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Rules Committee Blog


Questions about rules? Search the tag cloud to the right to find previous entries that might answer your question. Feel free to post questions via the comments tool in each post, or contact rules@usms.org.

  1. Swimwear in Training and Competition

    by , June 4th, 2017 at 12:41 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    Questions regarding swimwear seem to be a constant for masters swimmers.

    The latest issue of SWIMMER magazine features the ROKA SIM PRO II Buoyancy shorts (page 40). The article stresses its use for learning swim skills and training. It is great to know that there are products available to assist swimmers with these all-important skills.


    However, the article omits the all-important, specific statement that the suit is illegal for USMS competition and highlights the need to remind swimmers that there may be many products suitable for training, but not approved for competition.

    The swimwear rules are covered in article 102.12. Article 102.12.1D says that only suits complying with FINA swimsuit specifications may be worn in a USMS sanctioned or recognized competition. Suits are now tested and approved by FINA for the material (they must be made of textile materials), buoyancy, and permeability in order to ensure compliance with FINA standards.

    A complete list of FINA approved swimwear may be found here.
    http://www.fina.org/content/fina-approved-swimwear

    In addition, there are several important requirements specified in article 102.12 for all pool competition.


    • Swimmers are permitted to wear only one swimsuit in one or two pieces.
    • For men, the suit may not extend above the naval or below the knee.
    • For women, the suit may not cover the neck, extend past the shoulders, or extend past the knee.
    • Swimwear may include a swimsuit, no more than two caps, and goggles. Ear plugs and nose clips are allowed, but armbands and legbands are not considered part of the suit and not allowed.


    Exceptions to these rules for verified medical conditions, religious beliefs, or other circumstances may be approved by the Rules Committee Chair on a case-by-case basis. With medical exceptions, we do our best to consult experts and determine the best solution for the swimmers. Therefore, swimmers seeking an exception are responsible for requesting such an exception and must allow enough time for an evaluation, which sometimes takes several days, up to a few weeks, depending on the circumstances. Asking for a medical exception the night before a meet is likely to result in disappointment!

    The rules for open water and long distance races are covered in 303.7.2 are similar for category I swimwear (i.e., no wetsuits). Men are permitted upper body coverage in open water races and the FINA list includes swimwear specifically approved for open water races. When category II swimwear is permitted, wetsuits, neoprene caps, or other heat-retaining swimwear may be allowed at the discretion of the event director if the water temperature is not greater than 78 degrees F.

    Articles 102.12 and 303.7.2 also mention the use of tape. There are many good products on the market to assist with training and recovery from injuries. But, again, many products that may be suitable for training are not approved for competition.

    USMS rule 102.12.1E (governing pool events) says that Any kind of tape worn on the body is not permitted unless approved by the referee. USMS rule 303.7.3C (governing long distance and open water event) also says that "Any kind of tape worn on the body is not permitted unless approved by the referee." The use of tape in competition is limited to situations involving verified medical conditions. The application of tape is intended to be for situations such as wound closure, taping of fingers or toes (no more than two), taping to secure medical devices, or other limited uses that would not provide any competitive advantage. The use of any kind of tape that purports to provide muscle compression; muscle, joint, or ligament stabilization; or other physical benefits, including therapeutic elastic tape or similar products, is never permitted in USMS competition.
  2. Major Changes for 2017

    by , October 29th, 2016 at 03:59 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    Several rules were changed by the House of Delegates during the USMS Annual Meeting in Atlanta in September. Here is a summary of the major changes that will take effect on January 1, 2017.

    Continuous Warm-Up: In pools of five lanes or more, a separate warm-up area must be made available to swimmers during the competition. However, if the meet is a dual-sanctioned meet with USA Swimming, this requirement may be adjusted depending on availability of warm-up space at the venue by agreement between the LMSC and LSC host clubs. If a continuous warm-up/warm-down lane(s) or area is not available in pools of five lanes or more, the entry information shall clearly state the availability of warm-up for USMS athletes. Once the entry information is published, changes which further restrict the availability of continuous warm-up/warm-down space are not permitted.

    Events: The order of events must be published in the meet announcement prior to the meet. Events may be repeated with the same stroke and distance as different event numbers at a meet.

