Girls Swimming & Diving - Rules & Regulations

Rules and Regulations

The NFHS along with the WIAA offices continue to receive questions regarding the application of NFHS Rule 3-3-2b(2), school logo restrictions, to swimsuits with logos and mascots applied to the suit during construction.

A process known as "sublimation" allows colors, designs, prints, etc. to be dyed into the fabric to be used for suits in a pre-construction phase.  Using "sublimation," colors or designs, such as a school mascot, are dyed into the fabric and the textile material remains 100% permeable.

The restriction of a single, post-construction, impermeable school name or logo, not to exceed 9 square inches, does not apply to suits using sublimation for the process to include a school mascot, name and/or logo on the suit.  This means that if a school desires more than one logo, or a logo and school initials on their sublimated suits, this is legal and allowable.

The single, post-construction, impermeable school name or logo, not to exceed 9 square inches, only applies to post-construction logos which render the material to no longer be 100% permeable.

If you have any questions regarding this interpretation, Tom Shafranski, WIAA Assistant Director and Swimming/Diving Liaison, can be contacted at

Tom Shafranski, WIAA
Assistant Director

1-5-2, 3-6-1d: Deck changing has been defined as changing into or out of a swimsuit when wearing just one suit in an area other than a permanent or temporary locker room, bathroom, changing room or other space designated for changing purposes.  Incidents of deck changing will result in the assessment of an unsporting behavior penalty.

Rationale: High school athletes should not be changing into or out of swimsuits except in designated changing areas.

6-4-1b:  The protocol for determining an official time when a touch pad malfunctions on a lane was changed. Backup buttons and/or watch times, as outlined in the protocol, will now determine the official time. 

Rationale:  Research indicates that the current practice of calculating the average difference between the automatic and backup timing systems, and adjusting the backup time in the malfunctioning lane(s) does not improve the accuracy of the final time.  Utilizing backup times without adjustment results in a final time that is just as accurate and avoids an exercise which is both time-consuming and difficult to perform during a meet.

8-2-4c: The final leg of the individual medley and the medley relay requires the swimmer to be at or past vertical toward the breast before any stroke, kick or propulsive motion.

Rationale: This language clarifies the required body position during the final leg of the individual medley and the medley relay.

9-4 Table: The Flying Back 1 SS (212) and the Flying Reverse 1 SS (312) have been removed from the NFHS Diving Table, while new dive (5142) has been added.

Rationale: The added dive is an intermediate step to performing more difficult dives listed on the diving table.

9-5-5: The balk has been more clearly defined and should be called when a diver assumes the starting position and he/she makes an obvious attempt to start the approach or press, and stops the continuous execution of the dive prior to the water entry.

Rationale:  This rule change adds clarity and consistency to the balk call, requiring a diver to actually commence, then stop the dive.

9-7-5q: When using the forward approach, a dive is failed if, in the diving referee’s opinion, the diver performs an additional bounce(s) on the end of the board after the culminating hurdle.

Rationale: The forward approach shall begin with not less than three steps and finish with a hurdle, defined as a jump off one foot to a landing on both feet at the end of the board.  The diver should not be permitted to do an additional bounce prior to the take-off.   

2016-17  Major Editorial Changes

3-3-2c, 3-6-1 NOTE

2016-17  Points of Emphasis

1. Backstroke ledge - The backstroke ledge is currently prohibited in high school competition. High school swimmers will vary in skill levels, from those who are beginners to those who have extensive experience. The swimmers who are less experienced will demonstrate a wider variance in their ability to control their trajectory and depth when performing a backstroke start. Additional information is needed to determine whether the use of the backstroke ledge poses an increased risk to a high school swimmer performing a backstroke start.

2. Swimsuit fastening systems - Swimsuits that use a “fastening system” for closure, such as the tie back suit, are not permitted during competition. Rule 3-3-3b(4) states that the suit shall be made with no zippers or other fastening system other than a waist tie for a brief or jammer and elastic material within the casing/ribbing in the terminal ends (straps, leg openings and waist openings).

