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2023-24 NFHS Rules Changes

Swimming and Diving Rules Changes - 2023-24     By NFHS on April 26, 2023

3-3 Note:  Moves the note to the beginning of Section 3 and adds language prohibiting accommodations altering compression, buoyancy, or competitive advantage. 
Rationale: The section will make it clear this provision applies to all articles in Section 3.

3-3-2: Removes language which specifies that a competitor shall only be able to compete in a suit that is of decent appearance.     
Rationale: Eliminates the subjectivity of “decent appearance” for an official when making an illegal suit determination. 

8-1-3d PENALTY 2, 8-1-6 PENALTY: Added the requirement of a written record for dual confirmation of a false start.
Rationale: The change aligns language with the current requirement that when dual confirmation is used,  the relay takeoff judges are required to report in writing any violations to the referee.

8-2-1g: Removes the language about some part of the body at or above the surface during a backstroke finish.
Rationale: The change aligns with national trends, allows the official to concentrate on the backstroke finish (wall touch), and may prevent lunging at the wall which reduces risk.

8-2-2d-h: Requires the arms and legs to move simultaneously but does not require the arms and legs to be in the same horizontal plane. Also requires separation of the hands during the touch at turns and finish.
Rationale: Changes provide clarity, consistency, and alignment with national trends and do not provide a competitive advantage.

8-2-3c, e, g: Requires the separation of hands and a simultaneous touch with the hands during the turns and finish. 
Rationale: Changes provide clarity, consistency, and alignment with national trends and do not provide a competitive advantage.

9-5 Diving Table: Removes dives 104A, 304A and 402A from the Diving Table.
Rationale: When each dive is performed slightly short of vertical, the diver’s head may be precariously close to the diving board. The risk of hitting the board in these cases is far greater than other dives on the table.  

9-7-4c: Adds a penalty for when a diver’s head is too close to the diving board. The diving referee shall make the determination and inform diving judges to score the dive as unsatisfactory.
Rationale: Minimizes the risk factor of the diver performing the dive in a way that brings the diver’s head too close to the board.
 


2023-24 SWIMMING AND DIVING EDITORIAL CHANGES
2-4-2, Table 2-1, 5-2, 5-3-6, Appendix B
 

2023-24 SWIMMING AND DIVING POINTS OF EMPHASIS

  1. Risk Minimization
  2. National Trends
  3. Participant and Spectator Unsporting Conduct
  4. Designated Areas for Photographers

Risk Minimization Focus of 2023-24 High School S/D

Risk Minimization Focus of 2023-24 High School Swimming and Diving Rules Changes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Sandy Searcy

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 13, 2023) — Swimming stroke changes and a new penalty for close diving board proximity stand out among the high school swimming and diving rules changes approved for the 2023-24 school year.

Risk minimization was a top priority, leading to eight rules changes brought forth by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Swimming and Diving Rules Committee, which held its annual meeting March 19-21 at the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. The NFHS Board of Directors approved all eight rule change submissions.

Several technical rules changes were made to breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly. “We removed rules that do not present a competitive advantage, are rarely seen today, and make sense for high school swimmers,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee.

            Backstroke swimmers are now permitted to submerge at the backstroke flags and be completely underwater at the finish due to changes in Rule 8-2-1g. The change allows the official to concentrate on the finish at the wall and aligns with national trends. The rule applies to all backstroke finishes including the medley relay and the individual medley.

            Changes to breaststroke (Rule 8-2-2d-h) and butterfly (Rule 8-2-3c, e, g) provide clarity, consistency and remove elements of the turn and finish which were difficult to officiate. Alterations are not expected to provide a competitive advantage for athletes.

            “Factors at the forefront of our discussions were fair play, risk minimization and awareness of national trends,” said Rod Garman, chair of the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee and assistant executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association.

            A penalty will now be imposed if the diver’s head is too close to the diving board according to changes in Rule 9-7-4C. A penalty was already in place for when a diver hit the board. Diving referees will determine the new penalty call and should sit in line with the end of the board to see where divers enter the water in relation to the board.

“We wanted to make it clear that safety is paramount and that we have a penalty in place that elevates the divers’ and coaches’ awareness of entering the water from an appropriate distance from the board,” Searcy said. “It is important that the NFHS provide educational resources to illustrate what is too close and specify the referee’s vantage-point.”

