Rules and Regulations – open water
FINA rules for Open Water Swim events
All World Championships, World Cups, and FINA competitions shall be governed by the rules of FINA with the following exceptions and additions.
OWS 1 DEFINITIONS
OWS 1.1 OPEN WATER SWIMMING shall be defined as any competition that takes place in rivers, lakes, oceans or water channels except for 10km events.
OWS 1.1.1 MARATHON SWIMMING shall be defined as any 10km event in open water competitions.
OWS 1.2 The age limit for all FINA Open Water Swimming events should be at least 14 years of age.
OWS 2 OFFICIALS
The following officials shall be appointed at Open Water Swimming competitions:
Chief Timekeeper plus 3 Timekeepers
Chief Judge plus 2 Finish Judges
Clerk of the Course
Race Judges (one per competitor) except for events of 10 km or less
Turn Judges (one per alteration of Course)
OWS 3 DUTIES OF OFFICIALS
THE REFEREE shall:
OWS 3.1 have full control and authority over all officials and shall approve their assignments and instruct them regarding all special features or regulations related to the competition. The Referee shall enforce all the Rules and decisions of FINA and shall decide all questions relating to the actual conduct of the competition, the final settlement of which is not otherwise covered by these Rules.
OWS 3.2 have authority to intervene in the competition at any stage to ensure that FINA Rules are observed.
OWS 3.2.1 In case of hazardous conditions that jeopardize the safety of the swimmers and the officials, in conjunction with the Safety Officer he can stop the race.
OWS 3.3 adjudicate on all protests related to the competition in progress.
OWS 3.4 give a decision in cases where the judges’ decision and times recorded do not agree.
OWS 3.5 signal to swimmers, by raised flag and short blasts on a whistle, that the start is imminent and when satisfied indicate by pointing the flag at the starter that the competition may commence.
OWS 3.6 disqualify any swimmer for any violation of the Rules that he personally observes or which is reported to him by other authorised officials.
THE ASSISTANT REFEREE shall:
OWS 3.7 ensure that all necessary officials for the conduct of the competition are at their respective posts. He may, with the approval of the Referee, appoint substitutes for any who are absent, incapable of acting or found to be inefficient. He may appoint additional officials if considered necessary.
OWS 3.8 receive all reports prior to the start of the race from the Clerk of the Course, Course Officer and Safety Officer and inform the Referee of their contents 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the race.
OWS 3.9 Approve the draw for Race Judges and allocate them to their respective escort safety craft.
THE STARTER shall:
OWS 3.10 be stationed in such a position as to be clearly visible to all competitors.
OWS 3.11 on signal of the Referee raise a distinctive flag into the vertical position.
OWS 3.12 simultaneously bring the flag holding arm down, with arm kept straight, and activate an audible signal.
THE CHIEF TIMEKEEPER shall:
OWS 3.13 assign at least three Timekeepers to their positions for the start and finish.
OWS 3.14 ensure that a time check is made to allow all persons to synchronise their watches with the official running clocks 15 minutes before start time.
OWS 3.15 collect from each Timekeeper a card showing the time recorded for each swimmer, and, if necessary, inspect their watches.
OWS 3.16 record or examine the official time on the card for each swimmer.
OWS 3.17 take the time of each swimmer assigned. The watches must have memory and print out capability and shall be certified correct to the satisfaction of the Management Committee.
OWS 3.18 start their watches at the starting signal, and only stop their watches when instructed by the Chief Timekeeper.
OWS 3.19 promptly after each finish record the time and swimmers’ number on the timecard and turn it over to the Chief Timekeeper.
Note: When Automatic Officiating Equipment is used, the same complement of hand timers is to be used.
THE CHIEF JUDGE shall:
OWS 3.20 assign each Judge to a position.
OWS 3.21 collect after the race, signed results sheets from each Judge and establish the result and placing which shall be sent directly to the Referee.
FINISH JUDGES (three, one of whom shall be the Chief Judge) shall:
OWS 3.22 be positioned in line with the finish where they shall have at all times a clear view of the finish.
OWS 3.23 record after each finish the placing of the swimmers according to the assignment given.
Note: Finish Judges shall not act as Timekeepers in the same event.