3. Designated areas for photographers - Guidelines for photographer access should be clearly defined prior to the swimming and diving event. It is recommended that state associations and event hosts consider the areas, and specifically the angles, for photography of swimmers that they consider appropriate/inappropriate and set reasonable guidelines.  Due to swimmer attire and the starting positions in the sport, media access in the starting area may not be fitting. If a designated media area is used, it should be established before the meet begins.  It may be more appropriate for photographers to be limited to areas adjacent to the starting area (starting area is defined as that behind the blocks). When there is not a designated area for press/media or others, photographers can be limited to taking photos from the side and/or the end of the competition pool.

Publisher’s Note: The National Federation of State High School Associations is the only source of official high school interpretations. They do not set aside nor modify any rule. They are made and published by the NFHS in response to situations presented.
Robert B. Gardner, Publisher, NFHS Publications © 2015

Corrections to Rules Book: (Underlining shows additions; strikethrough shows deletions.)

Page 36, 4-1-7, It is recommended required that the officials dress uniformly… ; Page 40, 4-3-1   NOTE: “ . . .capable of discharging live ammunition. . .”

SITUATION 1: The visiting team’s coach is concerned that the host school has more restrictive warm-up guidelines than those listed in the NFHS Suggested Meet Warm-up Procedures. The coach addresses the concern with the meet director. RULING: Incorrect procedure. COMMENTS: It is very important that a warm-up procedure is in place for all meets with a significant focus on risk minimization. However, the NFHS Suggested Meet Warm-up Procedures are just guidelines, and an individual school or state association may have other policies in place. (NFHS Suggested Meet Warm-up Procedures)

SITUATION 2: The first two competitors for Team A report for their events sporting an American flag on their suits. The flag is no larger than 2x3 inches. The referee requests a letter of authorization from the coach for permission to wear the flag. RULING: Incorrect procedure. COMMENT: Only commemorative or memorial patches must have approval from the state association to be worn on the suit or cap. The American flag requires no permission as long as it does not exceed the size requirements. (3-3-2d)

SITUATION 3: The meet referee has announced that no jewelry shall be permitted to be worn without penalty of disqualification from the event of the competitor. The coach of Team A requests the referee rescind this prohibition as the NFHS rules no longer prohibit the wearing of jewelry and there is no state association policy that prohibits. The referee rescinds this statement. RULING: Correct procedure, wearing of jewelry is no longer prohibited. (3-3-5)

SITUATION 4: An official moves into a new state and registers as a swimming and diving official. In preparation for the season, the individual notices the officials’ uniform consists of khaki pants and blue shirt. The official contacts the state association office to confirm the officials’ uniform is not all white. The uniform is confirmed as khaki and blue. RULING: Correct procedure. COMMENT: The default uniform is no longer white, but those colors specified by the state association. (4-1-7)

SITUATION 5: At the swimming and diving conference meet, the referee and starter agree it would be best to have the starter designate an individual on deck to sound the designated device in the 500-yard freestyle. The starter confirms the designee and reviews that the device is sounded when the lead swimmer has two lengths plus 5 yards remaining in the race. RULING: Correct procedure. (4-3-1b)

SITUATION 6: At the state championship meet, during the coaches meeting, the meet director confirms there shall be a seven judge panel for diving and the diving referee is separate from the panel. RULING: Correct procedure. COMMENT: The diving referee may or may not be a part of the judging panel. (9-6-1)

SITUATION 7: During the 500-yard freestyle, the meet referee notices the lap counters provided by the host school appear to be unprepared for their responsibilities. At the end of the meet, the referee discusses this matter with the head coach of the host school who believed any training was to come from the referee. The referee explains it is the responsibility of the school coach to arrange for thorough training of the individuals to serve as lap counters. RULING: Correct procedure. (Points of Emphasis)

Printable Version -- Please print and place in your rule book for future reference.


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Athletic Association
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