    My birthday is coming up and I am going to "age up" into a new age group. When does my new age group take effect at USMS sanctioned meets.

    For meets held in 25-yard pools, your age group is determined based on your age on the last day of the meet. So, if you are swimming in a meet that ends before your birthday, you will swim in the age group that corresponds to your age before your birthday. If you enter a multi-day meet and just happen to have a birthday in the middle of the meet, you will swim in the older age group.

    For meets held in 25-meter or 50-meter pools, we conform to the rules of FINA (the international federation). Your age group for the entire year is determined based on your age on December 31. So, even if your birthday is not until December, you would swim in the older age group for the entire year.

    It can get a little confusing with the difference between yards and meters. The rule differences mean that you could potentially be swimming in two different age groups for a short time, especially if you have a birthday that is later in the year. When you enter a meet, the entry process should automatically put you in the correct age group based on your birth date and the rules in effect for that meet.


    Are straps, braces, and compression products (such as a Cho Pat®, AceTM Bandage, or other brands) legal in USMS Competition?

    These devices are not legal in USMS competition. In the rules we say that swimwear consists only of a swimsuit, googles, and cap(s). Anything additional is not permitted and we specifically say that armbands or legbands shall not be considered part of swimwear and are not permitted. In addition, we say that swimmers may not wear or use any device that aids in speed, space, buoyancy, or endurance. While it may be true that these devices might create additional drag, they provide physical benefits in the form of muscle compression or stabilization that would contribute to an advantage in terms of endurance.

    Having a doctor's note does not compel the referee to make an accommodation for these types of devices. Even with a doctor's note, referees are required to follow the rules and cannot waive any of these requirements. Referees can only consider accommodations for permanent, life-altering, physical disabilities.


    Does USMS permit video recording devices to be used behind the blocks?

    The rules do not address the use of cameras or other video equipment behind the blocks beyond provisions for video replay footage use by officials and the use of stationary overhead cameras as a backup timing system.

    Can we use automatic relay takeoff officiating equipment at USMS meets?

    Yes, automatic relay takeoff equipment may be used at USMS sanctioned meets if available at the facility. The automatic judging equipment consists of a sensor on the starting platform that can show when the swimmer leaves the starting platform in comparison to the touchpad in the water which records the touch of the incoming swimmers. If an overhead video camera system is available as a backup timing system, the automatic officiating equipment can show a potential infraction which is then confirmed by reviewing the overhead cameras. If the overhead camera system is not available, the automatic relay takeoff equipment may not be used to initiate a potential infraction. Early takeoffs are noted by the officials on deck and then confirmed by the automatic relay takeoff equipment.


    If I am entered in a 200-yard freestyle event, can I swim the first 50 of this event as breaststroke in order to earn a record and then complete the event swimming freestyle (or other strokes)?

    In freestyle events, it is permissible to swim other strokes. However, times achieved in a freestyle event may only count as freestyle times. Even if you swim another stroke legally, you cannot earn an official time for another stroke.

    So, in the situation described in this question, a swimmer could swim the first 50 of a 200 freestyle as breaststroke (or any other stroke) without being disqualified. The swimmer can then swim any other strokes desired for the remainder of the event. However, the swimmer cannot earn an official time for a 50 breaststroke event that would count for records, top ten, or any other form of official recognition. The initial 50 split time can only count as a time for a 50 freestyle. The final time, regardless of the length of the event, may only be used as a freestyle time.

    Note that in individual medley or medley relay events, freestyle is defined as any other stroke not previously swum, so you cannot repeat butterfly, backstroke, or breaststroke during the freestyle leg of a medley event.
  2. Interpretation of Age Group Rules

    by , February 10th, 2017 at 08:33 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    Recently some questions have been raised concerning the interpretation of rules regarding age groups at USMS sanctioned meets. For several weeks, the rules committee has researched the current rules, rationale, and historical context in order to answer these questions. The rules committee met on January 22, 2017 and voted to approve an official interpretation.

    USMS 202.1.1G(1) says that "The conduct of a sanctioned event shall be in strict compliance with applicable USMS swimming rules and administrative regulations…" USMS Rule 102.5 says that "Any event conducted must be offered for all age groups and both genders". In the context of 102.5, we mean "a series of races in a given stroke and distance". Rule 102.3 defines the age groups for individual events and relays starting at 18-24 for individual events, 72-99 for relays (for meets held in 25-meter or 50-meter pools) and 18+ for relays (for meets held in 25-yard pools). The rules do not provide for any exceptions to tailor or restrict the age groups at sanctioned meets.

    Therefore, all events conducted at USMS sanctioned meets must be offered for all of the age groups listed in 102.3. A format that limits or alters the age groups from those listed in 102.3 is not in compliance with USMS rules. Sponsoring organizations who are unable or unwilling to offer each and every event to all USMS age groups (as listed in 102.3) are not in compliance with part one rules, as required for all USMS sanctioned meets.

    The attached memorandum explains more about the rationale, history, and context behind this interpretation.

    Charles Cockrell
    USMS Rules Committee Chair
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Files
  3. Birthday During A Swim Meet—What Age Group?

    by , July 15th, 2015 at 01:00 AM (Rules Committee Blog)
    The Coach Asks: At a four-day meet, if a swimmer is 34 the first two days of the meet but turns 35 on the third day, in what age group does that swimmer compete at the meet?

    Answer: The 35-39 age group for the entire meet; "For short course yards, the eligibility of a participant for a particular age group shall be determined by the age as of the last day of the meet." (USMS 102.2.1). That is the opposite of USA Swimming, whose rule for age group competition is the swimmer's age as of the first day of the meet (USA-S 205.2.2).

    Kathy Casey