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Freestyle Follow Up

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A commenter pointed out that I did not cover the 15-meter rule in the description of freestyle rules. That is correct and the 15-meter rule applies to freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly events. Swimmers may be completely submerged up to 15 meters after the start and each turn, at which point some part of the body must break the surface of the water. Swimmers may not be completely submerged after this point. The 15-meter points must be marked on each lane line. As with any disqualification, officials must determine that there was a rule violation beyond any reasonable uncertainty. So, either an official must be stationed at the 15-meter mark to make the call or it must be very clear to an official in another position.

Also, in our freestyle blog entry, we discussed standing on the bottom of the pool. By rule, standing on the bottom of the pool during freestyle is legal, but not in any other stroke.

So, here is a question to test our knowledge (careful, it is a trick). During a 200-meter butterfly event, a swimmer makes a legal touch at the turn. After the touch, the swimmer stands on a bottom of the pool for a few seconds to catch his breath. After doing so, the swimmer pushes off of the wall, assuming a legal body position, and starts swimming again. Should the swimmer be disqualified?

Answer: No. Although the rule says that swimmers may not stand on the bottom of the pool during any other stroke (except for freestyle), this action in this case took place during the turn. The swimmer made a legal touch and can then turn in any manner desired. Because the action took place between the legal touch and leaving the wall with a legal body position, there is no disqualification.

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  1. knelson's Avatar
    Good scenario! I guess one caveat should be that (at least) one hand must always be in contact with the side of the pool while you're standing on the bottom otherwise it won't be considered "during the turn."
  2. MPohlmann's Avatar
    Wouldn't "during the turn" be completed when your feet leave the wall? While not true in butterfly, you do not have to touch the wall with your hand in backstroke or freestyle turns.
  3. Rules Committee's Avatar
    Yes, that is correct. Once the feet the leave the wall, the swimmer must have attained a body position required by the stroke part of the rules. In the case of backstroke, if a swimmer make a legal touch with the hand, the swimmer could stand on the bottom of the pool "during the turn prior to pushing off of the wall to complete the turn. However, if a swimmer rotates past vertical, there cannot be any action independent of the continuous turning action before the feet touch the wall. So, it would not be possible to stand on the bottom during the turn in this case.
  4. Rules Committee's Avatar
    Regarding knelson's question, no not necessarily. The turn is completed when the feet leave the wall. Once a swimmer makes a legal touch, the swimmer may turn in any manner desired.