View RSS Feed

Recent Blogs Posts

  1. Recently Asked Questions

    by , April 7th, 2018 at 11:42 AM (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. Automatic Relay Takeoff Judging Equipment

    by , November 26th, 2017 at 11:05 AM (Rules Committee Blog)
    I have been asked questions recently regarding the use of relay takeoff judging equipment at USMS meets.

    We have to look at several sections of the rules for context on how to use automatic relay takeoff judging equipment.

    First, there is article 102.13.1 which discusses disqualifications:

    We say that the referee, starter, or S&T judge, upon observing an infraction, shall immediately raise one-hand overhead. When there is dual confirmation of relay takeoffs (article 103.10.5B), a disqualification is not initiated by raising one hand overhead.

    So, then we look at 103.10.5B for the dual confirmation process:

    This article says that the lane and side takeoff judges shall independently report infractions in writing. A relay shall be disqualified only if the lane takeoff judge has reported an infraction and the assigned side takeoff judge has confirmed the same infraction.

    For the use of RJT equipment, we then look at 103.10.5C:

    When automatic relay takeoff equipment is in use, the system printout will provide the information to judge relay exchanges. Integrated backup timing cameras may be reviewed by the referee to confirm the automatic system’s results. When backup timing cameras are not available, the referee will determine the confirmation process.

    There is no threshold specified in the FINA rules, but the wording is very similar to the above. FINA rule SW 13.1 says that when automatic officiating equipment (including RJT equipment) is used, the relay takeoffs judged by the automatic equipment shall have precedence.

    So, the answer is that we have no established numerical threshold in USMS for initiating a call from the automatic RJT equipment. For most of our meets, we do not have the use of the integrated backup timing cameras (I am only aware that we have ever used the full-up system at one meet – the 2012 LC Nationals in Omaha).

    So, a reasonable protocol, considering all of the provisions in the rules, is that the officials on deck must initiate the call, preferably through the dual confirmation process. The RJT equipment can be used to confirm the call absent a fully integrated automatic system with overhead backup timing cameras to confirm the results. This is the best way to ensure that swimmers receive the benefit of the doubt.

    Given that this is an another example of technology which is becoming more widespread, we will work with the officials committee to develop a consistent protocol that we can provide to LMSCs.
  3. Frequently Asked Questions

    by , November 9th, 2017 at 07:26 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    In this Rules Blog entry, we answer a few frequently asked questions about relays, splits, and distance events.

    Question: At a recent meet, we were told that our relays would be disqualified if we didn’t use the swimmers’ registered names on the relay cards. Can they do that?

    Answer: Yes. It is a violation of 102.9.4. The name on the relay card must be the full name as it appears on the USMS membership card along with the swimmer's age and, for mixed relays, the gender of each swimmer. The order of swimmers in the relay must be declared to the head lane timer before the start of the relay heat and no changes are permitted after that point.

    Question: Can a swimmer get an official butterfly split time from an IM and have it count for records and top 10?

    Answer: Yes, if the split time is recorded by fully automatic timing, the swimmer completes the race without being disqualified, and the swimmer requests the split in writing before the conclusion of the meet. A swimmer could get an official 50 fly split time and an official 100 fly split time from the 400 IM, and both split times could count as official times for USMS records and Top 10. An exception to the requirement for a written request is when the meet has been approved for automatic splits. National Championship meets now have automatic splits for individual events, so the initial splits will be recorded for all individual events, except for backstroke.

    Question: What about backstroke splits in a backstroke event or a medley relay?

    Answer: Backstroke splits must be requested in writing before the event. This requirement exists because the initial split must conform to the finish rules for backstroke which require a swimmer to touch the wall while on the back. Therefore, officials must be alerted to judge the initial leg for conformance with finish rules. For example, if you request a 50-meter split in a 100-meter backstroke event, you would be required to touch the wall while on your back at the 50-meter mark.

