Recent notice regarding BUTTERFLY RECOVERY
see Butterflyrecovery-7June2010.pdf below
Backstroke Finish (USA Swimming Rule 101.4)
There is apparently some current misunderstanding and confusion regarding the finish requirements for the Backstroke. The backstroke finish rule (101.4.4) states that ‘…the swimmer must touch the wall while on the back.’ The stroke rules (101.4.2) include the statement ‘Some part of the swimmer must break the surface of the water throughout the race, except it is permissible for the swimmer to be completely submerged during the turn, at the finish and for a distance of not more than 15 meters after the start and after each turn.’ The question becomes 'when is the finish?' and 'may the swimmer be submerged before the finish touch?'
Swimming defines the 'finish' as the touch at the completion of the
race. Under the stroke rule for backstroke, the swimmer may not be
completely submerged except during the initial 15 meters after the start and
each turn; submergence prior to the finish touch is cause for
The officials should be instructed to observe the swimmers and to report a violation when the swimmer clearly becomes submerged before they have approached the end of the course. A Stroke Judge can make this observation from the side of the pool or it may be made by a Turn Judge from the end of the pool when there are no side Stroke Judges. As the swimmers approach the finish, the Turn Judges should be instructed to observe the position of the shoulders when the finish touch is made to confirm that the swimmer has remained on their ‘back’; when focusing on the position of the shoulders, the Turn Judge should not be concerned as to whether the swimmer has remained on the surface. The side Stroke Judge should not make this call when there is any doubt as to whether the swimmer has touched the wall - i.e., can the judge clearly see the touch. As it is difficult for a judge to observe the total body at the moment the touch is made, these procedures are intended to give the ‘benefit of doubt’ to the swimmer. Although it may appear in some situations that a swimmer has submerged prior to the touch, it should be clear that there is no rules interpretation or exception that considers submergence prior to the touch to be legal.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (302) 994-3389 if you have any questions or want to further discuss this issue.
Fred Killian, MA Officials Chair
Butterfly Arm Recovery (USA Swimming Rule 101.3.2)
There was discussion at a recent Official’s Workshop concerning
the arm recovery in the butterfly stroke. Following the workshop, USA Swimming National
Officials Chair Jim Sheehan sent the following note to all participant and LSC Officials
Chair. From a practical perspective, the two key points are: (a) ‘over the water’ means some portion of
the arm must break the surface of the water, but does NOT require that there be space
between the arm and the water, and (b) if the swimmer’s wrist and elbow have broken the
surface, that is considered a legal recovery. Please contact me at email@example.com if you have any
questions regarding this item.
Fred Killian, MA Officials Chair
From: Sheehan, James J
Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2009 3:46 PM
Subject: Officials Training
I want to thank you for participating at the Officials Clinic earlier this month.
Without your participation and contributions, the meeting would not have been as
effective as I think it was. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I also hope your
travels home from San Antonio were uneventful.
During one of the sessions there was some lengthy discussion about the butterfly
recovery and there was clearly some misunderstandings expressed both during and
after the session regarding how to judge that portion of the stroke. After some
additional discussion with other senior officials, Bruce Stratton and I have put
together a perspective on how to judge this part of the butterfly stroke.
Article 101.3.2 requires that, in the butterfly stroke, “both arms” must be brought
forward “over the water" and pulled back simultaneously. It is the interpretation of
the USA Swimming Rules & Regulations Committee that the “arm” is that portion of
the body which extends from the shoulder to the wrist. It is also the interpretation of
the Committee that "over the water" means the arm, as defined above, must break
the surface of the water.
An analogy to this might be a comparison between a submarine and a sail boat. One
operates under the surface of the water and one operates “atop” the surface of the
water (i.e. part in the water and part above the water). Clearly, if the swimmer’s
arms do not break the surface of the water it cannot be considered to be “over the
water” and would be cause for a disqualification. However, should both arms (as
defined above) break the surface of the water, that would be legal
and no disqualification
should be called. From a very practical standpoint, if
the swimmer’s elbows and
wrists break the surface of the water, the recovery would be considered
legal. It is not required that both arms be completely out of the water.
You will note that any reference to the calm surface of the water has been removed
as that seems to have caused a lot of confusion and has led to an inconsistent
manner in which the stroke is officiated. And always remember, when judging this
or any other stroke, the benefit of the doubt always goes to the swimmer. If you
need any further clarification, please let me know.
Again, thanks for your participation in San Antonio.
USA Swimming - Rules:
USA Swimming - Rules Interpretations ( General* ):
USA Swimming - Officials Training Resource Materials
*Breast Stroke and Backstroke Interpretations ( and subsequent updates ) See All Attachments below: