MV Rules

PDF version of Missouri Valley Swimming Rules

Section 1 -- Introduction

Missouri Valley Swimming operates under two sets of rules. Missouri Valley is a corporation and an affiliated member of USA Swimming. Missouri Valley Swimming's formal structure is governed by The By-Laws of Missouri Valley Swimming. Those are discussed in the next section. In addition to its By-Laws, Missouri Valley Swimming has adopted rules relating to its swimming operations. This section includes the following rules: 

·      Section 3: Registration

·      Section 4: Transfer/Change of Registration Rules

·      Section 5: Missouri Valley Swimming Rules

·      Section 6: Scratch Rules

·      Section 7: Cancellation of  Meet Rule

·      Section 8:  The Four Hour Rule

·      Section 9Assuring Safety

·      Section 10:   Missouri Valley Championship Meets "Bonus" Swim Rule

·      Section 11:   MVS District Championships and MVS Qualifier Age-Up Rule

·      Section 12:   Missouri Valley Scholarship Guidelines

·      Section 13:   Certification of Officials

·      Section 14:   Swimmers with Disabilites


All rules are subject to the Official By-Laws and Rules of USA Swimming, Inc. which may be found on the USA Swimming website -

All rules contained in this Section may be changed or modified according to the rules governing Missouri Valley Swimming. Proposed changes must be submitted in writing to the General Chair thirty days in advance of either the Spring or Fall House of Delegates meetings.

Section 3 -- Missouri Valley Registration Rules

A.  In order to participate in sanctioned swimming competition, an athlete must have a current registration. Registrations are issued anytime during the year and expire at the end of each calendar year. After registration, swimmers are automatically covered by certain insurance benefits during organized swim practice and sanctioned competition. Information about USA Swimming's Insurance Coverage can be found at

B.  Athletes and non-athletes will not be covered by USA Swimming insurance until they are registered.

C.  The following are the rules applicable for swimmers and non-athletes to register with both USA Swimming and Missouri Valley Swimming:

1.   It is the responsibility of each Missouri Valley Swimming Club to register its swimmers with USA Swimming and Missouri Valley Swimming in a timely fashion prior to competition;

2.   Registration is accomplished by completion of a USA Swimming Athlete Registration Form and submission of an electronic registration file to the Missouri Valley Swimming Registration Chair;

3.   Where meet reconciliation reports, discussed in section E below, indicate that one or more of a Club's swimmers scheduled to swim in a meet are not registered, the registration form can be turned over to the meet referee. However, it is strongly encouraged that registration is completed through the Missouri Valley Registrar prior to the start of the meet;

4.   Registration fees for all athletes representing a club must be submitted electronically. An electronic invoice, payable by ACH will be sent to the club’s Treasurer or designated contact;

5.   If conflicting information regarding an athlete’s date of birth arises in the form of meet registration or registration renewal, the MV registration chair may request a copy of the athletes’ birth certificate in order to confirm the athlete’s correct date of birth.

D.  Athletes not belonging to a club may register individually by submitting an online registration through the Missouri Valley web site.

E.  Meet Reconciliation Reports: In order to assure that only USA Swimming Registered Athletes are participating in USA and MVS Sanctioned Meets, it is the duty of any MVS Club hosting a meet to send a registration reconciliation file of swimmers entered in the meet to the MVS Office not later than three days prior to the start date of the meet. The MVS Office will then contact the host club's entry chair with the names of swimmers not USA Swimming registered so that registration can be accomplished prior to the start of the meet. The Meet Referee may not allow any non-registered swimmer to swim in the meet or meet warm-ups.

Section 4 -- Transfer/Change of Registration Rules

A.  General Rules for Inter-LSC Transfers into MVS

1.   Requests for a transfer from a club in another LSC to a swim club in MVS may be made on the MVS Transfer Application

2.   Each request MUST be accompanied by a Transfer Fee of $5.00, unless the swimmer claims current registration in another LSC, but has no current registration card. In this event, the Transfer Fee MUST accompany the Request;

3.   All requests shall indicate the former LSC (NOT Missouri Valley), the athlete's full registration number, and date and location of last competition with the former club;

4.   If the swimmer is not currently registered in another LSC, the request MUST be accompanied by the Transfer Fee of $5.00 plus a completed registration application and the full annual registration fee;

5.   From September 1 through December 31, transfers from another LSC MUST be accompanied by a registration form and the appropriate fee for the upcoming year. In such cases, there is no additional transfer fee;

B.  General Rules for Inter-LSC Transfer from MVS to another LSC

1.   Requests for a transfer from one club in MVS to a different LSC may be made on the MVS Transfer Application or by letter that includes the same information and required signatures;

2.   When transferring from MVS to another LSC, the Transfer Request MUST be accompanied with a current USA Swimming registration, and the $5.00 transfer fee;

3.   At the same time, the swimmer should contact the new LSC, indicate that a request for transfer had been sent to MVS, and request information about transfer into the new LSC;

4.   The new LSC will update your registration information;

C.  General Rules for Intra-MVS Transfer from one Club to another

1.      Requests for a transfer from one club in MVS to another club in MVS may be made on the MVS Transfer Application

2.      When transferring registration from one MVS Club to another MVS club, the Transfer Application MUST indicate the EXACT DATE on which the athlete last competed in a USA Swimming sanctioned competition for the former club, together with the Transfer fee of $5.00;

3.      Transfer to the new MVS club is complete upon receipt of the Transfer Application, the $5.00 transfer fee, and the expiration of 120 days from the date of the last USA Swimming sanctioned competition with the former club.

D.  All Transfer Applications should be sent to MVS Registration Chair

1.      All Transfer applications, inter-LSC transfer into MVS, inter-LSC transfer from MVS, and intra-LSC transfer from one MVS club to another, MUST be sent to the MVS Registration Chair.

