Manuals provide the most up to date policies, rules, and regulations for Iowa High School Athletic Association sports in the regular season and postseason. Member school athletic directors and head coaches seeking more information or clarifications on the contents of this manual should contact the IHSAA sport administrator for this sport: Jared Chizek. All other inquiries should be directed through athletic directors or coaches at member schools or host schools.
All the rules and regulations governing this sport can be found in the annual NFHS Rule Book, which all member schools receive from the IHSAA, excepting updates or experiments approved by the Board of Control.
Each member swimming school receives one copy of the National Federation of State High School Associations Swimming, Diving & Water Polo Rules Book. Unless other rules are adopted by the Board of Control, member schools will follow the rules published in the National Federation’s Rules Book. Schools should keep their 2020-21 rules book through the 2021-22 swim season.
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School enrollment numbers from each year inform the following school year’s classifications for IHSAA sanctioned sports. Enrollment numbers are provided by the Basic Educational Data Survey (BEDS) from the Iowa Department of Education.
Swimming: Single Class
2021-22 Rule Updates
NFHS Rule Adoptions & Exceptions
The following rule adoptions and exceptions, as noted in the NFHS Swimming Rules Book, have been adopted by the Iowa High School Athletic Association: Rule 3-1-2(d) Unlimited team entries for invitational and non-varsity meets; Rule 1-2-3 Exhibition competitors allowed, as per rule; Rule 5-1-1 Note 3 unlimited individual entries in pentathlon-type meets; Rule 5-1-1 Note 1 Swimming events may be modified for non-championship multi-team competition; Rule 7-2-4 Suspended meets may be resumed from the point of the suspension.
Rule 3-2-3(note) Entry of relay teams without individual names has not been adopted. Relay teams are to be entered with individual names, including alternates, on the entry form. The relay shall count as an event only for the four swimmers who actually compete.
Schools may not start swimming practice before Week 19/November 8, 2021, and no practice may be conducted after the state meet is concluded.
No interscholastic swimming contest may be held by member schools of the IHSAA prior to Week 21/November 22, 2021.
Each school is allowed a maximum of 12 competition meets prior to district competition. The 12 meet limitation pertains to individual swimmers as well as a school’s team.
Example: You may have 12 freshmen meets, 12 junior varsity meets, and 12 varsity meets. Each individual swimmer may compete a maximum of 12 meets during the regular season, not including district and state competition.
If a school is competing in a multiple level meet (Example: junior varsity/varsity, sophomore/varsity, freshmen/junior varsity), or a double dual, on the same day, at the same site, an individual may compete in both meets as long as he does not violate the NFHS individual participation rule (3-2-1). That rule states, “A competitor shall be permitted to enter a maximum of four events, no more than two of which may be individual events.”
One scrimmage between schools is allowed in swimming.
Member schools are not permitted to participate in any interscholastic swimming competition from December 24 through January 1. This does not exclude a school from practicing or scrimmaging during this time.
During all regular season competition (dual, double dual, triple dual, triangular, and tournaments), a mandatory 10 minute break will be taken immediately following Event #4, the 50 yard freestyle, and Event #8, the 200 yard freestyle relay.
Proper Supervision and Swimming Practices & Meets
Administrators and coaches need to be aware of the following section of the Iowa Code. Rule (641-15.4(4)”d”(4) of the Iowa Administrative Code states, “For a structured swimming program, such as lap swim, competitive swimming, water exercise classes, swim lessons, and physical education classes, a lifeguard is not required provided the program is supervised by an instructor, teacher, or coach who is a lifeguard or has current certification from the American Red Cross in basic water rescue, first aid, and infant, child and adult CPR; or equivalent training approved by the Department of Health. An instructor, teacher, or coach may be responsible for a maximum of 30 persons within a structured activity. If more than 30 persons are involved in a structured activity, a second qualified supervisor must be present.”
Each swimming school should have warm-up guidelines established to help prevent injuries. The Swimming Advisory Committee recommended many years ago the following guidelines for meet warm-ups. Suggested meet warm-up procedures also appear in the NFHS Swimming & Diving Rules Book.
A supervisor should be on deck during the entire warm-up period. (Any personnel supervising warm-ups should meet the Iowa Administrative Code requirements of being certified in emergency water safety or being a lifeguard)
Swimmers should enter the water feet-first, except for starts which are limited to specific lanes.
Specify Lanes 2 and 5 (six-lane pool) or Lanes 2 and 7 (eight-lane pool) as one-way sprint lanes with racing starts permitted at the starting end of the pool.
