2024 Patriot League Champs: Army Women 800 Free Relay DQ Overturned


The 2024 Patriot League Championships got off to a bit of a rocky start, with technical issues abound on the first night of competition.

The only relay disqualification that was made last night was for the Army women in the 800 free relay. Coaches told SwimSwam that this was a procedural error, and the DQ was overturned the next morning. The Army team swam a dominating 7:10.60 to win the event, over runner-up Lehigh (7:16.09). Had the DQ held, that would have been Lehigh’s first conference title in the event in 26 years.

Looking over the results (which have not been corrected since the overturning of Army’s disqualification in the women’s 800 free relay), the reaction times are clearly wrong for most of the backstrokers in the 200 medley relay.

While there are a few that seem reasonable – the Navy, Colgate, and Bucknell women as well as the Loyola men all have reaction times around 0.6-seconds – the rest of the field ranges from 2.93 all the way up to 13.91-seconds. That would imply that a swimmer didn’t leave the wall until nearly 14 seconds after the start, and proceeded to swim a 50 backstroke in 10 seconds. If that were the case, this would be a very different article.

All of the normal reaction times came from different lanes (3, 4, 5, and 8), ruling out the possibility that it was just one faulty touchpad.

The RJPs seemed to function for the remainder of the relays, with one glaring outlier: the breaststroker for Army’s men’s relay has a recorded reaction time of -0.30. Under normal circumstances, this would constitute a disqualification, but it appears that the officials invoked rule 4-14-6-g of the NCAA handbook, which states the following:

The referee has the ability to declare a system malfunction and not count the electronic readings of a given lane if he has clear evidence that the system has failed. If using the video review system as described in Rule 4-14-7, the referee can review any malfunction. If video review is not being utilized, the referee can elect to not count the reading of an entire heat if the majority of lanes have malfunctioned. Eliminating the readings in one heat is limited to that heat only and all other heat readings remain valid.

There was another error corrected this morning. According to sources, including SwimSwam’s own Anya Pelshaw, it was discovered the bulkhead at Lejeune Hall was askew by as much as 1/16th of an inch this morning. It is unknown whether this affected the results last night.

This isn’t the first time a conference has had controversial DQs. Just last year at the men’s Ivy League Championships, four relays were disqualified and later reinstated after it was determined the RJPs malfunctioned.

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