Girls Swimming & Diving - Rules & Regulations

Rules and Regulations

1-3-12: (Definitions) State associations may determine meets that shall be considered as culminating meets, which 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-championship meets may also be conducted under championship meet format and are subject to all rules for a championship meet. 

3-3-2a: (Uniforms) Consistent language has been established for all NFHS sports that describe what information is permitted on the uniform.  A competitor’s name, school name, school nickname, and/or the school logo can be placed on the uniform, which consists of the suit and the cap.   

3-4: (Lap Counters)Lap counters are now 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. 

3-6, 4-1-8: (Conduct) Rule 3 was reorganized to provide consistency and clarity for penalties associated with various competitor and/or meet personnel conduct.  In addition, the rule pertaining to language the prohibition of an official’s tobacco use at the competition site was moved from Rule 3-6 to Rule 4-1-8.

4-6-4: (Relay Takeoff Judges) 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.

8-3-5c, 4-6-1: (Relay Events) 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.

9-5-2: (Form of the Dives) The word “additional” was removed from the description of the forward approach and the hurdle, clarifying the intent for hops, leaps, and/or jumps to count towards the three-step requirement.

Major Editorial Changes

3-3-2 NOTE: The phrase “if otherwise legal” was added to the note to clarify that suits containing a FINA marking are permitted to be used in competition, if the suit meets all other NFHS uniform criteria.

9-7-5: Language was added to clarify that a dive is failed if, in the diving referee’s opinion, the diver commits two balks on the same dive.

Minor Editorial Changes

2-5-1, 3-2-2 PENALTY 3, 3-2-3 PENALTY 2, 3-3-2 NOTE, 3-3-3a, 8-3-5a, 9-7-5

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 68, 8.3.8 SITUATION C, Ruling: Correct Incorrect procedure.

SITUATION 1: The visiting team’s locker room was destroyed by a fire the night before the meet, and there is no other facility at the pool in which the visiting team can change into their competition attire. The host school uses large towels and other equipment to create a private space on the deck, where the visiting swimmers change into their suits. The referee disqualifies the entire team for “deck changing” and declares the meet forfeited to the home team. RULING: Incorrect procedure. When circumstances arise that prevent the use of locker rooms or similar facilities, the use of a temporary facility meets the requirements of Rules 1-5-2 and 3-6-1d.

SITUATION 2: A parent reports to the referee that visiting team swimmers are “deck changing” behind the seating area/bleachers that block the referee’s view of that space, and points out two swimmers who were involved. The referee, without further inquiry, disqualifies the swimmers from further participation in the meet, including all events for which the competitors previously qualified. RULING: Incorrect procedure. The referee must observe the “deck changing” in order to apply the unsporting behavior penalty. (3-6-1d)

SITUATION 3: A diver submits a dive sheet with dive 212 (flying back 1 SS). RULING: Illegal. A diver can only list and perform those dives listed on the diving table. If the sheet is not corrected prior to the start of competition, the dive will be scored as a failed dive. (9-4-7, 9-7-5p)

SITUATION 4: A swimmer is observed wearing a swimsuit during warmups containing a manufacturer’s logo that appears to exceed 2¼ square inches. RULING: The size of the manufacturer’s logo on the swimsuit shall be measured off the swimmer’s body. If that measurement exceeds 2¼ square inches in any dimension, the swimsuit is illegal and the swimmer will be directed to replace the swimsuit before he/she swims again.

SITUATION 5: Upon arrival at the host school, the visiting head coach approaches the meet referee and presents a letter from the state association permitting the swimmer to start in the water because of a physical disability. The referee allows the accommodation to be made. RULING: Correct procedure. (3-3-4 NOTE). However, it is not necessary to have state association approval for an in-water start; the referee may permit this on his/her own authority (8-1-1 NOTE). As a matter of practice, such requests should always be granted by the referee.

SITUATION 6: To signal the last lap, during the 500-yard/400-meter freestyle, the lap counter changes to the number “29” instead of the fluorescent orange card. The official disqualifies the swimmer and charges the lap counter with unsporting conduct. RULING:Incorrect procedure. COMMENT: Neither the use of the lap counter nor the fluorescent orange card to indicate the final length of the race is required; further signaling the number “29” would not rise to the level of unsporting conduct.

SITUATION 7: When performing a forward approach, the diver bounces on the board three times after the culminating hurdle and completes a 101A. The diving referee fails the dive. RULING: Correct procedure. A dive is failed if, in the opinion of the diving referee, the diver performs an additional bounce(s) after the culminating hurdle. (9-7-5q)

SITUATION 8: On a back dive, the diver assumes the starting position, initiates the dive, but loses his balance and uses his arms to regain his equilibrium while continuing to oscillate the board. The diver does not completely stop the dive, however, and completes the performance. The diving referee does not make any comment to the judges following the completion of the dive. RULING: Correct procedure. The progress of the dive did not actually stop after the diver initiated the dive. (9-5-5) The diving judges could plausibly conclude that the performance is deficient under 9-7-3a, which is a judge’s discretionary call and not subject to diving referee direction. Certainly, such a performance would need to be considered as part of 9-7-1.

SITUATION 9: During the pre-meet warm-up, a swimmer is observed wearing a tie-back swimsuit. The meet referee notifies the swimmer’s coach that while the swimmer may wear the suit during warm-ups, she may not compete wearing this suit. RULING: Correct procedure. Swimsuits that use a fastening system for closure, such as the tie-back suit, are not permitted during competition. (Points of Emphasis 2, page 90, 3-3-3b(4))

SITUATION 10: During the pre-meet warm-up, the meet referee observes a swimmer who is wearing a swimsuit that does not adequately cover all required parts of the body. The referee confers with the starter, who confirms the problem and then notifies the swimmer’s coach, asking that the situation be corrected. RULING: Correct procedure. It is recommended to address the issue with the swimmer’s coach rather than directly approaching the swimmer. The official should state what was observed, and indicate that the swimmer may not wear the suit during competition unless it complies with Rule 3-3-1.

SITUATION 11: During the final leg of the 200-yard medley relay, the swimmer pushes off the wall on his back, but rolls onto his stomach before any propulsive motion is made. The referee disqualifies the swimmer because he does not push off the wall toward his breast and his feet leave the wall while he is still on his back. RULING: Incorrect procedure. Provided the swimmer is at or past vertical toward the breast before the first kick, stroke or propulsive motion, the turn is considered legal. (8-2-4c)

SITUATION 12: During the 200-yard freestyle relay, the second, third and fourth swimmers move the wedge to the forward edge of the block so that when the incoming swimmer touches the wall, the swimmer is taking off from the top of the wedge rather than the starting block surface. RULING: Illegal. The top front edge of the starting platform shall be no more than 30 inches above the water level and flush with the pool end wall. The wedge may not be moved to the front of the block as it would then cause the block to exceed the maximum height above the water. (2-7-2b)

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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