ASA Technical Rules of Swimming

To help swimmers understand why they may be disqualified at events run under ASA rules, extracts from the 2002 Technical Rules of Racing are given below.  Only selected rules are given.  The full rules can be viewed or downloaded from the ASA website 

Extracts from the ASA rules Editors comments
511 Starting

511.2.1  If any swimmer starts before the starting signal has been given or is moving when the starting signal is given it shall be a false start and the offender shall be disqualified.  If the starting signal is given before the disqualification is declared, the race shall continue and the swimmer or swimmers disqualified on completion of the race.  If the disqualification is declared before the starting signal is given, the starting signal shall not be given and the remaining swimmers shall be recalled and start again.

There is no second chance or verbal warning from the starter.  You will be disqualified on the first false start.


513 The Race

513.2  Standing or Walking.  A competitor may not walk during a race.  He may, only in a Freestyle race or a Freestyle leg of a Medley race, stand for the purpose of resting.

513.4   In all events a swimmer when turning shall make physical contact with the end of the pool or course.  The turn must be made from the wall and it is not permitted to take a stride or step from the bottom of the pool.

If you stand up at a turn, push off from the wall not the floor.

513.8  After completing the race a swimmer must remain in the water in his own lane until released by the Referee or other official authorised by him.

514 Freestyle

514.2  Freestyle means that in any event so designated, the swimmer may swim any style, except that in Individual Medley or Medley Relay events, Freestyle means any style other than Backstroke, Breaststroke or Butterfly.

515 Breaststroke

512.3  All movements of the arms shall be simultaneous and in the same horizontal plane without alternating movement.

515.4  The hands shall be pushed forward together from the breast, on, under or over the water.  The elbows shall be under the water except for the final stroke before the turn, during the turn and for the final stroke at the finish.  The hands shall be brought back on or under the surface of the water.  The hands shall not be brought back beyond the hip line, except during the first stroke after the start and each turn.

Elbows may now break the surface of the water during the last arm stroke before any turn or the finish.

515.5  All movements of the legs shall be simultaneous and in the same horizontal plane, without alternating movement.

Younger swimmers note this one.

515.6  The feet must be turned outwards during the propulsive part of the kick.  A scissors, flutter or downward dolphin kick is not permitted.  Breaking the surface of the water with the feet is allowed unless followed by a downward dolphin kick.

515.7  At each turn and at the finish of the race, the touch shall be made with both hands simultaneously at, above, or below the water level.  The head may be submerged after the last arm pull prior to the touch, provided it breaks the surface of the water at some point during the last complete or incomplete cycle preceding the touch.

You must touch with both hands.

515.8  During each complete cycle of one arm stroke and one leg kick, in that order, some part of the swimmer's head shall break the surface of the water, except that after the start and after each turn the swimmer may take one arm stroke completely back to the legs and one leg kick while wholly submerged.  The head must break the surface of the water before the hands turn inward at the widest part of the second stroke.

One and a half strokes permitted underwater after the start or turns.


516 Butterfly

516.2  From the beginning of the first arm stroke after the start and after each turn, the body shall be kept on the breast.  Underwater kicking on the side is allowed.  It is not permitted to roll on the back at any time.

The requirement for the shoulders to be level has been removed.  Breastroke leg action is now illegal.



516.3  Both arms must be brought forward together over the water and brought backward simultaneously throughout the race, subject to ASA technical rule 516.6
516.4  All up and down movements of the legs and feet must be simultaneous.  The position of the legs or feet need not be at the same level, but they shall not alternate in relation to each other.  A breastroke kicking movement is not permitted.
516.5  At each turn and at the finish of the race, the touch shall be made with both hands simultaneously, at, above or below the water surface.

Two handed touch required.

516.6  At the start and at turns, a swimmer is permitted one or more leg kicks and one arm pull under the water, which must bring him to the surface.  It shall be permissible for a swimmer to be completely submerged for a distance of not more than 15 metres after the start and after each turn.  By that point, the head must have broken the surface.  The swimmer must remain on the surface until the next turn or finish.


517 Backstroke

517.2  At the signal for starting and after turning, the swimmer shall push off and swim upon his back throughout the race, except when executing a turn as set out in ASA Technical Rule 517.4.  The normal position on the back can include a roll movement of the body up to, but not including 90 degrees from the horizontal.  The position of the head is not relevant.

Stay on your back except when going into a turn.

517.3  Some part of the swimmer must break the surface of the water throughout the race, except that it shall be permissible for the swimmer to be completely submerged during the turn, at the finish and for a distance of not more than 15 metres after the start and at each turn.  By that point the head must have broken the surface.

This is mainly a tidying up of the wording.  The only change is that the swimmer may be submerged for the finish.

517.4  During the turn the shoulders may be turned over the vertical to the breast, after which a continuous single arm pull or a continuous simultaneous double arm pull may be used to initiate the turn.  Once the body has left the position on the back, any kick or arm pull must be part of the continuous turning action.  The swimmer must have returned to a position on the back upon leaving the wall.  When executing a turn there must be a touch of the wall with some part of the swimmer's body.

Read this one carefully!

517.5  Upon the finish of the race the swimmer must touch the wall while on the back.  The body may be submerged at the touch.

Stay on your back at the finish.