WOWSA 5.1 – The start shall be pre-determined and noted in the event information. The start can be on land, on a fixed or floating platform, or partly or entirely in the water as long as all athletes have a fair opportunity to be in the position they wish. If there are crowded conditions at the start, the general principle of first come first serve applies. The Referee can give warnings and disqualifications before the start for cheating, non-adherence to the rules or pre-race instructions, or for unsportsmanlike conduct.
WOWSA 5.2 – When starting from a fixed platform athletes shall be assigned a position on the platform, as determined by random draw.
WOWSA 5.3 – Athletes may start anywhere within the starting area at their choice.
WOWSA 5.4 – Participants should be informed of the time before the start at suitable intervals. WOWSA recommends 10-minute, 5-minute, 3-minute and 1-minute intervals with a 10-second countdown unless the Referee and the Starter have determined a different system.
WOWSA 5.5 – The Referee and Starter shall attempt to execute a fair start, but safety shall be the overriding concern in crowded conditions.
WOWSA 5.6 – In the case that U.S. Masters Swimming or USA Swimming members are included in a WOWSA event, accommodations should be made as required under U.S. Masters Swimming rules. For example, U.S. Masters Swimming or USA Swimming members should start either 5 minutes before or after the non-U.S. Masters Swimming members or non-USA Swimming members as required by the rules of these respective governing bodies.
WOWSA 5.7 – A WOWSA-sanctioned event may start men and women, boys and girls, disabled and able-bodied athletes separately or together as it wishes. However, awards shall be given separately to each gender.
WOWSA 5.8 – The Starter shall be positioned so as to be clearly visible to all athletes.
WOWSA 5.9 – If, in the opinion of the Referee, an unfair advantage has been gained at the start, the offending athlete may be given a yellow or red flag .
WOWSA 5.10 – All escort and safety craft (e.g., kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, electric boats, motorized vessels) shall be stationed at a safe distance from the swimmers as determined by the local jurisdictions (e.g., Fire Department, Lifeguards, Coast Guard) at all times.
WOWSA 5.11 – The escort and safety craft shall not interfere with or impede any athlete. If an escort craft, intentionally or unintentionally, interfere with another athlete, the athlete who is guided by that escort craft shall be immediately disqualified.
WOWSA 5.12 – All escort safety craft shall navigate in such a way as not to manoeuver through the field of athletes. Any violation shall lead to any immediate disqualification of their athlete and their immediate removal from the course.
WOWSA 5.13 – Although they may start together, in all other respects the men’s and women’s competitions shall be treated as separate events.