Skip navigation

USAT Triathlon Rules

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Jan 22, 2009

Steve ~


The way I read it, swim cut-off is 1:20 after the last individual wave. I suspect you'll be starting your swim shortly after 9:00 am and before 9:30.


You brought up a great point, that everyone needs to know the rules. Below is a list of commonly broken rules from the USAT site, along with a link to the full set of rules:


1. Helmets:

No modifications may be made to the helmet. Helmets must be worn as they were purchased. If the helmet came with a cloth cover, the cover must be on the helmet when competing. Helmets must be worn at all times while on your bike. This means before, during, and after the event.


Penalty: Disqualification


2. Chin Straps:

Chin straps must be buckled at all times when on a bicycle. DO NOT unbuckle your chin strap unless you are off your bicycle.


Penalty: Disqualification on the course; Variable time penalty in transition area only.


3. Outside Assistance:

No assistance other than that offered by race and medical officials may be used. Triathlons and duathlons are individual tests of fitness.


Penalty: Variable time penalty


4. Transition Area:

All equipment must be placed in the properly designated and individually assigned bike corral. The wheel of the bicycle must be down on the side of the assigned space. All participants must return their bicycles to an upright position in their designated bicycle corral. No person shall interfere with another participant's equipment or impede the progress of another participant. All bar ends must be solidly plugged. No participant shall bring ANY glass containers into the transition area.


Penalty: Variable time penalty


5. Drafting:


Drafting--keep at least three bike lengths of clear space between you and the cyclist in front. If you move into the zone, you must pass within 15 seconds.


Position--keep to the right hand side of the lane of travel unless passing.



Blocking--riding on the left side of the lane without passing anyone and interfering with other cyclists attempting to pass.



Overtaken--once passed, you must immediately exit the draft zone from the rear, before attempting to pass again.


Penalty: Variable time penalty


6. Course:

All competitors are required to follow the prescribed course and to stay within all coned lanes. Cutting the course is an obvious violation and going outside the course is a safety issue. Cyclists shall not cross a solid yellow center line for ANY reason. Cyclists must obey all applicable traffic laws at all times.



Penalty: Referee's discretion


7. Unsportsmanlike-Like Conduct:


Foul, harsh, argumentative or abusive language or other unsportsmanlike conduct directed at race officials, USA Triathlon officials, volunteers, spectators or fellow athletes is forbidden.


Penalty: Disqualification


8. Headphones:

Headphones, headsets, walkmans, ipods, mp3 players, etc. are not to be carried or worn at any time during the race.


Penalty: Variable time penalty


9. Race numbers:

All athletes are required to wear race numbers at all times during the run. Numbers must face the front and be clearly visible at all times. Numbers may not be cut or folded or altered in any way. DO NOT transfer your number to any other athlete or take a number from an athlete that is not competing.

Penalty: Variable time penalty for missing or altered number, Disqualification and one year suspension from membership in USAT for transferring a number without race director permission.


10. Wetsuits:

Each age group participant shall be permitted to wear a wetsuit without penalty in any event sanctioned by USA Triathlon up to and including a water temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water temperature is greater than 78 degrees but less than 84 degrees Fahrenheit, age group participants may wear a wetsuit at their own discretion, provided, however that participants who wears a wetsuit within such temperature range shall not be eligible for prizes or awards. Above 84 degrees, wetsuits are prohibited.


11. Abandonment:

All personal equipment and belongings taken out onto the course must stay on the athlete the entire time. No garbage, clothing, etc. shall be thrown on the course.



Penalty: Variable time penalty



Distance Category

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Short or Sprint

2:00 minute

4:00 minutes



2:00 minutes

4:00 minutes



4:00 minutes

8:00 minutes



6:00 minutes

12:00 minutes

















In additon, below are a couple of the swimming rules that help make people feel more at ease. The short of it is you can rest by standing on the bottom or holding on to a boat. You can actually walk making forward progress. You can't make forward progress using a boat or other object:



4.1 Permissible Strokes. Swimmers may use any stroke to propel themselves through the water and may tread water or float.



4.2 Bottom Contact and Resting. A participant may stand on the bottom or rest by holding an inanimate object such as a buoy, boat, rope or floating object. Excluding the bottom, a participant shall not use any inanimate object to gain forward progress. A violation of this section shall result in a variable time penalty, unless the Head Referee in his/her sole discretion determines that the violation was substantial and resulted in an unfair time advantage, or (ii) the violation constituted endangerment under Section 3.4(1).






1,637 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon_rules, usa_triathlon_rules, triathlon_swim_rules