ACC Champion Owen Lloyd Disqualified for His Post-Race Celebration

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 255

February 25th, 2024 ACC, College


A dramatic scene unfolded on Saturday night at the start of the last session of the 2024 ACC Swimming & Diving Championships.

A meet full of records from the Walsh sisters and Notre Dame’s Chris Giuliano might instead be remembered for an unusual and rarely-called disqualification in the men’s 1650 free.

NC State’s Owen Lloyd touched the wall in 14:37.04, ostensibly winning the ACC title. In celebration of his victory, Lloyd mounted the lane rope, eventually falling into the lane of his teammate and the runner-up Ross Dant, who was two seconds behind.

“Interfered with another swimmer” was the official declaration on the results as the reason for the disqualification.

Dant, who finished in 14:39.34, was declared the winner.

While Dant, who was stroke-for-stroke with Lloyd for most the race, had finished his swim before Lloyd fell into his lane, some swimmers of the heat had not (Jordan Yanchev in lane 8 was about 50 seconds back).

The text of the NCAA rule (pages 25-26) on interference is below:

ARTICLE 1. a. Any competitor who interferes with another swimmer during a race shall be disqualified from that race, subject to the discretion of the referee. If a swimmer is fouled by another swimmer, including interference by an outside entity, or due to facility equipment failure during a preliminary heat of an event, the referee may allow that swimmer to repeat the race at a time not later than 30 minutes after the last heat of the last event in which the swimmer is competing during that session of the meet. If a foul occurs during a final race, the referee may order the race swum over if, in the referee’s opinion, sufficient unfairness prevailed. No person shall be required, as a consequence of this rule, to swim with fewer than 30 minutes’ rest between a repeated race and any of that person’s regularly scheduled races.
b. A swimmer who changes lanes during a heat shall be disqualified.
c. Any interference with a meet official in the performance of that person’s duties will be considered for disciplinary action by the referee or meet committee.
d. If a swimmer, who is one of the first three swimmers in a relay, crosses the occupied lane of another team, the relay of that swimmer shall be disqualified. Swimmers should exit the pool directly at the end of their lane.
e. If flyover starts are being utilized during the event, swimmers shall not cross the occupied lane of another swimmer/team to exit the course. Swimmers shall exit directly at the end of their lane.
f. Pulling on a lane line to assist motion is not permitted.

There is another section that reads as below, that seems to be designed for non-participating swimmers in an event, but that might apply in this case:

b. A competitor who enters the water in the area in which a race is being conducted before all contestants have completed the race may be disqualified from their next scheduled competition in that meet and, in addition, may disqualify all of their team’s entrants in that race.

The rule doesn’t explicitly address a situation where a swimmer goes into the lane of another athlete who has completed the race, but before the completion of other competitors in the race. Because Dant had finished his swim, he was not interfered with by the lay definition of interference.

Swimmers often rest over the lane rope after the conclusion of their swims, with arms, heads, and maybe feet crossing into a competitor’s lane. An example of this from the 2022 NCAA Championships is below, where no disqualification was called. In the case of Lloyd, he fell fully into Dant’s lane, though, and swam under the lane rope immediately in order to return to his lane.

*celebration begins at 14:56 timestamp

The net result is Dant’s first ACC Championship in the mile and second overall individual win after leading the 500 free in 2022. Dant, for his part, defended his teammate in his post-race interview. Describing the disqualification to the commentators, who were apparently unaware of why it was called, Dant said “No, he earned that fair and square” with a clear look of frustration on his face, before committing to give his teammate the winner’s medal from the event. The cameras then panned to a tearful Lloyd sitting on deck in disbelief.


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1 month ago

To destroy a swimmers conference victory, NCAA qualification, and essentially a years training, by an extended reach of a poorly defined rule, is wrong, and incompetent, perhaps even pathological, when there was no interference with any other swimmer still swimming. Where are the discerning adults on the deck?

Will Gerrity
1 month ago

They should disqualify that judging panel. Clarify the rule to crossing into a lane of a swimmer how has yet to finish. They need to reinstate his win. I hope he goes on to crush everything in spite of this lamé decision.

1 month ago

with a clear look of frustration on his face
That’s neither the look nor a voice of frustration, it’s a look of pent up anger. You can hear his voice breaking, he’s barely holding himself from expressing his thoughts in much less polite terms xD.

1 month ago

Did NCSU protest? Haven’t read all the comments.

Human Being
1 month ago

Swimming is one of the most fatiguing sports, imagine spending years training until your muscles feel like they’re on fire, waking up early and going to sleep late and being constantly tired just to lead up to being disqualified at your big moment for a BS rule

Vince H
1 month ago

Rules are not blind statements of direction to be applied void of any critical thinking. The ref’s in this case should be ashamed of them selves and investigated for betting on the outcome of the meet.

Reply to  Vince H
1 month ago

They had another poor decision to DQ swimmer on Friday night for false start based upon officials eyesight in a relay. Swimmer did not false according to electronic system then they used the same electronic system Saturday with no officials for relays

..Which set of rules do they enforce and on which days?

Angela Hatfield
1 month ago

“A swimmer who changes lanes during a heat shall be disqualified.”

So by this referee’s interpretation of the rule, that would mean, they would DQ a swimmer for simply reaching across the lane line, to hug or shake the hand of a swimmer in the adjacent lane, before all swimmers completed the race…
Is that considered changing lanes too? A part of their body crossed the lane line, “changed lanes”
Ugh! 🙄 Good grief! C’Mon Ref!

Rick S
1 month ago

The disqualification was for “changing lanes during a heat”. This is a poor interpretation of the rule. A swimmer who completes a heat in his own lane should not be held to violate the rule. He does not change lanes during the heat, as he has already swum the heat and cannot “change lanes”. Lloyd finished swimming the heat in his own lane and arguably did not offend the rule.

Reply to  Rick S
1 month ago

I think the heat is not over until all the swimmers are finished. In that case, Lloyd did change lanes during the heat. The officials at the meet do not have the option of letting his swim count because the rule you quoted goes on to say that swimmer “shall be disqualified”. I feel terrible for Lloyd but unfortunately he did break the rule. The people responsible for the rule are the rules committee, not the officials at the pool. Maybe Lloyd can appeal the ruling, I don’t know. Maybe the rules committee will review it and change it for next year. And, contrary to many commenters opinions, I don’t think this rule stifles celebrations because he could have celebrated… Read more »

Peter D
Reply to  BGray
1 month ago

No, just no. You don’t have to disqualify him for his celebration if it means spitting in the face of sportsmanship to do so. There is no magical force that demanded that these meet officials had to uphold this rule. Should he have known not to cross into the other lane before the heat ended? Yes, that is actually a well known rule, but it isn’t always upheld, nor is it something you remember in the heat of the moment like that after a race.

If his actions didn’t in any way shape or form interfere with the outcome of his swim or any of the other swimmers races, then the officials could have absolutely shown some human decency and… Read more »

Charles M
Reply to  BGray
1 month ago

Your point is taken but at no point did his incursion disadvantage another swimmer. The referee power tripped because the response – a DQ – was over the top considering common sense. The officials and referee should be stripped for such gross misconduct and possibly pay emotional damages to Llyod of at least a few thousand dollars and then give a very public apology to the Owen and the world at large for such a travesty of common sense.

Reply to  BGray
1 month ago

It also says at the referees discretion

Reply to  Sharon
1 month ago

“Referee’s discretion” is only mentioned in section 1.a., not 1.b. (the relevant rule).

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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