FINA Congress Rejects Changes to Breaststroke Rules on Underwater Dolphin Kicks

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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The breaststroke announcement is big news. It was my understanding that the NCAA was prepared to adopt whatever FINA ruled. Unlimited dolphin kicks to 15m off the start would have caused HAVOC in a scy format.


FINA made mistake on breastroke call


As an official, I’m both happy and upset. I am glad they did not turn the breast into butterfly with an underwater recovery, but I am tired of the blatant cheating that goes on in the splash of the start.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder 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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