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Frequently Asked Questions

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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 didnt 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 isnt 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.

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  1. jackback's Avatar
    from the rule book approval for automatic splits starts with a recommendation from the meet host which the referee may approve automatic recording of individual and lead off splits

    and if the National Championship meets now have automatic splits for individual events then the rule should be changed to reflect that


    Upon a recommendation from the meet host, the meet referee may approve the automatic recording of individual initial splits and relay leadoff splits without the requirement for a written request subject to the following conditions:

    C For national championship meets, the meet referee may approve automatic splits with the concurrence of the USMS Championship Committee.
  2. Rules Committee's Avatar
    This rule will be modified in the 2018 rule book. Up until now, the decision to approve automatic splits has rested with the meet host, meet referee, and championship committee. A modification to 103.18.2 in the 2018 rule book will make the recording of automatic splits mandatory at national championships.