Rules Change Interpretations for Breaststroke and Butterfly
VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
October 15, 2013
TO: Head Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Coaches, Directors of Athletics, Senior Woman
Administrators and Conference Commissioners.
FROM: Brian Gordon, secretary-rules editor
NCAA Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Rules Committee.
SUBJECT: Rules Change Interpretations for Breaststroke and Butterfly.
With the publishing of the new NCAA Swimming & Diving Rules Book this fall, there were significant changes made to the NCAA playing rules relating to breaststroke. There was also a corresponding rule change that affects the butterfly.
During the rules change process, there was a concerted effort by the NCAA Swimming & Diving Rules Committee to try and adopt rules and language that was consistent with rules being followed by both USA Swimming and FINA. This allows for consistency for our student-athletes transitioning into the collegiate swimming and diving experience, as well as during the summer months when competing domestically and internationally. Furthermore, the benefits of having officials working across the various platforms following the same set of rules and joint interpretations will allow for a smoother process for all involved in our sport. There have been questions raised about the rules changes and their applications thus far in the early part of the season, and I am issuing the interpretations below effective with the receipt of this email for the current collegiate swimming & diving season. Thanks to USA Swimming and FINA for sharing how they are interpreting these situations and their willingness to work collectively with us.
Swimmer leaves wall in a streamline position and drops his fingers down, then moves his hands laterally creating separation, then begins his one dolphin kick followed by a breaststroke kick. Legal or not legal?
LEGAL, because the lateral hand separation initiated the arm stroke and preceded the butterfly kick. The fingers dropping is of no consequence, the lateral separation is determinative. This interpretation changes the case scenario described in the NCAA rules book on page 104.
Swimmer leaves wall and separates hands, stops hands 3-4" apart, dolphin kicks then finishes the arm stroke with a breaststroke kick. Legal or not legal?
LEGAL, FINA had already ruled on this scenario and declared it legal. USA Swimming adopted that same interpretation and the NCAA is now concurring.
Swimmer leaves wall and separates hands, stops 3-4" apart, dolphin kicks, breaststroke kicks, returns hands together and begins second stroke. Legal or not legal?
LEGAL. The interpretation given is that returning the hands back together is not the start of a new or second stroke, just a stroke aberration caused by the swimmer attempting to regrip the water following the pause. This becomes NOT LEGAL if in the official's opinion the swimmer is deliberately "sculling" which is not permitted under NCAA rules. The latter is obviously a judgment call.
Last week USA Swimming issued the following interpretations to its membership regarding application of the rule changes regarding separation of hands on the breaststroke and/or butterfly terms. As these interpretations are consistent with the NCAA rules for these strokes, we concur with them and issue them to the NCAA membership to follow as well:
ďAt its Congress in 2013, FINA adopted rules changes requiring the swimmer's hands be separated at turns and the finish touch in both breaststroke and butterfly. Since the word "separated" is subject to interpretation, for purposes of the turn and finish rules in both breaststroke and butterfly the following shall be determinative:
(1) "Separated" means that the hands may touch each other at the thumbs (no visual separation required) but there can be no overlap or interlocking of the hands, including thumbs and fingers, whatsoever.
(2) A swimmer who simultaneously has the thumbs touching and the tips of the index fingers (picture a little triangle) is legal. Likewise, a simultaneous two hand touch with only the tips of the index fingers touching each other is legal.
(3) It is legal for the hands to be one over the other if there is space between them. However, one hand cannot be resting on top of the other, nor can the palms be pressed together in a prayer position at the touch.
(4) It is legal to touch with the fingers and have the thumbs under the hand or pointing downward, in which case the index fingers may be touching.
A little common sense will go far in applying this rule if one remembers that the goal is for the swimmer to touch with both hands separately and not joined in any way that could be construed as creating a single unit.Ē
As always if you have any questions or need for interpretation, please feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com or 518/944-3941.
cc: NCAA Menís and Womenís Swimming and Diving Rules Committee
Selected NCAA Staff