A false start/recall rope is a rope that stretches across the width of competitive racing pools. It stops swimmers who were unaware of a false start. They’re specifically designed to get the attention of swimmers to prevent them from exerting unnecessary energy in the case of a false start. Typically, the rope is made of some sort of polymer plastic to prevent deterioration from the water, and includes two floats and two quick-snap connectors with weights. The rope is typically located about halfway on yard pools and about 50-feet from the starting end on meter pools.
Counsilman-Hunsaker has continued to include false start ropes in all of our competition facility designs, per National Governing Body (NGB) requirements. All major governing organizations’ requirements surrounding false start ropes can be seen below:
USA Swimming: A device to recall swimmers shall be provided. If a recall rope is used, it shall be placed at the mid-point of the course in long course facilities and at the turn end backstroke flags in short course facilities.
International Swimming Federation (FINA): False Start Rope may be suspended across the pool not less than 1.2 meters above the water level from fixed standards placed 15.0 meters in front of the starting end. It shall be attached to the standards by a quick release mechanism. The rope must effectively cover all lanes when activated.
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA): No Requirement
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS): A recall device shall be required for all swimming events at all meets. When a recall rope is used, it should be placed beyond the 15-meter mark.
As lifelong devotees of aquatics for life, we at Counsilman-Hunsaker have been to a fair amount of swim meets over the years. We’ve seen everything from High School meets, NCAA competitions, the Olympic Trials and even the World Championships. And it has been a long time since any of us have seen false start ropes utilized.
With technology continuing to advance at a breakneck pace, over the years we started to see false start ropes usage fade. False starts can now be detected in the starting blocks themselves. False start ropes haven’t necessarily been upheld as necessities. So, our question to you is: does anyone still use false start ropes? Be sure to add where you do or don’t see the benefits in the comments below!