Rules & Regulations


Rules & Regulations

New for 2021-22 Approved HS Swimming/Diving Rules

Standing Forward Takeoffs Approved in High School Swimming and Diving Rules

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       Contact: Sandy Searcy

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 15, 2021) — In an effort to increase participation in high school swimming and diving, standing forward takeoffs have been approved, effective with the 2021-22 school year.

This significant addition to high school diving was one of several rules changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Swimming and Diving Rules Committee at its March 21-23 meeting held virtually this year. All of the committee’s recommended rules revisions were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

The addition to Rule 9-5-2 states that for standing takeoffs, “the diver will assume a starting position that includes an upright head and body with arms straight and in a position of the diver’s choice. The diver may move the arms to various preparatory positions provided there is no attempt to start the dive.”

The new language also notes that just before or after the starting position is assumed, the diver shall stop oscillating the board. For standing takeoffs, the diver cannot oscillate the board more than four times, cannot let one or both feet leave the board during an oscillation prior to the final spring from the board, and cannot permit an oscillation to be too large to disrupt the tempo of the dive.

“The standing forward takeoff is a critical part of the educational process in teaching new dives,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee. “This provision allows divers to participate in competition sooner, even if they have not mastered all parts of the dive, and it encourages growth in the sport.”

A new article in Rule 9-3 notes that if a diver elects to perform a standing forward takeoff, he or she must declare intent to the diving referee before performing the dive. When a diver performs a standing forward takeoff, a two-point penalty is assessed since all components of the dive are not being completed. In addition, if a diver doesn’t declare intent to perform a standing takeoff, it will be an unsatisfactory dive, and the diver will receive a score no higher than two points.

In other diving rules changes, Rule 9-2-1 now allows for diving boards to be open for practice during championship meets if breaks between sessions extend longer than 10 minutes – unless the meet director establishes specific guidelines prior to the start of competition. A change in Rule 3-3-5c now permits divers to use temporary adhesives during competitions.

In addition, a new Rule 9-6-4 states that if a dive is executed other than that which was announced, and is properly listed on the scoresheet, it will be judged as a correct dive and considered an announcer error. If the diver completes a dive as announced and it is determined that the announcer was in error, the diver will be allowed to immediately perform the correct dive.

Among changes in swimming rules, new Rule 3-3-5 permits competitors, for religious reasons, to wear suits that provide full body coverage without obtaining prior state association authorization – as long as the suit meet requirements in Rule 3-3-4b(1-3). The NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee is the fifth NFHS sports rules committee to adopt or adjust a rule this year related to the wearing of equipment for religious purposes.  

A revision in Rule 3-2-5 now states that in relays, the leadoff swimmer must be declared at the specified time and place prior to the start of the event. 

A complete listing of the swimming and diving rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Swimming and Diving.”

According to the most recent NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, swimming and diving is the 10th-most popular sport for boys with 136,638 participants in 7,704 schools, and the eighth-most popular sport for girls with 173,088 participants in 8,007 schools. 

Online link to article:




Bruce L. Howard

Director of Publications and Communications

Director, National High School Hall of Fame

P: (317) 822-5724

C: (317) 496-4140

A: PO Box 690 | Indianapolis, IN 46206

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2021-22 NFHS Rules Changes

Swimming and Diving Rules Changes - 2021-22

By NFHS on April 19, 2021


3-2-5Changes protocol for declaration of the lead-off swimmer in a relay to be submitted prior to the start of the event.  
Rationale:  The lead-off swimmer must be declared at the specified time and place prior to the start of the event, which is consistent with entry procedures for identification of all relay participants. 

3-3-5: Permits competitors to wear suits providing full body coverage for religious reasons.  
Rationale:  Eliminates the need for state association authorization of suits providing full body coverage. Added language allows for exercise of religious practice without creating a competitive advantage for the athlete.     

3-3-5b,c,d Permits the application of temporary adhesives for divers.  
Rationale:  Allows divers to protect themselves from hand slippage, minimizing risks for the diver.    

5-4-3 NOTE: Clarifies protocol for conducting swim-offs and what purposes the time can be used.  
Rationale:   Updated language clarifies the impact of the swim-off time on future seedings.     

9-2-1 During championship meets, new language establishes when diving boards should be open for practice if breaks between sessions extend longer than ten minutes.    
Rationale: Defines when diving boards shall be made available for practice during the break between sessions of a championship meet unless the meet director establishes specific guidelines prior to the start of competition.             