Place a cone or similar sign on the starting platforms of the lanes not specified as one-way sprint lanes.
Specify center lanes for circle swimming (two lengths of the pool beginning at the starting end).
Specify the outside lanes as pace lanes (swimmers swim one or two lengths from an in-water push off position from the starting end of the pool).
May specify lanes for relay starts during the last 15 minutes of warm-up.
Coaches should stand at the starting end of the pool and verbally start swimmers for starts and pace work.
Swimmers should not be allowed on a starting platform when a backstroker is executing a start in the same sprint lane.
Regulations Pertaining to Scrimmages
A member school may have a maximum of one interscholastic scrimmage against other high schools after the first legal practice date provided:
The scrimmage is a bona fide scrimmage where no public announcement has been made, no admission charged, and no score is kept or recorded.
No school time may be used for traveling and participating in a scrimmage season.
Up to four schools may be involved in a scrimmage. There can be four schools at a site and each school will be charged with only one scrimmage date.
Scrimmages must take place at one of the school’s regular practice facilities.
State Qualifying Tie-Breaking Procedure
The fastest thirty-two (32) individual swimmers and twenty-four (24) relay teams from district competition will qualify for state competition. In the event of a tie for the 32nd individual event position or the 24th relay position, the following tie- break procedure will be used:
1st criteria – grade (senior swimmers have precedence over juniors, etc. (Example: Joe Jones, senior would qualify rather than John Smith, junior as John Smith has another opportunity to qualify). The relay team with the most seniors will have precedence over the team(s) with fewer total upperclassmen, etc. If each relay team has the same number of seniors, the team with the most juniors would have precedence, followed by the most sophomores.) [Example 1: Relay Team A with 1 senior, 2 juniors, and 1 sophomore would qualify before Relay Team B with 4 juniors. Example 2: Relay Team A with 2 seniors, 1 junior, and 1 sophomore would qualify before Relay Team B with 1 senior and 3 juniors.]
2nd criteria– if a tie still exists – the individual or relay team with the fastest district meet seed time would be the qualifier. 3rd criteria – if a tie still exists an alphabetical system will be used to break the tie. In 2022, the individual or relay team from the school listed last in the IHSAA Directory will advance to the state meet. In 2023, the individual or relay team from the school listed first in the IHSAA Directory will advance to the state meet. If a tie exists between competitors from the same school, the last name of the competitor as it appears on the official district meet roster will be used to determine the qualifier using the same even and odd numbered year system. For 2022, the individual whose last name comes alphabetically last relative to his tied teammate will advance to the state meet. In 2023, the individual whose last name comes alphabetically first relative to his tied teammate will advance to the state meet. If a tie still exists, the competitors’ first names will be used. Any ties among qualifiers will be broken using the same procedure to determine heat and lane assignments.
State Meet Venue
Schools and individuals may practice at the state meet facility, Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, at any point in the season, when the facility’s management allows.
Recommended Water Depth
The Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s policy regarding water depth in the starting end of swimming pools is as follows: “In pools with water depth of 5′ or more, the staffing platform may be used in accordance with Rule 2, Section 7, Article 2 of the Swimming, Diving, and Water Polo Rules Book published by the National Federation of State High School Associations. If the depth of the water is les than 4′, the start for all swimming events shall begin in the water.
Swimming Meet Checklist
For many years, the Iowa High School Athletic Association, through the Swimming Coaches Advisory Committee, provided a swimming meet checklist to be used when planning major swim meets. The National Federation now prints a similar checklist in the Swimming and Diving Rule Book. Please refer to the NFHS Web site for suggestions and guidelines for planning major swim meets.
Mandatory Reporting of Stats
Based on a recommendation from the Swim Coaches Advisory Committee, head varsity swim coaches are required to enter meet results on https://ia.varsitybound.com/. Meet results need to be entered by 3:00 PM on Tuesday, December 7th, Tuesday, January 11th, and Tuesday, February 1st. All meets completed through the previous Saturday of each reporting date need to be included in the statistical data. Meet results must be also entered by the Tuesday after both the District Meet and State Swim Meet. The penalty for failure to report on time is:
First Offense: a letter/e-mail to the head coach and athletic director for the IHSAA sport administrator giving 3 days to comply with the mandate.
Second Offense: a letter to the athletic director with a copy to the principal and superintendent from the IHSAA executive director, giving 3 days to comply with the mandate.
Third Offense: IHSAA member school’s expense allowances will be withheld by the IHSAA in the sport in which the third offense occurred.