FINA Announces Another Rules Change to Breaststroke Pullouts

FINA has announced a rules change to the breaststroke underwater pullout – the latest change to try and give officials a fighting chance, and athletes an even chance, at adhering to the ever-more-complex breaststroke rules.

In the vote, FINA approved a new interpretation of allowing the single dolphin kick on the pullout to come at any time before the first breaststroke kick. Previously, the rules required some separation of the hands before the first dolphin kick. The change will be effective immediately.

Initially, when the dolphin kick was added, most athletes did the dolphin kick clearly during the pull-down. That water became muddied, however, when many swimmers began doing the pullout while effectively still in a streamline – especially in Europe and South Africa, where swimmers were breaking World Records.

That pushed FINA to mandate separation of the hands, which created a very fine inspection of technique where swimmers would create a slight separation of hands, but remain effectively in a streamline.

Now, the rule allows the dolphin kick off of each wall to happen at any point prior to the breaststroke kick.

While that tweak in technique was slow to catch on in the United States, American high school rules already allowed this change beginning with the 2013-2014 season.

The rules still don’t require an underwater pullout at all, which has led some coaches to speculate on ways to take advantage. Specifically, for swimmers who are not primarily breaststrokers, some coaches we’ve spoken to have suggested that in a long event like the 400 IM, they might have their swimmers skip the pullout altogether and instead just do a single dolphin kick before coming up begin their above-water stroke.

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swimmer
6 years ago

Never thought this was a huge issue….the huge issue is the multiple dolphin kicks off of the walls, especially the starts. Also the dolphin kick at the end of the breaststroke kick, especially in the middle of the pool.

Reply to  swimmer
6 years ago

All one has to do is look at the times to see that the swimmers who are practicing this technique have seized the advantage (legally of course). This totally changes the times that H.S. kids are doing. Those that do not know: This will shave about .08-1.2 seconds off of a swimmers individual lap times. (this is the time required to cover the added forward surge if you did not perform the new technique).

newswim
6 years ago

I believe Nort Thornton has been recommending that swimmers use a fly kick and then immediately begin the stroke cycle without a pullout. His rationale is that the recovery phase during the pullout negates any of the speed pick up from pull down. Don’t know if the CAL breaststrokers every used his technique in races.

When does this new rule become effective for FINA and USA swimming?

newswim
Reply to  newswim
6 years ago

I assume that if the other rule wording remains unchanged the phases (without a pullout) would be streamline, fly kick, breaststroke kick (hands still in streamline) pull (head breaks surface at widest part of pull) and so on……to meet the requirement that any fly kick must be followed by a breaststroke kick

vgrol98
Reply to  newswim
6 years ago

Not sure whether or not that’s what they mean. I think the part “at any point prior to the breaststroke kick.” just means that you’re not allowed to use dolphin kicks during the above-water part.

But of it really means that we would be allowed to have streamline, dolphin kick and then immediatly the breaststroke kick, it would be a huge improvement.

vgrol98
Reply to  vgrol98
6 years ago

SWIMREF said about the same (if you scroll down a bit)

Reply to  newswim
6 years ago

I don’t think this interpretation is correct. You can dive then streamline then fly kick, but the stroke must start with a pull then a breaststroke kick, not a breaststroke kick then a pull. This is under rule SW7.2 – “From the start and throughout the race the stroke cycle shall be one arm stroke and one leg kick in that order”.
I think my judges will still struggle in deciding, if the swimmer performs their fly kick before their pull-out, whether the swimmer performs a second fly kick during the pull-out (aka A-pull or butterfly stroke). I understand that the fly kick was introduced because senior swimmers inevitably perform an undulation during the full-out and this can look… Read more »

newswim
Reply to  s ward
6 years ago

My reading is that the new rule allows two things not previously permitted. One, is the fly kick in streamline (no need to initiate the pull with separation of hands) and the second is fly kick any time off the start and turns as long as it precedes the breaststroke kick. Some might now experiment with inserting the fly kick after the pull down and glide. Previously this was thought slower because you couldn’t fully exploit the power of the pull down glide.

Here is the USA rule book amended wording

“101.2.3 Kick – After the start and each turn, at any time prior to the first breaststroke kick a single butterfly
kick is permitted. Following which,… Read more »

Stephanie
Reply to  newswim
6 years ago

Breastroke currently is a cyclical stroke that must have an arm stroke before the kick.

asdf
Reply to  newswim
6 years ago

Tell that to Kevin Cordes. He goes close to 15 meters off every wall. Hard to imagine he could do that with just one fly kick

Gazza
Reply to  asdf
5 years ago

With the correct timing and one fly kick i have swimmers between 9-11 covering 12-13mtrs off the walls at start and 8-10 at turns.

Reply to  newswim
6 years ago

The bottom line is the absolutely incredible and revolutionary lowering of the times. Changing the rules is good….but creates an elite group through artificial means. The kids are faster…not Gods.

coacherik
6 years ago

Swimmer, you need to consider the stroke and turn official who has to make a call across 4 lanes at an age group meet and those who have to teach it. This simplification makes it easy on everyone involved. Some athletes will benefit tremendously from this while still limiting the kick count to one.

wave rider
6 years ago

I still don’t understand why Fina won’t use instant replay at major competitions like every other sport.

DrSwim_Phil
Reply to  wave rider
6 years ago

This! They could just easily use the underwater video camera system and it would fix this problem of “officials can’t see it”, but they won’t because it would pick off a majority of the big names.

wave rider
Reply to  DrSwim_Phil
6 years ago

It could also be used for 15m breakout rule. The officials don’t catch everything above water either. A few years ago at ncaa championships in the 200 medely, I can’t remember the exact year or team, I think it may have been Auburn but the butterflyer was clearly past 15m. No question about it and it wasn’t called. I’m not calling for replay in ncaa but this goes to show that officials miss some things and this same situation WILL happen in world competition at some point. Why not put in replay to prevent this?

Gina Rhinestone
Reply to  wave rider
6 years ago

Question .Is it 15 m or 15 yard rules in a 25 years pool?

15 mtrs = 16.40 yards so there is almost a 1 1/2 yard advantage for good turners …..

and there is is only 8.6 yards left to swim!

David
Reply to  Gina Rhinestone
6 years ago

It does not matter how far you go, as long as you take at least one stroke into the wall. I know from experience

Reply to  wave rider
6 years ago

That sounds nice, but no other sport uses that instant replay to call penalties or fouls. Do they? The cameras catch lots of things that the human eyes don’t.

aswimfan
Reply to  CoachNed
6 years ago

Tennis use Hawkeye.

As for me, I don’t propose instant replay. I propose video replay to be used only in case of objection or protest.

wave rider
Reply to  CoachNed
6 years ago

The NBA reviews clear path fouls and flagrant fouls.

A clear path fouls is when an offense player is breaking up the court with no defender in reasonable position to make play on the ball and a defender grabs him from behind to prevent the easy lay up/dunk. The offense is automatically awarded 2 points even if he is 50 feet from the basket.

The difference between a flagrant and regular foul is that the offence gets possession after the free throws.

Both of these situations are fouls/penalties but the reason for the replay is because of scoring or possession of the ball.

While double dolphin kicks in breast and kicking past 15m are only part… Read more »

Cale
Reply to  CoachNed
6 years ago

In athletics several cameras are placed at both curves to check if someone has steped on or crossed lane line

Didier
Reply to  CoachNed
6 years ago

Judo does on their main events: camera’s provide two judges sitting on the side of the tatami with a delayed view on the fight to assist the judge leading the fight, and the system also offers replay-functionality.

Swimmer A
Reply to  wave rider
6 years ago

While that is a great idea to monitor the pullout, where do you draw the line on what is a “major competition” and what isn’t? What pools, teams, or meets would have access to underwater cameras and instant replay? If one were to achieve a record of some kind at a meet where this wasn’t used, a heated debate would spring up as to whether it should be counted as legal.

FlySwim
6 years ago

This is great for clarity, consistency and fairness for all swimmers.

beaststroke
6 years ago

funny how cody is the picture for this article

Breaststroker
Reply to  beaststroke
6 years ago

I was thinking the same thing. Dude cheats off of every wall.

umadbro
Reply to  Breaststroker
6 years ago

you a lil salty bro

Breaststroker
Reply to  umadbro
6 years ago

No. I’ve just seen him swim a lot.

CODYISAGOD1
Reply to  Breaststroker
6 years ago

Cody Miller is a God among men.

NONSENSE
Reply to  Breaststroker
6 years ago

First of all, I think everyone would agree that Cody Miller is a great swimmer. He would not be at Short Course World Championships right now if he wasn’t. What it looks like here is there is some jealously, Breaststroker.
If Cody cheated off every wall you would think he would be DQed, but no. I think what would be best is if you reanalyze the old rules for the underwater pullouts for breaststroke before you are so quick to call the current Phillips 66 National Champion in the 100 Breast who also has multiple BIG10 titles in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and was runner up at NCAA’s a cheater.
Finally, Breaststroker, you probably see Cody swim… Read more »

Concerned
Reply to  NONSENSE
6 years ago

Look. I also agree that cody is a great swimmer. But anyone who is defending him needs to watch the underwater video from his races. The 100 at nationals is a great example. He takes multiple dolphin kicks off the start, and a dolphin kick after every stroke. Watch the video and you can’t argue with this.

That said, I don’t think it’s fair to hold this against him. You are correct, he doesn’t get dq’ed. It’s not that he isn’t doing something illegal, but that the rules aren’t enforced. This is on the officials. They need to enforce the rules if any of us can expect people to follow them.

Swimref
6 years ago

Breaststroke still must follow stroke cycle which is a pull then a kick. If swimmer does fly kick at anytime prior to first breaststroke kick they still have to start the breaststroke cycle with a pull first. Whether they elect to take the first pull fully past hips or not is their choice or as suggested they move immediately to stroke recovery from breast. In either case stroke must still start with a pull before they initiate their first breaststroke kick. The rule change on fly kick at anytime prior to first breastroke kick is a welcome change as judging the kick placement after the initiating breasteoke pull was always difficult at best.

james
6 years ago

they can change the stroke.but it better make us faster

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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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