Boys Swimming & Diving - Rules & Regulations

Rules and Regulations

Rule 1: Rule 1 has been reorganized to more accurately reflect and define meet specifications and organization.

Rationale: Clarifies and consolidates terminology and reorganizes sections to reflect the order in which rules appear in the rules book.

2-4-5: The 16.4-yard/15-meter marks must be visible on both sides of the pool deck.

Rationale: Although markings may be integrated into each lane marker/lane line, because the position of such floats are often irregular, the marks on the sides of the pool are the uniform default marking for all lanes.

2-7-2b: Backstroke starting ledges are not permitted in high school swimming.  

Rationale: Clarifies that backstroke starting ledges are prohibited in high school swimming due to risk minimization.    

2-7-2c (NEW), 2-7-3: Options for starting platform malfunctions are provided, and direction for malfunctioning swimming equipment has been re-organized.

Rationale:  Clarifies directives when swimming equipment malfunctions or is non-compliant.  

4-2-1d: The referee shall conduct a pre-meet conference with the starter, the coach and the captain of each team for all non-championship meets.

Rationale: Emphasizesthe importancethat participants are aware of all details associated with the event.                                  

4-5-3, 4-7: The responsibilities of stroke inspectors and turn/finish judges can now be combined by the referee.  

Rationale: Specifies when the availability of officials is limited, the referee has the option to staff the deck effectively and efficiently with available officials. 

5-1-2a: In non-championship meets, thedivingeventmaybe held first, last or simultaneously with the swimming events, in addition to the traditional placement as Event 5 between the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly.

Rationale: Allows for flexibility in conducting the diving event within the dual meet program which will permit more options for competing teams. 

5-3, 5-3-NOTE (NEW): Section 5-3 has been updated to provide lane and heat assignment protocol from the dual meet to the championship meet.  

Rationale: Clarifies direction for situations in which the number of teams and/or entries cannot be equally divided into the number of available lanes. 

5-4-2: New language provides scoring protocol based on pool facilities with differing numbers of available lanes.  

Rationale: Clarifies protocol for number of qualifiers and scoring for facilities that have 4, 6, 8, 9, or 10 lanes available.   

9-4-6 NOTE 2 (NEW): The NOTE clarifies that it is permissible to conduct eleven-dive competitions during dual meets, double-dual meets, and other non-championship multi-team meets. 

Rationale: Provides for additional options for competitors to prepare for tournament series events.

Major Editorial Changes

2-6: Reorganizes water condition requirements and provides directives for non-compliant conditions.      

2-7-9, 7-2-5: 
Clarifies the recommendation for posting team scores through a meet.

4-1-2: Clarifies that a meet committee and meet director are only required for championship meets.  Other meets are administered by the referee or other officials appropriate to the type of meet.

8-3-3 NOTE: Instruction for the starting procedure during a backstroke relay was moved to a NOTE, as this is not an NFHS event.  The NOTE can provide the guidance that may be needed.

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 © 2017

SITUATION 1: A school hosts a “last-chance” meet to allow athletes who have not achieved a qualifying time/score an opportunity to qualify for the state championship meet. The state association wants to use the preliminaries and finals format, but not use the rules applicable to championship meets. RULING: Correct procedure. COMMENT: State associations may determine which meets are championship meets. (1-3-12)

SITUATION 2: In a non-championship meet, Team A, which only has five eligible swimmers, submits an entry that provides for each swimmer to swim two individual events and, in addition, enters a team in each of the three relay events. The meet director informs Team A that its entry is inaccurate as there are not enough eligible competitors to fill all three relays without two of the competitors exceeding their permitted maximum number of events, and requests that the entry be corrected before the deadline of entry submittal. Team A does not modify its entry. The referee informs Team A prior to the start of the meet that the third relay team (the 400-yard freestyle relay) will be permitted to compete, but will ultimately be disqualified for exceeding the event limit. RULING: Correct procedure. To field a team of four in the 400-yard freestyle relay, two of the competitors would be competing in their fifth event. (3-2-1, 3-2-2, PENALTY 1)

SITUATION 3: At the regional meet where participants qualify for the state championship meet, School A’s 200-yard medley relay team wins the event and secures that region’s entry at the state meet the following week. Swimmer A-3 is unable to participate because the meet is held the same weekend as the state one-act play competition. The coach of School B, which finished second, requests that the team from School A be disqualified and the region entry given to School B because one of the swimmers who earned the School A time will not be at the state meet. RULING: Incorrect procedure. COMMENT: Relay times belong to the school not the athletes who swam the event. Provided that there were other eligible athletes entered in the relay, and state association entry rules permitted, the relay would be allowed to advance. (3-2-3)

