Swimming - Playing Environment
FINA has set rules on the length, breadth, and depth of swimming pools used for competitions. Swimming pools should be at least two meters deep. They can be fifty or twenty five meters long. The fifty meter long ones are used for long course races and the twenty five meter long ones are used for short course races. World records cannot be compared across pools of different lengths because it may be an advantage or disadvantage to swimmers to have more or less turns in a race.
Pools are divided into lanes. Lanes are labelled from zero and each lane should be at least 2.5 meters wide. World championship pools have ten lanes. Pools hosting other events can have eight lanes. They are usually equipped with starting blocks at both ends of the pool. According to FINA regulations, Automatic Officiating Equipment with touch pads should be used to record times. Sensors are used to monitor takeovers in a relay race.
There have been major changes in starting blocks over the past few years. Of late, the surface of the block is angled towards the swimming pool and starting blocks now have a raised, slant platform at the end of the main block called a lip. This allows the swimmer to launch with greater speed by taking a right angled crouched position and pushing off with the rear leg.
Men's swimwear include briefs and jammers. FINA has formulated some rules to prevent swimmers from taking advantage by wearing aerodynamic swim suits. They can wear only one piece of swim suit from the waist to just above their knees.
Women usually wear one-piece suits of various designs at the back. Some of the popular designs are racer back, axel back, corset, diamondback, and butterfly-back/Fly-Back. The suits can be of various lengths, however they are not allowed to wear suits that go past their knees or shoulders.
Swaying hair induces drag and slows down the swimmer. Long hair might also obstruct vision. A swim cap is used to lock hair and reduce drag. It is made of stretchable materials like, latex, silicone, spandex or lycra.
Swimmers use goggles to prevent water and chlorine from getting into their eyes. While swimming at open pools, swimmers might choose tinted goggles to neutralize glare. Some goggles are also made of vision correcting lenses.