Starter Clinic

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THE
STARTER
March, 2010
© Copyright 2007-2010 Ontario Swimming Officials’ Association
1
STARTER CLINIC
INTRODUCTION
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Ontario Swimming Officials’ Association
Today
Practice
Role of the Starter
Before the Meet Starts
The Start
Good Habits
After the Meet
Situations for Discussion
Questionnaire
Review (answers)
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Practice
Practice
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Many people are initially nervous about starting –
it is recommended that the new starter begin at a
club time trial and other low pressure meets.
Starters are encouraged to try higher level meets
as their confidence and enjoyment of the
experience increases.
Practice, Practice, Practice
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Meet the Officials
Clerk of
Course
Referee
Assistant
Chief Timer
{
Timers {
Timers {
Timers {
Timers {
Timers {
Marshalling
Area
Judge of Stroke
Timers
False
Start
Turn Judges
Rope
Backstroke
Backstroke
Flags
Flags
Chief
Timekeeper
Judge of Stroke
Starter
(SW 2.3)
Electronics
Chief Finish
Judge
Recorder/Scorer
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Starter’s Role
The starter position is critical in the running of a
successful meet.
The central point of the starter’s role is to
ensure a fair start for all swimmers. (SW 2.3.3)
The Starter and the Referee must work as an
effective team to ensure that starts are fair and
consistent throughout the session.
To exercise your function as a Starter you:

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must have a good working knowledge of the rules
must be consistent and exercise good judgment
must earn the confidence of the Referee and the
swimmers
must respect the swimmers and enjoy the sport.
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Before the Meet Starts
Before the day:

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Re-read the rules (SW 2.3: Starter and SW 4: The Start) and
check for any new or meet-specific changes
Find out what type of starting equipment will be used
On the day of the meet:

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Arrive early – at least one hour before the start.
Check the starting equipment and become familiar with the
pool layout.
Have the electronics been set up and are operating?
TEST all equipment.
Are all loudspeakers, horns, and strobe lights working?
Set and test the volume levels
Is there a standby gun and ammunition available? If so
check the operation of the gun, ammunition supply, ear
plugs.
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Before the Meet Starts

Are any races to be started from the turn
end of the pool?
If so, the starting equipment should be moved
by the electronics people and tested.
 Or is there equipment set up at both ends?

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Check the Starter’s Platform

Is it in the correct position/ location? Adjust to
suit your location.
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Before the Meet Starts
Briefing with the Referee … 1
The meet shall be run under FINA start rules.
Check the meet package, what type of meet it is: Age
Group, Masters, Para-swimming
Be aware of any duties the Referee may like you to
perform besides being the Starter (e.g. sweeps, lap
counting, turn judge)
Process to handle problems or movement of equipment.
Meet Flow: Discuss any time constraints and solutions
Discuss with the Referee the starting protocol. (SW 2.1.5)
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Before the Meet Starts
Briefing with the Referee … 2
Establish the Procedure for Normal Starts
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Does the Referee want you to “advise swimmers” to
adjust their position in the water? (e.g. asking
swimmers to stay in, or to leave the pool, when the
races finish, etc.)
Will the Starter be announcing the event number and
heats during the session?
Are there different Starters (and Referees) for male &
female? Or only one Starter for all?
How have other sessions gone in regards to starting?
Any DQs or other problems?
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Before the Meet Starts
Briefing with the Referee … 3
Establish Procedure for False Starts
Referee and Starter to confer and agree on
any false starts before any disqualifications
are made. Ensure rules are understood to
ensure consistency. If the Referee and
Starter cannot agree, the Referee will make a
final decision (SW 2.3.3 See slide 8)
 Note: DQ for “Delay of Meet” can be
recommended by the starter but must be
called by the Referee

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Before the Meet Starts

Watch Check
Find out who is the Chief Timer. Confirm when
and where, and if, a watch check will occur?
 Ensure that all Timekeepers can see the
starting device. (gun or flash).

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False Start Rope
Who will operate it?
 How is it operated?

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The Start … 1
Preparing for the start of the race.
Remember: The Starter has the best
communication system with the swimmers
 At the commencement of each heat the
Referee shall signal the swimmers to the
blocks. When the swimmers and officials
are ready for the start, the Referee shall
signal such with an outstretched arm. This
indicates that the swimmers are now under
the Starter’s control.

