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NFHS Rules Changes

2018 - 2019

Rules Changes

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.
Comments: Rule 1 has been reorganized and terminology has been added and removed to more accurately reflect and define meet specifications and organization. The changes provide clarity while also consolidating the terminology used in the rules book. Also, sections were re-ordered to reflect the order in which rules appear in the NFHS Swimming and Diving 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.
Comments: New wording clarifies that 16.4-yard/15-meter marks must be visible on both sides of the pool deck. The 16.4-yard/15-metermarkings may also be integrated into each lane marker/lane line. However, because the position of such floats are often irregular, the marks on the sides of the pool deck 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.
Comments: Backstroke starting ledges are not permitted to be used in high school swimming. The NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee has consistently opposed the use of backstroke starting ledges because of concerns about athlete safety and risk minimization, which is one of the principal responsibilities of the Committee.

2-7-2c (NEW), 2-7-2 NOTE (NEW): 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.
Comments: Language regarding options for starting platform malfunctions are provided in this new provision and updates have been made with regard to the penalties. PENALTY 2, which is applied in situations of improper water conditions, was removed because it is not applicable to the subject matter within the rule. PENALTY 3 verbiage is now contained in Rule 2-7-2c, which provides directives when starting platforms are not secured. PENALTY 1 was moved to a NOTE and describes what occurs when water depth or distance from the starting platforms to the water are 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 importance that participants are aware of all details associated with the event.
Comments: The pre-meet conference is now a requirement of the referee, the starter, the coach and the captain of each team. This serves a risk minimization function and promotes positive sporting behavior. Suggested topics to be covered include sportsmanship, illegal attire, medical issues involving tape, students with a disability, and any general concerns/comments.

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.
Comments: The responsibilities of stroke inspectors and turn/finish judges can now be combined by rule. When the availability of officials is limited, it is important that the flexibility to staff the deck effectively and efficiently with the available officials is preserved.

5-1-2a: In non-championship meets, the diving event may be 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.
Comments: 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. Allowing for flexibility in conducting the diving event within the dual meet program will permit more options for the competing teams. Regardless of when the diving event is conducted, there shall be a break of at least 15 minutes, with at least 10 minutes warmup in the water, prior to the 100-yard butterfly.

5-3, 5-3-2, 5-3-6 NOTE: 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.
Comments: Section 5-3 has been updated to provide lane and heat assignment protocol in a logical fashion from the dual meet to the championship meet. This change also clarifies direction for situations in which the number of teams and/or entries cannot be equally divided into the number of available lanes. Meet hosts should have the responsibility/right of deciding between seeding and leaving lanes open, because that decision affects meet duration and facility constraints.

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.
Comments: New language provides scoring based on pool facilities with different numbers of available lanes. It clarifies the use of finals and consolation finals heats and provides an opportunity to use more than 6 lanes for each and thus score more than 12 swimmers. It also stipulates that when both a finals heat and a consolation finals heat are swum, the finals heat is to be full even if doing so leaves only 1 or 2 athletes in the consolation finals heat.

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.
Comments: The NOTE clarifies that it is permissible to conduct eleven dive competitions during dual meets, double-dual meets, triple-dual meets and other non-championship multi-team meets. This provides additional options for competitors to prepare for tournament series events.


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.

Minor Editorial Changes: 1-2-3, 3-1-1, 3-1-2, 3-2-1, 3-2-2, 3-2-3, 3-2-3 PENALTIES, 3-6-1 PENALTY, 4-1-2, 4-1-4, 4-1-7, 4-3-1b, 4-6-2, 4-6-3, 4-6-4, 4-9-3, 5-1-1 NOTE, 7-1-2, 7-1-3, 9-1-1f, g, 9-2-4


Points of Emphasis

Suit Coverage - Rule 3-3-1 states all suits shall be of one piece and competitors shall not be permitted to participate wearing a suit that is not of decent appearance. Boys shall wear suits which cover the buttocks while girls shall wear suits which cover the buttocks and breasts. 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. School administrators and coaches are also asked to be proactive in monitoring their athletes' compliance with this rule. If the athlete cannot or will not comply with the suit coverage rule, they will be disqualified from events until they are in legal attire. Coaches are encouraged to select team suits that provide appropriate coverage as it pertains to NFHS rules.