Three diving positions were removed with changes to Rule 9-5. The committee determined that performing these dives in the straight position was too dangerous at the high school level due to the close placement of the diver’s head in relation to the board. The difficulty level was such that divers were not typically performing the dives, according to Searcy.

Finally, an editorial change was made to Rules 3-3 and 3-3-2 to clarify uniform accommodations related to suit permeability, compression and buoyancy.

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

According to the 2021-22 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, swimming and diving is the 10th-most popular sport for boys with 123,208 participants in 7,831 schools, and the eighth-most popular sport for girls with 149,751 participants in 8,079 schools. 

Pool Markings Focal Point for 2022-23

NEWS RELEASE

Pool Markings Focal Point of 2022-23 High School

Swimming and Diving Rules Changes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 19, 2022) — A collection of new markings for pool facilities constructed or renovated after January 1, 2023, stands out among the high school swimming and diving rules changes approved for the 2022-23 school year.

The markings, placed in a Table within Rule 2-4, were the most notable of the three rules changes brought forth by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Swimming and Diving Rules Committee, which held its annual meeting March 20-22 at the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. The NFHS Board of Directors accepted all three rule change submissions.

The table includes four new measurements that constitute changes of the width of the line along the pool bottom, longer cross lines, shorter end wall targets below the water, and an exact listing for the distance between the end of the line on the pool bottom and the end wall.

The width of that line can now be anywhere from 8 to 12 inches rather than the previous range of 10 to 12 inches. The cross line has been extended from 36 inches to 3 feet, 4 inches (1 meter); the end wall targets below the water have been reduced from 3 feet, 6 inches to 3 feet, 4 inches (1 meter); and the space between the end of the pool line and the end wall should now be 6 feet, 7 inches (2 meters).

“Nationally recognized standards for newly constructed or renovated facilities after January 1, 2023, provides consistency for high school swimming,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee. “Facilities constructed prior to this date will remain in compliance in accordance with current specifications and will not require prior mutual consent of the competing teams unless state association regulations determine otherwise.”

Updated dimensions pertaining to the non-slip surface on the end wall were written into Rule 2-3-1. In addition to reaching 0.8 meters (2 feet, 7½ inches) below the water level, the non-slip surface should also extend at least 2 inches above the water beginning with the 2022-23 season. Additional new language in Rule 2-3-1 reads: “for pools constructed or renovated after January 1, 2023, it is recommended the end walls extend no less than 0.8 meters (2 feet 7½ inches) below and no more than 0.3 meters (12 inches) above the water surface.

Finally, an editorial change was made to Rule 2-4-4, as it no longer includes the information referencing end wall height above the water now found in Rule 2-3-1.

A complete listing of the swimming and diving rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. 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

2023-24 NFHS Rule Interpretations

 

Swimming and Diving Rule Interpretations - 2023-24

By NFHS on July 17, 2023

 

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 © 2023

SITUATION 1: Prior to the beginning of the meet, a coach presents to the meet referee a female competitor wearing a wetsuit because of a modesty issue. The referee does not permit the swimmer to compete wearing the wetsuit. RULING: Correct procedure. An accommodation may not fundamentally alter the sport, heighten risk to the athlete/others or place opponents at a disadvantage. Any approved suit accommodation must be constructed with a woven/knit textile material, permeable 100% to air and water, and not aid speed, buoyancy or body compression. (3-3 NOTE)

SITUATION 2: In a dual meet, an infraction/ false start is observed by both the referee and the starter. The false start is identified in writing by the referee but not the starter. No infraction/ false start is charged. RULING: Incorrect procedure. In championship meets, dual confirmation in writing by the starter and referee is required. Dual confirmation in writing is not required during dual meets unless it is specified in the meet announcement that the meet is being conducted under championship meet rules. (8-1-3d PENALTY 2)

SITUATION 3: As the backstroke swimmer approaches the wall to finish the event, the swimmer’s head passes the flags and the swimmer submerges and dolphin-kicks to the wall. The meet referee disqualifies the swimmer because of the forward propulsion caused by the underwater kick. RULING: Incorrect ruling. Once some part of the swimmer’s head has passed the backstroke flags, the swimmer may partially or completely submerge and continue kicking until touching the wall. (8-2-1g)

SITUATION 4: In the 200-yard individual medley, a swimmer approaches the wall to finish the backstroke leg. After the swimmer’s head passes the backstroke flags, the swimmer submerges and dolphin-kicks to the wall. The swimmer is disqualified because of re-submerging at the backstroke flags. RULING: Incorrect ruling. Each leg of the 200-yard individual medley must be finished in accordance with the finish rule that applies to each stroke. Once some part of the swimmer’s head has passed the backstroke flags, the swimmer may partially or completely submerge and continue kicking until touching the wall. (8-2-1g, 8-2-5)

