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Open water swimming: official game rules briefly

Swimming is a universal sport that is not only suitable for professionals, but also useful to all people. Competitions in this discipline involve overcoming various swimming distances in the least amount of time. Today, most tournaments are held in pools, but there are also swimming in open water. Its feature is speed sailing in water bodies that meet certain requirements.

FINA organizes international open water swimming tournaments. This International Swimming Federation was founded in June 1908 in London. Today its headquarters is located in Lausanne (Switzerland), and the organization itself includes more than 200 national federations of representative countries. In Europe, the European Swimming League (LEN) is coordinating the development of this discipline. Similar structures operate in each confederation. In Russia, the All-Russian Swimming Federation is engaged in popularizing open water swimming at a professional level.

Currently, several swimming methods are officially allowed, the most famous of which are:

  • breaststroke;
  • butterfly;
  • crawl;
  • on the back;
  • freestyle.

Breaststroke Rules

This swimming style is considered basic and the easiest to learn. Nevertheless, every professional swimmer must clearly follow the rules and techniques of breaststroke:

  • During the first stroke after the start, the athlete must lie on his chest, while any rotation to the back is strictly prohibited. Throughout the entire distance, the cycle should be carried out in a certain sequence: stroke with hands – push with legs.
  • All hand movements are performed simultaneously in one horizontal plane, that is, without alternations.
  • When stroking, hands should always be extended forward from the chest at any level relative to the surface of the water. The elbows are under water, except for the last stroke at the finish. Hands should return back either under water or on its surface, but should not go beyond the line of the hips.
  • During each complete cycle, part of the swimmer’s head should tear the water surface.
  • When performing a full stroke with your hands, one dolphin-like movement with your legs down is allowed while the body is completely in the water. Traditionally, such a movement is allowed at the start.
  • At the stage of an active push, the feet should be deployed to the sides. Any dolphin-like, vibrating or scissor-like kicks are prohibited. In this case, the athlete may violate the surface of the water.
  • At the finish line, it is necessary to simultaneously touch the board with both hands at any water level.

Butterfly rules

The list of mandatory requirements and rules for this type of open water swimming includes the following:

  • After the starting stroke, the swimmer’s body should be on his chest. Kicks to the sides are permitted, but only under water. Turns on the back are prohibited at any time.
  • Hands should be carried forward together above the water, and then returned to them simultaneously under water.
  • All leg movements are performed synchronously, while the feet and legs can be at different levels. Dolphin-like movements are strictly prohibited.
  • At the start, it is allowed to make several movements underfoot with the feet and a full stroke of the hands, after which the athlete must bring his head, shoulders and arms to the surface. Full immersion is allowed only on the segment up to 15 m immediately after the start.
  • At the finish, you must simultaneously touch the finish board with any two hands at any point.

Crawl rules

Crawl is the style of swimming on the stomach, during which the right and left parts of the body perform strokes alternately. Each hand must make one wide stroke along the axis of the body of the athlete. At this point, the legs alternately lower and rise. The swimmer’s face is in the water, turning periodically for a sigh during a hand stroke.

For a free turn of the hand under water, it is enough to lower the face down, leveling it with the axis of the body. This crawl compares favorably with other types of swimming, where it is difficult to get your hands deep in the water. In addition, alternate work with hands leads to uniform acceleration.

At official open water competitions, many athletes resort to this particular style of overcoming the distance. First of all, this applies to freestyle swimming. The fact is that crawl is considered to be a fast way of swimming and does not require serious energy expenditures. It is very effective over long distances.

Backstroke Rules

This style of swimming appeared at the end of the 19th century, when swimmers, while overcoming long distances with a breaststroke, turned on their backs for short-term relaxation. For some time this style was popularly called the “inverted breaststroke”. However, with the advent of the rabbit, the breaststroke on the back was quickly squeezed out of official competitions.

In backstroke start is made from water. The swimmer is facing the launch board and holds his hands on special handrails, resting his legs against the side. Throughout the distance, the athlete must swim on his back.

During swimming on the back, the position of the head is not regulated by the rules. The body can carry out rotational movements in a horizontal plane up to 90 degrees. A swimmer can only be immersed in water at the first 15 meters after the start and at the finish.


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