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Rules and Officials
 YMCA of the USA Competitive Swimming and Diving Fo :YMCA of the USA Competitive Swimming - General :Rules and Officials
Message Icon Topic: In Water Starts Post Reply Post New Topic
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Ed Miller
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Joined: Apr/29/2006
Location: United States
Posts: 168
Quote Ed Miller Replybullet Topic: In Water Starts
    Posted: Feb/01/2012 at 12:45pm
The following situation was posed to us by a coach:

"I believe there are a number of swimming pools, like ours, that are being used for competitive swimming but do not meet the depth requirements for deck or starting block starts.   We have adapted to our situation by using in-water starts for everyone. 

As a result, I have begun incorporating starting techniques that I felt would lessen the disadvantage in event times by having to do in-water starts. The Backstroke start required no modification. Backstroke technique is quite efficient and well spelled out for swimmers and officials.


The starts for the forward events were more difficult to adjust. The problem lies in the rule that says a forward start must be used. Taking this literally, would require a swimmer to be facing forward with one or two hands on the gutter/wall, and one or both feet on the wall for the takeoff.


In my several years of observing swimmers using this method, they have added as much as a second to the time they would achieve if they could dive. It is very difficult to hold a forward position at the take your mark command. So I have been working on modifications that make the takeoff swifter.


I have taught our swimmers to use a modified backstroke position to set themselves with both hands and both feet on the wall. At the start signal, they lunge in a twisting movement so that they are more towards their front by the time their toes have left the wall. They have become quite proficient at this and their times are not affected as much as they are using the forward hold position.  Is this a proper starting position?" 

This is not a proper starting position.  USA-S Technical Rules 101.2.1, 101.3.1 and 101.5.1 require a forward start for the Breaststroke, Butterfly and Freestyle strokes, respectively.  Rule 101.1.2.C provides guidance for in-water starts, namely that "Swimmers starting in the water must have at least one hand in contact with the wall or starting platform".  The Glossary to the USA-S Rulebook defines a forward start as "an entry made while facing the course".  Thus swimmers using an in-water start must be facing the course with at least one hand in contact with the wall.
On a related issue, for in-water relay exchanges, Rule 101.7.3.G merely requires contact with the end of the course, but does not specifically require that such contact must be with a hand; any part of the body will suffice.
Ed Miller
YMCA NAtional Officials' Committee 
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