SITUATION 5: During the 100-yard breaststroke, the meet referee notices that the swimmer’s arms are not in the same horizontal plane while executing the initial arm pull after the start. The meet referee disqualifies the swimmer. RULING: Incorrect ruling. NFHS rules no longer require that a competitor’s arms move in the same horizontal plane while swimming the breaststroke or the butterfly. However, arm movements must still be simultaneous. (8-2-2d)

SITUATION 6: Prior to the diving event, the diving referee asks to be seated in line with the end of the diving board. The host coach refuses to allow this to happen, stating that their diving coach always sits in that position. The diving referee insists on being seated in line with the end of the diving board. RULING: Correct procedure. The diving referee is responsible for determining if the diver’s head is too close to the board as it passes the horizontal plane, and therefore, it is strongly recommended that the diving referee shall be seated in line with the end of the board to have an accurate line of site for judging this new requirement. (9-7-4c)

2023-24 Comments on the Rules

Swimming and Diving Comments on the Rules - 2023-24

By NFHS on July 7, 2023 

3-3 NOTE - Moving the note to the beginning of the section will make it clear this provision applies to all articles in Section 3. Requests to state associations for waivers of Rule 3-3 are driven by a wide range of motivations, including the need for additional physical support and desire for additional body coverage. Some suit design parameters can be waived while others cannot be altered without creating a competitive advantage for the athlete.  

3-3-2 - The concept of “decent appearance” is highly subjective.  Removing the sentence in the rule, which specifies that a competitor shall only be able to compete in a suit that is of decent appearance, eliminates the subjectivity of “decent appearance” for an official when making an illegal suit determination. 

8-1-3d PENALTY 2, 8-1-6 PENALTY - The requirement of a written record for dual confirmation of a false start is consistent with the already existing requirement for relay takeoff violations. The change provides an additional level of accountability. Adopting this new requirement will closely align it with the current requirement that, when dual confirmation is used,  the officials are required to report in writing any violations to the referee.

8-2-1g - Removing the language about some part of the body at or above the surface may prevent lunging immediately prior to the finish, which reduces risk. The change aligns with national trends and allows the official to concentrate on the backstroke finish. The backstroke flags are positioned at the 5-yard mark in 25-yard pools and at the 5-meter mark in 25-meter facilities and shall be used as the point where the swimmer may resubmerge once their head is at or beyond this mark.  

8-2-2d-h - Changes provide clarity, consistency and alignment with national trends and do not provide a competitive advantage. The rule now requires the arms and legs to move simultaneously but does not require the arms and legs to be in the same horizontal plane. The specific effect of this change will now permit swimmers to begin their pullout without being perfectly level on the breast. Removal of the phrase addressing knee flexion and extension during the kick creates more clarity for officials. Separation of the hands during the touch at turns and finish is now required.  

8-2-3c, e, g - Changes provide clarity, consistency and alignment with national trends and do not provide a competitive advantage. Separation of the hands during the touch at turns and finish is now required.  

9-5 Diving Table - Risk minimization for the athlete is emphasized with the removal of these three dives in the straight position. When each dive is performed slightly short of vertical, the diver’s head may be precariously close to the diving board. The risk of hitting the board in these cases is far greater than any other dive on the chart.  

9-7-4c - Addition of this element provides the diving referee with a sanction that is imposed to encourage diver safety and minimize the risk factor of the diver performing the dive in a way that brings the diver’s head too close to the board (within 6 inches). A dive that is performed with the diver’s head unsafely close to the board is at least equally important as a diver touching the board with their hands or feet. In keeping with national trends, NFHS rules focus on preventing the diver’s head from coming too close to the board. The diving referee will be responsible for making the call and will instruct judges to score a maximum of two points. The diving referee shall be seated in line with the end of the board to have an accurate line of site for judging this new requirement.

2023-24 Points of Emphasis

Swimming and Diving Points of Emphasis - 2023-24

By NFHS on April 26, 2023 

  1. Risk Minimization
  2. National Trends
  3. Participant and Spectator Unsporting Conduct
  4. Designated Areas for Photographers

2022-23 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 legal attire;
  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 legal attire.