SITUATION 4: During the 500-yard freestyle, the lap counter inadvertently dropped the lap counting device into the pool. She takes no further action while the race progresses and makes no attempt to provide a verbal count to the competitor. The lane judge disqualifies the swimmer in that lane from the event and disqualifies the lap counter from her next event. RULING: Incorrect procedure. COMMENT: No violation occurs
when the lap counting device is inadvertently dropped, provided that the lap counter does not enter the pool to retrieve it until after the race is completed and only after securing permission from the referee. (3-4)

SITUATION 5: During the 500-yard freestyle, the lap counter shows something other than the fluorescent orange card for the last turn of the race. The turn judge disqualifies the swimmer in that lane from the event
and disqualifies the lap counter from her next event. RULING: Incorrect procedure. COMMENT: While the fluorescent orange card typically is shown prior to the swimmer’s last turn, it is not a requirement. (3-4)

SITUATION 6: In a dual meet, Swimmer A participates on the winning 200-yard medley relay team and places second in the 200-yard individual medley. Just prior to her 100-yard backstroke race, she is observed by the referee performing a deck change into a different competition suit. The referee immediately disqualifies her from participation in the 100-yard backstroke and 400-yard freestyle events, and also disqualifies the 200-yard medley relay and forfeits her place and participation in the 200-yard individual medley, making adjustments in the placing/scoring for both events. RULING: Incorrect procedure. COMMENT: While the removal of the swimmer from the backstroke and relay events is correct, there is no provision in the penalty for unsporting conduct for nullification of previous performances. However, had this been a preliminaries and finals meet and the infraction had occurred during the preliminaries round, barring Swimmer A from participation in the finals round, including in events for which previously qualified, would be correct. (3-6-1 PENALTY)

SITUATION 7: In the finals of a championship meet, Swimmer A has competed in the 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard individual medley, scoring points in both events. Just prior to her 100-yard backstroke
finals, she is observed by the referee performing a deck change into a different competition suit. The referee removes her from the backstroke event and also the 400-yard freestyle relay but does not adjust her prior
performances. RULING: Correct procedure. COMMENT: The offending swimmer is removed from the remainder of the meet. In the backstroke event, re-seeding should occur if possible (if the consolation heat has
not already been completed) to fill all lanes. In the relay, her team may compete if an eligible alternate is available to take her place. (3-6-1)

SITUATION 8: Swimmer C, who is competing in the finals of the conference championship meet, completes his event and looks up at the scoreboard and realizes he has won the event in a personal best time. He does a fist pump, shouts “YES!” and slaps the water before turning to congratulate the swimmers in the adjacent lanes. The finish judge raises his arm signaling a disqualification under the conduct rule, arguing that personal celebration is a form of taunting and thus constitutes unsporting conduct. The referee overrules the disqualification. RULING: Correct procedure. COMMENT: NFHS rules define unsporting behavior as making insulting or derogatory remarks, gestures or acts. Celebrating a personal achievement in the manner described does not rise to the level defined. (3-6-1 NOTE)

SITUATION 9: In a championship meet, the referee raises her hand after the second relay exchange in Lane 4 and declares that the feet of Swimmer A-3 left the surface of the block prior to the touch of Swimmer A-2. RULING: Incorrect procedure. COMMENT:Championship meets require the use of dual confirmation relay takeoff judging for which the protocol requires that no signal occur until after the last competitor in the heat is in the water. Only if the side judge and the takeoff judge have recorded the same takeoff violation shall a disqualification occur. (4-6-4)

SITUATION 10: When using electronic relay judging equipment, a relay exchange disqualification is called when the violation is confirmed by one official and the electronic equipment. RULING: Correct Procedure. (4-6-4, Appendix B)

SITUATION 11: In the 200-yard individual medley event, the swimmer, while finishing the backstroke leg, crosses his lead arm across his chest and, in doing so, before the lead hand touches the wall, the shoulders rotate past the vertical plane. An official disqualifies the swimmer for the position of the body during the finish of the leg. RULING: Correct procedure. COMMENT: The position of the body for the backstroke requires that the shoulders do not turn over beyond the vertical plane except while executing a turn. The 200-yard individual medley requires that the swimmer finish each section in accordance with the finish rule that applies to that stroke. (8-2-1b, 8-2-5, 8-2-5 PENALTY)

SITUATION 12: Diver A, performing a dive requiring a forward approach from the starting position, takes two steps followed by a leap and a forward hurdle to the end of the board executed from one foot into the takeoff, which occurs from both feet simultaneously. The diving referee deducts two points from each judge’s score for a violation of the forward approach. RULING: Incorrect procedure. COMMENT: The diver must take three steps, hops, leaps and/or jumps before the culminating hurdle. (9-5-2)

1-3-12 - Due to the variations in conference, league and post-season championships within states, it is appropriate for the respective state association to determine which meets shall be considered as culminating meets, and therefore, which meets utilize the championship meet format.  The championship meet format prescribes specific rules associated with team and individual entries, dual confirmation, declared false starts, and applicable penalties for violation of these rules.  Non-culminating meets may also be conducted under championship meet format and are subject to all rules for a championship meet.  The designation of “championship” or “non-championship” meet should be clearly identified in the meet information.