EACH RACE JUDGE shall:
OWS 3.24 be positioned in an escort safety craft, assigned by random draw prior to the start, so as to be able to observe, at all times, his appointed swimmer.
OWS 3.25 ensure at all times that the Rules of competition are complied with, violations being recorded in writing and reported to the Referee at the earliest opportunity.
OWS 3.26 have the power to order a swimmer from the water upon expiry of any time limit so ordered by the Referee.
OWS 3.27 ensure that his appointed swimmer does not take unfair advantage or commit unsporting impediment on another swimmer and if the situation requires instruct a swimmer to maintain clearance from any other swimmer.
TURN JUDGES shall:
OWS 3.28 be positioned so as to ensure all swimmers execute the alterations in course as indicated in the competition information documents and as given at the pre-race briefing.
OWS 3.29 record any infringement of the turn procedures on the record sheets provided and indicate the infringement to the Race Judge at the time of infringement by blasts on a whistle.
OWS 3.30 promptly upon completion of the event deliver the signed record sheet to the Chief Judge.
THE SAFETY OFFICER shall:
OWS 3.31 be responsible to the Referee for all aspects of safety related to the conduct of the competition.
OWS 3.32 check that the entire course, with special regard to the start and finish areas, is safe, suitable, and free of any obstruction.
OWS 3.33 be responsible for ensuring that sufficient powered safety craft are available during the competition so as to provide full safety backup to the escort safety craft.
OWS 3.34 provide prior to the competitions to all swimmers a tide/current chart clearly indicating the time of tide changes on the course and showing the effect of tides or current on a swimmer’s progress along the course.
OWS 3.35 in conjunction with the Medical Officer advise the Referee if, in their opinion, conditions are unsuitable for staging the competition and make recommendations for the modification of the course or the manner in which the competition is conducted.
THE MEDICAL OFFICER shall:
OWS 3.36 be responsible to the Referee for all medical aspects related to the competition and competitors.
OWS 3.37 inform the local medical facilities of the nature of the competition and ensure that any casualties can be evacuated to medical facilities at the earliest opportunity.
OWS 3.38 in conjunction with the Safety Officer, advise the Referee if, in their opinion, conditions are unsuitable for staging the competition and make recommendations for the modification of the course or the manner in which the competition is conducted.
THE COURSE OFFICER shall:
OWS 3.39 be responsible to the Management Committee for the correct survey of the course.
OWS 3.40 ensure the start and finish areas are correctly marked and all equipment has been correctly installed and, where applicable, is in working order.
OWS 3.41 ensure all course alteration points are correctly marked, and manned prior to the commencement of the competition.
OWS 3.42 with the Referee and Safety Officer inspect the course and markings prior to the commencement of competition.
OWS 3.43 ensure that Turn Judges are in position prior to the start of the competition and report this to the Assistant Referee.
THE CLERK OF THE COURSE shall:
OWS 3.44 assemble and prepare competitors prior to each event and ensure proper reception facilities at the finish are available for all competitors.
OWS 3.45 ensure each competitor is identified correctly with their race number and that all swimmers have trimmed fingernails and are not wearing any jewellery, including watches.
OWS 3.46 be certain all swimmers are present, in the assembly area, at the required time prior to the start.
OWS 3.47 keep swimmers and officials informed of the time remaining before the start at suitable intervals until the last five minutes, during which one-minute warnings shall be given.
OWS 3.48 be responsible for ensuring that all clothing and equipment left in the start area is transported to the finish area and kept in safekeeping.
OWS 3.49 ensure that all competitors leaving the water at the finish have the basic equipment required for their well being should their own attendants not be present at that time.
THE RECORDER shall:
OWS 3.50 record withdrawals from the competition, enter results on official forms, and maintain record for team awards as appropriate.
OWS 4 THE START
OWS 4.1 All Open Water competitions shall start with all competitors standing on a fixed platform or in water depth sufficient for them to commence swimming on the start signal.
OWS 4.1.1 When starting from a fixed platform competitors shall be assigned a position on the platform, as determined by random draw
OWS 4.2 The Clerk of the Course shall keep competitors and officials informed of the time before start at suitable intervals and at one-minute intervals for the last five minutes.
OWS 4.3 When the number of entries dictate the start shall be segregated in the Men’s and Women’s competitions. The Men’s events shall always start before the Women’s events.
