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Competitive Swimmers/Coachs Only


Posted by RWM on 2010-05-09 01:27:12

I'm a bit puzzled by this poll. The creator seems to be under the impression that the rules for swimming are established on a state by state basis.

The rules for backstroke to breaststroke turns in I.M. are the same regardless of whether you're swimming under:


USA Swimming

U.S. Masters Swimming


The American Swimming Association, if I'm reading their rules correctly, does allow a backstroke turn to be used when going from backstroke to breaststroke, but they're the only ones, and the real question is why they allow it - not why the others don't.

The rationale for the backstroke-to-breaststroke rule in I.M. is that you're essentially swimming four events in succession, and must finish each event according to the rules for finishing that event when swimming it by itself. So you must touch with both hands when going from butterfly to backstroke and from breaststroke to freestyle, and you must touch while still on your back when going from backstroke to breaststroke.

Could the rules be changed so that it is the turn rules rather than the finish rules that apply during the I.M. transitions? Sure they could! The rules could also be changed so that when swimming a butterfly or breaststroke event, all that has to touch the wall when you're turning is some part of your body, which would make it practical to do flipturns in butterfly and breaststroke. There are all kinds of rules changes that COULD be made, but the burden is on those who want the rules changed to justify changing them - not the other way around! Every time you change the rules, you in some degree disconnect the sport from its historic roots. It becomes, in one sense, impossible for swimmers to set new records, because there will always be an asterisk by the new records in everyone's mind. ("Yes, but that record was set under the new rules. He/she probably couldn't have gone that fast under the old rules.")

The reason the backstroke turn rule was changed to allow rolling onto your breast to execute the turn was because it was too difficult for stroke judges to accurately observe whether a swimmer had rolled past the vertical during a turn. So there was a danger that races would be improperly decided because, e.g., swimmer A finished first and swimmer B finished second, but first place was awarded to swimmer B because swimmer A was DQed for rolling past vertical during a turn, even though swimmer B did the same thing but the judges couldn't see it.