Here is a basic guide to swimming in competitions:- 

THE RACE

You must remain and finish in the same lane that you started.

Pulling on the rope is NOT ALLOWED.

Goggles may be worn.

2 hats may be worn, the top one should be a club hat.

No swimming aids-power bands, flippers, webbed gloves or any kind of tape may be used.

Swimwear must be in accordance with FINA general rules.  Visit FINA website for more information.

Standing on the bottom during freestyle shall not disqualify a swimmer, but you must not walk or take a step.

During freestyle you may adjust your goggles but not during any other stroke.

At the finish stay in your lane until an official tells you to get out. 

THE START

The timekeeper in your lane will ask you your name.

The referee will signal when to prepare to start with short blasts of the whistle “PREPARE TO START”.

The referee will then signal with one short blast of the whistle, swimmers must mount the blocks or enter the pool for backstroke. 

On the starters command “TAKE YOUR MARKS” you must take up the start position.

At least one foot must be at the front of the blocks.

DO NOT MOVE BEFORE THE START SIGNAL.  The starter will then press an electronic starter button or blow a whistle.

False starts.  If there is a false start the starter will press the start button again or the false start rope will be dropped into the water.

FREESTYLE

You must touch the wall after each length and at the finish.

BACKSTROKE

You must be on your back throughout the race except for each turn.

During the turn you may turn over after which an immediate continuous arm pull may be used to initiate the turn.  YOU MUST NOT GLIDE.

You must return to your back upon leaving the wall.

You must touch the wall after each length and at the finish with some part of your body.

You must be on your back at the finish.

BREASTROKE

You must touch the wall after each length and at the finish with both hands at the same time, above or below the water, the hands must be separated.

At the start and after each turn you are allowed to bring your hands down to your side and do one fly kick.  However your hands must have started to move before you do the fly kick followed by a breast stroke kick.  While you are swimming all arm movements must be simultaneous. 

BUTTERFLY

You must touch the wall after each length and at the finish with both hands at the same time above or below the water and the hands must be separated.

Both hands shall be brought forward simultaneously over the water.

Both hands shall be brought backwards simultaneously under the water.

 

Also see Gala Procedures + Leagues & Open Meets.

 

FOR more information on FINA rules visit the FINA website www.fina.org