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Basic Rules of Swimming

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The technical rules of swimming are designed to provide fair and equitable conditions of competition and to promote uniformity in the sport. Each swimming stroke has specific rules designed to ensure that no swimmer gets an unfair competitive advantage.


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Start of the Race

At the commencement of each heat, the referee signals to the swimmers to get ready with a short series of whistles, followed by a long whistle, which indicates they should take their positions on the starting blocks.

When everyone is ready, the referee signals with an outstretched arm to the starter that the swimmers are ready.

The starter will issue the command “take your mark” and the swimmers will immediately assume their starting position. When all swimmers are stationary, the starter will give the starting signal.


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False Starts

A swimmer that starts before the starting signal will be disqualified. When that occurs, swimmers remaining on the starting blocks will be able to leave their starting positions when the “Stand up” command is issued.

If the starting signal has been given before the disqualification is declared, the race will continue without stopping. If both the referee and starter observe the violation, the swimmer or swimmers involved will be disqualified once the race is finished.


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Events

In preliminaries and finals meet, a swimmer may compete in no more than three individual events per day.

In a timed finals meet, a swimmer may compete in no more than six events per day.


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Seeding and Finals

Preliminary Heats

Entry times shall be listed by the meet committee with the fastest swimmer first and the slowest swimmer last. Swimmers with no times listed will be considered the slowest and placed at the end of the list.

Seeding Heats

Championships have three final heats. The fastest swimmer will be placed in the final heat, with the second-fastest swimmer placed in the second to last heat, and the third-fastest swimmer placed in the third to last heat. The fourth-fastest swimmer and subsequent qualifiers are placed in the final heat alongside the fastest swimmer.

Finals Lane Assignments

The fastest swimmer heading into the finals will be placed in the middle lane, with the second and third fastest placed next to them. Lower seeding will continue towards the ends of the pool.

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