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NFHS Rules Changes

2017 - 2018

Rules Changes

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.
Comments: 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: (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.
Comments: 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) 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.
Comments: 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: (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 regarding the prohibition of an official's tobacco use at the competition site was moved from Rule 3-6 to Rule 4-1-8.
Comments: 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: (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.
Comments: 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: (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.
Comments: No additional comments

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 toward the three-step requirement.
Comments: 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.


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, 3-3-4a,b,c, 5-1-1 NOTES, 8-3-5a, 9-7-5m


Points of Emphasis

Suit Coverage - Per Rule 3-3 students shall wear uniforms, including suit coverage, of decent appearance. If individuals or teams are in violation of this rule, officials are encouraged to contact the head coach of the offending team, rather than the student, requesting that all team members be appropriately equipped with uniforms that meet specified standards.

Accommodations for Disabled Athletes - Guidelines to assist state associations in working with schools for the inclusion of students with disabilities have been prepared by the NFHS Task Force on the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities. These recommendations begin with a request from the student to the school for an accommodation. The member school should then contact the state association for an accommodation, at which point the state association reviews and provides written determination regarding accommodation to the school. Coaches should work with their school and the state association as early as possible in the sport season. Accommodations for students with special needs may be addressed through the rules and policies set forth by a variety of organizations, including Special Olympics, Disabled Sports USA, US Paralympics and USA Swimming. Contact information is provided in the beginning of the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Book, and additional information is included in the NFHS Swimming Officials Guidelines Manual. An accommodation may be permitted provided it does not fundamentally alter the sport, heighten risk or place opponents at a disadvantage.

Warm-Up Protocol - Meet directors and coaches are encouraged to review the "Suggested Meet Warm-Up Procedures" located at the front of the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Book, prior to hosting a meet. Supervision, safety suggestions, proper management of pace/sprint lanes, lane selection and other pertinent issues are highlighted to aid in organizing warmups to allow them to occur in a safe, healthy and sportsmanlike manner.

Valid Times With A Single Manual Watch - The referee is the head official and is responsible for making decisions on matters not specifically covered by the rules, and can order that a race be re-swum when there is obvious unfairness, such as a lane line malfunction or a power outage. In the case of a timing malfunction, the referee is expected to utilize other information or data such as his/her order of finish, times on other lanes, etc., to verify the single data point (watch/button) is accurate. Referees have the authority to reject times that are clearly inaccurate and to determine placing without assigning a specific time to a swimmer. A swimmer shall not be required to re-swim a completed race because of timing system failure.

Responsibility of the Swimmer in Distance Events - When counter malfunctions occur (i.e., the lap counting device is inadvertently dropped into the water or an incorrect count is shown), it is the responsibility of the swimmer to know his/her lap count and continue the race. Accidental error by the counter shall not result in disqualification of the swimmer.

Position Statement on Official's Role - The rules for NFHS swimming and diving exist to ensure fair competition in a positive, safe and healthy environment. Athlete performances in swimming and diving inevitably involve both physical and emotional components. When enthusiastic responses accompany/follow an athlete's performance in competition, officials should be careful to avoid intervention unless absolutely necessary. If a celebratory response violates Rules 3-6-1&2 and is considered unsporting or unacceptable, it should be sanctioned accordingly. Responses that are vulgar, profane or demeaning should be treated under the rules prohibiting such conduct; otherwise, officials should refrain from intervention.

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