The Start

Below is a quick overview for the correct starting procedure during a swim meet:
  1. At the beginning of each heat, the Referee signals the swimmers to get ready by sounding a short series of whistles.  At that time, swimmers should remove outer clothing such as parkas/towels/etc. and approach the block. 
  2. A long whistle is sounded.  The long whistle signals the swimmers to take their positions on the block or in the water.  (In backstroke and medley relay events, the swimmers should immediately enter the water upon hearing the first long whistle and take starting position with the second long whistle.)
  3. When the swimmers and Officials are ready, the Referee stretches his/her arm out, signalling for the Starter to take control.
  4. The Starter says, "Take your mark."  Swimmers assume starting position.
  5. Once all swimmers are still, the Starter activates the starting signal.
Adapted from the 2012 RULEBOOK by USA Swimming