FINA Congress Rejects Changes to Breaststroke Rules on Underwater Dolphin Kicks

  50 Braden Keith | July 25th, 2013 | Africa, Australia, Brazil, Latin America & Caribbean, Canada, Europe, International, National, New Zealand and Oceania, News

The FINA Technical Swimming Congress, with 134 of FINA’s 200+ federations present to vote, met on Thursday morning in Barcelona to decide on some of the more potentially-monumental rules changes, and the biggest news they dropped was that there was no new news on the underwater dolphin kicks on breaststroke.

Specifically, FINA announced that “The rules on breaststroke concerning the start and the turn remain as in the present rulebook.”

This rejects several proposals to try to clean up the underwater dolphin kicks, including the implementation of underwater cameras (still under deliberation) and a proposal (that seemed to have a lot of backing within the highest levels of FINA) to allow unlimited dolphin kicks off of the start, and then revert to current rules off of other walls.

For now, FINA will continue to rely on the eyes of its officials, despite several very high-profile, and blatant, examples where they missed multiple kicks, including a large part of last year’s Olympic 100 meter final.

They are also for the first time recognizing Mixed Relays, which will be made up of two men and two women. FINA will begin recognizing World Records in those events, and expect to see them on the World Championship schedule as soon as 2015 (as the European Championships have already committed to include them).

Keep in mind that even leadoff splits from those relays, because of the advantages possible of women drafting off of men, will not be allowed for records or entry times; this came up in a race where Libby Trickett once broke a WR leading off a co-ed relay while drafting on Michael Phelps.

FINA will also begin recognizing World Records in the 200 free, 200 medley, and co-ed versions of each relay in short course meters. These 200 meter relay events have proven highly popular at Short Course European Championship meets. These events are expected to be included in the 2014 World Short Course Championships.

FINA has not yet released their full decisions,  and there were a number of other fairly significant proposals on the table. Read a summary of the most notable here.

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50 Comments on "FINA Congress Rejects Changes to Breaststroke Rules on Underwater Dolphin Kicks"

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Tony Goodwin

Masters World Record holder refined my breaststroke for years. Now b…. FINA want fly kicks everywhere. Mark my words, it will be all fly soon. There will be no breaststroke kick. What is it with these people? at 76, I would give it up on the day that rule came in. Tony Goodwin

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One assumption that seems to be prevalent here is that somehow more sprint events and relays will make swimming more popular. I don’t think there’s any evidence for this. Even if you included 25’s I don’t think the majority of TV audiences would care one bit. The public likes epic stories, such as those of Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz. They don’t care for silly stuff.

I don’t know if adding more sprints and relays would make necessarily make swimming more popular on the world stage. At least, that’s not what I’m looking at the inclusion of mixed relays to do.

Rather, I’m looking at mixed relays opening up the field and letting more swimmers compete, and I think it’ll enhance the fun aspect of competing. I know, as a Masters swimmer, that I generally find our mixed relays to be more fun than our men’s relays, although our men’s relays are universally faster.


Okay, a small correction to my previous comment; there are some comments for additional relays on top of the current ones.


I’d disagree on the prevalence of the assumption.

In here it seems to be the opposite. Many commentators have speculated about the outcomes of new mixed relays but I haven’t noticed single comment that would champion the adding of relays on top of the current ones. Indeed, the same cannot be said for FINA whose title holders appear to think that having 1500 events would make swimming the most popular sport in the whole world.


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Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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