2.      The athlete transferring from one USA Swimming club to another MUST compete as an "Unattached" athlete for a period of 120 days from the date of the last USA Swimming sanctioned competition for the former club before transfer to the new club can be complete;

3.      a)  The 120 day period cannot be waived;

b)  During the 120 day period, the athlete cannot represent any USA Swimming club in competition and cannot swim on a relay with any USA Swimming club;

c)  Deliberate misrepresentation of the status of an athlete will be referred to the Central Zone Board of Review;

Section 5 -- Missouri Valley Swimming Rules

1)  Meet Schedule -- A calendar of meets for Missouri Valley Swimming, including championship meets, is drawn up and approved at the House of Delegates twice each year from applications received from those seeking to host meets. With the exception of championship meets, all meet requests are granted based on a free-market approach. Teams will be notified if there are an excessive number of meets within one geographic region.  Subject to HOD approval of the meet schedule, sanctions are granted to member clubs to sponsor a competition or exhibition (meet) within the territorial jurisdiction of Missouri Valley Swimming in accordance with USA Swimming regulations and the following requirements:

1.      Meet requests will be submitted online via the Missouri Valley Meet Bid Form. This requirement applies to all meets requiring LSC Sanction or Approval, including Closed League Championships. Closed League dual and tri meets may be blanket sanctioned and do not have to be listed on the Master Schedule.

2.      Clubs will submit requests for meets of their choice in Spring for the following Short Course season, and in Fall for the following Long Course season.  Championship meet bids are due at the same time and should be submitted online.

3.      A preliminary schedule will be presented to the MVS Executive Board and published to the MVS web site after the bid deadline and prior to the House of Delegates meeting.

4.      Meet requests may be modified, withdrawn and added as necessary until final schedule approval.

5.      The scheduling committee will present final schedule recommendations to the MVS Board of Directors at their meeting preceding the House of Delegates meeting. The Board will review the schedule and submit a recommended schedule for approval at the House of Delegates.

6.      Clubs hosting meets in accordance with the approved and published Master Meet Schedule will submit sanction requests in accordance with published procedures.

7.      Once the final LSC Meet Schedule has been approved, no meets may be added without the express review and approval of those clubs directly impacted by the proposed meet addition.


B.  Meet Sanction Application and Sanction Fees -- Swimmers' performances will be accepted as valid for records, awards, and to meet qualifying standards, only when achieved in competition or exhibitions sanctioned by USA Swimming, or when specifically granted such acceptance without sanction by USA Swimming rules. All competition and exhibitions in which MVS registered athletes perform shall be sanctioned unless exempt in accordance with USA Swimming rules.

1.   Application -- To obtain a Sanction, an application by a member club in good standing, must be submitted by using the Application for Meet Sanction form 45 days in advance of the meet, unless the time is shortened or waived by the MVS General Chair.  This requirement allows review, approval, and issuance of meet information 30 days prior to the scheduled meet.  Any Meet Sanction application submitted less than 45 days prior to the first date of the meet will be assessed a penalty of $50 plus $2 per day for each day after the 45 day deadline has passed.  This fee will be due with the other Sanction fees provided below—see Section 4 below for fees;

a)  The Application must be accompanied by a copy of the proposed meet announcement;

b)  The meet announcement must contain the following:

i)  the name and contact information (email/phone) for the certified meet referee, and the names of the administrative official and meet director, all of whom shall be current members of USA swimming.  The meet referee, administrative official, and meet director roles shall all be different individuals.

ii)           a statement that no entries will be accepted unless the entrant is registered in accordance with USA Swimming and MVS regulations and that competitors' registration numbers appear on the entry form;

iii)          the classification(s) of competition and the limit on entrants and/or entries;

iv)           all qualifying time standards;

v) All requirements and statements outlined in articles 202.2 and 202.3 of the USA Swimming Rule Book

2.  Conduct of Meet -- All events and conduct of the meet must conform with the current USA Swimming Rules. and be in accordance with Missouri Valley Rules. All meet invitations, advertising, and the program must contain the statement: "Sanctioned by Missouri Valley of USA Swimming, Inc.";

a)  Use of Hy-Tek Meet Manager Software: Teams seeking to host Missouri Valley Swimming meets must use the current version of Hy-Tek's "Meet Manager" software to run the meet.  Other software programs must be approved by Missouri Valley prior to use.

3.  Reports

a)  Detailed results of heats and finals must be submitted using the online form to the Missouri Valley Office, treasurer and the Records Chair within 21 days after the close of the meet. In addition, the Records Chair must also receive a Hy-Tek file of meet results;

4.  Meet Fees

a)    Before a meet can be held: an application for sanction fee of $15.00 must be paid with the application for sanction, discussed in Section 1. above;

b)   After the meet:

i)  a financial report of a swim meet must be filed with the Missouri Valley Treasurer. This report, and all accompanying fees, are due 21 days following the meet. The financial report must include:

(a)  The financial report including the name and date of the meet, the sanction number and the name, address and phone number of a contact person;

(b)  An "Entry Fee Summary" report from Meet Manager showing the total number of entries from each team, including individual entries and relay entries;

(c)  A check from the host club made payable to Missouri Valley Swimming for the total amount listed on the financial report;

ii)  a copy of the final results of the meet must be sent to all clubs attending the meet, regardless of the number of swimmers attending from a club.

iii)  a copy of the final results of the meet must also be sent to the Missouri Valley Office, treasurer and the Records Chair, all of whose addresses are on the "Officers and Committee Chairs" page. In addition, the Missouri Valley Records Chair must also receive a file containing Meet Manager results from the meet.

iv)  All reports required herein must be filed not later than 21 days following the meet.

c)  Fees are as follows:

i)           For all Sanctioned meets – Sanction fee of $15.00 or 15% of the total entry fees, whichever is greater. These fees are in addition to the Sanction application fee of $15.00 paid before the meet.

ii)  For all Sanctioned Inter-Squad Meets -- A sanction fee of $15.00 is payable after the meet, provided no entry fees are charged. This fee is in addition to the Sanction application fee of $15.00 paid before the meet.

iii)  For all Approved Meets -- Both the Sanction application fee of $15.00 and the Sanction fee of $15.00 are due and payable at the time the application for sanction is submitted. No fees are due following the meet.

iv)  For all Blanket Sanctions

(a)  If the League charges no entry fees for any dual meet, the League receiving a blanket sanction will pay a sanction fee of $15.00 within 21 days of the first meet held under the blanket sanction. This fee is in addition to the Sanction application fee of $15.00 paid before any meets are held. These fees cover all meets held under the blanket sanction (provided no entry fees are charged for any such dual meet) except they do not cover League Championship Meets.

