Video Footage of Dolphin Kick in Breaststroke Stresses Need for Underwater Video Judging

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PHOENIX, Arizona, July 29. VIDEO replay has once again shown swimmers using an illegal dolphin kick during a breaststroke race, this time in the semifinals of yesterday’s 100 breaststroke at the London Olympics.

In the second semifinal heat, Australia’s Christian Sprenger in lane four and Lithuania’s Giedrius Titenis in lane five did what appears to be illegal dolphin kicks after their final strokes into the finish and before their hands touched the wall. Rules do not allow swimmers to use the dolphin kick in breaststroke, except for one dolphin kick each during the underwater pull at the start and after the turn.

Sprenger is the fourth-fastest qualifier in tonight’s 100 breast final with a 59.61. He is the world record holder in the 200 breast (2:07.61) and is looking for his first individual medal at his second Olympics. He won a silver in the 400 medley relay as a prelim swimmer on the breaststroke leg.

Titenis qualified fifth for the final with a 59.66.

Neither FINA (swimming’s world governing body) nor the International Olympic Committee allow for video judging in swimming, which has been called for by media members, as well as officials, athletes and coaches. It is the sole responsibility of the judge at the end of the lane to notice the dolphin kick, which often is not noticed due to waves in the pool, glare from lighting, or the judge looking at another body part during the infraction.

These are the breaststroke swimming rules from the FINA website as they relate to using the dolphin kick:

SW 7.1 After the start and after each turn, the swimmer may take one arm stroke completely back to the legs during which the swimmer may be submerged. A single butterfly kick is permitted during the first arm stroke, followed by a breaststroke kick.

SW 7.5 The feet must be turned outwards during the propulsive part of the kick. A scissors, flutter or downward butterfly kick is not permitted except as in SW 7.1. Breaking the surface of the water with the feet is allowed unless followed by a downward butterfly kick.

At last year’s world championships, Swimming World first reported the illegal dolphin kick performed at the finish of the 50 breast final by winner Felipe Silva of Brazil. Due to the policy of not allowing video replay, Silva’s finish was never appealed or disputed at the meet.

Possibly the most memorable infraction came at the 2004 Olympics, when eventual champion Kosuke Kitajima did a dolphin kick at the start of the 100 breaststroke final, which at the time was illegal. Many believe the rule was changed after this to allow a dolphin kick in 2006.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified New Zealand’s Glenn Snyders as performing an illegal dolphin kick at the finish. Swimming World regrets the error.

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