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Other Strokes During a Freestyle Event

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The Coach Asks: One of my swimmers did the 800 freestyle, alternating freestyle and breaststroke. The official warned my swimmer that he was almost DQed because his head had to stay above the surface when doing the breaststroke during a freestyle event. Is it a DQ if the head goes under water during a cycle of breaststroke? I also thought that once another stroke is chosen for freestyle, you could only do that one style of stroke for the rest of that freestyle event.

Answer: "The swimmer may swim in any style" during a freestyle event (101.5.2). There is no requirement to do only one style of stroke. If the swimmer is doing the breaststroke, the style of that stroke is that some part of the head breaks the surface of the water during each stroke cycle. Swimming in the style of breaststroke, with the head breaking the surface during each stroke cycle, during a freestyle event does not violate the rule prohibiting a swimmer from completely submerging after the 15-meter mark, since the swimmer is still swimming on the surface. That satisfies "Some part of the swimmer must break the surface of the water throughout the race..." (101.5.2); briefly dipping the head below the surface during each stroke is that swimmer's style of stroke during breaststroke. That is different than being completely submerged for 15 meters. If the swimmer completely submerged again after the 15-meter mark to do another underwater breaststroke pullout, that would be a disqualification. Caution the swimmer that during freestyle, when using the underwater breaststroke pullout after the start and turns, the swimmer's head must break the surface at 15 meters since it is a freestyle event (101.5.2). A second caution is that a swimmer cannot do breaststroke (or butterfly or backstroke) during the freestyle portion of an individual medley event or a medley relay event (101.5.2).

Kathy Casey

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Updated November 20th, 2015 at 01:24 PM by Rules Committee