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Swimming rules committee recommends minimum number of officials for meets

By Greg Johnson

The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Rules Committee recommended that all dual meets have two, three or four officials and all non-NCAA championship meets have at least six officials for the 2013-14 season.

All rules recommendation must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which next convenes via conference call June 24.

The rules committee is proposing a minimum number of officials be in place at NCAA meets to ensure that the competition is fairly officiated.

“The committee has heard of meets out there where there is only one official,” said Todd Peters, committee chair and women’s swimming coach at Minnesota State Moorhead. “One official can’t cover an entire meet. They just can’t watch for everything.”

Committee members believe that funding could be why some meets have been conducted with one official in the past.

While two has been set as the minimum, committee members discussed the fact that even for dual meets, three or four officials is more ideal. For example, a meet could have a starter, another official posted at the 15-meter mark where swimmers are surfacing and another official could be posted on the other end of the pool to make sure everyone is following the rules in terms of turns and relay exchanges.

The rationale for recommending a minimum of six officials at non-NCAA championship meets centers on workload concerns.

“Most of those meets are three and four days long,” Peters said. “If you only had two people trying to cover that the entire time, they will be exhausted. They would literally be running back and forth to cover everything.”

Breaststroke, backstroke issues tabled

The committee tabled its discussion on the starts in regard to breaststroke and backstroke events.

FINA, the international governing body for the sport, will discuss at its July meeting making rules changes to these events. If the rules are passed internationally, the NCAA Swimming and Diving Rules Committee will decide whether it will take action.

In the breaststroke, the proposal is to allow a swimmer to take as many dolphin kicks as he/she wants before surfacing at the 15-meter mark.

Currently, swimmers are only allowed to do one pull movement with the arms, one breaststroke kick and one dolphin kick before surfacing. According to Peters, there are very few people who can go 15 meters under the current rules.

Critics of this proposal believe it will change the sport, because it could help swimmers lower their times by using unlimited number of dolphin kicks before they surface at 15 meters.

In the backstroke, it is being proposed that some sort of wedge device be used for the starts of backstroke races.

The rationale is that it would create a more consistent starting surface for the backstroke events.

NCAA committee members wanted to know the parameters of the proposed wedge devices before making any recommendations.

Other committee recommendations:

  • Proposed a change where all heats will become eligible to be scored in double dual, triangular and quadrangular meets. These changes reflect expanded opportunities for entries and scoring.
  • Proposed to expand the use of video review to evaluate the accuracy of relay judging equipment; this includes video review on all take-offs where both human officials and recording devices are used opposite of the electronic equipment.
  • Proposed to certify the FINA Short Course World Championships, which is held every two years in even numbered years, to count as a bona fide competition that can be used for NCAA qualifying purposes provided a student-athlete is eligible to represent his institution at the time of the World Championships.