(b)  If the League charges any entry fee for any dual meet, the League receiving a blanket sanction will pay $15.00 or 15% of the total meet entry fees (whichever is greater) for each dual meet in which entry fees are charged. Any fee charged in this paragraph is in addition to the Sanction application fee of $15.00 paid before any meets are held. All fees due under this paragraph must be paid within 21 days of the completion of the dual meet at which entry fees are charged.

(c)  League Championship Meets -- League Championship meets must be sanctioned separately from the League's Blanket Sanction;

1. A $15.00 sanction application fee is due upon submission of the application for sanction for the League Championship meet;

2.  After the meet, the League must pay:

a. $15.00 if no entry fees are charged;
b.  $15.00 or 15% of the total entry fees (whichever is greater).

d)  Late Payment of Fees Policy:

i)           All meet fees, sanction application fees, overage fees, and participation fees are due not later than 21 days following the completion of the last day of competition in any MVS sanctioned or approved meets. After 21 days, the host club is considered delinquent.

ii)  In the event these fees are not paid within 30 days following the last day of the meet, the MVS treasurer will send a payment due notice to the host club.

iii)  In the event these fees are not paid within 45 days following the last day of the meet, the MVS treasurer will advise the host club that after 60 days, the matter will be referred to the MVS Administrative Board of Review.

iv)  In the event these fees are not paid within 60 days following the last day of the meet, the MVS treasurer shall refer the matter to the MVS Administrative Board of Review.

v)  During any period following the 21 days after the last day of the meet, the delinquent host club shall be ineligible to receive a further swimming sanction or approval from Missouri Valley Swimming.

vi)  If the sanction for which a host club is delinquent is any MVS Championships, Winter Qualifier, Midwest Winter Classic or Districts and more than 60 days have passed since the last day of the meet, the host club shall be ineligible to bid to host any future, not-yet-awarded MVS Championships, Winter Qualifier  Midwest Winter Classic or Districts for the next two succeeding bid cycles.

5.  Overage Fees -- In addition to any fees mentioned in this section, additional "overage" fees will be assessed in the event of violation of the USA Swimming 4-Hour Rule. Any such fees must be self-reported by the host club and are due to Missouri Valley Swimming at the same time as all other fees under this section.  These "overage fees" are discussed later in the section dealing with the Four Hour Rule.

6.  Voiding of Granted Sanctions -- Any sanction granted under these rules may be voided by the Missouri Valley General Chair with concurrence of a majority of the Executive Board, if any condition of the sanction is violated or if the host has failed to comply with any of these rules, including submission of results and fees. In addition, future sanctions may be denied by the General Chair to a club failing to fulfill any condition of any sanction or if a club has failed to comply with any of these rules, including submission of results and fees.

C.  The Classified Age Group Swimming Program -- Basic Policy: The classified swimming program is designed to create an incentive in Age Group swimming, balance the size of meets, and offer the fairest progressive type of competition possible. Large meets with numerous entries in certain classifications tend to restrict the growth of Age Group programs. Classifications are "A," "B," and "C."

1.          A Class "A" swimmer is one who, in sanctioned or approved competition equals or betters the "A" time set for the stroke and distance by the USA Swimming Age Group Committee. The Class "B" swimmer is one who equals or betters the "B" times established by the USA Swimming Age Group Committee, but has not reached the "A" time. A class "C" swimmer is one who has not equaled or bettered the "B" times as established by the USA Swimming Age Group Committee. When "A" or "B" times standards are changed, those swimmers who have bettered the new standard are "A" or "B" in the stroke or strokes as appropriate.

2.  In a Class "B" meet, a swimmer may not enter any event in which an "A" time has been achieved, but may enter all other events. A swimmer in a "B" meet relay may not swim a stroke in which the swimmer has achieved an "A" time at the distance, except as permitted in Rule 5 below. In addition, 13-14, 15-18, and senior swimmers who have an "A" time in the 100 back, breast or butterfly may not swim that stroke in a 200 "B" meet medley relay. Further, a swimmer with an "A" time in the freestyle may not swim in any "B" meet freestyle relay team. "B" swimmers are eligible to swim relays in "A" meets. A Class "C" meet has the same relationship and rules as a "B" meet.

3.  A swimmer who equals or betters an "A" or "B" time in a particular stroke at a recognized distance is an "A" or "B" swimmer in that stroke and for that distance and time. A swimmer who achieves an "A" time in yards must also achieve an "A" time in meters. For example, a "B" swimmer who achieves an "A" time in 50 yard freestyle is not automatically an "A" swimmer in 50 meter freestyle, nor is this swimmer an "A" swimmer in the 100, 200 or other yard or meter freestyle.

4.  Changing age groups will necessitate qualifying in the older age group according to the established time for that group. A swimmer who has, however, made an "A" or "B" time for an older age group, while still in the younger age group, will be Class "A" or "B" after changing age.

5.  A swimmer who makes an "A" time in a stroke and distance must scratch this stroke and distance from all future "B" meets already entered. When a swimmer achieves an "A" time after mailing an entry for a "B" event in an upcoming "A"/"B" meet, the swimmer must be entered in the equivalent "A" event, and may be assigned a heat and lane position by the Meet Director or Meet Referee in the most convenient spot. The same is true in "C" meets. The "A," "B," "C" classification does not change during a meet after a swimmer makes an "A" or "B" time.