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The Start … 2
The Starter shall have full control of the
swimmers from the time the Referee
turns the swimmers over to him/her until
the race has commenced. (SW 2.3.1)
The start in Freestyle, Breaststroke,
Butterfly and Individual Medley races shall
be with a dive. (SW 4.1)
 The start in Backstroke and Medley Relay
races shall be from the water. (SW 4.2)

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IPC Para-Swimming Rules
The Start
IPC 3.1.3.1 For a swimmer with a visual impairment, on the long whistle from
the Referee the swimmer shall be permitted to orientate themselves prior to the
starter’s command “take your marks”.
IPC 3.1.3.2 The swimmer who has balance problems. (ie: standing stationary),
may have assistance to balance themself on the starting platform ie. hold at the
hips, hand, arm etc. by one support staff. Support staff may aid the swimmer to
remain stationary at the start, however the support staff shall not allow the
swimmer an unfair advantage by being held beyond the 90 degrees vertical
position on the starting platform. Giving momentum to the swimmer at the start
is not permitted.
IPC 3.1.3.3 A swimmer may be permitted to start beside the starting platform.
IPC 3.1.3.4 A swimmer may be permitted to take up a sitting position on the
starting platform.
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IPC Para-Swimming Rules
The Start continued
IPC 3.1.3.5 A swimmer may be permitted to start in the water but is required to
have one hand in contact with the starting place until the starting signal is given.
Standing in or on the gutter or on the bottom of the pool is prohibited.
IPC 3.1.3.6 Class S1-S3 swimmers are permitted to have their foot/ feet held
to the wall until the starting signal is giving. Giving momentum to the swimmer at
the start is not permitted.
IPC 3.1.3.7 Where a swimmer has been determined by the classifiers as
unable to grip the starting place, in a water start, the swimmer may be assisted
by a support staff or starting devise. The devise shall be cleared and deemed
safe by IPC swimming personnel prior to the commencement of the competition.
Giving momentum to the swimmer at the start is not permitted. The swimmer
shall have part of the body in contact with the wall until the starting signal is
given.
IPC 3.1.3.8 To prevent abrasion, one layer of towel, or the like, may be placed
on the starting platform.
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The Start - Backstroke
When all swimmers have surfaced, a
second whistle indicates they should
return to the wall. Even if all surface at
the wall, the second whistle is still
required for consistency.
It is no longer a requirement to have the
swimmers toes beneath the water line

same rule applies to able-bodied/ Paraswimmers/ Masters
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The Start … 3
Swimmers are turned over to the Starter by the
Referee’s outstretched arm.
Give the command ”Take Your Marks” in a slow,
steady, non-military voice. A Starter must establish
an even, consistent cadence with his/her starting
commands.
The Starter shall activate the starting device when all
competitors are stationary and complying with the
starting rules.
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Some swimmers will fidget until the referee turns the race
over to the starter; (this is okay).
Swimmers may stand wherever they wish on the starting
platform and may take any starting position
Some will roll backward after grabbing the blocks. A
momentary pause before rolling backward is permitted.
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A Fair Start?
The “rule of thumb” is “If the gun goes, the race
goes”.
Any swimmer starting (moving forward) before the
starting device may be disqualified – at the end of
the race (SW 4.4)
Any DQ because of a “Delay of Meet” is at the
discretion of the Referee
Any protests about the Start should be directed to
the Referee
The Referee has the final decision on all DQs
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Masters Swimming
Some competitors may have difficulty getting on the
block, it is appropriate to allow a deck official or timer
to assist them and stand beside them so they can
steady themselves until the start is given.
The starter may also say “Relax swimmers” instead
of “Step down” in an aborted start in such situations.
Canadian Masters no longer has two starts, only one
start rule.
As long as it is not considered “deliberate” by the
referee, then it is “delay of meet”
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DQ Exceptions
False Start Exceptions (SW 2.3.3 See slide 8) :
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Loud noises or camera flashes from other parts of the
building could affect the start.
If the Starter holds the swimmers for an unreasonable
amount of time while waiting for all swimmers to come down,
causing a ragged and unfair start: THEN: The race should
be recalled and another start attempted with no DQs
assigned
If the starter errs and starts the race before all swimmers are
stationary:
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Recall the race and advise the Referee that it was your error.
There can be NO disqualification in this situation
If the Starter calls back a race, then it is an “Officials
Error” and no swimmer shall be disqualified
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Good Habits
Record start time and missing
swimmers on heat sheet for each race
If you are working an age group meet
with many novice swimmers, be patient
as they are just learning the start
position
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After the Meet
Ensure that the equipment used is secured.
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Starter’s electronic equipment is shut down.
Guns and shells are safely put away.
False start rope secured.
Clip board is returned to the official’s room.
Give the heat sheets for the session just worked to
Meet Management, in case any questions arise later.
Attend a debriefing with the Referee or Management
Committee. Comment on both strengths and areas
of improvement for the next session.
Check the Official’s schedule for the next session that
you work.
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Discussion
How should a Starter handle the
following?
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Situation … 1
Following the command “Take your
Marks”, the swimmers assume a
starting position (stationary), and a
swimmer begins to move forward
before the starting signal :
Signal not given –”Step Swimmers Down” ;
Referee has the option to DQ offending
swimmer for “delay of meet”. Re-start
 Signal given - Race continues and DQ
after the race. (SW 4.4 See slide 24)
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Situation … 2
If a swimmer does not respond to the
command “Take your Marks”
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As a starter do not activate the starting signal.
Instruct the swimmers to step down.
Discuss with the Referee: Did the swimmer hear
the command, etc.? The Referee may disqualify
the swimmer if it is agreed that the swimmer was
at fault in not obeying the command.
If disqualified, the DQ’d swimmer’s lane shall
remain empty. This would not be a false start but a
“Delay of Meet” call, after which the race reverts to
the referee. (SW 2.3.2)
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Situation … 3
On starting the race, a swimmer topples from
the block before the starting signal is given.
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The other swimmers are instructed to “step down”
The race shall revert to the Referee
The Referee & Starter discuss:
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Did the swimmer slip because of a slippery block?
If there is any doubt, the benefit of that doubt shall go to
the swimmer, and the swimmer shall NOT be DQ’d.
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Situation … 4
The swimmers come down in a very uneven
disorganized manner as they take their
marks.
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Ask the swimmers to “step down”, but this is not a
false start.
The race should revert to the Referee for another
start attempt.
Discuss Handovers with the Referee

