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Registrations FAQ

North Texas Swimming Registrations FAQ
"120-Day Rule" and "School Rule"

Definitions from the Official Glossary:

  • Open Competition - competition which any qualified club, organization or individual may enter.

  • Closed Competition - competition open only to the members of one organization or group.

  • Competition - an athletic performance by an athlete, either individually or as part of a team or club.

  • Attached - an athlete member who represents a member club in competition after having met the requirements of Article 203.

  • Unattached - an athlete member who competes but does not represent a member club.

Section 203.3

Section 203.3 of the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations is frequently referred to in the swimming community as the "120-Day Rule". Simply stated, the 120-day rule states that for a swimmer to represent a USA Swimming club in a competitive event, 120 consecutive days must have elapsed without the swimmer having represented any other USA Swimming club in USA Swimming competition. This 120-day rule does not apply to representation in closed competition if it is sanctioned or approved by the Local Swimming Committee.

Section 203.3 "120-Day Rule" Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: Club ABC has folded and swimmers must join another USA Swimming club. Must the swimmers wait 120 days?
    A: The USA Swimming Rules and Regulations specifies that 120 consecutive days must have elapsed before a swimmer can represent any other USA Swimming club in competition. Even though the club disbanded, the swimmers must still wait 120 days to represent another USA Swimming club in competition.

  2. Q: A USA Swimming club is changing their club name from ABC to DEF. No other changes with exception of the club name will occur. Must the swimmers wait 120 days?
    A: In this instance, the 120-day rule does not apply. The club has a name change only - in essence, it is not a different club. The club must report their name change and new club code request to the Local Swimming Committee Registration and Membership Chair who in turn notifies National Headquarters.

  3. Q: Club ABC is merging with the DEF swim club and swimmers will swim as the DEF swim club. What swimmers must wait the 120 days?
    A: The swimmers coming from the ABC swim club must wait 120 consecutive days before representing the DEF swim club in competition.

  4. Q: ABC swim club and DEF swim club are merging to form the GHI swim club. Must all swimmers wait 120 consecutive days to represent the GHI swim club in competition?
    A: A new swim club [GHI] has been formed. Swimmers from the ABC swim club and the DEF swim club must all wait 120 consecutive days before representing the GHI swim club.

  5. Q: A YMCA club [which also is a USA Swimming club] holds a YMCA Invitational meet for YMCA athletes and teams only. Swimmer A represents the club in the meet and subsequently switches to another USA Swimming club. Does the 120-day rule apply?
    A: If the YMCA Invitational meet was in fact a closed competition involving only YMCA teams and YMCA member athletes, it is not a USA Swimming competition, and the 120-day rule would not apply [except as to last date of competition for the prior USA Swimming club open competition].

  6. Q: How is a swimmer allowed to compete during the 120 consecutive days and not represent their new club?
    A: The swimmer enters the competition as Unattached [UN] as specified in rule 203.7 and may compete in individual events but can not enter relays. Note that the swimmer will specify the LSC in which they are registered [eg: UN-NT for a swimmer registered in North Texas].

  7. Q: Can a swimmer unattach before leaving their present club in anticipation of the 120-day rule requirement?
    A: A swimmer may attach or unattach, at will, with their present club. There is no USA Swimming limitation or requirement [other than the 120-day rule discussed here] which requires the swimmer to compete in an Unattached or Attached status. Many swimmers who anticipate their family's relocation will unattach well in advance to their moving in order to reduce their required 120 consecutive day wait specified in the 120-day rule once relocated. The swimmer must be aware that they can not enter relays while Unattached.

  8. Q: Is there a formal transfer process?
    A: Rule 203.5 specifies that a written transfer be accomplished [in accordance with USA Swimming and Local Swimming Committee procedures] when transferring between Local Swimming Committees or clubs. Transferring from one club to another within the same LSC is governed by procedural requirements established by the Local Swimming Committee. Rule 203.8 allows the Local Swimming Committee to charge a reasonable fee for such applications for changes of registration.

