2024 Patriot League Champs: Final Day Delayed Over “Honest Effort” Dispute


The 2024 Patriot League Championships has been fraught with technical difficulties, from overturned disqualifications to bulkhead misalignment. It has also been a dramatic team race, with the Navy and Army men grappling for the team title. Navy is looking for its 20th straight Patriot League title, while Army is seeking to end their reign.

It was a close meet heading into the final day, with Navy holding a narrow 45 point lead over Army. The points distribution is even more interesting this year with the addition of scored C-finals.

After prelims, the Navy men looked poised to outscore Army in the final tally. But then Army took four of the top eight spots in the 1650 to leap into the lead by 37 points.

The next race was the 200 backstroke, where Army had placed three men in the A-final to Navy’s two. One of those swimmers was Jake Douberly, who had qualified 8th in a time of 1:46.71. He was also slated to swim the 200 fly later in the session, also from lane eight.

In the 200 back, Douberly held his seed placement but added almost exactly 10 seconds to touch 1:56.67. Since that swim was done in the A-final, he still was slated to earn 22 crucial points for Navy. However, he was disqualified for the “honest effort” rule, text cited below:

“Coaches are to ensure student-athletes put forth an honest effort in all competitions. Failure to show an honest effort could be considered an act of improper conduct (Rule 2-5-6) and result in disqualification and/or disciplinary action by the referee or meet committee.”

So instead of earning a guaranteed 22 points for Navy to keep pace in the final tally, Army widened the gap to 80 points.

According to reports on deck, the start of the women’s 200 fly was delayed by 30 minutes as Navy disputed the disqualification. However, it appears the call held as Douberly still appears as disqualified in the 200 backstroke.

He still had the second half of his double to finish, and ended up finishing 5th in the men’s 200 fly, improving his prelims time by exactly one-tenth of a second (1:47.79).

The meet still isn’t over, and Navy has five athletes in the men’s 3-meter diving finals to Army’s three, but Army now holds a 23.5 point lead in the team standings. There’s also still the 400 free relay to go, where Army holds the top seed.

We’ve seen a similar situation play out before: at the 2021 Women’s Big Ten Championships, Northwestern’s Miriam Guevera was disqualified in the 100 back on the front-half of a double with the 200 fly, also adding nearly 10 seconds from her preliminary time, but that case didn’t have as dramatic of a consequence in a team race.

The 200 back and 200 fly is a tough double, especially when it comes on the last day of a meet, but we’ve seen swimmers have success with it in their NCAA careers, notably Brendan Burns at Big Tens.

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Eddie Rowe
1 month ago

Easiest way to solve this is have qualifying times for the meet. You have to go at least the qualifying time to score.

Another PL team fan
1 month ago

At the meet, during the infamous 30 min break, there was a rumor that the officials were potentially pulling Douberly from the entire meet for “unsportsmanlike conduct” from the lack of “honest effort” on the 200 back. Contributing to this explanation was the timing of the delay being before the 200 fly finals, where Douberly was slated to be the 8th seed. If they weren’t considering removing him and reseeding the 200 fly, wouldn’t it have been better to hash the DQ/protest out during the diving finals?

Jonah Elfers
1 month ago

Swam with Jake in high school, dude was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. The honest effort rule is a joke, 99% of the time it’s a swimmer who has a double on a certain day and they make it into a certain final in both events and know they likely won’t move up in one, so they just finish that race to have a better shot at scoring more points in the other one. The only person the rule “hurts” is the person not giving “honest effort”. If you’re upset about them doing that, just beat them in prelims.

Fifth year, hanging on for dear life
1 month ago

I mean everyone knows the 2fly/2back double sucks, that’s generally why you don’t do it. If you’re gonna take it on, you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Also worth noting that it the MAAC, a kid did the mile/2fly double and won both events. Brendan burns has done and won the 2fly/2back double at Big Tens before. If you’re gonna put yourself in the double, you gotta put your money where your mouth is.

James Beam
1 month ago

You would think that someone at a military academy would be mentally and physically strong enough to handle a double like this?
Anyone know if track has a similar rule?

Bob Wissmann
Reply to  James Beam
1 month ago

Track and Field does have an honest effort rule as well

Andy Hardt
1 month ago

Like most others on here, the honest effort rule is a bit vague for my tastes. But here’s the hill I’m willing to die on: a DQ in finals should be equal to (or one point less than) getting last place in that final.

Based on the prelim swim, every swimmer in an A-final has already beaten every swimmer in the B-final, regardless of how fast the B-final winner goes or how slow the last-place A-final swimmer goes. Regardless of what happens at night, the prelim swims are locked in and immutable. EXCEPT if there’s a DQ in the A-final. Then that swimmer is disqualified from the entire event, and everyone in the B-final (and possible C-final) is moved up.… Read more »

Andy Hardt
Reply to  Andy Hardt
1 month ago

Based on the downvotes, seems like I actually am dying on the hill 🙂

Good at least that the current set-up is what most people want, even if I personally disagree.

1 month ago

The rule is subjective, just as is the rule for taking too much time for a relay swimmer to exit the lane. That was the violation that dq’ed Army women’s 800 FR. But their protest was successful.

Both rules need to be quantified/objectified or dropped.

Reply to  Nepotism
1 month ago

Again, the 800 Free Relay dq was over turned due to procedural error.

The officials confirmed the results as official, then proceeded to the next event.

About 90 min after the session ended, they went back and changed the result to a DQ. The DQ was overturned because a judgement call DQ must be made in the moment before the next heat swims.

In the case of the honest effort rule, the officials made the call immediately following the heat and prior to the start of next event.

Both were judgement calls by the officials…and from the looks of it initiated by opposing head coaches.

Steve Nolan
1 month ago

That honest effort rule is insanely dumb.

If the point is to win a team title, and you think the best way to maximize team points is to go slow as hell in a certain race, idk why that’s an issue.

Edit – And it’s also so context dependent. Say the order of these events were swapped, and he’d gone the exact same times in both. Does he still get DQ’d in that second one, now? How are you to gauge if he was trying hard as hell, but was just toasted from the first part of the double?

Whenever you’ve got a rule that’s almost completely based on “vibes” I just…don’t think that’s a good rule.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Nolan
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Your hypothetical is interesting, especially given that the second event would be the 200 fly. I can imagine that trying to do a competent 200 fly after going all out in a 200 back final would be pretty brutal. But the problem here is that it was so obvious that the swimmer was loafing through the 200 back that he was pretty much just daring the officials to make that call. Had the events been reversed, he at least would have had plausible deniability.