STROKE JUDGE
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MANUAL FOR STROKE JUDGES & TRAINEES

[Adapted from FINA's "Manual for Officiating Swimming Events," February 1999 edition, and USA Swimming's "Handbook for Officiating," June 1999 edition]

 
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Page Topics

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS
RESPONSIBILITIES
THE STROKE RULES
    FREESTYLE
    BACKSTROKE
    BREASTSTROKE
    BUTTERFLY
    INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
    FREESTYLE RELAYS
    MEDLEY RELAYS

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

Well-run meets and rewarding competitive results are directly related to good officiating. A thorough knowledge of the Competition Rules and Technical Swimming Rules, coupled with fair and consistent application of them, make you a "good" official. To confidently work on deck, Stroke and Turn Judges must (1) study the Rules frequently; (2) attend Officials Clinics; and (3) work regularly at Swim Meets.

Judges should always remember that the Swimmers have worked hard for their successes and expect a fair and equitable competition. Judges must apply the Rules intelligently, always using commonsense and good judgment. The BSF intends the Rules of Swimming to provide fair and equitable conditions of competition. Judges must work hard to fully understand the Rules and their responsibilities in applying them.

The authority of the Stroke Judge and Turn Judge/Relay Takeoff Judge (like that of the Referee and Starter) to disqualify a swimmer makes the training and understanding of persons in these positions particularly important. To function competently, Judges must subscribe to one theme: "Be fair to all swimmers, always giving him or her the benefit of any doubt."

The Technical Swimming Rules define the acceptable form for each stroke. Many variations of form are possible and may comply with the letter of the Rules for the stroke. Decisions regarding the form of strokes and turns, therefore, must be subject to flexible judgment and common sense. REMEMBER: "Ugly is not always illegal."

RESPONSIBILITIES

STROKE JUDGES: (see Competition Rule CR18.4):-

  • Operate in pairs on both sides of the pool.
  • Inspect the techniques of the competitors relating to the style of swimming designated for the event, note any infractions and confer with the Referee about disqualifying offenders.
  • Immediately signal the Referee on any disqualifications. A Stroke Judge should confer with the other Stroke Judge or the Referee in doubtful cases.
  • With the Referee's consent, may inform the competitor or the coach of the disqualification, giving reasons.
  • May also serve as a Turn Judge or Relay Take-Off Judge.

The Referee assigns and instructs Stroke and Turn/Relay Takeoff Judges. Before the competition begins, the Referee determines the respective areas of stroke and turn responsibility plus jurisdiction.

THE STROKE RULES

FREESTYLE: (see Technical Swimming Rule TSR2)

Start:    Dive start. Permissible for swimmers to be completely submerged up to 15 metres after the start and each turn. By that point the head must break the water's surface.

Stroke:    In individual or relay freestyle events, any style of stroke or combination of strokes is legal. However, on the fourth leg of a Medley race ( either individual or relay) "freestyle" means any style other than backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly. Consequently, in Medley races, Meet Officials interpret "freestyle" to mean FRONT CRAWL only. Some part of the swimmer must break the water's surface throughout the race.

Kick:     Any form of kicking is permissible.

Infractions:    (1)  Walking or springing from the bottom of the pool in the desired direction; (2) Artificial assistance, such as pulling on the lane ropes or the sides of the pool; (3) Leaving the water before completing the full distance of the race; (4) Swimmer submerged at start or turn beyond 15 metres.

BACKSTROKE: (see Technical Swimming Rule TSR3)

Start:    In the water. Permissible for swimmers to be completely submerged for up to 15 metres after the start and turns . By that point the head must have broken the water's surface.

Stroke:    Competitors must swim the entire race on the back and must remain less than 90 degrees from the horizontal, as determined by the line of the shoulders. Some part of the swimmer must break the water's surface of throughout the race.

Kick:    Any form of kicking while on the back is permissible during the race.

Infractions:    (1) Swimmer submerged after start or turn beyond 15 metres; (2) Artificial assistance; (3) Standing on the bottom of the pool or resting on the lane ropes/sides of the pool during the race. [NOTE:- Swimmer is no longer on the back]; (4) Walking or springing from the bottom of the pool in the desired direction; (5) Leaving the water before completing the full distance of the race.

BREASTSTROKE: (see Technical Swimming Rule TSR4)

Start:    Dive start. At the start, BSF Rules allow the swimmer one complete arm pull and leg kick, in that order, under water. Only on the first underwater pull after the start, and each turn, the swimmer may pull the hands below the hips. However, the head must break the water's surface before the hands turn inward at the widest portion of the second arm pull. [NOTE:- Either a complete or incomplete movement of the arms and/ or legs following the dive start or following a turn is considered as one complete stroke and/ or kick.] Upon surfacing, the swimmer should attain the prescribed form on the breast before the start of the second arm pull.

Stroke:    Breaststroke is swum on the breast with the shoulders horizontal throughout the race. The pulling action of the arms must be simultaneous and in the same horizontal plane. The hands should be pushed forward together from the breast on, under, or over the water. The hands should be brought back on or under the surface of the water. The elbows should be under the water except for the final stroke before the turn, during the turn and for the final stroke at the finish. Except for the first underwater pull at the start and each turn, the hands must not pull below the hips. The head must break the water's surface once in each complete cycle of the stroke (one arm pull, then one leg kick, in that order).