Ragged starts are often caused by a referee
turning a race over to the starter before the
swimmers are ready. In this situation the starter
may wait until he/she feels a fair start can be
achieved or instruct the swimmers to “step down”.
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Situation … 5
The swimmer in Lane 6 comes down “too slowly” to his
mark and Lane 7 topples into the water.
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This is a subjective judgment call. There is nothing in the rules
regulating “how fast” a swimmer must take his mark. As long as
a swimmer is moving in an attempt to take his mark after the
starter’s command, he/she should not be called for an infraction
Did Lane 7 come down very quickly and could not hold his
mark?
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DQ Lane 7
Was there undue delay in obeying the start command by the
swimmer in Lane 6 – thus causing Lane 7 to False Start?
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Instruct the swimmers to “step down” and the Referee will decide if
Lane 6 should be DQ’d for “Delay of Meet”.
A starter always has the option to step the swimmers
down without declaring a false start if he/she feels a fair
start might be difficult to achieve.
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Situation … 6
While taking the starting position, the
swimmer in Lane 3 doesn’t come to a
complete stop, but takes his mark and leaves
the block in a continuous motion, as the
starting signal is given.
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The race shall be recalled:
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The Starter should have waited until all swimmers were
stationary before activating the starting device. (SW 4.1
& SW 4.2 See slide 18)
An error by an official (activating the starting signal when
swimmers were not stationary). A fault by an official after
a fault by a swimmer expunges the fault by the swimmer.
The race reverts to the Referee with no disqualification.
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Situation … 7
A swimmer leaps onto the blocks:
A) After the Referee signals to the Starter

If possible “Step swimmers down” & return
control to the Referee
B) After the Starter says “Take your Marks”
Whenever possible “Step swimmers down” and
return control to the Referee
 If unable to prevent giving the Start and other
swimmers are not adversely affected then let it
go and DQ late arrival at the conclusion of the
race.

