Common Disqualifications

DQ's often crop up during the dual meet season. In fact, for younger swimmers, they are often an indication that an individual has progressed to take on the more difficult strokes of breaststroke and butterfly. In other words, they are a part of the learning experience. DQ's can also result from a lack of concentration on the part of a swimmer, or from "sloppy swimming."


  • Pushing off from the bottom of the pool during a race, or touching the bottom of the pool during any stroke.
  • Changing lanes during a race (this occurs most often on entry or after a turn).
  • Two false starts by the same person in the same race.
  • Starting before a teammate touches during a relay event.
  • Swimming strokes in the wrong order during an IM (Individual Medley)
  • Pulling yourself along on the lane lines or the side of the pool.


  • Turning onto the stomach during the race, except as part of the new backstroke turn.
  • Not touching the end of the pool during a turn.


  • Flutter kick or scissors kick.
  • Not touching with two hands together during turns and at the finish. Hands must touch together, and must be on the same plane.
  • Head does not break the water during one complete cycle of arm pull/leg kick.
  • Taking more than one arm pull or leg kick while submerged at the start or turn.


  • Flutter kick or scissors kick.
  • If arms do not leave and enter the water at the same time.
  • If arms do not come out of the water during recovery.
  • Not touching with two hands during turns and at the finish (as in Breastbone, above).
  • Not keeping both feet synchronized during the dolphin kick.

If you are disqualified during a meet, keep swimming to the best of your ability. If one member of a relay team is DQ'd, the team should still complete the relay.

A stroke judge will inform your coach of the "reason for the disqualification". If you have any question about a stroke judge's ruling, ask your coaches. They will be able to get an explanation for you.