    Question: Why isn’t there a warning signal for the 400 free in a 25-meter pool or the 400 IM? What about counters?

    Answer: Article 103.8.7 states that a starter will provide a warning signal in events 500 yards or longer. So, the 400 free and the 400 IM events do not require a warning signal. The rules say that a swimmer may have a counter for events of 16 lengths or more except for the individual medley. Therefore, swimmers may have a counter for a 400-meter free in a 25-meter pool, but not in a 50-meter pool. Swimmers are not entitled to have a counter in a 400 IM.
  4. In-the-water Relay Exchanges

    by , April 3rd, 2016 at 06:00 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    In-the-water relay exchanges are more common in masters meets than other federations. The rules for relay exchanges include some key differences between USA Swimming and USMS. With championship season upon us, it is a good idea to review the rules for relays that involve in-water starts.

    Question: For relay in-water starts, the rulebook says the relay is disqualified if a swimmer loses touch with the wall before the preceding teammate touches. Does this mean that USMS does not allow the swimmer in default to go back and touch the wall after the incoming swimmer touches the wall?

    Answer: If the swimmer starting in the water loses touch prior to the exchange, but corrects their position prior the incoming swimmer making the touch, this should not constitute an early take-off.

    Per rule 101.7.3-F, if the swimmer loses contact with the wall and then the incoming swimmer touches the wall, the relay team shall be disqualified. While USA Swimming has specific wording that would allow the swimmer in default to correct their position after the touch, USMS does not have the corresponding wording. This is a key difference between USAS and USMS rules noted in the summary of rules differences in the appendix of the rule book.

    Question: For in-water starts, it looks like USMS requires the swimmer to have one hand and one foot in contact with wall for individual events and the relay lead-off swimmer. USAS rules only say one hand. What about the 2nd, 3rd and 4th swimmers on relays with in-water starts?

    Answer: The foot contact requirement is listed in the forward start rule in 101.1.2 and in the start commands in 103.8.5. We don't explicitly list this requirement in 101.7.3, however in 101.7.3-F, we say that the team of a swimmer whose feet have lost contact with the starting platform (ground, deck, or wall).....should be disqualified. Therefore, all relay swimmers starting in the water must have at least one foot in contact with the wall prior to the exchange, not just the lead off swimmer.

    Furthermore, since the rule references the feet losing contact with the wall, the officials should look at the touch of the incoming swimmer and the feet of the outgoing swimmer. The outgoing swimmer could be in motion or remove a hand from the wall, but the feet cannot lose contact with the wall prior to the incoming swimmer touching the wall.

    Question: USMS rules say that for freestyle events, the start can be forward or in-water backstroke starts. Just to make sure I have this right, that would also mean for a freestyle relay event, any of the relay swimmers could do an in-water backstroke start, correct?

    Answer: There is no rule which would prohibit use of backstroke start during a freestyle relay exchange.
  5. Submitting Medley Relay Times for A Freestyle Relay

    by , October 15th, 2015 at 12:00 AM (Rules Committee Blog)
    The Coach Asks: Is it possible to swim a medley relay and submit that same time from the medley relay for the freestyle relay without swimming the free relay event (since in freestyle a swimmer can do any stroke)?

    Answer: No, the time from a medley relay cannot also be submitted as a time for the freestyle relay. The swimmers would have to enter and compete legally in a freestyle relay in order to get an official time for the free relay. On the flip side, if the swimmers do the medley relay during the freestyle relay event, that time would only be considered as a freestyle relay time, not a medley relay time. 103.18.2 addresses both scenarios, "An official time for an event or stroke can be achieved only in that event or stroke, or in an initial distance of such event or stroke (e.g., backstroke time must be achieved in a backstroke event or a butterfly time can be achieved in an individual medley event). Regardless of the stroke(s) used, times achieved in freestyle events can be recorded only as freestyle times."

    Kathy Casey

    Updated November 20th, 2015 at 12:24 PM by Rules Committee

    Categories
    Uncategorized