WOWSA 14.1 – While open water swims are overwhelmingly completed doing freestyle, a small number of athletes attempt and complete open water swims, including marathon swims and channel swims, using backstroke. In order for a swim to be considered a Backstroke Swim, the entire distance must be swum backstroke as defined by the following rules:
WOWSA 14.2 – From the beginning of the first arm stroke after the start (either from shore or in the water) to the finish of the swim (either onshore or in the water), the body must be kept on the back to qualify as a Backstroke Swim. While the athlete is swimming, he is not permitted to roll onto the stomach at any time or take any freestyle arm strokes or leg kicks, or breaststroke arm strokes, or do sidestroke of any type. A swimmer is allowed to stop swimming in shallow water as he approaches the shoreline and walk up on shore to clear the water as an athlete swimming freestyle would do. However, if the finish is in the water, a swimmer must touch the finish pontoon or pad with their hand while they remain on their back.
WOWSA 14.3 – The normal position on the back can include a roll movement of the body up to, but not including 90° from horizontal. The position of the head is not relevant.
WOWSA 14.4 – Kicking may be done in any fashion as long as the athlete remains on his back during the swim.
WOWSA 14.5 – The athlete can stop swimming backstroke only during voluntary stops or feeding stops. During stops of any kind, the athlete must stay in the same spot and can tread water to rest or take fuel (food) or hydration (drink). They can stretch their arms, body, back, neck or legs, but they must stay in the same location.
WOWSA 14.6 – The exception of WOWSA 11.5 rule above is when a wave or wake crashes unexpectedly over the athlete causing the athlete to choke and/or swallow water. They can stop in this case and fix their goggles or catch their breath as long as they do not swim forward on their stomach or using any stroke other than backstroke.
WOWSA 14.7 – If the above rules are not adhered to, the swim will be defined as a standard (i.e., freestyle) swim.