 

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;

      2.   permeable (100 percent to air and water), except for one post‐construction, impermeable school name and/or logo which shall not exceed 9 square inches;

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

      4.   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 . . . For religious reasons, suits providing full-body coverage are permitted. The suit must meet requirements of 3-3-4b(1-3). If a competitor’s suit does not meet rule specifications, the referee must notify the state association following the completion of the contest.

ART. 6 . . . 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;

c.    Divers may wear tape or wraps for support and may also use temporarily applied adhesives.

d.   Tape may be used by a swimmer to treat a documented medical condition. The referee must be presented signed 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.

ART. 7 . . . Prior to the meet, the coach shall verify with the meet referee that all competitors are legally attired.

NOTE: Religious and medical-alert medals are not required to be taped to the body. It is recommended the medical alert itself is visible to assist in care by a health-care professional.

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 tshafranski@wiaawi.org.
 
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.

NFHS Rule 8-3-4c Clarification

Question:

Swimmer two in the 200 freestyle relay started with one foot behind the wedge and one foot in front of the wedge, stepping over the wedge with her back foot as she moved forward for a legal relay exchange. The wedge was 2/3 of the way to the back on the block.  Neither foot was on the wedge and both feet were on the surface of the starting block.  Rule 8-3-4c, page 68, does not seem to prohibit this action.  But some of our officials thought it was an unsafe act, and therefore should result in disqualification.  According to the girl who did this at our clinic, it was allowed at the state USA (club) meet.  Because were use NFHS rules, that don't address this action, is it legal?

 

Response:  

Starting wedges are permitted by rule 2.7.2. Relay exchanges are governed by rule 8.3.   8.3.4 provides that moving from the back to the front of the starting platform is permitted.  8.3.4 c requires the swimmers in relay starts to have at least one foot in contact with the surface of the starting platform in front of the wedge during takeoff.

While the use of wedges may be unsafe, the rules permit wedges to be installed. There is no rule prohibiting the movement of the contestant from the back to the front of the starting platform during relay exchanges/starts.

There are many risky components in a swim and dive meet. Use of starting platforms may be considered ‘high risk’ in some one’s opinion. We don’t prohibit use of these platforms since the rules provide for its use.

While risk minimization is paramount in high school sports, we permit coaches and athletes to determine the safest practices in the pool arena. 

We cannot prohibit use of starting platforms or wedges that are allowed by rule. 

Meet Official Responsibilities and Communication Clarified in HS Swimming and Diving Rules

Meet Official Responsibilities and Communication Clarified in High School Swimming and Diving Rules

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE         Contact: Sandy Searcy

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (April 11, 2024) — Language in the 2024-25 NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Book will be changed in an effort to ensure consistent notification protocols when violations regarding swimming attire are detected.

This revision was one of two changes recommended by the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee at its March 17-19 meeting in Indianapolis. All changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

The change comes in conjunction with one of the committee’s fundamental goals, which is to increase communication between coaches and officials to promote the flow of a swim meet.

“One thing I love about the committee is all the different perspectives, from coaches representation to officials representation and even administrative representation,” said Rod Garman, chair of the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee and assistant executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association. “I think our sport is in a great spot.”

In Rule 4-4-2e, language was changed to bring the rule in line when violations of Rule 3-3-2 are detected. Rule 3-3-2 describes the types of legal suits for males and females. According to the new language, the referee shall advise the coach that the swimmer may not compete until their suit is made legal.

This change ensures that the referee directly communicates with the head coach of the athlete if there is a violation and will bring less disqualifications if an athlete has an illegal uniform. Previously, if the coach of the athlete was not able to be reached without delaying the meet, a verbal announcement of the violation sufficed.

Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee, said the committee believes that the consistency of language between rules will help bring a better meet experience.

In Rule 4-1-4, the word “clerical” was removed to help clarify the authority of a meet official. This change is intended to create a more efficient and effective process for fixing problems that may arise during a swim meet.

“The committee believes that the majority of problems that arise during a meet are minor and can be easily fixed if the official’s authority stays consistent with the scope of their authority during the actual competition – without having to be addressed by outside entities, including state associations,” Searcy said.

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

According to the 2022-23 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, swimming and diving is the 10th-most popular sport for boys with 116,741 participants in 7,831 schools, and the ninth-most popular sport for girls with 140,711 participants in 7,937 schools.

USA Swim Info

Submission of Times - Observed HS Swim Meet

Please email Sara Lanholt for information