WOWSA 7.0 – Racing

WOWSA 7.1 – Athletes may swim any stroke style: any form of freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, or butterfly or any combination thereof. Rules on butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke are noted in Sections 10.0, 11.0 and 12.0.

WOWSA 7.2 – Drafting behind and pacing along other swimmers is permitted (see exception in WOWSA 7.3). However, drafting behind escort boats, safety craft, kayaks and paddle boards is not allowed. Navigating parallel to watercraft is permitted.

WOWSA 7.3 – Drafting behind an escort boat on a solo marathon swim or relay, or on a solo channel swim or relay is not permitted. Swimming closely alongside an escort boat is permitted as long as safety of the athlete is maintained.

WOWSA 7.4 – Escort boat shall attempt to maintain a constant position so as to station the swimmer at, or forward of, the midpoint of the escort boat.

WOWSA 7.5 – Standing on the bottom during an event shall not disqualify an athlete but they may not walk or jump forward.

WOWSA 7.6 – Rendering assistance by an official or Referee to an athlete in apparent distress shall always supersede official rules of disqualification.

WOWSA 7.7 – Athletes shall be allowed to use skin lubrication or other such substances on the skin providing the substances are not serving to retain body heat. Lanolin, Vaseline®, grease, and other such substances are permitted.

WOWSA 7.8 – A pace swimmer is allowed but the athlete cannot draft off of a pace swimmer. Pace swimmers for disabled and blind swimmers can be in any position relative to the athlete.

WOWSA 7.9 – Coaching and the giving of instructions by the athlete’s representative on the feeding platform or in the escort boat is permitted.

WOWSA 7.10 – Feeding poles are not to exceed 5 meters in length when extended. No objects, rope or wire may hang off the end of feeding poles except flags. Athletes are permitted to retrieve water bottles attached to rope.

WOWSA 7.11 – Each escort boat or kayak shall display the athlete’s competition number so as to be easily seen from either side of the escort boat.

WOWSA 7.12 – Athletes may be disqualified by the Referee at any time. The Referee may give a warning, a Yellow Card (or Flag), or a Red Card (or Flag). Any number of warnings may be received by an athlete without consequence. Two Yellow Cards (or Flags) lead to an immediate disqualification. A Red Card (or Flag) leads to an immediate disqualification.

WOWSA 7.13 – If in the opinion of a Referee, an action of an athlete or an escort safety craft is an unsportsmanlike conduct, the Referee shall have the option to immediately disqualify the athlete. Unsportsmanlike conduct including pulling back an athlete by any body part, or sinking, dunking, punching, scratching, kicking, or swimming over another competitor.

WOWSA 7.14 – Escort and safety craft shall maneuver so as not to obstruct the direction or progress of any athlete.

WOWSA 7.15 – Escort craft shall attempt to maintain a constant position vis-à-vis their athlete, specifically the athlete is positioned near the mid-point of the escort craft on their primary breathing side.

WOWSA 7.16 – Standing on the bottom of a sandbar or ocean floor, and dolphining in and out of the water just after the start or near the finish, are permissible. Dolphining in the middle of the race is not allowed unless if this action is specifically exempted from this rule by the Referee.

WOWSA 7.17 – Athletes, if they encounter a shallow area along the course (e.g., within a coral reef, on a sandbar, along a jetty, or near a pier), may stand up if allowed by the Referee or Safety Officer for safety reasons. However, they may not walk along the course, dolphin or jump in the forward motion to gain an advantage.

WOWSA 7.18 – Rendering assistance to any athlete in apparent distress shall always supersede the rules of conduct and disqualification. If an athlete assists another athlete on a kayak, paddle board or on a boat while touching the boat, an official, a volunteer or another swimmer, this Good Samaritan athlete shall not be disqualified. When rendering assistance to another athlete during the race, the rules governing touching another individual, a fixed pontoon or water craft shall be waived.

WOWSA 7.19 – Rendering assistance to physically and intellectually disabled athletes is permitted. Specifically, physically and intellectually disabled athletes may receive assistance getting in and out of the water at the start and finish or at the feeding stations. The determination of specific exceptions shall be made by the Referee.

WOWSA 7.20 – Athletes may take any form of fuel, hydration, medication or sustenance during the event as long as this does not include alcohol or drugs on the United States Anti-Drug Testing Agency (USADA) banned list or the World Anti-Drug Testing Agency (WADA) banned list.

WOWSA 7.21 – WOWSA-sanctioned events respect the guidelines, recommendations and rules outlined by USADA and WADA unless there is an athlete with a previously documented medical exception.

WOWSA 7.22 – All athletes shall have their event number clearly displayed at least on one part of their body (upper back, arms or back of hands) or on their swim cap at the start of the event.

WOWSA 7.23 – A suitable timing system shall be decided by the Referee. WOWSA-sanctioned events are strongly encouraged to use transponders or timing chips that are attached to an athlete’s ankles or wrists.

WOWSA 7.24 – The Referee shall determine all time limits for each race. If athletes do not complete the event in the pre-determined amount of time, the Referee has the choice to either pull the athlete from the water or allow the athlete to continue to the finish.

WOWSA 7.25 – If the athlete is pulled from the water, either voluntarily or involuntarily, he shall receive the DNF (Did Not Finish) designation.

WOWSA 7.26 – If the athlete does not complete the event within the time limit, but is allowed to finish by the Referee, he shall receive an OTL (Over Time Limit) designation.

WOWSA 7.27 – In cases of emergency, abandonment of the event or portions of the race), the race results will be calculated from the final position in the water. That is, the athlete who has swum the longest distance shall be deemed the winner. The athlete who has swum the second longest distance shall be deemed to finish in second place, and so on.

WOWSA 7.28 – Athletes must answer all questions from the Referee, Safety Officer or other officials on the course during the race. If questions cannot be answered or are answered in a slurred manner that may indicate hypothermia, hyperthermia or other physical problem, the athlete may be pulled from the event due to safety issues.

WOWSA 7.29 – If transponders or timing chips are used, it is mandatory for all athletes to wear the transponder or timing chip on the wrist or ankle throughout the race. If an athlete loses a transponder, the Referee will pre-determine a means to either provide a replacement chip or capture the athlete’s time and placing without the transponder.

WOWSA 7.30 – WOWSA-sanctioned events must have an adequate amount of liability insurance.  WOWSA offers comprehensive event insurance coverage.


Return to WOWSA Sanctions Rules & Regulations Overview

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