  9. Q: Is there a penalty for violating the 120-day rule?
    A: North Texas Swimming Policies and Procedures specify a fine in instances where a known violation of the 120-day rule has occurred. The fine is imposed against the club for which the swimmer has attached in open competition while under the 120-day rule.

Section 203.4

Section 203.4 of the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations is often called the "School Rule" or "School Section". The following discussion will explain the most common situations for athletes who participate both in school and USA Swimming programs

The Situation: The University registers as a school club with USA Swimming. Their swimmers compete regularly in USA Swimming meets as a school club during the NCAA season. At the conclusion of the NCAA season, they wish to continue to compete in USA Swimming meets as a school club until the end of school and then swim attached for their local swim club during the summer.

The Problem: Section 203.4 states the swimmer may compete during the school swimming season, between the commencement and termination dates as provided by the swimmer. This is vague and we are unsure whether these are the NCAA season dates, collegiate competition schedule dates as posted by the school or the dates the swimmer is enrolled as a student. Also, how does the swimmer verify the commencement and termination date? The school tells us there is no collegiate swimming beyond the NCAA championship. The swimmer and coach tell us that they swim together all year as a school club and are recognized as such. Thus, our problem.

Additional Concern: If a red-shirted swimmer competes with the club in the non-collegiate season, is this also another problem?

Discussion: The key is to try to keep separate and apart the concepts of the university swimming team as a "school team" engaged in school competition and as a "school club" engaged in USA Swimming competition.

Not all "school seasons" are the same for all schools, particularly in the secondary and junior college levels. At the University level, the school swimming season generally coincides with the NCAA season. But in actual fact, the school swimming season is what the coach or swimmer says it is.

Keep in mind that at the end of the "school season" each of the swimmers on the school team may immediately attach to the USA Swimming club of choice.

Section 203.4 "School Rule" Scenarios

  1. NCAA season ends. School wishes to compete as school club in USA Swimming competition until the end of school term. Can do so, so long as each swimmer is currently eligible to compete for the school in collegiate competition.

  2. NCAA season ends. School wishes to compete as school club to end of term but coach brings in outside athletes to swim for the team. Team is then no longer a school club but becomes an independent USA Swimming club, and once having competed in a USA Swimming met, each member becomes immediately subject to the 120-day rule.

  3. NCAA season ends. School wishes to compete as school club to the end of the school term. Coach decides to use a student swimmer who is academically ineligible for collegiate competition. The team immediately becomes an independent USA Swimming club on its first USA Swimming competition and all team members become immediately subject to the 120-day rule.

  4. NCAA season ends. Swimmer "A" is member of school team. Coach decides to swim as school club to end of school term. Swimmer "A" decides he wants to swim for his home USA Swimming club. Can do so immediately. After having represented his home club in a meet, he decides he wants to go back to the school club. Cannot do so, at least without waiting 120 days.

  5. Instead of swimming attached to his home club, Swimmer "A" swims unattached in USA Swimming competition under his old coach. Can do so, and, so long as currently eligible for collegiate competition, can go back to school club.

  6. NCAA season ends. Coach decides he wants school to swim as school club all year long. Can do so, so long as he uses swimmers currently eligible to swim for his school at all times. Cannot use swimmers whose school eligibility terminated at the end of school term.

  7. NCAA season ends. School wishes to compete as school club to end of term. Coach decides to use of his red-shirted swimmers on team. The red-shirt is "eligible" for collegiate competition, but does he lose his year of school eligibility? The coach has, after all, chosen his "school swimming season". That's for the NCAA and the school officials to decide, and not USA Swimming. It does not change the conclusions above.

Summary: From the day Swimmer "A" enters school, he or she can swim for his school in school competition and swim for his school as a USA Swimming club in open USA Swimming competition, during the whole school season without regard to the 120-day rule. He or she can swim unattached in open USA Swimming competition anywhere he or she likes during the whole of the school season without regard to the 120-day rule. Once the school season is over, he or she can swim for any USA Swimming club of his or her choice without regard to the 120-day rule. But once he or she begins to play around with swimming for any USA Swimming club, other than his or her school club, during the school season, he or she then must comply with the 120-day rule.

The above discussion governs all schools at any level.