OWS 4.4 The start line shall be clearly defined by either overhead apparatus or by removable equipment at water level.
OWS 4.5 The Referee shall indicate by a flag held upright and short blasts on a whistle when the start is imminent and indicate that the competition is under Starter’s orders by pointing the flag at the starter.
OWS 4.6 The Starter shall be positioned so as to be clearly visible to all competitors.
OWS 4.6.1 On the starter command “take your marks” they shall take up a starting position with at least one foot at the front of the platform.
OWS 4.6.2 The starter will give the starting signal when he considers all swimmers are ready.
OWS 4.7 The start signal shall be both audible and visual.
OWS 4.8 If in the opinion of the Referee an unfair advantage has been gained at the start the offending competitor will be given a yellow or red flag in accordance with OWS 6.3.
OWS 4.9 All escort safety craft shall be stationed prior to the start so as not to interfere with any competitor, and if picking up their swimmer from behind shall navigate in such a way as not to maneuver through the field of swimmers.
OWS 4.10 Although they may start together, in all other respects the men’s and women’s competitions shall be treated as separate events.
OWS 5 THE VENUE
OWS 5.1 World Championships and FINA competitions shall be for Open Water distances, 25 kilometres, 10 kilometres and 5 kilometres, conducted at a venue and course approved by FINA.
OWS 5.2 The course shall be in water that is subject to only minor currents or tide and may be salt or fresh water.
OWS 5.3 A certificate of suitability for use of the venue shall be issued by the appropriate local health and safety authorities. In general terms the certification must relate to water purity and to physical safety from other considerations.
OWS 5.4 The minimum depth of water at any point on the course shall be 1.40 meter.
OWS 5.5 The water temperature should be a minimum of 16°C. It should be checked the day of the race, 2 hours before the start, in the middle of the course at a depth of 40 cm. This control should be done in the presence of a Commission made up of the following persons present: a Referee, a member of the Organising Committee and one coach from the teams present designated during the Technical Meeting
OWS 5.6 All turns/alterations of course shall be clearly indicated.
OWS 5.7 A clearly marked craft or platform, containing a Turn Judge, shall be positioned at all alterations of course in such a manner as not to obstruct a swimmer’s visibility of the turn.
OWS 5.8 All turning apparatus and Turn Judges craft/platforms shall be securely fixed in position and not be subject to tidal, wind or other movements.
OWS 5.9 The final approach to the finish shall be clearly defined with markers of a distinctive colour.
OWS 5.10 The finish shall be clearly defined and marked by a vertical face.
OWS 6 THE RACE
OWS 6.1 All Open Water competitions shall be Freestyle events.
OWS 6.2 Race Judges shall instruct any swimmer who is, in their opinion, taking unfair advantage by pacing or slip streaming with the escort craft to move clear
OWS 6.3 Disqualification Procedure
OWS 6.3.1 If in the Opinion of the Referee or an Assistant Referee, any swimmer, or escort safety craft, takes advantage of, by interfering with any swimmer, by making intentional contact with any swimmer, by pacing or by slip streaming, the following proceeding shall apply:
A yellow flag and a card bearing the swimmer’s number shall be raised to indicate and to inform the swimmer that he is in violation of the Rules.
A red flag and a card bearing the swimmer’s number shall be raised by the Referee (OWS 3.6) to indicate and to inform the swimmer that he is for the second time in violation of the Rules. The swimmer shall be disqualified. He must leave the water immediately and be placed in an escort craft, and take no further part in the race.
OWS 6.3.2 If in the opinion of the Referee, an action of a swimmer or an escort craft is deemed to be “Unsporting”, the Referee shall disqualify the swimmer concerned immediately according to the FINA Rule.
OWS 6.4 Escort safety craft shall manoeuver so as not to obstruct or place themselves directly ahead of any swimmer and not take unfair advantage by pacing or slip streaming.
OWS 6.5 Escort safety craft shall attempt to maintain a constant position so as to station the swimmer at, or forward of, the mid point of the escort safety craft.
OWS 6.6 Standing on the bottom during a race shall not disqualify a swimmer but they may not walk or jump.