6.  Meets in which more than one classification of competition is provided for any age group must use the qualifying time standards as provided by the USA Swimming "A," "B," "C" classifications. Meets which provide only one classification of competition in an age group may establish minimum qualifying times for the meet, but may not define the meet in "A," "B," or "C" classification terms. Any meet using only MVS time standards for any classification may be so termed.

7.  The 8 and under classification will be a separate and distinct age category in all meets where the 8 and under division is offered. The 8 and under category is not a part of the 10 and under category. An 8 and under may enter 8 and under or 10 and under competition providing the swimmer has achieved any minimum classification time required by the meet, as long as the day's maximum number of events allowed is not exceeded. No individual or team points will be offered for 8 and under categories in Open competition. 8 and under swimmers may score individual and team points in Closed competition. 8 and under swimmers who achieve points in 10 and under events are eligible to receive points in 10 and under events.

8.  Scoring shall comply with the USA Swimming National Swimming Rules.

9.  The policy of Missouri Valley Swimming is to use USA Swimming National Top 16-based "A," "B," and "C" time standards.

D.  Amateur Standing of Athletes -- Extreme care should be exercised in protecting Amateur standing and eligibility. All coaches, athletes, officials and parents are governed by the swimming rules of USA Swimming and Missouri Valley Swimming. Where there is any doubt about a rule, a written clarification can be sought to protect against misunderstanding produced by verbal information. Coaches should retain a list of current USA Swimming numbers for all team members. Information regarding travel to another country to compete, train or demonstrate and information about invitations to foreign clubs or swimmers to train in the United States can be obtained by contacting Missouri Valley Office.

Section 6 -- Missouri Valley Scratch Rules

A.  Individual Scratch Rule 

1. Pre-Seeded Meets -- Each swimmer shall report promptly prior to the start of each race in which the swimmer is entered.

a)  Any swimmer not reporting for or competing in an individual timed final event shall not be penalized.

b)  Any swimmer not reporting for or competing in a preliminary heat when finals are scheduled shall not be penalized.

2.  Deck-Seeded Events will be based on the national scratch rule 207.11.6

a)  Swimmers may scratch from an event in which they are entered by following the procedures set forth in the meet announcement.


b)  The scratch deadline for the first day’s events shall be posted in the meet information. The scratch deadline for all subsequent days’ events shall be thirty (30) minutes after the time established for the start of the finals sessions.


c)  In all events where preliminary heats are necessary, after the heats have been seeded, any swimmer who fails to compete in an individual event heat in which such swimmer entered and has not been scratched in accordance with sub-paragraphs A and B above will be barred from all further individual and relay events of that day. The application of this penalty shall pertain to the order in which the event/heats are swum, not the numerical order of the events. Additionally that swimmer shall not be seeded in any individual events on succeeding days unless that swimmer declares an intent to swim prior to the close of the scratch box for that day’s events.


d)   Scratching from finals:

                            i.     Any swimmer qualifying for a C, B, or A (bonus and consolation final or) final race in an individual event who fails to compete in said final shall be barred from further competition for the remainder of the meet, except as noted in paragraph E. A declared false start under 101.1.3E or deliberate delay of meet under 101.1.5 is not permitted and will be regarded as a failure to compete.

                           ii.     In the event of withdrawal or barring of a swimmer from competition the Referee shall fill the C, B, or A (bonus and consolation final or) final, when possible, with the next qualified swimmer(s). First and second alternates shall be announced along with the final qualifiers. These alternates shall not be penalized if unavailable to compete in the finals.

                         iii.     Where C and B (bonus and consolation) finals have not been swum and a barring or withdrawal is known to the Referee, the Referee shall reseed the C, B and A (bonus final and consolation final and the) final, if necessary, to insert the alternate(s) in the appropriate lane(s), filling all lanes in the final.

                         iv.     If the C and B (bonus and consolation) finals have already been contested, the (championship) final shall be swum without reseeding for the empty lane(s).

e)  Exceptions for Failure to compete — No penalty shall apply for failure to withdraw or compete in an individual event if:

                            i.     The Referee is notified in the event of illness or injury and accepts the proof thereof.

                           ii.     A swimmer qualifying for a C, B, or A (bonus or consolation final or) final race based upon the results of the preliminaries notifies the Referee within thirty (30) minutes after announcement of the qualifiers for that race that they may not intend to compete and further declares their final intentions within thirty (30) minutes following their last individual preliminary event.

                         iii.     It is determined by the Referee that failure to compete is caused by circumstances beyond the control of the swimmer.

Section 7 -- Missouri Valley Cancellation of Meet Rule

If a Missouri Valley Club has already sent out meet information for an upcoming meet, the following cancellation policies apply:

A.  If less than 20% of the number of swimmers listed in the meet information as being the number that will be accepted by the host club enter the meet, the meet may be cancelled by the host team, with no penalty, so long as the teams who did enter the meet are notified within 24 hours following the entry deadline;

B.  If more than 20% of the number of swimmers listed in the meet information as being the number that will be accepted by the host club enter the meet, and the host team cancels the meet, a penalty may be imposed by the Meet Scheduling Committee and/or the General Chair. Additionally, if the meet was on the Missouri Valley Meet Schedule, the host team will not receive a sanction for that meet weekend the following year;

Section 8 -- The Four Hour Rule

The "Four Hour Rule" is contained in 205.3.1.F of the USA Swimming Rules and provides:

With the exception of championship meets, the program in all other age group competition below the national A-time level shall be arranged to allow the events in the 10 and under and 11-12 age groups to be completed in four (4) hours or less for a timed finals session or in a total of eight (8) hours or less per day for a preliminaries and finals meet.

To comply with this provision, Missouri Valley Swimming has adopted the following rules:

A.  Definition of Terms: "Championship Meet," is defined as any closed swimming competition, the scored outcome of which designates a team as placing first in a league, YMCA or LSC Championship. This definition also includes the Missouri Valley District Meet, even though it is not scored.

