James Guy Calls Out Breaststroke Record-Setter Ilya Shymanovich For Cheating

Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

James Guy Calls Out Breaststroke Record-Setter Ilya Shymanovich For Cheating

When Belarus’s Ilya Shymanovich clocked 55.86 for the 100-meter breaststroke during the sixth match of the International Swimming League season, the performance marked a European record and the second-fastest effort in history. The outing has also generated controversy, as several individuals have called out Shymanovich for cheating, including Great Britain’s James Guy.

A two-time Olympic medalist and eight-time medalist at the World Championships, Guy has long been a proponent of clean sport, evidenced by his vocal stance against doping. For Guy, clean sport obviously also means competing on the level, as the British star called out Shymanovich on social media for using multiple dolphin kicks during his breaststroke race. Shymanovich’s time enabled him to supplant Guy’s countryman, Adam Peaty, as the European record-holder.

Guy’s assertions on Twitter follow Mel Marshall’s comments on social media that called out Shymanovich and Russia’s Vladimir Morozov for employing illegal dolphin kicks throughout their breaststroke races. The breaststroke events have long been embroiled in controversy due to the dolphin kick, as officials have been lax to call violations, most noteworthy when Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima used single dolphin kicks off the start and turn to win gold in the 100 breaststroke at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. At the time, the dolphin kick was not allowed, and Kitajima defeated American Brendan Hansen.

The next year, FINA changed the rule governing breaststroke to allow one dolphin kick at the start and turn, but athletes have used multiple dolphin kicks. South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh admitted that his Olympic title in the 100 breaststroke in 2012 was aided by dolphin kicks.

Shymanovich’s performance arrived as he competed in the ISL for Energy Standard, which is the reigning league champion. Shymanovich and Peaty are expected to duel later this season.


  1. Roy Shepherdson

    The officials might want to start ruling on the head to 15m rule as well then.

    I’ve seen multiple violations in this ISL season already.

    • Sharif Alaoui

      Roy Shepherdson for breastroke? there is no 15m regulation

      • avatar

        There is a regulation for all the strokes

    • Roy Shepherdson

      Sharif Alaoui no, not Breaststroke. The ISL also has events for Fr, Fly and Bk ?

    • Sharif Alaoui

      Roy Shepherdson wow no kidding!

      On a serious note I’m also pretty positive that a world level event has officials who know what they’re doing vs. us watching through a camera perspective from our couch

    • Rich Davis

      Sharif Alaoui you’d be surprised. At the 2005 Worlds the Women’s 200 Fly was won with an outrageous one hand touch. Not a touch touch, but a touch while the other hand was feet off of the wall.

    • Sharif Alaoui

      Rich Davis hey maybe she was trying to create a new technique like the dolphin underwater pull down ?

    • Rich Davis

      Sharif Alaoui almost. JEDRZEJCZAK from Poland beat SCHIPPER from Australia by 0.04. She used her arm as a final pull to win. Later underwater video showed a clear violation but FINA refused to overturn the result.

  2. Vic Stawik

    Rules are rules. I thought the ISL was created because we are sick of FINA? Same crap happening here. DQ is a DQ. Follow the rules or get out.

  3. avatar

    I would like to see swimming media call on the ISl technical officials to explain themselves. What was the stroke judge doing? Why didn’t the turn judge see it?

  4. Ryan Connell

    We could solve this all by going old school and not allowing butterfly kicking in breaststroke…

    • Chris Raahauge DeSantis

      Ryan Connell still remember how when the rule changed (I think my junior year) I approached my Colby teammates with excitement. Finally I could let loose on the pullout! And they all looked at me and basically said “you haven’t always been doing this?”.

    • Ryan Connell

      Chris Raahauge DeSantis I wasn’t in on that trick before my retirement!

    • Peter Scott

      Ryan Connell problem was there were still swimmers cheating by doing a dolphin kick and not getting disqualified. The rule is not the problem it is the implementation and enforcement of it that is the problem.
      When you have the 2012 Olympic champion admitting he cheated and still getting away with it then you can see where the problem lies.

  5. Ed Burton

    He’s not wrong, people are always going to stretch the interpretation of the rules.

    • Peter Scott

      Ed Burton this is not stretching the rules this is cheating and being allowed to get away with it. In a professional sport this is not acceptable. The officials have to implement the rules it is simple as that. There is plenty of opportunity at this level of competition to have video real time analysis. A video monitor on pool side with an official watching it. Excuses such as we ‘can’t see through the waves’ is not acceptable. If an organisation has rules that the majority adhere to and would never think of breaking to gain an unfair advantage then that organisation is honour bound to enforce those rules. This is a serious business and has to be treated as such.
      In this case it is not FINA but the officials at ISL that need to step up if racing is to be taken seriously

    • Ed Burton

      Peter Scott I agree it is the officials bottling it. I think they only have to make a few examples of some swimmers and it will stop. I am old school and when I started swimming your head had to be above the water on breaststroke.

    • Peter Scott

      Ed Burton hi Ed, same with me I have been racing since the 1970’s and specialise in breaststroke. Still racing all stokes all distances in pool and open water. I never ever considered cheating in my life. Officials need to step up and enforce the rules or step back and allow someone that will enforce them.
      Swimmers training for hours everyday for weeks, months, years (and in my case decades?) put a lot of time, physical and emotion in to our lives……only to be disadvantaged by cheats enabled by officials nany of which are volunteers some of which are not motivated by the same passion or understanding of the responsibility placed on their shoulders. We are relying on them to enforce the rules and protect the integrity of the sport…..in this case they are sadly lacking