OWS 6.7 With the exception of 6.6 above swimmers shall not receive support from any fixed or floating object and shall not intentionally touch or be touched by their escort safety craft or crew therein.
OWS 6.7.1 Rendering assistance by an official medical officer to a swimmer in apparent distress should always supersede official rules of disqualification through “intentional contact” with a swimmer (OWS3.1)
OWS 6.8 Each escort safety craft shall contain: a Race Judge, a person of the swimmer’s choice, and the minimum crew required to operate the escort safety craft.
OWS 6.9 No swimmer shall be permitted to use or wear any device which may be an aid to their speed, endurance or buoyancy. Goggles, a maximum of two (2) caps, nose clip and earplugs may be used.
OWS 6.10 Swimmers shall be allowed to use grease or other such substances providing these are not, in the opinion of the Referee, excessive.
OWS 6.11 The pacing of a swimmer by another person entering the water is not permitted.
OWS 6.12 Coaching and the giving of instructions by the swimmer’s representative in the escort safety craft is permitted. No whistle shall be allowed on an escort boat.
OWS 6.13 When taking sustenance swimmers may use Rule OWS 6.6 provided Rule OWS 6.7 is not infringed.
OWS 6.14 All swimmers shall have their competition number clearly displayed in waterproof ink on their upper back and arms.
OWS 6.15 Each escort safety craft shall display the swimmer’s competition number so as to be easily seen from either side of the escort safety craft, and the national flag of the swimmer’s Federation.
OWS 6.16.1 In all events, time limits shall apply as follows from the finish time of the first swimmers:
Events under 25 km 30 minutes
Events of 25 km 60 minutes
Events over 25 km 120 minutes
OWS 6.16.2 Competitors who do not finish the course within the time limits shall be removed from the water except that the referee may allow a competitor outside the time limit to complete the course but not participate in any points or prizes awarded.
OWS 6.17 Emergency Abandonment
OWS 6.17.1 In cases of emergency abandonment of races of 10 km or less, the race will be restarted from the beginning at the earliest possible moment.
OWS 6.17.2 In cases of emergency abandonment for any race of longer than 10km, where the lead swimmer has accomplished at least ¾ of the race, the final ranking will be as reported by the head referee. If the lead swimmer has not completed ¾ of the race, it will be restarted from the beginning at the earliest moment possible.
OWS 7 THE FINISH OF THE RACE
OWS 7.1 The area leading to the finish apparatus should be clearly marked by rows of buoys which narrow as they get closer to the finish wall. Escort safety craft should be stationed at the approach to and entrance of the finish lane to ensure that only the escort safety craft authorized to do so enter or cross this entrance.
OWS 7.2 The finish apparatus should, where possible, be a vertical wall at least 5 metres wide fixed if necessary to floatation devices, securely fastened in place so as not to be moved by wind, tide or the force of a swimmer striking the wall. The finish should be filmed and recorded by video system with slow motion and recall facilities including timing equipment.
OWS 7.2.1 When automatic Officiating Equipment is used for timing of competitions in accordance with rule SW 11, microchip transponder technology should be added to the Equipment. Use of microchip transponder technology is mandatory for competitions at the World Championships and Olympic Games. Microchip transponder timing technology will be recorded officially in tenths of seconds. The final places will be determined by the referee based upon the finish judges’ report and the finish video tape
OWS 7.2.2 It is mandatory for all competitors to wear a microchip transponder on each wrist throughout the race.
If a competitor loses a transponder the Boat Judge will immediately inform the Referee who will instruct the responsible official on the water to issue a replacement transponder. Any competitor who finishes the race without a transponder will be disqualified.
OWS 7.3 The Finish Judges and Timekeepers shall be placed so as to be able to observe the finish at all times. The area in which they are stationed should be for their exclusive use.
OWS 7.4 Every effort should be made to ensure that the swimmers’ representative can get from the escort safety craft to meet the swimmer as they leave the water.
OWS 7.5 Upon leaving the water some swimmers may require assistance. Swimmers should only be touched or handled if they clearly display a need, or ask for assistance.
OWS 7.6 A member of the medical team should inspect the swimmers as they leave the water. A chair, in which the swimmer can sit while an assessment is made, should be provided.
OWS 7.7 Once cleared by the medical member, swimmers should be given access to refreshment.