2020-21 Swimming and Diving Rule COVID Considerations

In support of the Guidance for Opening Up High School Athletics and Activities, the NFHS Swimming and Diving Rules Committee offers this document for state associations to consider whether any possible rules could be altered for the 2020-21 season. The considerations outlined in this document are meant to decrease potential exposure to respiratory droplets by encouraging social distancing, limiting participation in administrative tasks to essential personnel and allowing for appropriate protective equipment.


  1. Swimming and Diving Rule Considerations

Conduct (1-3-2) – Require athletes to arrive at venue already in competitive attire or provide alternative accommodations for swimmers and divers to change that allows for 6 feet of social distancing.

Lap Counting (2-7-6, 3-4) – Only one person per lane should be permitted at turning end.  Provide hand sanitizer and require lap counters to clean hands and wipe down devices.

Pre-Meet Conference (3-3-6, 4-2-1d) – Decrease number of participants or hold one conference with coaches and one meeting with captains.  The referee can use P.A. system or starting system microphone to allow participants to hear but keep them properly separated.

Referee and Starter (4-2, 4-3) – Various rules require interactions between officials, coaches and athletes.  Alternative methods for of communications include utilization of the P.A. system, hand signals or written communication.

Notification of Disqualification (4-2-2d, e) – Notification shall occur from a distance via use of hand signals or the P.A. system.

Meet Officials (4-8, 4-10, 4-11, 4-12, 4-13) – Officials responsible for information processing are often
located together at a desk/table adjacent to the competition course or in an office/remote location. Develop alternative methods for submitting entries (3-2) and movement of non-electronic information.  Require a distance of 3-6 feet between individuals seated at the desk/table.

Timers (4-9) – Timers must assemble at the finish of each race, at the edge of the pool within the 6-8 feet confines of the lane which they are timing.  Timers should wear cloth facial coverings.

Submission of Entries to Referee (5-2) – Alternative forms of entry submission can be designed to reduce face-to-face interaction when submitting a proper entry, where/how/to whom entries are submitted, and a reduction or elimination of certain penalties currently attached to improper entries.

Relay Takeoff Judges and Relays (8-3) – Require all takeoff judging from the sides of the pool.  Space relay
swimmers apart from one another.  Timers and relay takeoff judges should wear cloth facial coverings.

Diving Officials (9-6) – Alternative methods for submitting entries (3-2) and movement of non-electronic information will be required.  Recommendations include a distance of 3-6 feet between individuals seated at the desk/table.  Create a 3-6 foot space between judges by spacing groups of judges on opposite sides of boards or on one side of the board on a multi-level platform.

2.   General Considerations

Swimming Warm-up Areas – Establish multiple sessions for warm-up periods to limit number of swimmers per lane.  Restrict the number of swimmers in competition area.  Limit number of swimmers per lane during warm-up and warm-down periods.

Diving Warm-up Areas – Limit number of divers during warm-up by creating multiple sessions.  During competition, divers may not approach the board until their turn to compete.  Hot tubs should not be permitted.  Dive order sheets should be posted in multiple areas to reduce number of divers viewing at the same time.

Teams Seating and Lane Placement – Keep the teams on opposite sides of the pool and require the home team to compete in lanes 1-3 and visitors to swim in lanes 4-6.

Preparing Athletes for Competition – Athlete clerking areas should be eliminated.

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