B.  Missouri Valley Rules Guidelines:

1.  For all meets, a session is deemed to have begun when the first heat of competition is started, and is deemed to have concluded when the final swimmer in the final heat of the final event has finished.

a)  For purpose of the Four Hour Rule, the "start" of each session is considered to be the start of the first heat of competition, regardless of whether swimmers in that heat fall within the auspices of the "Four Hour Rule;"

b)  Also for purpose of the Four Hour Rule, the "finish" of each session shall be considered the final touch of the last swimmer who does fall under the auspices of the "Four Hour Rule," regardless of whether that is the last heat scheduled in the session.

2.  In the event of an interruption of competition caused by weather and/or mechanical malfunction or breakdown, the referee may, with discretion, rule that the time taken to wait for suitable weather or to repair equipment should not be included in determining the length of the session.

3.  The time set aside for warm-up shall not be included in determining the length of the session.


4.  Meets which fall within the "Four Hour Rule," 205.3.1.F, for 10 and Under and 11-12 age groups include:

·  All C meets;

·  All B/C meets;

·  All A/B/C meets;

·  All meets designated by the host as "developmental;"

·  All meets that designate events as "novice;"

·  All 8 and Under competition;

·  All dual meets, including all League or Blanket Sanction meets;

5.   If events which do not fall within the "Four Hour Rule," such as 13 and Over or "A" events, extend a session beyond the requisite time limit, the host shall be deemed in compliance with both the letter and spirit of the rule. If all events of the 10 and Under and 11-12 age groups of swimmers who are below the National "A" classification standard have concluded within the prescribed time as measured from the start of the session, there is compliance with the rule.

6.  It is the obligation of the host club to work with the meet Referee to assure, in advance, that all meet sessions to which the "Four Hour Rule" is applicable comply with that rule.

7.  In the event a meet session subject to the "Four Hour Rule" runs beyond 4½ hours, the meet host shall pay to Missouri Valley Swimming 100% of all entry fees for all swims that begin beyond the "Four Hour Rule" limit.

8.  If, at the end of four hours of timed finals competition, or eight hours of preliminary and finals competition, in sessions that fall within the "Four Hour Rule," the events scheduled for that session have not been completed, and the host club elects to cease operation of that session, all entry fees for events not swum shall be refunded to the participants

9.  In addition, the Missouri Valley Board of Directors may, from time to time, establish further guidelines and/or recommendations for penalties for violation of the "Four Hour Rule."

C.  Minimum Time Between Sessions for same competitive classifications -- The minimum time between the end of one program session and the start of competition for another program session in which the same competitive classifications are competing shall be two (2) hours.


Section 9 -- Assuring Safety

A.  USA Swimming Provisions -- USA Swimming, Inc., the National Governing Body for competitive swimming, considers the safety of its members to be of utmost importance. As a result, USA Swimming is committed to safety and risk management and has developed a comprehensive safety program to address safety, from the national to the local level.

1.  At the national level, USA Swimming has established a standing committee on safety, the USA Swimming Safety Education Committee. It considers and recommends policies on safety to the USA Swimming Board of Directors and House of Delegates.

2.  Safety is also a part of all swim meets. As a condition of any Sanction for any USA Swimming Meet (except approved meets) and as a requirement for USA Swimming insurance coverage, all participants must meet the following conditions:

a)  all swimmers, meet directors, referees, administrative officials, starters, and stroke and turn judges, serving in an official capacity in a sanctioned meet, must be members of USA Swimming and their LSC;

b)  all persons acting in a coaching capacity in a sanctioned meet must be coach members of USA Swimming and their LSC;

c)  every club which participates in USA Swimming competition, and all its athletes and coaches, sanctioned by the Corporation must be members of USA Swimming and their LSC.

B.  Coaches Safety Curriculum -- USA Swimming has also taken an active role in the safety education of its coach members. The Coaches Safety Curriculum includes training in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Safety Training for Swim Coaches. Completion of all parts of the curriculum is required for all USA Swimming coaches.

C.  Missouri Valley Enforcement Policies

1.   Enforcement in Membership -- The USA Swimming Coach Membership Credential certifies a coach by listing current certification and registration expirations.

a)  The Missouri Valley Registration Chair will certify credentials denoting full coach membership in USA Swimming to those individuals who have successfully completed the current Coaches Safety Curriculum Requirements. These individuals must:

i)  Provide the Registration Chair with a photocopy or electronic image of the front and back of the certificates or cards issued upon completion of CPR and Safety Training for Swim Coaches, and complete the appropriate background check, Athlete Protection training and education requirements.

ii)  Have a Current status in those certificates at the time of the application;

iii)  Complete a USA Swimming Non-Athlete Membership Application and pay the appropriate fee.

b)  Those applicants who fail to provide adequate proof of completion of the Coaches Safety Curriculum requirements at the time of application will be issued a USA Swimming Non-Athlete Membership until adequate proof is supplied.

2.  Enforcement at Meets

a)  No person without a USA Swimming Coach membership will be allowed to participate in any coaching capacity at any USA Swimming sanctioned competition. This restriction includes being barred from the deck area at all LSC, zone, sectional, futures junior national, national, and international qualifying competitions.

ii)  Each coach member MUST display the Coach Membership credential in a manner that is likely to be visible to a reasonable meet Referee to be entitled to exercise coaching privileges during competition;

b)  All officials and other meet officials shall display a credential indicating membership in and certification by USA Swimming at all times the official is on the deck;

c)  If an offending person refuses to comply with these provisions after an initial warning, the meet referee shall exercise discretion to have the offender removed from the deck area. If the offending person is a coach, all athletes from the club of that person may be designated as "unattached" for the entire competition, unless the club has another USA Swimming coach member present.

d)  It shall be the responsibility of the Meet Referee, or designee, to enforce these provisions.

