The start in Freestyle, Breaststroke, Butterfly and Individual Medley races shall be with a dive. On the long whistle from the referee the swimmers shall step onto the starting platform and remain there. On the starter’s command “take your marks”, they shall immediately take up a starting position with at least one foot at the front of the starting platforms. The position of the hands is not relevant. When all swimmers are stationary, the starter shall give the starting signal.
The start in Backstroke and Medley Relay races shall be from the water. At the referee’s first long whistle , the swimmers shall immediately enter the water. At the Referee’s second long whistle the swimmers shall return without undue delay to the starting position. When all swimmers have assumed their starting positions, the starter shall give the command “take your marks”. When all swimmers are stationary, the starter shall give the starting signal.
In Olympic Games, World Championships and other FINA events the command “Take your marks” shall be in English and the start shall be by multiple loudspeakers, mounted one at each starting platform.
Any swimmer starting before the starting 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. The Referee repeats the starting procedure beginning with the long whistle (the second one for backstroke)