USAS Interpretations


 During the July 21st FINA Swimming Technical Congress in Budapest, Hungary, the Congress adopted a change to medley swimming rules regarding required body position.  For the freestyle distance, the change permits the swimmer to be past vertical towards the back when executing a turn - including after the feet have left the wall.  The rule requires that the swimmer’s body must return to the breast before any kick or stroke. 

You may see the memo from Jay Thomas, Chair Rules & Regulations, here.

If you have any further questions, please contact Sandy Drake.

We will post the official Rules and Regulations Interpretations here:

  1.  Breast to free transition during the Medley Relay and Individual Medley (September 8, 2015)
  2. Separation of the hands on butterfly and breaststroke (January 15, 2014)
  3. 101.2.3 Breaststroke: Timing of Permissible Butterfly Kick (November 30, 2014)
  4. Deck Changing - defined  (March 25, 2015)
  5. Pertaining to Rule 101.5.2 - Individual Medley (September 8, 2015)

Summary of the Rules and Regulations Interpretations through August 2015

  1. Kinesio Taping

    Taping on Swimmers During Competition 

    USA Swimming is very clear that taping is “for wound closure only”, meaning a band aid for a wound or piece of tape to cover a medication port.  The policy is absolutely clear regarding the use of Kinesio tape, popular with Physical Therapy treatments – it is not allowed under any circumstances. 

    On the USA Swimming website at  is this clear explanation (bolding/color added for emphasis):


    FAQ #8 – Taping on the Body


    Question: Is any kind of tape allowed on the body during competition?


    Answer: Article 102.9.1E states, “Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless approved by the Referee.” The intent of this rule is that no tape be allowed unless it is needed for valid medical reasons. However, regardless of any medical reason, tape should not be allowed if it will provide any kind of competitive advantage to a swimmer. For example, a bandaid applied to a cut or an open wound would be considered necessary for medical reasons, but would not provide any competitive advantage to a swimmer and therefore should be allowed.  However, if a swimmer was required to tape all of his fingers together for a good and valid medical reason, it should not be allowed because regardless of the medical reason, it would provide a competitive advantage to the swimmer. One of the more common types of taping is known as kinesio taping and although there may be a valid medical reason for using it, it is considered to provide the swimmer with a competitive advantage and should not be allowed. In all cases, the use of tape can only be approved by the referee and only if it does not provide a competitive advantage to the swimmer.

    Additionally, the question was posed in June 2011 to our USA Swimming National Rules & Regulations Committee Chair, Dan McAllen and here is his response:

    ….There has been nothing further on the kinesio tape issue in print or otherwise…. I generally try to remember to cover kinesio tape in the pre-meet meeting with coaches so that no one gets surprised. An orthopedic surgeon who regularly treats professional athletes told me that if an athlete can only compete if wearing kinesio tape that athlete has no business competing at all.  (emphasis added)