PHOENIX, Arizona, January 31. BORN from the Olympic spirit of competition comes a landmark agreement to cooperate. This ideology is at the heart of an agreement between Swimming World Magazine –- the leading independent magazine for aquatics — and LEN Magazine — the federation magazine for the Ligue Europeenne de Natation (LEN), also known as the European League of Swimming. Both magazines have agreed to share information, cross-promote its media properties and sell digital copies of their publications over the Internet.
Aquatic lovers all over the world can now download LEN Magazine at SwimmingWorldMagazine.com beginning today. Click here to download the December 2007 issue.
"LEN Magazine offers a unique perspective of the news within the European Federation. Tamas Gyarfas, LEN Magazine Editor-in-Chief, has brought LEN Magazine up to an incredible level with great photos, articles and layout. We look forward to bringing their message to our worldwide audience and especially those in the United States," said Brent Rutemiller, Publisher of Swimming World Magazine.
LEN Magazine is a quarterly publication (four times per year) and can be purchased as single copies. The cost is $8.95 per issue.
The following is an excerpt from a Craig Lord article that appears in the December 2007 issue of LEN Magazine.
You've read it often as the top line in just about any magazine or newspaper competition out there: "the judge's decision is final".
And so it is in the pool, where protest is often pointless, going by the number of times either a referee or an appeals panel have been persuaded to change their minds.
Let's be clear: most swimmers fresh from being disqualified for a rule infraction during a race or fresh from having a timing decision go against them in years gone by will, understandably, argue for the best possible result and, where necessary, argue their innocence whether innocent or otherwise. And by their side will be coaches and managers, the wiser among them brandishing a rulebook.
There are also cases, as we saw with the DQ of US sprinter Jason Lezak at the Paris Open this summer past, where teams arrive at meets ill-equipped to answer back when they feel an injustice is being done, particularly when no explanation for their downfall is provided beyond "you're out".
While a certain amount of protest is pure bluster, argument for arguments sake in the face of clear and fair judgment, swimming history is also littered with decisions that have been widely believed to have been made in error but which have remained in place regardless of appeal.
Two famous (or infamous) examples spring to mind, both involving a Lars(s)on: the Olympic finals over 100m freestyle in 1960 and the 400m medley in 1972.
John Devitt, of Australia, turned to congratulate American Lance Larson in Rome and left the pool believing he had won the silver medal. But two finish judges voted in Devitt's favour for victory, with one opting for Larson as winner. Both were given an Olympic record time of 55.2. Two judges voting to decide second place also voted 2-1 for Devitt. Out of the six judges left to decide the result, three named Devitt as champion and three Larson. Electronic timing, which was not officially in use, was consulted and revealed Larson to have touched in 55.10, to Devitt's 55.16. It was left to chief judge Hans Runstroemer of Germany, to decide even though rules at the time suggested he should have played no part in the decision. He ordered Larson's time to be registered as equal to Devitt's, at 55.2, and gave the gold to the Australian. Four years of protests failed to alter the result.
At Munich 12 years later, Gunnar Larsson of Sweden and Tim McKee of the US were both given an Olympic-record time of 4:31.98 at the helm of the 400m medley final. The electronic timing showed that Larsson stopped the clock in 4:31.981 to McKee's 4:31.983. The Swede got gold, the American silver, and the rulebook was subsequently changed to count only two digits past the point.
Controversy, of course, can work the other way, the absence of disqualification the reason for protest. Recently, the world-title race between Olympic champion Otylia Jedrzejczak of Poland, and Jessica Schipper of Austrlia, at Montreal in 2005 was a case in point. Underwater video evidence that was placed on a Dutch swimming website within minutes of the end of the race clearly showed the Pole finishing her race with what might be described as half a freestyle pull and what was described as a one-handed touch. The latter was also disproved by overhead video footage that showed Jedrzejczak finishing with both hands on the wall. The freestyle pull, however, appeared to represent a clear rule infraction.
In a world where no video evidence can be considered in such matters and in circumstances where the finish judge and referee did not notice what might have been going on below the surface, the Olympic champion was declared world champion, and in world-record time. History will show that Australians argued hard and loud about the injustice of it all but they never submitted a protest, on the basis that the exercise was a waste of effort and money.
Australian argument fell down and sympathy was lost at the point where some suggested that Jedrzejczak had deliberately cheated to gain advantage at the end of her race. There is nothing in the Pole's record that suggests any such nature. Indeed, the very opposite might be said to be true. And anyone who has ever experienced the rush of a tight race finish will know that Jedrzejczak spoke the truth when she said she could not recall how she had finished her race.
The Pole never did see her name fall from top to bottom on the scoreboard. Many others have suffered that fate and there chance of having the decision reversed has been limited, to say the least.
The FINA rule book is the only place to turn to for guidance, and it's not good news for those who don't share the referees view.