9-3-7 PENALTIES, 9-5-2, 9-5-5, 9-7-4f, 9-7-5k, 9-8-2c:  Permits standing forward takeoffs, clearly defining the proper procedure for performing a standing forward takeoff and the protocol for application of the mandatory two-point deduction.
Rationale: The standing forward takeoff is a critical part of the educational process in teaching new dives. This provision allows divers to participate in competition sooner and encourages growth in the sport.     

9-5-4b: Clarifies that only four oscillations are permitted before the diver leaves the board.
Rational: The removal of vague language clarifies the number of oscillations a diver may take while on the diving board.

9-6-4: Defines process to rectify announcing errors that occur during diving competition.
Rational: Language establishes protocol when an announcer error occurs. The diver should not be penalized for the error of meet personnel; the referee retains broad discretion to resolve such problems in the most equitable and efficient way possible.

1-4-2, 4-1-6, 4-4-1, 4-4-2, 4-5-1, 6-2-2, 6-4-1b(3), 8-3-3

2020-21 NFHS Rule Interpretations


Swimming and Diving Rule Interpretations - 2020-21

By NFHS on July 22, 2020 


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.

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, Publisher, NFHS Publications © 2020

SITUATION 1: In order to conduct a large invitational meet within limited pool availability, meet hosts utilize timed finals for all relays and the 500-yard freestyle event, while providing heats and finals for the remaining events. RULING: This is permissible. COMMENT: For multi-team meets, there is no prohibition on combining meet formats. Meet hosts may exercise this sort of flexibility, subject to state association policies, in order to create better competitive environments for athletes. (5-1-1)

SITUATION 2: Coaches from two schools decide to conduct a virtual dual meet and would like to utilize a 1,000-yard freestyle event instead of the 500-yard freestyle. RULING:Incorrect procedure. COMMENT: Virtual competitions may be conducted provided state association policy permits, and all NFHS Swimming and Diving rules regarding athlete entry, participation and conduct shall apply. Events may not be altered when conducting a dual meet.

SITUATION 3: In a championship diving competition, divers qualifying for the semifinal session are permitted to warm up before the start of that session; however, no warm-up is allowed between semifinals and finals. RULING: Legal. Warm-up immediately prior to the beginning of the preliminary session is required by rule; additional warm-up between other sessions is at the discretion of meet management. (9-2-1)

SITUATION 4: The referee is using an electronic whistle to signal swimmers to prepare for a heat and to “step up” or “step in.” RULING: Legal. COMMENT: Provided all participants are aware of the circumstances and are able to respond appropriately to the official’s signals, a human-blown whistle is not required.

2020-21 Comments on the Rules

Swimming & Diving Comments on the Rules - 2020-21

By NFHS on April 17, 2020 

1-1-1: The additional language provides clarity on what constitutes the end wall.  The 2019-20 rules book changed the definition of the finish of the race by permitting the swimmer to finish at the end wall, not the touchpad.  That change necessitated a more concise definition of the end wall. 

1-4-5, 1-4-6, 9-2-1, 9-41d, 9-4-2, 9-4-4, 9-4-5: The new articles clarify the difference between a dive round and a dive session.  Diving sessions refer to preliminary rounds, semifinal rounds or final rounds during an 11-dive competition.  After the end of each of these sessions, there is a natural break as scores are tabulated and cuts are made for the next session of competition.  Meet management may choose to permit divers to warm up during these breaks. 

3-3-3 NOTE, 3-3-4c: This rule is a clarification of what the swimming community may see on suits this fall as a result of a rule change made by USA Swimming.  A small check mark will be positioned next to the FINA marking on some suits and is not considered as an additional manufacturer’s logo or advertising.

6-3-2: A legal finish can be accomplished by touching any part of the end wall and the result achieved by that legal touch must be regarded as the official time for the event.  This rule change clarifies that other data points such as touchpad, buttons or stopwatches may need to be used by the referee to determine the swimmer’s time. 

6-3-4: The rule proposal more accurately describes the protocol for determining an official time when the competitor contacts the end wall and not the touchpad. The backup system, meaning backup buttons or stopwatches. may need to be used in situations where the swimmer does not activate the touchpad or the touchpad malfunctions.  This phrase clarifies conditions when the swimmer does not touch the touchpad initially.

9-3-3, 9-3-5: Headings were added to Rules 9-3-3 and 9-3-5 to help delineate the two-step process for a diver participating in a championship meet.  It is a two-step process of (1) entering the divers and swimmers into a culminating meet as part of a team entry submission, and (2) submitting the diving list/scoresheet at that time or a later time.  These headings and wording changes are simply clarifications of the process.