3-3-2a - The NFHS is in the process of establishing consistent language for all sports that describes what information is permitted on the uniform.  The language specifies that competitor’s name, school name, school nickname and/or the school logo can be placed on the uniform, which, in swimming and diving, consists of the suit and the cap.   

2-7-6, 3-4 - Lap counters may now be permitted to count the competitor’s laps by changing the number to the next higher or lower number, as the competitor makes each turn at the starting end.  Regardless of whether the count is given in ascending or descending order, the florescent card should be shown to indicate the final length of the race.  This new rule allows lap counting to be either sequentially up or down, or not at all, depending on the preference of the swimmer.  This practice permits flexibility and is in keeping with the current trends of the sport.

3-6, 4-1-8 - Separating, reformatting and reorganizing this rule makes the various potential conduct issues within a meet easier to compare and categorize for appropriate action and/or penalty.  Rule 3 was reorganized to provide consistency and clarity for penalties associated with various competitor and/or meet personnel conduct.  In addition, language prohibiting an official’s use of tobacco at the competition site was added to Rule 4-1-8.

4-6-4 - Dual confirmation for relay takeoffs is now required for all championship meets.Dual confirmation can be accomplished either (a) by two side judges observing the entire field or (b) by a combination of side and lane judges.  The referee and the starter may serve as the relay takeoff judges as well.  All judges shall first observe the foot/feet of the departing swimmer and then the touch of the incoming swimmer.  All observed violations must be recorded in writing (lane number and swimmer number); the appropriate signal must also be given. A disqualification is imposed only when both judges record the same early take off on the same swimmer and lane.  It is not required to assign takeoff judges to each lane; however, if sufficient qualified judges are available, doing so constitutes a best practice.

8-3-5c, 4-6-1
 – On relays, the second, third and fourth swimmers are prohibited from taking off from the top of the starting block wedge.  Competitors must have at least one foot in contact with the starting platform in front of the starting block wedge during takeoff.  The responsibility to observe this aspect of this takeoff falls under the relay takeoff judge’s jurisdiction, and does not require dual confirmation.

– The word “additional” was removed from the description of the forward approach and the hurdle, because of confusion about whether hops, leaps and/or jumps can be included in the three required steps. This clarifies the intent for hops, leaps and/or jumps to count toward the three-step requirement.

1. Suit Coverage

  1. 2. Guidelines on Handling Contests During Lightning or Thunder Disturbances
  2. 3. Officials Retention and Recruitment
  3. 4. Scratch/Declared False Starts/Failing to Compete

In August 2016, each state association administrator responsible for swimming and diving received a memo from the NFHS office regarding an editorial change that was made to Rule 3-3-2c for the 2016-17 NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Book.  The change clarifies that a single visible manufacturer’s logo/trademark/reference, no more than 2-1/4 square inches with no dimension more than 2-1/4 inches is permitted on each item of the uniform.  The underlined phrase that was added to the rule had been inadvertently omitted in a previous edition of the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Book.   


It has come to our attention that at least one manufacturer was not notified about the editorial change in a timely manner.  While their current manufacturer’s logo meets the size specifications listed in the above rule for the 2015-16 season, it does not meet Rule 3-3-2c criteria including the editorial change that was made for the 2016-17 season.  Therefore, the NFHS will provide a one year extension concerning the size restrictions relative to the manufacturer’s logo.  To reiterate, a single visible manufacturer’s logo/trademark/reference, no more than 2-1/4 square inches is permitted on each item of the uniform through the 2016-17 season. 


Please inform your constituents of this change, as there may some swimsuits that do not meet newly revised NFHS logo size requirements for 2016-17. The logo must be measured when the swimsuit or cap is not being worn.  

If you have any questions, please contact our offices.

Kim Y. Adams

Assistant to the Directors of Sports and Sports Medicine

National Federation of State High School Associations

PO Box 690 | Indianapolis, IN 46206

(317) 972-6900

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

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


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