Kick:    Swimmer must turn the feet outward during the propulsive phase of the kick. All vertical and lateral motion of the legs must be simultaneous. The feet may break the water's surface, but alternating movements of the legs (as in freestyle) or the downward movement of the legs or feet creating a butterfly-like "dolphin kick," is not permitted. However, the legs may undulate in the water current during the kick recovery without penalty.

Infractions:    (1) At the start or after any turn, head still below the water when the hands turn inward at the widest part of the second arm stroke; (2) Over-the-water recovery with elbows out of the water; (3) Sidestroke or scissors kick or alternating leg movement; (4) Butterfly or flutter kicks underwater at the start or after pushing off on the turn; (5) Body not on breast after surfacing following the start or a turn when beginning second arm pull ; (6) Swimmer takes 1 arm pull followed by 2 leg kicks or 2 arm pulls followed by 1 leg kick; (7) Artificial assistance; (8) Standing on the bottom of the pool or resting on the lane ropes/sides of the pool during the race. [NOTE: - Swimmer is no longer on the breast]; (9) Walking or springing from the bottom of the pool in the desired direction; (10) Leaving the water before completing the full distance of the race.

BUTTERFLY: (see Technical Swimming Rule TSR5)

Start:    Dive start.  Permissible for swimmers to be completely submerged up to 15 metres after the start and each turn. The swimmer is allowed one or more leg kicks and one arm pull underwater which must bring the swimmer to the surface. By that point the head must have broken the surface. Prior to the first arm stroke after the start, the body must be kept on the breast.

Stroke:    During the race, the body must remain on the breast, as in the Breaststroke. Both arms must be brought forward over the water simultaneously and brought backward through the water simultaneously throughout the race. Some part of the swimmer must break the water's surface throughout the race.

Kick:    All up and down movements of the legs and feet must be simultaneous. The legs or feet need not be at the same level, but no alternating movements are permitted. A "scissor kick" or alternating motion ("flutter kick") or the "frog kick" associated with the Breaststroke may not be used. There is no limit to the number of kicks per cycle.

Infractions:    (1) Sidestroke or scissors kick, breaststroke kick or alternating leg movement; (2) Body not on breast when beginning first arm pull following the start or a turn; (3) Swimmer takes more than 1 underwater arm pull at start or on turn; (4) Artificial assistance; (5) Standing on the bottom of the pool or resting on the lane ropes/sides of the pool during the race. [NOTE: - Swimmer is no longer on the breast]; (6) Walking or springing from the bottom of the pool in the desired direction; (7) Leaving the water before completing the full distance of the race; (8) Swimmer submerged after start or turn beyond 15 metres.

INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY: (see Technical Swimming Rule TSR6.1)

Start:    Dive start.  Permissible for  swimmers to be completely submerged up to 15 metres after the start or each turn. The swimmer is allowed one or more leg kicks and one arm pull underwater which must bring the swimmer to the surface. By that point the head must have broken the surface. Prior to the first arm stroke at the start, the body must be kept on the breast.

Order of Strokes:    Butterfly; Backstroke; Breaststroke; Freestyle. [NOTE: - In an Individual Medley race, "freestyle" is any style other than backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly. Consequently, in Medley races, Meet Officials interpret "freestyle" to mean FRONT CRAWL only.] Each stroke must be executed legally. The Rules pertaining to the individual strokes governs disqualifications.

Kick:    The Rules pertaining to the individual strokes dictates the style of kicking for each leg of the race.

Infractions:    (1) Stroke violation; (2) Failure to swim proper order of strokes; (3) Failure to swim the complete distance; (4) Artificial assistance; (5) Standing on the bottom of the pool or resting on the lane ropes/sides of the pool during the backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly legs of the race. [NOTE: - Swimmer is no longer on the back or breast]; (6) Walking or springing from the bottom of the pool in the desired direction; (7) Swimmer submerged after start or turn beyond 15 metres during backstroke, butterfly or freestyle leg of the race.

FREESTYLE RELAYS: (see TSR2 and TSR9)

The Rules pertaining to the Start, Stroke, Kick and Infractions are the same for relay freestyle events as for individual freestyle events set out above. No competitor may swim more than one leg of the race. Swimmers cannot enter the water before all competitors have finished the race.

MEDLEY RELAYS: (see TSR1.2, TSR6.2 and TSR9)

Start:    In the water.  Permissible for swimmers to be completely submerged up to 15 metres after the start and each turn. By that point the head must have broken the water surface.

Order of Strokes:    Backstroke; Breaststroke; Butterfly; Freestyle. In a Medley Relay race, "freestyle" means any style other than backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly. Consequently, in Medley races, Meet Officials interpret "freestyle" to mean FRONT CRAWL only. Each stroke must be executed legally. The Rules pertaining to the individual strokes govern disqualifications. No competitor may swim more than one leg of the race.

Kick:    The Rules pertaining to the individual strokes dictates the style of kicking for each leg of the race.

Infractions:    (1) Stroke violation; (2) Failure to swim proper order of strokes; (3) Failure to swim the complete distance; (4) Entering the water before all competitors have finished the race; (5) Artificial assistance; (6) Standing on the bottom of the pool or resting on the lane ropes/sides of the pool during the backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly legs of the race. [NOTE: - Swimmer is no longer on the back or breast]; (7) Walking or springing from the bottom of the pool in the desired direction; (8) Swimmer submerged after start or turn beyond 15 metres during backstroke, butterfly or freestyle leg of the race.

 


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