Unfortunately many competitive swimmers are DQ’d sometimes, this means disqualified. At the end of a pool will be time keepers, recording a final time achieved by the swimmer, by the side of the pool walking up and down are Judges. If a Judge feels that the swimmer has not touched properly performed a stroke incorrectly or false start i.e. entered the water before the starter gun/whistle this will result in a DQ.

The club results reports note cases where a swimmer has been disqualified and, where possible, includes details of the reason for disqualification. The fact of disqualification is usually indicated on results pages by annotating the result with ‘DQ’ or with a more specific disqualification code.

If a swimmer is disqualified then he will be given no time on the results. Any time recorded by the timekeeper will not be treated as an official time and cannot be used as a qualifying time for any event. This a bit akin to goal in Football being disallowed for offside in that although the ball crossed the line no goal is counted in the actual score.

The disqualification codes used in results represent the best effort of the person encoding the infraction reported by the judge or other official. Sometimes this requires the use of a code which doesn’t exactly match the infraction, but has been chosen as being in some sense ‘near’.

The SportsSystems SQ codes are more complex than the other disqualification codes; in addition to encoding the infraction they also tell us on which length the infraction occurred and details of any appeal.

Apparently these codes have been adopted by European Swimming Writers.

The code is made up of three parts:

  • The disqualification reason. This can be one of T (turn), FI (finish), S (stroke), ST (start), O (takeover), FO (fouling), L (wrong lane), M (midconduct) or E (equipment). Reason S has variants SA, SH and SL for faults in arms, head and legs respectively, while reason O has variant OM for an error in stroke change.
  • The appeal status. This is usually blank, but may be A for appeal made and X for appeal disallowed.
  • The length code. This is the number of the length on which the infraction occurred, followed by “L”. In theory code “1L” should be used where the length is not known, but the length code is often omitted.

A detailed graphical explanation of the SportsSystems SQ codes can be found above. Some examples of the more common SSSQ reason codes for being disqualified are listed below.


Moving at the Start.

Under the ASA Technical Rules of Racing (SW 4.4) any swimmer starting before the start signal has been given, shall be disqualified. If the starting signal sounds before the disqualification is declared, the race shall continue and the swimmer or swimmers shall be disqualified upon completion of the race, if the disqualification is declared before the starting signal, the signal shall not be given, but the remaining swimmers shall be called back and start again.


Did not touch simultaneous at turn or finish.

In Breastroke a common cause of disqualification is if a competitor touches the wall with just one hand during the turn. Under the ASA Technical Rules of Racing (SW 7.6) at each turn and at the finish of the race, the touch shall be made with both hands simultaneously at, above, or below the water level.

In Butterfly, ASA Technical Rules of Racing (SW 8.4) at each turn and at the finish of the race, the touch shall be made with both hands simultaneously, at, above or below the water surface.


Swimmer #2 started before swimmer #1 touched.

Relay changeovers are valid when the feet of the outgoing swimmer detach from the board at least 3/100 seconds after the fingers of the incoming swimmer touch the wall. If the outgoing swimmer moves too early, their team is disqualified.


Stroke – Head, Appeal made, 3rd Length

For example in Breastroke ASA Technical Rules of Racing (SW 7.4) states that during each complete cycle, some part of the swimmer’s head shall break the surface of the water.