2017 W. NCAAs: Cal 400 Medley Relay DQ’ed after Touching 1st


While Stanford was the heavy favorite coming into this meet, the Cal Bears were far from out of it with their momentum on day 2. The Bears rocketed to a new NCAA Record in the 200 free relay to open the session, and Kathleen Baker pulled off the upset in the 200 IM. It looked like Cal would bookend the meet with victories as they touched 1st in the 400 medley relay, but heartbreak struck as the announcers confirmed the Bears’ disqualification.

The DQ is reminiscent of last season’s NCAA championships, when Stanford was set to challenge for the win, but DQed their 200 freestyle relay after touching 1st, making Cal the victor. The tables were turned this time around, as tonight’s relay DQ most likely takes Cal’s run at an upset off the table and possibly seals the deal for Stanford.

Cal’s Kathleen Baker led them off in the 2nd fastest 100 back of all time, clocking in at 49.80, but Stanford pulled up with Kim Williams (58.51) on the breast leg. Janet Hu surged to a 50.27 fly split to get the Cardinal even closer. It came down to the touch, as Lia Neal (46.15) came up just short to Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil (45.96). In the end, however, Cal was DQed, as live results show Weitzeil’s reaction time at -0.13.

In the below picture, you can see the false start. Hu finished .02 ahead of Cal’s Noemie Thomasbut you can see how far ahead Weitzeil was coming off the block (Neal’s reaction time was .26).

*NOTE: Despite Cal’s disqualification, Baker’s split will not be nullified per the NCAA rulebook, meaning she is still the 2nd fastest performer of all time after breaking Natalie Coughlin’s 15-year-old school record on the leadoff split.*

Cal Splits Before Finalized DQ:

The Bears now remain in 2nd place with 136 points, but are 77 points behind Stanford (213) and just 17 points ahead of Texas (119).


  1. Stanford                          213   2. California                        136
  3. Texas                             119   4. Georgia                           112
  5. Texas A&M                         108   6. Louisville                         93
  7. Michigan                           74   8. NC State                           71
  9. Southern Cali                      68  10. Indiana                            61
 11. Virginia                           57  12. Minnesota                          52
 13. Wisconsin                          49  14. Arizona                          47.5
 15. Kentucky                           46  16. Missouri                           34
 17. Auburn                             29  18. Ohio St                            27
 19. UCLA                               22  20. UNC                                18
 21. Lsu                                14  22. Nevada                             13
 23. Miami (Oh)                         12  24. Tennessee                          11
 25. Boise St                           10  26. Purdue                              7
 27. Umbc (W)                            5  28. Denver                              4
 28. Florida Gulf                        4  30. Alabama                           3.5
 31. Massachusetts                       2  31. Virginia Tech                       2
 33. Air Force (W)                       1  33. Florida St                          1

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5 years ago

We need to change officiating and make sure we get these calls correct. We have video review technology and it should be used regardless and there should be NO doubt whether the call was right or not. The video should also be shared with coaches. Look what happened at ACCs. Video was not used for that call either even though the same Omega timing system failed. The kids work too hard to have a bad call made when in fact there is an equipment failure. I know when I officiated I once made a call and would have loved to have video used to make sure I got the call correct, or not. Other sports use video and it seems… Read more »

Reply to  Question
5 years ago

Actually a video review has been used for all the relays so far (prelims, finals, and consolations) so there is no ambiguity here. And even the announcer always says after every really that the results are unofficial under the video reviews are completed.

5 years ago

So does anyone know what Howe actually split?

Reply to  VFL
5 years ago

I just went back and watched the replay (can find the whole session at the link at the top of the article), and I had her around 50.5 both times I tried timing.

Reply to  VFL
5 years ago

I presume Howe’s initial touch was not registered by the touchpad. If you estimate Kim Williams (Stanford 2nd swimmer) real reaction time was about 0.20 (vs recorded -0.62, but similar to others in this race & Williams in PAC-12 finals), then Howe’s finish can be estimated as 0.20 before Williams left the block (at 51.42 – 0.62), or about 50.60. That would mean that Williams’s split was about 59.33. (With r.t.=0.30, splits are 50.50 and 59.43.) At the PAC-12s, their splits were 50.44 and 59.79.

5 years ago

Same for Missouri anchor. Guessing video review and has to do with using wedge on start

5 years ago

And yet, the Live Web results show the Stanford breaststroker jumping by -.68 How is that being handled?

Reply to  BaldingEagle
5 years ago

Supposedly someone has to see it. They can’t review it otherwise.

Reply to  Ervin
5 years ago

they are doing video reviews after each event for relays. Some of these alleged huge false starts are caused by the way the swimmer uses the wedge to take off. So the -.68 was probably deemed inaccurate after review.

Reply to  BaldingEagle
5 years ago

Agreed. I don’t think Ally Howe was that slow (she was a 49.7 just a few weeks ago and they have her split as a 51.4) and I don’t think Kim Williams was that fast (she was a 59.7 in prelims and her split in finals was a 58.5). Something is off for sure…

Swimmer A
Reply to  BaldingEagle
5 years ago

May have been because of the step-up relay start. Sometimes in moving your back foot up both feet briefly leave the blocks before you actually do your start off the blocks. This would probably account for the -.68 reaction time, despite no official having observed a false start.

Reply to  BaldingEagle
5 years ago

Jumping 0.6 early means that Howe would’ve been over a yard away from the wall. It would be comically obvious on the feed, to everyone. There’s no way an official would miss that, much less on review.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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