    Alternative Formats: All short course meters events, long course meters events, and national championships shall be conducted on a timed-finals basis. Other short course yards events may be conducted on a timed-finals basis or another basis (e.g., preliminary heats and finals).

    Time Trials: Independent attempts to establish official times (time trials) are permitted only in USMS-sanctioned short course yards meets other than national championship meets. Time trials are not permitted in USMS national championship meets, short course meters, or long course meters meets. If time trials are offered, the meet announcement must state the events being offered and the format for the time trials.

    Event Limits: A swimmer may compete in not more than six individual events per day. A swimmer shall not compete more than once in the same numbered individual event. Any nonconforming events swum shall be included in the daily event limit. If events are conducted in formats other than timed finals that require multiple swims (e.g., preliminary heats and finals), the limit is three events per day. For events that require multiple swims (e.g., preliminary heats and finals), all swims (e.g., preliminary heats) are considered as part of the same individual event, not as multiple individual events. If time trials are offered in short course yards meets, any time trial events swum shall be included in the daily event limit. A swimmer may repeat, as a time trial, an individual event already swum during the meet on the same day or in the same meet.

    Place Judges: One or two place judges may be positioned on the side of the course near the finish to judge the order of finish of all swimmers. Judging may not be used to change the results produced by ranking the official times.

    Official Time for Malfunction on a Lane: Timing system adjustments to backup times for individual lane malfunctions have been eliminated. In the event of a lane malfunction, the official time is calculated using valid times reported by the secondary timing system (or the tertiary system) in accordance with 103.17.3B and integrated with the accurate primary times in determining the results.

    Requirements for USMS Records and Top 10 Times: USMS records and top 10 times may be established with a three, two, or one valid semiautomatic backup time in the event of an automatic timing system (touchpad) failure. USMS records may be established with two valid watch times in the event of both automatic primary and semiautomatic backup system failure. USMS top 10 times may be established with one valid watch time in the event of both automatic primary and semiautomatic backup system failure. USMS records may be established with two valid watches if the semiautomatic primary timing system fails. USMS Top 10 times may be established with one valid watch if the semiautomatic primary timing system fails.

    Splits: The referee may assign additional watch timers to record splits for USMS top 10 times regardless of the primary timing system. The referee may approve automatic recording of splits, with the concurrence of the meet host, without the need for a written request with the exception of backstroke events or initial splits within a backstroke leadoff distance.

    Fresh Water: USMS records and top 10 times can only be made in fresh water. No records or top 10 times will be recognized in any kind of sea or ocean water.

    Health and Safety Regulations for USMS Competition: Article 106 (medical examinations, medical equipment) is eliminated.

    Age Determining Date for Open Water and Postal Swims: In open water and postal swims, the eligibility of a swimmer shall be determined by the age of the swimmer on December 31 of the year of competition, except for 18-year-olds, who must be 18 on the day that they swim. This mirrors the birthdate rule used by FINA and USA-Triathlon. The relay age rules for open water and long distance/postal swims (303.1.3B & 305.6) remain unchanged.

    Water Conditions: Temperature guidelines have been amended for swimmer safety in swims with very warm water. A swim of 5 kilometers or greater shall not begin if the water temperature exceeds 29.45 C. (85 F.). A swim of less than 5 kilometers shall not begin if the water temperature exceeds 31 C. (87.8 F.). This mirrors the FINA general standard of 31 C, and the USA-Swimming exception to that rule of 29.45 C for swims 5-km or longer.

    Swimwear: For Category I open water swimwear, clasps and zippers are now excluded. This mirrors the FINA swimwear rule, and will make it easier for event staff to identify legal swimwear at each venue.

    Officials: The roles and authorities of open water event director, safety director and referee have been defined, particularly the authority to postpone the start, stop a swim in progress, and cancel an event.

    Independent Safety Monitors: The requirement to have a USMS-approved Independent Safety Monitor at all USMS open water swims has been removed. In its place, as part of event supervision, each sanctioning LMSC should develop oversight procedures to assure that the approved safety plan is implemented and that adequate safety precautions are in place for existing conditions.

    Solo Open Water Swims: Because USMS no longer sanctions solo swims, all reference to solo swims have been removed from the rulebook.

    1-Hour ePostal (OHeP): The Long Distance Committee is extending the closing date for the 2017 and future OHeP events to be the last day of February. This will give more people a chance to swim and minimize the impact of major winter weather.