3.  Enforcement at Practice

a)  In the event a team holds a practice which is not under the direct supervision of a coach who satisfies the Coaches Safety Curriculum, there is no USA Swimming liability insurance for the Club and, because this practice is not approved by USA Swimming and Missouri Valley Swimming, there is not likely to be any secondary accident insurance for any athlete.

b)  Continuous failure of a coach to satisfy the Coaches Safety Curriculum requirement will be considered grounds for termination of membership;

c)  Continuing to conduct a club program with coaches who have failed to satisfy the Coaches Safety Curriculum requirement shall be grounds for termination of club membership.

4.  Implementation Requirements -- Each coach must be properly registered coach and certified per USA Swimming requirements.  Those clubs who do not have at least one properly registered coach as of January 1 for full-year clubs or April 15 for seasonal clubs must immediately cease all activities requiring the presence of a USA Swimming coach until a properly registered USA Swimming coach is obtained. "Properly registered," as used here means registered with the Missouri Valley office as a Coach Member as required in the section "Enforcement in Membership."

D.  Missouri Valley Safety Guidelines and Warm-Up Procedure

1.  Responsibilities of Coaches

a)  Coaches shall instruct swimmers as to the safety guidelines and procedures to be followed at all meets and practice sessions

b)  Coaches shall continually supervise their swimmers during meets and practice sessions.

2.  Host Team Responsibilities

a)  The Host team shall provide for a minimum of one Marshal per pool to adequately secure compliance with warm-up procedures.

b)  Marshals are not required to be registered members of USA Swimming.  Facility-hired and either American Red Cross or Ellis currently-Certified Life Guards may also work as Safety Marshalls.

c)  The Meet Information shall state warm-up procedures and also include that Missouri Valley Swimming Safety Guidelines and warm-up procedures will be in effect at the meet.

d)  Copies of these Guidelines and Procedures shall be posted at several locations around the pool.

e)  The announcer shall be available during the warm-up sessions to assist with announcing procedures and conduct of the warm-up period.

3.  General Rules Throughout Warm-Up

a)  Control/Supervision are the key words for safe swimming during this period.

b)  Marshals will remain on duty for the entire warm-up period.

c)  Marshals will be responsible for the control and supervision of swimmers both in and out of the pool.

d)  Swimmers or coaches who do not or will not follow the prescribed Warm-Up Procedures or directions of Marshals or USA Swimming Officials may be barred from the use of the warm-up area.

e)  Changes to Warm-Up procedures and other factors necessary to ensure swimmers safety may be made by the host team with the consent of the referee.

f)    All safety guidelines are to be followed. They should be implemented and used considering the number of lanes, physical layout of the pool, and number of swimmers in the meet.

4.  Options for General and Specific Warm-Up Periods

a)  The meet director, in consultation with the meet referee, will select one of the following warm-up options. The meet director, the meet marshals, and the meet referee enforce the option selected;

b)  Option 1:

i)   General Warm-Up Period

(a)  The first half of warm-up period shall be allocated to general warm-up in all lanes.

(b) Swimmers must enter the pool by stepping in feet first, or sitting and sliding in, in a safe and cautious manner. Entering in any other manner may result in the disqualification from one or more of the swimmer’s events for that session.

(c)  No sprinting, pace work, or paddles are allowed.

(d)  Circle swimming only is permitted during this period.

ii)  Specific Warm-Up Period

(a) The second half of the warm-up period should be allocated to specific lane usage as shown in the following chart:





Racing, Starts & Sprints

General Warm-Up

4 Lanes



3 & 4

6 Lanes

1 & 6

2 & 5

3 & 4

7 Lanes

1 & 7

2 & 6

3, 4, & 5

8 Lanes

1 & 8

2 & 7

3, 4, 5, & 6


In Push/Pace Lanes--No racing starts. Push off one or two lengths from the starting end.


i)      In Push/Pace Lanes--No racing starts. Push off one or two lengths from the starting end. Circle swimming only.

ii)    In Racing Starts/Sprint Lanes--Racing starts, including backstroke starts, permitted from the blocks. Swimmers must exit pool upon completion of one length of the pool. Relay take-off practice is not permitted. Swimmers must walk back around the sides of the pool to the starting end. Backstrokers shall ensure they are not starting at the same time as a swimmer on the blocks. Swimmers shall not step up on the blocks if there is a backstroker waiting to start.

iii)   In General Warm-Up Lanes--No racing starts. Circle swimming only.

c)  Option 2:

i)   Host team will determine the need for split warm-up times. The rule of thumb provides a maximum of 25 swimmers per lane. To reach this goal, the warm-up period may be split into two or more sessions.

ii)  The host team will assign teams by lane and time period to provide equal usage of pool and warm-up time.

iii)  Coaches and marshals will determine appropriate flow patterns in each lane following Missouri Valley Guidelines. During the first half of the warm-up, only General warm-up as stated in "General Warm-Up" in Option 1, is allowed. During the second half of a warm-up period, a lane may be used for one of the following warm-up types:

(a)  Push/pace lane -- as defined in "Lane Use" above:

(b)  Racing Starts or Sprints -- as defined in "Lane Use" above;

(c)  General Warm-Up lane -- as defined in "Lane Use" above.

iv)  When a Coach desires to turn a team's lane into a Racing Start or Sprint lane, all swimmers must be removed from the lane, a marshal and all coaches in adjoining lanes must be notified, and all starts and sprints shall comply with "Racing Starts or sprints," in "Lane Use" above.

d)  Option 3: A Host team may design an appropriate warm-up procedure provided this procedure:

i)  meets the safety needs of participants in the meet;

ii)  adheres to all Missouri Valley Safety Guidelines set forth herein;

iii)  is approved by the referee prior to the beginning of the warm-up period.

5.  General Safety Guidelines During a Meet

a)  No running on deck.

b)  In case of a recall start, swimmers shall not jump or dive into the pool to stop swimmers.

c)  When side lanes are used for warm-up and warm-down during the meet, no racing starts or sprints are allowed. Only circle swimming is permitted.

d)  Any warm-up area is to be used by USA Swimming registered Swimmers only; and may not be used by parents, siblings of swimmers or spectators.

e)  Any separate warm-up pool or area shall be under the supervision of a Marshall at all times.

