To Be Separated Or Not To Be Separated

To Be Separated Or Not To Be Separated

At the 2013 FINA Congress in Barcelona, FINA adopted rules that required the swimmer’s hands to be separated at the finish touch in both breaststroke and butterfly. Since the word “separated” is subject to interpretation, the finish rules were explained in more detail by USA Swimming to its members in the following description.

(1) “Separated” means that the hands may touch each other at the thumbs (no visual separation required) but there can be no overlap or interlocking of the hands, including thumbs and fingers, whatsoever.

(2) A swimmer who simultaneously has the thumbs touching and the tips of the index fingers (picture a little triangle) is legal. Likewise, a simultaneous two hand touch with only the tips of the index fingers touching each other is legal.

(3) It is legal for the hands to be one over the other if there is space between them. However, one hand cannot be resting on top of the other, nor can the palms be pressed together in a prayer position at the touch.

(4) It is legal to touch with the fingers and have the thumbs under the hand or pointing downward, in which case the index fingers may be touching.

A little common sense will go far in applying this rule if one remembers that the goal is for the swimmer to touch with both hands separately and not joined in any way that could be construed as creating a single unit.

So if a butterflyer or breaststroker in an open water swim touches a rock or a jetty or a shoreline, observers may want to check their hands are separated.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming