After being named Head Coach of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, David Marsh touched on one of the controversial issues surrounding SwimMAC’s Ryan Lochte this summer. Earlier this year, Marsh and Lochte debuted a new freestyle strategy at the 2015 Athens Sectionals, where Lochte did his underwater dolphin kicks on his back during the 200 IM final.
The rules were unclear about whether or not it was legal to do back dolphin kicks on the freestyle portion of an IM. During freestyle races, athletes can swim any stroke or style. In the IM races, however, freestyle cannot include fly, back, or breast. This is to avoid having swimmers repeat any stroke during the race.
Since this was called into question at the 2015 FINA World Championships, Lochte’s new technique has now been ruled illegal. When asked about his reaction to this, Marsh expressed his disappointment towards the ruling, but is unconcerned about Lochte’s ability to maintain fast underwaters on the breat to free turn.
“Ryan is a good enough athlete to figure out how to go fast if you tell him to jump out of the water and do a front flip. He’ll go fast doing that if that’s the rule,” said Marsh.
He showed concern over a ruling that seemed to single out Lochte, given that this has never been a major issue before. The rules had not previously specified the underwater portion of the freestyle leg.
“I’m actually a little more concerned about maybe a knee-jerk reaction to one swimmer kind of figuring out a way that he uniquely -has the ability to kick very fast on his back- could benefit from that kind of move.”
Marsh does not believe that the rule will be overturned.