False Starts: Definition and Rules
In swimming, a false start refers to a situation where a swimmer initiates a start before the starting signal is given. This is prohibited in competitive swimming because it can give a swimmer an unfair advantage over their competitors.
To ensure fair play, false starts are subject to strict rules and regulations. These rules include:
A. Disqualification for False Starts
Any swimmer who initiates a start before the signal may be disqualified if the Referee independently observes and confirms the Starter’s observation that a violation occurred. This means that if a swimmer is observed to have false started, they will be disqualified from the race.
B. Race Continuation After False Start
If the starting signal has been given before the disqualification is declared, the race shall continue without recall. This means that if a swimmer has false started but the starting signal has already been given, the race will continue as normal, and the swimmer will be disqualified upon completion of the race.
C. Restarting the Race After False Start
If the recall signal is activated, no swimmer shall be charged with a false start, and the Starter shall restart the race upon signal by the Referee. This means that if a false start is detected before the starting signal is given, the race will be restarted.
D. Relief from False Start Charge
A swimmer who would otherwise be charged with a false start may be relieved of the charge if the false start was caused by the swimmer’s reaction to the “stand up” command. This means that if a swimmer false starts due to a reaction to the "stand up" command, they may be relieved of the charge.
E. Declared False Starts
Swimmers reporting to the Referee prior to the start of their race and declaring their intent not to compete will be disqualified, except under certain circumstances. These circumstances are as follows:
- The Referee is notified in the event of illness or injury and accepts the proof thereof.
- A swimmer qualifying for a bonus, consolation, or championship final based upon the results of the preliminaries notifies the Referee within thirty (30) minutes after the 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.
- It is determined by the Referee that failure to compete is caused by circumstances beyond the control of the swimmer.
- The swimmer pays a re-entry fee for each preliminary event in which he or she failed to compete. The re-entry fee shall be established by the National Team Steering Committee and the Program & Events Coordinator (or his/her designee) and published in the meet announcement.
In conclusion, false starts are not allowed in competitive swimming, and strict rules and regulations are in place to ensure fair play. Swimmers who false start may be disqualified, and races may be restarted if necessary. Swimmers who declare their intent not to compete may be disqualified, except under specific circumstances.