Section 10 -- Missouri Valley Championship Meet "Bonus" Swim Rule

A.  Every swimmer entered in a Missouri Valley Championship Meet (Winter Qualifier, Winter Classic, MV Districts and MV Championships) must have at least one individual qualifying time to be eligible to enter the meet. A swimmer must be entered in a qualified event in order to enter “Bonus events”;

B.  Every eligible swimmer may swim up to two "bonus events", but may not enter more events than the meet maximum number of individual entries. "Bonus events" are defined as events of 200 yards/meters or less in which the swimmer has not achieved the qualifying time in the swimmer's own age group. A swimmer under the age of 15 may not enter any senior or Open event as a bonus event [including senior events more than 200 yards]. In addition, the swimmer must have a provable time in any event they elect to swim as a “Bonus event”;

C.  When entering an event as a "bonus event," the swimmer's entry should clearly indicate that the entry is a "bonus event entry", as dictated by the team’s management software or USA Swimming’s OME. The entry time for all "bonus events" shall be the swimmer's actual best time for that event followed by a "B" to indicate the swim is a "bonus swim."

D.  Proof of time rules apply to all entries not specifically designated as "Bonus" swims. Thus, if a swimmer has not designated the event as a "bonus" swim, does not swim the qualifying time standard for the event at the meet, and cannot prove attainment of the qualifying time, the

Section 11 -- MVS District Championships and MVS Qualifier Age-Up Rule

Swimmers aged 10, 12, or 14 who age up from the first day of the MVS Winter Qualifier/MVS District Championships to the first day of Midwestern Winter Classic/MVS Championships with times too fast to qualify for this championship meet will be allowed to compete in this meet under the following conditions:

A.  10, 12, or 14 year old swimmers who do not qualify for an event in their new age group at Midwestern Winter Classic/MVS Championships may enter it in this meet

B.  10, 12, or 14 year old swimmers aging up between championship meets will be seeded correctly by time in that event; however, they will swim exhibition only and will not be eligible to receive an award or to swim in finals in that event.

Section 12 -- Missouri Valley Scholarship Guidelines

Missouri Valley Scholarship assistance may be available to athlete members of USA Swimming who are in good standing with MVS and their own swim club. The intent of this scholarship is to provide financial aid to those swimmers who consistently demonstrate a sincere commitment to maximizing their swimming potential.

Scholarship assistance may be used for, but are not limited to:

·       Club fees

·       Entry fees

·       Travel expenses for meets beyond the local level;

·       Swim apparel/gear for meets beyond the local level;

Club assistance should be provided before application is made for Scholarship funds.

Application for scholarship funds should be made by the swimmer, or the swimmer's Coach or Club by using the online application on the Missouri Valley Swimming web site. The following criteria will be used in awarding Scholarship Funds:

·       Financial need

·       Sincere interest in and commitment to competitive swimming

·       Faithfulness in practice and meet participation

·       Coach/Club recommendation

A swimmer may reapply for Scholarship assistance as long as the above criteria are met. No Club/Swimmer will be awarded an amount that exceeds 10% of the budgeted Scholarship funds for any fiscal year. Scholarship funds will be paid to the Club for distribution to the swimmer. For audit purposes, swimmers must submit receipts to the Scholarship Committee within one month of receipt of Scholarship funds.

An Application for Scholarship Assistance is contained in the "Forms" Section of this website.

Section 13 -- Certification of Officials

The requirements for Missouri Valley Officials are as follows:

·       All Referees, Stroke & Turn Judges, Starters, Chief Judges, Administrative Officials and Summer League Officials must be current members of USA Swimming AND meet the additional, appropriate requirements as set forth below.

·       Summer League Referees, Administrative Officials, Stroke & Turn Judges and Starters must attend a training clinic annually, and satisfactorily complete an online exam initially and bi-annually thereafter for their appropriate level of certification.

New Stroke & Turn Judges, Administrative Officials and Starters:

·       Training Clinic: All New Stroke & Turn Judges, Administrative Officials and Starters must attend a training clinic, authorized by the Officials Chair, at which instruction is given in the various swimming rules and questions concerning the online exams are reviewed. The MVS official conducting the training clinic will input the attendees into OTS. New Stroke & Turn Judges and Starters are encouraged to complete the appropriate online USA Swimming Officials Exam found on the USA Swimming website prior to attending a training clinic. Results from the examination are returned electronically to the prospective trainee official and the MVS Officials Chair. Following satisfactory completion of the clinic and exam, the person will become a Stroke & Turn or Starter Apprentice.   

·       Starter Apprentice: Any person wishing to become a Starter Apprentice must have served as a full status Stroke & Turn Judge for one year prior to Starter training.

·       Officials' Exam: Tests are available online at any level that the Officials are being certified, with guidelines showing which tests are to be taken. Guidelines may be found on the officials' page at To be certified at any level of officiating, a person must score an 80% or better on the exam for the level he/she is being examined. An Official's Certification Card will be available when their registration in USA Swimming has been confirmed by the MVS Office.

·       On-Deck Experience: The Stroke & Turn, Administrative Official and/or Starter Apprentice are required to work with a full status official for a minimum of six meet sessions (not including Time Trials). In order to provide the trainee with the opportunity to work with a number of experienced officials, these six or more meet sessions must be worked at a minimum of TWO DIFFERENT MEETS. These work sessions shall be recorded on the Official's Tracking System database via the USA Swimming official’s website by the meet referee.

·       Full Status: When a minimum of six sessions have been completed, and if the meet referee of the 6th or latter session and apprentice are both confident of his/her ability to be a competent MVS swimming official, the meet referee will advise the Officials Chair and Officials Committee designee for certification that the official is now full status in the position.


