Underwater Video Cameras a Possibility in Future

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, July 26. ACCORDING to the June 2007 edition of FINA Aquatics World, the governing body for the sport is considering the use of underwater video cameras. Prior to the World Short Course Championships next April in Manchester, England, FINA will hold a meeting that discusses the adoption of underwater cameras for official use. If the rule passes, it will be used for the World Short Course Champs and in ensuing meets.

Two instances in recent years would have benefited from the use of video footage. At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Japan's Kosuke Kitajima used a dolphin kick (now legal) off the start and turn of his 100-meter breaststroke gold-medal swim. The dolphin kicking allowed Kitajima to claim a narrow victory over American Brendan Hansen. Had video been allowed then, a disqualification would have been likely.

The second instance occurred at the 2005 World Championships in Montreal. During the championship final of the 200 butterfly, Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak won the gold medal, but was shown at the finish using a one-handed touch, rather than the required two-hand touch. That maneuver cost silver medalist Jessicah Schipper the gold medal.

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July 26, 2007. The dolphin kick that Kitajima used at the Olympics to win his gold medal was heartbreaking. I felt the change in the rule for breaststroke to accommodate the dolphin kick was not only like admitting it happened, but saying it was okay that it happened. From what I understand, that was not the first time that he had pulled that move in competition. Most of the time when I watch his underwater in major competitions now, I still feel his technique is questionable. I was only watching from home when Kitajima's false win happened in Athens, and it was very upsetting.

I was in the grandstands when Otylia Jedrzejczak had her one-handed touch. It was completely obvious on the replay. She doesn't believe she has a repeated history of touching the wall like that, but that doesn't make it more legal than what Kitajima did. It just makes it a bit
more forgivable. Not only did she get Jessicah Schipper's Gold medal
and title of World Champion, she also got her name on the world record.

Both women completed that swim under WR time.

I know in many sports, spectators in the grandstands and at home seem to be more aware of the errors the athletes are making than the officials are. I personally am looking forward to the day when swimming catches up to other sports and uses the technology available. Maybe that will slow down the blatant mistakes in officiating.

The only question I have is, will the video replay for official use only be used when there is an objection? And will they have a camera for every lane? Lauren


July 26, 2007. Alright I'll put my 2 cents in. The idea of video review is great. To remove disqualifications in events that are simply too hard to lane judges to see. Maybe there should be some limitations on disqualifications that can be made via the video system, but that is for FINA to decide… Turns/Finishes/Underwaters are the biggest problem because of the turbulence in the water and reflections and lane ropes. Not only would this keep races fair, but move forward to where lane judging will end up in the end anyway. Being able to judge every lane is indeed a problem. But, isn't there already a problem if judges themselves cannot recognize these disqualifications at international meets where world records are being broken… Every little bit counts. If funding is available go for coverage of every lane! Billy


July 26, 2007. I think this is long overdue. I just hope it doesn't open up a can of worms…. JEBarone


July 26, 2007. As an official myself I disagree with the use of video for making calls. For, justifying calls, maybe, for call review maybe as well. The amount of coverage you would need would be incredible, to cover all of the angles that the officials have to cover.

At the level of meet that the infractions mentioned previously, Kitajima and Jedrzejczak specifically, there was one official per lane with a very limited jurisdiction. Kitajima's infraction was very obvious and was indeed a badly blown call.

I have not seen any of the footage of the "one handed touch", again, the touches on the finish are usually very pronounced, two handed touches, due to the swimmer driving to the finish on the final stroke.

The officials by virtue of their being human are bound to make mistakes, rarely do they make them on such a high level. One of the guidelines that officials must follow is that you need to be fair to the swimmers and think of their best interest.

That being said, if you see it call it, if you don't, don't. Finally don't be afraid of making a call at any level meet, the worst that can happen is that it is overturned. Either way it is a learning experience for all involved. By relying on video you are dehumanizing a sport that is a one on one, one against the clock, not the camera. Sass


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