Mistakes that could Unexpectedly Hinder or even Disqualify Your Swimmer

There are several major mistakes that I see swim parents make often, that may actually hurt their swimmer, up to and including possibly causing them to get disqualified. Here is a list of mistakes swim parents make with good intentions, and why you need to avoid them.

Wearing suits that tie in the back.
Suits that have any type of outside fasteners, including ties and zippers, are illegal. I’ve recently seen many girls wearing the now popular Jolyn suits that have ties in the back end up in tears because the end up DQed. This is one that even surprises coaches sometimes because the rule is actually pretty hard to find.

USA Rule 102.8.1C Only swimsuits complying with FINA swimsuit specifications may be worn in any USA
Swimming sanctioned or approved competition.

FINA Requirements for Swimwear Approval:
4.1.6. Construction
No zippers or other fastening system is allowed.
Seams shall be limited to functional systems and shall not create outside shapes. Use of
seams (notably number, overall length, and disposition) shall not affect compliance with the
criteria set forth herein.

Using Flash Photography:
Flash photography is prohibited at the start of any race because most starting systems use both sound (a beep) and a flash of light to start the race. Since light travels faster than sound many swimmers are taught to go off the light. Hearing impairs swimmers rely completely on the light to know when their race starts. If you use flash photography you could cause swimmers to false start. Therefore it is banned, and continued use of it could get you thrown out of the meet. Plus, I’ve been told by professional photographers that using a flash in that setting is silly, because it does you no good at all.

Sending Videos to meet officials that “prove” the officials were wrong.

As a meet director I see this at least a few times a year. A parent records a race, and something happens that they think is a bad call by an official or a missed call. The parent then marches down to the deck, or emails and tries to demand that the meet referee look at the video and so he or she can change the call. This is illegal. Officials are not even supposed to look at these videos, let alone take them into account. Unless you have approval in writing from the Program & Events Committee Chair that your video is approved to be legal, your recording is useless to an official. Why? Angels, distance from the pool, and all sorts of other things, including potential editing, can give inaccurate information through videos. Cameras need to be set up in a fair way that captures useful video footage. That footage needs to come from an unbiased source. Mom’s video from the stands on her iphone won’t cut it.

USA Rule 102.22.15 Video replay footage from cameras approved in writing in advance of the competition by the
Program & Events Committee Chair or designee may be used to review stroke or turn
infractions called on deck. The official(s) reviewing the video may only confirm the call made
on deck, overrule the call, or advise the Referee that the review proved inconclusive.

Sending officials of the scoreboard to prove a time or placement is wrong.
My husband has been an administrative official in swimming for over a decade. Nearly every meet, some well meaning parent interrupts his work during the meet, or emails him later with a picture of the scoreboard, arguing their swimmer’s time or placement is wrong. Certainly times can be wrong, and when necessary a coach can protest, and the scorer’s table with use a variety of methods to verify the correct time is being used. However, the time displayed on the scoreboard is always unofficial, and a picture of the scoreboard is not a needed step in the protest or verification process. In fact, the scoring table goes through a procedure with each swim to determine the correct time. This includes verifying the times against what the human timers record too, to verify that the timing system didn’t malfunction. The buttons they timers press at the end of each race are automatically sent to the computer, and the computer alerts the scorer’s table if something is off. There are many things that could cause the time on the scoreboard to be wrong. A “soft touch” is most common. If the swimmer doesn’t touch the pad hard enough or in the right spot, the time from the pad (which appears on the scoreboard) will be wrong. You can also have things happen like someone stepping on the top of the pad, or the pad missing a touch all together. This is why meets don’t just use automatic timing system and have human timers too. Most meets have four resources they use to determine times and placement, timing pads, buttons pressed by timers, 2-3 stop watches in each lane, and the officials order of finish.

So what should you do if you’re concerned that your swimmer’s time or placement is incorrect? First, wait until you see the official results. Most meets either post them on a wall somewhere or put them on the meet mobile app. Most mistakes on the scoreboard will be fixed b the time the official results are posted. If you still think they are wrong, discuss it with your coach. Your coach will then determine if it is appropriate to check with the scorers table, if so the coach should be the one to talk to the admin officials. Admin officials are more than happy to look into times and change the result if it is supported by proper evidence. A picture of the scoreboard however does not help this process.

Wearing Illegal Technical Suits:
USA swimming has limited what technical suits can be worn by swimmers aged 12 & under. In fact, what is permissible is technically, not even a technical suit. No fused seams or woven fabric for 12 and unders. Always check the approved list of suits before buying your swimmer a new “tech” suit. Here is a great explanation and links to approved lists by USA swimming.

Not taking your swimmer back to finals when they qualify:
In most prelim/finals meets, if you do not swim for a final you qualified for without first scratching during the designated scratch period (often 30 minutes after the prelim results are posted), you swimmer will be removed from the rest of the meet. So while it might be tempting to head out for the night instead of waiting around for finals, be sure you talk to your coach and follow the proper procedures. Better yet, stay and watch your swimmer in the always exciting finals.

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