Lots of Questions
Officials shirts have been ordered and are expected any day - so stay tuned. Also, keep in mind that when you are wearing those shirts, you are representing your club and the league. If you are not scheduled to officiate at your meet, please consider carefully before wearing your shirt "just because". This causes confusion as some timers and parents may perceive that you are "acting" in an official capacity (even thought that is not your intent). If you are there to assist (with relay take-offs or helping other officials), that's fine - but be sure to clear it with the meet referee/starter in charge before the meet starts.
There have been a couple of requests to clarify the requirement for Relay Take-off judges. While Stroke&Turn officials can help cover relays during the halves that they are not working, at least 2 additional take-off judges for the turn end of the pool is needed for the 8&U relays and 10&U medley relay - this amounts to 6 officials on duty during the medley relays (during the 100 yard relays, reducing to 4 for the 200's). The starter and one other judge can cover the start end of the pool - and as starter, please be sure that you are not distracted or otherwise engaged during the relays so you can clearly see each take-off.
As a reminder, there are take-off forms to fill out and judges will be looking across all lanes for the relays rather than just half of the pool. Circle the number of the outgoing swimmer if the take-off was good (ie. feet left the block (or hand left the wall for an in the water start) and when the judge looked to see that the incoming swimmer had touched) or mark an "X" over the departing swimmer's number if the take-off was early. Most clubs hosting meets make arrangements for these forms to be collected by a runner (sometimes the runner needs a reminder to pick up these slips and the DQ's). With dual verification required for a disqualification, it is not necessary to communicate across the pool with the "thumbs up or down" method. As always, if in doubt, rule in favor of the swimmer - you want to be sure to call the blatant violations.
Q1: (For pools with an L-shaped gutter) If a swimmer does not want to start from the blocks, can they start in the gutter or do they need to start from the raised pool deck?
Lots of Questions
A1: The swimmer can start either in the gutter or on the pool deck; however, both feet must be at the same level (they cannot do a track start with one foot on the pool deck and one foot in the gutter).
Q2: What happens if a swimmer enters the water early - where a participant in heat 2 entered the water before all swimmers from heat 1 finished?
A2: As entering the water before being given permission is an infraction, the swimmer would be disqualified from that event in this meet.
Q3: Are the feet considered part of the legs? If a swimmer crosses their feet one-over-the-other at the ankles, but the legs stay in the same horizontal plane, is that a legal breaststroke kick?
A3: Consider the kick as a whole rather than differentiating between the legs and the feet. The requirement is that the legs be in the same horizontal plane. Horizontal means just that - and that plane would be about the width of their legs so it would be impossible for the swimmer to cross-over as you describe and still be in the same plane. Based on what you describe, I don't believe that would be a legal breaststroke kick.
Q4: A coach was told by their college swim coach to finish breaststroke with a butterfly kick into the wall and they said it is compliant with USA Swimming rules. I've never heard this nor did I find it in the USA Swimming Rule book. Am I missing something?
A4: No, you're not missing something. That college coach is giving terrible advice. They may get away with it in college, but in USA Swimming and Midlakes that is not allowed.
Q5: The meet referee asked me to indicate "which hand" on the DQ slip I had submitted for a one hand touch. I don’t remember anything from training about indicating the hand on the form. Is that necessary?
A5: No - it's not necessary but it's a common question to confirm that the official "saw" the infraction. If you note that on your Heat Sheet, you don't have to write it on the DQ (but it can help).
Q6: The meet referee instructed me and our second half official to station ourselves at the turn end of the pool and not walk the deck during the freestyle individual and relay events. I didn’t feel comfortable with that because there are some occasions when there is an infraction during the course of the swim, but the referee indicated that the only thing to look out for was missing the wall on the turn. I did as asked, but during my shift there was a swimmer who stopped to catch their breath and appeared to bounce along the bottom of the pool. From my vantage point I could not determine if they pushed off the bottom or stayed in the same spot. Then during the free relays, I observed a swimmer stay underwater past the 15 meter mark. I didn’t DQ the swimmer because again, from my vantage point, I couldn’t be sure. The other stroke and turn judge also could not see the 15 meter violation from their “station” at the end of the pool. Is it appropriate for me as a stroke and turn judge to decline such a request from a meet referee?
A6: You should discuss thoroughly with the meet referee and ask for the rationale during your officials meeting to make sure everyone understands protocols and jurisdiction. It seems that the request was not reasonable for the reasons you state. Regarding the 15 Meter mark violation: as discussed during training, you should be calling the blatant violations - and in this case, if the swimmer clearly goes past the backstroke flags, then it should be called (even though you weren't stationed at the 15 meter mark). For the future, during freestyle events, you would want to station yourself near the 15 meter mark and the turn end (walking) as you officiate to see what you need to see. For all other events, I'd expect that you would be walking the length of the pool (or as much as possible as each club pool allows).
As always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns. If you know of others that would like this information or if you are no longer interested in receiving these, let me know and I'll update the distribution list.