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Starter Questionnaire
Review
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QUESTIONNAIRE
1. The FINA Start includes:
a.
b.
c.
One start
Two start
A choice of one or two starts
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QUESTIONNAIRE
2. The FINA Start shall be used for:
All Canadian meets.
b. All International meets.
c. All Regional competitions including club, dual,
invitational and championship meets..
a.
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QUESTIONNAIRE
3. In SNC sanctioned meets, the
starting signal shall be:
A pistol shot
b. A loud abrupt sound of an electronically activated
horn.
c. A short whistle blast.
a.
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QUESTIONNAIRE
4. Some responsibilities of the Starter are to:
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
i.
j.
k.
Ensure that each race is started fairly.
Discuss signals between Referee and Starter.
Disqualify swimmers who use illegal stroke techniques.
Announce swimmers before each race.
Call the swimmers to attention before the race using a whistle.
Ensure the Timekeepers are ready before starting the race.
Start the race as soon as all the swimmers have taken their
mark and are motionless.
Disqualify swimmers for delaying the progress of the meet.
Ensure the false start recall rope is dropped when necessary.
Perform other duties as assigned by the Referee.
Report to the Referee any swimmer for delaying the start,
willfully disobeying an order, or any other misconduct taking
place at the start.
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QUESTIONNAIRE
5. The Starter shall have control of the
swimmers from the time:
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
The Referee turns the race over to him/her.
The Referee checks that the Judges are ready.
The swimmers take their positions of readiness at
the front of the blocks.
The Referee blows the long, loud whistle.
The Referee gestures to the starter with a
stretched out arm in the direction of the course.
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QUESTIONNAIRE
6. The Referee may not interfere once
the Starter has control of the
swimmers:
a.
b.
Correct
Incorrect
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QUESTIONNAIRE
7. At the start the Starter shall:
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
Hold the pistol at chest height.
Hold the pistol motionless at arm’s length, in clear
view of the Timekeepers.
Ensure that the strobe light is in clear view of the
Timekeepers.
Ensure that all Timekeepers can see the flash of
the pistol.
Disqualify a swimmer for delay of meet.
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QUESTIONNAIRE
8. The preparatory command that
immediately precedes the starting
signal shall be:
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
“Ready”
“Get set”
“A vos marques”
“To your marks”
“Take your marks”
“On your marks”
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QUESTIONNAIRE
9.In the event of the malfunction of the
starting device OR pistol the Starter
shall:
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
Leave the swimmers poised and attempt to repair
the malfunction
Direct the swimmers to “step down” or “relax” and
announce that it is not a false start.
Call a false start and proceed immediately with
another attempt.
Leave the swimmers poised and reload the pistol.
In the best interest of the swimmers, ask them to
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step down until the malfunction is corrected.
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QUESTIONNAIRE
10. During the start, the Referee or Starter may:
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
Elect at any time to recall the race and restart it if a fair start has
not been achieved.
Direct swimmers to “step down or “relax” and then re-attempt to
start the race without assigning a false start or a disqualification.
Not recall the race, even if they believe a fair start has not been
achieved.
Disqualify a swimmer who false starts, by directing the swimmers
to “step down” or “relax” even though the starting signal has not
been given.
Disqualify at the end of the race, any swimmer who leaves his/her
mark early (jumping the gun).
Prior to the starting signal, disqualify any number of swimmers
until a fair start has been achieved.
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Not agree on a false start.
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QUESTIONNAIRE
11. Whenever swimmers have been
asked to step down and relax due to
any action or lack of action on the
part of the swimmer(s), the control of
the race reverts to the Referee.
a.
b.
Correct
Incorrect
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QUESTIONNAIRE
12. A “False Start” occurs when:
a.
b.
c.
A swimmer starts before the starting signal has
been given.
The starting signal misfires.
There is an official’s error.
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QUESTIONNAIRE
13. Authority to call a “False Start” lies
with:
a.
b.
c.
d.
The Referee
The Chief Timekeeper
The Stroke Judge and Turn Inspector
The Starter
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QUESTIONNAIRE
14. The swimmers are in the water for
the start of the:
a.
b.
c.
d.
200 m Individual Medley
400 Freestyle
400 m Medley Relay
200 m Backstroke
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QUESTIONAIRE
15. For Backstroke events, the swimmer:
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
Must be in the water facing down the course.
Must be in the water facing the starting end.
Shall hold the wall or starting grip(s) with both
hands.
Must have both feet in contact with the end of the
wall.
Must have toes below the water line.
May have the toes grip the gutters.
Must have the feet level on the wall.
Shall immediately enter the water following the first
long whistle from the referee and assume the
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starting position without undue delay.
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QUESTIONNAIRE
16. For events requiring a dive start, the swimmers:
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
i.
j.
Shall stand behind the blocks until the Referee’s whistle is sounded.
Shall step onto the starting platform with both feet the same distance
from the front and remain stationary.
On the command, “take your marks”, shall take their position with at least
one foot at the front of the starting blocks.
May use a track start
May when using the track start, adjust the back foot position.
May start from the pool deck when circumstances warrant
Shall keep their heels in contact with the starting block while awaiting the
start signal, after the preparatory command has been given.
Are permitted to grasp the starting block with their hands while awaiting
c
the starting signal.
Must have both feet at the front of the block.
Shall step onto the starting platform and remain there.
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QUESTIONNAIRE
17. The following statements about the
Start are true:
a.
b.
c.
d.
The Starter may disqualify a swimmer for a false
start before the start occurs.
The Starter may disqualify a swimmer for a false
start after the start occurs.
A disqualification which occurs after a successful
start has been achieved is charged to the swimmer
at the end of the race.
Swimmers may be directed to “step down” or
“relax” prior to a successful start without a false
start or disqualification being assigned.
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Useful Internet Sites
www.swimontario.com
www.swimming.ca
www.fina.org
https://www.swimming.ca/Paraswimming
www.mastersswimmingontario.ca
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Thank you.
Approved by the Ontario Swimming Officials’ Board
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