Full Status Administrative Officials, Stroke & Turn Judges and Starters:

·       Each Full Status Administrative Officials, Stroke & Turn Judge, and Starter must bi-annually attend a re-certification clinic for each position and take the online USA Swimming Officials Exams for his/her level of certification, which can be found on the USA Swimming website prior to attending a training clinic. When all requirements are met and registration with USA Swimming is confirmed, a new Official's Certification Card will be issued though OTS (Officials Tracking System).

·       Officials' Exam: Tests are available online for each level that the Official is being re-certified, with guidelines showing which tests are to be taken. Guidelines may be found on the official's page at To be re-certified at any level of officiating, a person must score an 80% or better on the exam at the level he/she is re-certifying. The exam should be taken at least bi-annually, prior to the expiration of the official's current certification.

·       On-Deck Experience: All on-deck experience of Full Status Stroke & Turn Judges and Starters shall be recorded in the Official's Tracking System database via the USA Swimming official’s website by the meet referee.

·       The on-deck experience requirements for Full Status Stroke & Turn Judge and Starters depend on whether the official works the full year or in a seasonal league:

·       Full Year Officials: A year-round Full Status Administrative Official, Stroke & Turn Judge/Starter must work a minimum of six sessions at any level USA Swimming sanctioned meet, annually. No more than four sessions can be earned at the same meet.

·       Seasonal League Officials: A Full Status Administrative Official, Stroke & Turn Judge and/or Starter, who works as a seasonal official, must work a minimum of six sessions at any level USA Swimming sanctioned meet, annually.

·       In the event the Official fails to meet the on-deck experience or other re-certification requirements, the Official must return to apprentice status.

·       An Official's Certification Card will then be processed for the re-certifying Official when his/her test scores and on-deck experience has been received by the MVS Officials Chair.

New Referees:

·       To qualify for the position of Referee, a person must have worked as a full status Stroke & Turn Judge for two years and full status Starter for one year. Although a person may have more experience in one capacity or the other, it is necessary that experience be demonstrated in both positions, as a Referee may be required to take over in any capacity while refereeing a meet. In addition, MVS Referees should be able to instruct Stroke & Turn Judges and Starters.

·       To become an Apprentice Referee, the individual must notify the MVS Officials Chair of his/her intention to become a Referee, and then take the online examinations that apply. These clinics are held twice annually at the fall and spring MVS meetings, or a pre-designated clinic announced by the MVS Officials Chair. The clinics for new Referees will address any questions arising from the submission of this examination as well as reviewing all areas that a Referee is required to be knowledgeable. Once the person has passed the exams with an 80% or better score and successfully completed the Referee Clinic, the person will be reflected in OTS as an Apprentice Referee. Thereafter, the Apprentice Referee must, within one year, work a minimum of six sessions of any level USA Swimming sanctioned meet as a "shadow" to the Deck Referee(s) at a minimum of TWO DIFFERENT MEETS. When 6 or more sessions are completed and the Officials Chair has been notified that the Apprentice Referee has received a satisfactory evaluation from his/her final Meet Referee, the Officials Chair shall update the LSC Official Certification Card indicating the change in status.

Full Status Referee:


Option #1:

Each Full Status Referee must bi-annually attend a re-certification clinic.

·       These clinics are held regularly at the MVS fall and spring meetings or at other times specified by the MVS Officials Chair. Prior to attending a re-certification clinic, re-certifying Full Status Referees must pass the Referee's Recertification online exam with a score of 90% or better. When all requirements are met, a new Official's Certification Re-certifying the referee in all positions in which the referee is certified will be available

·       On-Deck Experience: Each Full Status Referee must work four sessions of an MVS Championship meet (Winter Qualifiers, Midwest Winter Classic, District Qualifiers, LSC Championships) or USAS Zone, Sectional, (or higher) level meet when hosted within MVS, as a referee, chief judge, starter or stroke/turn judge, AND work at least two sessions of any level USA Swimming sanctioned meet as a referee. These requirements must be fulfilled each year.

Option #2:

Nationally certified N2 or N3 Deck Referees who work at least 4 Sessions at a LSC Championship, Zone, or Sectional meet within the LSC will not be required to take the bi-annual test or clinic

Upon application to the Officials Chair for good reason, the Officials Chair may grant exceptions to experience requirements for officials.

Training Officials and Clinics:

Each Training Official must be a current MVS Full Status Referee meeting the above-described requirements and approved by the MVS Officials Committee. The MVS Officials Chair must certify him/her as a Training Official. Upon approval of the MVS Officials Chair (i.e. checking the completion of the above requirements, checking previous year's clinic completion, etc.), the Training Official will be approved to hold training clinics, for the levels approved, during that calendar year. Each training clinic must have prior approval from the Officials Chair at least two weeks in advance. This will allow MVS to get the training clinic listed in the calendar of events on the MVS website to make it available to others interested in (re)certifying.

Missouri Valley Training Officials are available to help any club conduct a clinic, either to help volunteers understand the role of swimming officials or to train:

1.   timers;

2.   stroke and turn judges;

3.   Other meet officials.

For more information, or to set up such a clinic, contact either the Missouri Valley Officials Chair listed on the "Officials and Committee Chairs" page of this website, or the MVS Office.

Note: Each new Training Official (an official who has not given a clinic before) will have a certified Training Official in attendance at their first clinic for support and observation. Missouri Valley Swimming will provide all Training Officials with their initial training videos to be used in conjunction with clinics they present.

Missouri Valley Swimming strives for excellence in our Officials by keeping them up to date with new rules and interpretations from USA Swimming. This is the primary objective of the MVS Officials Committee. Regularly scheduled training clinics will be announced on the MVS website at pre-designated times and places throughout Missouri Valley.


Section 14 -- Swimmers with Disabilities Athletes with a disability are welcomed and shall provide advance notice of desired accommodations to the Meet Referee. The athlete (or the athlete's coach) is also responsible for notifying the session referee of any disability prior to the competition. Swim hosts are encouraged to provide entry guidelines and invite these athletes to participate in their competitions.