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Breaststroke Rule Clarified in High School Swimming

Posted: 04-18-2012 | Categories: Swimming - Boys, Swimming - Girls

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 18, 2012) — New language was added to the breaststroke event in high school swimming that will help officials judge the initiation of the arm stroke permitted by rule on the start or turn.

The revised rule will state that “the initiation of such arm stroke shall be accomplished by a discernible horizontal separation of the hands.”

This clarification of the breaststroke event was one of five rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Swimming and Diving Rules Committee at its March 25-27 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“By stating that there must be a discernible horizontal separation of the hands, it should more clearly define the initiation of the arm stroke,” said Becky Oakes, NFHS director of sports and staff liaison to the Swimming and Diving Rules Committee. “This change will help officials in more fairly judging the beginning of the arm stroke.”

In the backstroke, a slight change was made to Rule 8-2-1f to permit a swimmer to lift the head to begin the rotation necessary to start a flip turn. The addition of the word “upward” provides clarification for legality of the turn. Oakes said this change should help avoid unwarranted disqualifications.

In Rule 3-3-2, it now clearly states the penalty for wearing illegal attire, such as an illegally marked swimming cap. Previously, a specific penalty was not associated with illegal attire.

When an official discovers a competitor wearing illegal attire as described in Article 2, the official shall, when observed prior to the start of the heat/dive, notify the competitor to make legal the attire before becoming eligible to compete. If the competitor cannot comply without delaying the start of the heat/dive, the competitor is disqualified from the event/dive and shall not be eligible for further competition until in legal attire.

If the illegal attire is discovered after the heat/dive officially begins, the official shall disqualify the competitor at the completion of the heat/dive, nullify the competitor’s performance time/score and the competitor shall not be eligible for further competition until in legal attire.

One change in diving rules was approved by the committee. While rules provide two options for establishing the order of divers in championship meets (by lot or by seeding), the default method for determining the order of the diving competition shall be by lot in those cases where there has been no action by the meet director.
Swimming and diving ranks No. 10 in popularity among boys sports with 133,900, according to the 2010-11 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the NFHS. The sport ranks eighth among girls programs with 160,881 participants.


About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.6 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS Web site at

Bruce Howard or John Gillis, 317-972-6900
National Federation of State High School Associations
PO Box 690, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206 or

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