Guidelines on Handling Contests During Lightning or Thunder Disturbances - The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) convened in March 2018 and revised its "Guidelines on Handling Practices and Contests During Lightning or Thunder Disturbances" (see Appendix H). These revised guidelines provide a model policy for consideration by those responsible or sharing duties for making decisions concerning the suspension and restarting of practices and contests based on the presence of lightning or thunder.

Even though large, substantial buildings containing electrical wiring and plumbing are generally considered as safe, there may still be a potential risk of lightning injury in certain situations indoors. Lightning can enter a building through electrical or telephone wiring and plumbing, which makes locker-room shower areas, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), landline telephones, and electrical appliances unsafe during thunderstorms because of the potential contact injury. Even if the building is customarily grounded for electricity, lightning is often fast enough and powerful enough to spread and injure someone before the ground fault interrupters or other systems are triggered to protect the person touching any of these systems. Indoor swimming pools are just as dangerous as outdoor pools because lighting, heating, plumbing, and drains used in indoor pools ultimately connect to materials outside the building that can be used to transmit the lightning energy into the building or pool. If people cannot reach a safer location when thunderstorms are in their area, they should at least avoid the riskiest locations and activities, including elevated places, open areas, tall isolated objects, and being in, on, or at the edge of large bodies of water, including swimming pools, as all of these locations are not lightning safe!

Remember, The NFHS Guidelines state that activities should be suspended at the first sound of thunder or sighting of lightning and should not be resumed until 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard or lightning is seen. Host management should have a plan in place regarding inclement weather that includes assignment of a staff member to monitor local weather conditions, development of an evacuation plan, and development of criteria for suspension and resumption of play. The lightning safety policy should be reviewed annually with all administrators, coaches, officials, and meet personnel. Student-athletes and their parents should be informed of the lightning policy at the start of each sports season. A lightning safety policy is only effective if it is enforced. Everyone should be aware of lightning as a threat, and those who oversee participants, whether they are responsible for health care, are coaches, or meet officials, should be proactive in vacating all student-athletes and spectators to a safer location.

Officials Retention and Recruitment - High school swimming needs dedicated men and women to become involved so that the sport can continue to prosper for years to come. Administrators, coaches, and officials are encouraged to reach out to local graduating seniors, area college students, retiring coaches, and/or officials who are licensed in other sports to recruit new individuals as prospective swimming and diving officials.

Scratch/Declared False Starts/Failing to Compete - Scratches, declared false starts, and the penalty for failing to compete are applied differently to championship and non-championship meets. Competitors, once officially entered, shall compete in all races.

In championship meets:
*A scratch is the withdrawal of a competitor from the remainder of his/her events in the meet. (1-4-10)
*A declared false start is the withdrawal of a competitor from a specific event (1-4-11). A competitor may withdraw from a preliminary event or final with a declared false start, if submitted to the referee/designee at the specified time and place. The time and place could be during a pre-competition coaches meeting, at some point prior to the start of the meet, or prior to the start of that specific event. The designated time and place must be specified in the meet announcement (1-4-7). The event shall still count as an entry, although it does not disqualify the competitor from further competition. When a relay team withdraws by a declared false start, the coach shall designate which four swimmers from among the potential participants in the event are charged with an entry.
*By state association adoption, an alternate qualifier is one of the next two fastest swimmers/relays after the finalists are designated with the faster of the two being the first alternate qualifier and the next being second alternate qualifier. If a finalist cannot participate, an alternate qualifier may be called to take his/her place. The process and procedures for moving alternate qualifiers into finals and consolation finals must be specified in the meet announcement. (1-4-7)
*A competitor who fails to compete in an event in which he/she has officially entered, shall be disqualified from further competition unless the failure to compete is due to a medical reason certified by an appropriate medical professional and declared to the referee in advance of the event. The competitor shall not be disqualified from events for which he/she has previously qualified. (3-2-2 PENALTY 3)

In non-championship meets:
*A competitor who fails to compete in an event in which he/she has officially entered, shall be disqualified from that event only. (3-2-2 PENALTY 2)

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