2021-22 Points of Emphasis

Swimming and Diving Points of Emphasis - 2021-22

By NFHS on April 19, 2021



  1. Suggested Meet Warm-up Procedures
  2. Responsibility of Official, Competitor, and Lap Counter in Distance Events
  3. Updating Diving Rules

2020-21 NFHS Swimming and Diving Uniform Rules

Rule 3‐3 Uniforms

ART. 1 . . . It is recommended all swimmers and divers on the team wear suits of identical coloring and pattern.

ART. 2 . . . Suits shall be of one piece. A competitor shall not be permitted to participate wearing a suit that is not of decent appearance. Males shall wear suits which cover the buttocks and shall not extend above the waist or below the top of the kneecap. Females shall wear suits which cover the buttocks and breasts and shall not extend beyond the shoulders or below the top of the kneecap, nor cover the neck.

PENALTIES: When an official discovers a competitor wearing illegal attire as described in Article 2, the official shall:

  1. when observed prior to the start of the heat/dive, notify the coach of the competitor to make the suitlegal before becoming eligible to compete. If the competitor cannot comply without delaying the startof the heat/ dive, the competitor is disqualified from that event/dive and shall not be eligible for furthercompetition until in a legal suit;
  2. when observed after the heat/dive officially begins, disqualify the competitor at the completion of theheat/dive; nullify the competitor's performance time/score and he/she shall not be eligible for furthercompetition until in a legal suit.


ART. 3 . . . The uniform consists of a suit and, if worn, cap(s).

  1. The suit or cap(s) may display the competitor's name, school name, school nickname and/or the school logo.
  2. Advertising or name other than that permitted in 3‐3‐3c is prohibited.
  3. A single visible manufacturer's logo/trademark/reference, no more thansquare inches with no dimension morethan inches is permitted on each item of the uniform .
  4. One American flag, not to exceed 2 inches by 3 inches, may be worn or occupy space on each item of uniformapparel. By state association adoption, to allow for special occasions, commemorative or memorial patches, not toexceed 4 square inches, may be worn on the uniform without compromising its integrity.

NOTE: The FINA mark, individual barcode and/or USA Swimming approved checkmark logo on certain suitsdesignating that the suit has been approved for FINA and/or USA Swimming competition is not considered to bea second manufacturer's logo nor a form of advertising. Such suits with a FINA marking and/or checkmark, ifotherwise legal, shall be legal for NFHS competition.

ART. 4 . . . Suits worn by swimmers (excluding divers) shall be limited to the following requirements:

  1. Only one suit shall be permitted in competition. (A swimmer with special needs may request forcustomization to the state association through his/ her school.)

b.   The suit shall be:
      1.   constructed of a woven/knit textile material; permeable (100 percent to air and water), except for
       one post‐construction, impermeable school name and/or logo which shall not exceed 9 square

      2.   made so as not to aid in buoyancy and shall not be altered to aid in buoyancy;

      3.   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); and

c.    Suits with a FINA marking, if otherwise legal, shall be legal for NFHS competition.


PENALTIES: When an official discovers a competitor wearing illegal attire as described in Articles 3 and 4,the official shall:

    1. when observed prior to the start of the heat/dive, notify the coach or the competitor to make the attirelegal before becoming eligible to compete. If the competitor cannot comply without delaying the start ofthe heat/ dive, the competitor is disqualified from the event/dive and shall not be eligible for furthercompetition until in legal attire;
    2. when observed after the heat/dive officially begins, disqualify the competitor at the completion
               of the heat/dive; nullify the competitor's performance time and he/she shall not be eligible for
            further competition until in legal attire.

ART. 5 . . . Competitors shall not wear or use any device or foreign substance to aid their speed, buoyancy or body compression. The following may be used within the stated conditions:

a.   A foreign substance may be applied if not considered excessive by the referee (if excessive, the
   referee shall require the competitor to remove it;

b.   Adhesives are not allowed for swimmers or divers;

c.    Divers may wear tape or wraps for support.

Tape may be used by a swimmer to treat a documented medical condition. The referee must be presentedsigned documentation from an appropriate health‐care professional before permitting the athlete to compete.

NOTE: Each state association may, in keeping with applicable laws, authorize exceptions to NFHS playing rules toprovide reasonable accommodations to individual participants with disabilities and/or special needs, as well asthose individuals with unique and extenuating circumstances. The accommodations should not fundamentallyalter the sport, heighten risk to the athlete/others or place opponents at a disadvantage.

PENALTY: When team personnel/competitor uses an unapproved artificial device during an event, thecompetitor(s) is disqualified from further competition.

NFHS Rule 3-3-2b(2) Clarification

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

Rules Related Materials

WI Adaptations to NFHS Rules

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

USA Swim Info

Submission of Times - Observed HS Swim Meet

Please email Sara Lanholt for information