Wisconsin Swimming




In swimming, the rules must be followed in total or a disqualification, or DQ, is committed. This can be traumatic the first time a swimmer is DQ'd for just one mistake, but it isn't fair to other swimmers who swim the entire race per the rules to do otherwise. A DQ is any violation of the rules observed by any appropriate official. Some of the more common reasons for DQ-ing are as follows.



  • Failure to touch the wall at the turning end of the pool
  • Walking on the bottom or pulling on the lane lines
  • Exiting the pool before swimming the specified distance


  • Past vertical towards the breast at any time except during a flip turn
  • Leaving the wall after a turn past vertical towards the breast
  • Improper flip turn (older swimmers)


  • Incorrect kick, such as a Scissors kick or Flutter kick
  • Non-Simultaneous two-hand touch or one hand touch at turn or finish
  • Toes not pointed outward during the propulsive part of the kick
  • More than one stroke underwater with arms fully extended at start or turn
  • Arm recovery past waist except on first stroke after start or turn
  • Head didn't break surface by conclusion of second arm pull underwater after a start or turn


  • Non-Simultaneous or one handed wall touch at the turn or finish
  • Non-Simultaneous leg movement during kicks
  • Arms don't break water surface during recovery (judged at the elbows)
  • Non Simultaneous arm movement during recovery

Relay Races

  • A swimmer leaves the deck before the previous swimmer touches the wall or deck

False Start

  • A swimmer starts the race early (more details below)


Unlike football, we don't blow a whistle and announce to the world that a rules violation occurred. When a Stroke and Turn Judge observes a violation, he raises his hand to signify that he has observed a violation then writes it up on a DQ slip. The judge then takes the slip to the referee, who verifies that rule has been broken and can question the stroke and turn judge to insure that he was able to see the violation that was cited. The referee then gives one copy of the DQ slip to the Team Rep and another copy to the Table Workers. Another clue that a DQ has occurred is a Stroke and Turn Judge writing and a longer than normal pause between events.

Disqualifications for early relay takeoffs are done slightly differently. The referee receives all the take-off slips from all the judges. If both judges on a lane agree that an early takeoff occurred, the Referee will stand over the lane that the team being DQ’d swam in and raise his hand.