April Fools: FINA Votes for Dramatic Post-Olympic Changes to Breaststroke

We hope you all enjoyed our 2020 April Fools post. Breaststrokers, you can now all sigh a collective breath of relief.

As part of their continuing efforts to innovate the sport of swimming, FINA has announced dramatic changes to the breaststroke rules for the 2021-2022 season.

The rules were originally going to be voted on at the governing body’s next bureau meeting, which was scheduled to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics that were due to start in July, but with that event being postponed until 2021, FINA held a remote bureau meeting this week to vote on a number of important measures.

While most of the changes were administrative, the changes to breaststroke will fundamentally alter the stroke. Among the alterations will be the elimination of the need for a two-handed touch on turns, opening up the possibility of flipturns, and unlimited underwater dolphin kicks before 15 meters.

“We’ve watched some of the developments in the sport, and we’ve observed a move toward more speed in our competitions,” said FINA swimming technical committee member Lin Quanting of Hong Kong. The comment appeared to be a reference to the International Swimming League’s innovative format from last season that reduced the gap between races from about 15 minutes to about 4 minutes. “It is in that regard that we sought proposals from our member nations about how to make breaststroke, the sport’s slowest stroke, faster in coming seasons.

We intended to role out these changes this fall, but the delay of the Olympics has pushed that timeline back by one year.”

Lin did not name which country made this proposal, but did say that momentum for the idea did pick up steam last year after some high profile disqualifications.

“We want to present a good show for our fans. Besides making the stroke faster, it will eliminate the kind of disqualifications that our fans don’t want. Nobody wants to see a potential gold medalist disqualified in the heats.”

The committee also considered two other proposals for alterations to the stroke, including allowing more leeway to recover above-the-water and to replace the traditional “frog kick” with a more “dolphin-like” kick, but that those proposals were tabled over the implications that might have on individual medley and medley relay rules requiring athletes to use a unique stroke on each leg of the race.

“It is the committee’s interpretation that breaststroke done without the signature frog kick and with an above-water recovery would too closely resemble the backstroke, and therefore would be in violation of rules regarding repetition of strokes in the medley events,” a FINA statement said regarding those proposals.

Not everyone has been as supportive as the changes, however, as some have questioned the need for the change.

“I remember watching John Hencken win Olympic gold in 1976 without dolphin kicks,” my 72-year old former high school swim coach said when learning the news. “If John didn’t need them to win gold, I don’t know why we should add them now. Breaststroke hasn’t changed in 100 years, I don’t know why we should change it now.”

Editor’s note: breaststroke has changed in 100 years.

The changes are the most dramatic to the stroke since 2015, when breaststroke was briefly reclassified as a discipline of artistic swimming (then called synchronized swimming).

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Togger
1 year ago

Ignoring the obvious, this really is something:

“breaststroke done without the signature frog kick and with an above-water recovery would too closely resemble the backstroke”

Confused
Reply to  Togger
1 year ago

They meant to say butterfly, right?

Confused
Reply to  Confused
1 year ago

Never mind. I’m a fool.

Virtus
Reply to  Togger
1 year ago

I thought I was just an idiot who couldn’t comprehend that

demetri mylonas
Reply to  Togger
1 year ago

april fools

Swimmer
Reply to  demetri mylonas
1 year ago

I am really hoping it is

M D E
1 year ago

Wow…

I think I hate it?

Oh wow, that time difference. Nice one lad.

Swimmer
1 year ago

HA

Glenn's Big Brother
Reply to  Swimmer
1 year ago

Well at least someone remembered to fool around today!!! Thanks

Jessica WJ
1 year ago

Awesome April Fool’s joke! Hilarious!

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Jessica WJ
1 year ago

Ok. You got me, but not as much as the Dean Ferris swims for Ireland one.

USAUSAUSA
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

That was such a good one

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

TRU DAT

Tea rex
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

This was the precisely the level of idiocy we would expect from FINA. Made it hard to tell.

O.Thomas Johnson
Reply to  Tea rex
1 year ago

Good point

O.Thomas Johnson
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

OMG I was so angry. I was mad enough in ’05 adding a dolphin kick to a pullout let alone this. You got me good!!!!

spectatorn
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

we need to hear Jared Anderson’s reaction to this rule change!!!

Evan Deedy
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Ouch

David
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

This made me feel true fear

Pvdh
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Y’all definitely aren’t topping that. That was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever seen on the Internet. This one got me for a sec tho

Adriana
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

You literally almost gave me a heart attack lol and then looked at the calendar to see what day it is… Well played

Breaststroker
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Absolutely!!

Ferb
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

This one didn’t fool me for a second, but the Dean Farris one had me almost until the end. “We’re looking for people with Irish parents, Irish grandparents, Irish setters…”

BKP
Reply to  Ferb
1 year ago

Yes! That was a good one that got me; just perfect timing and a “believable enough” headline…right in the heart of the Farris craze, loved it!

This headline had 4/1 written all over it! On the other hand, I have been duped by Swimswam a couple times now so my radar is on high alert! 🙂

Timekeeper
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

He should actually consider Ireland. Don’t see him making the USA squad individually. Possibly not even a top 6 relay spot…..

Taa
1 year ago

I can’t believe FINA would propose this garbage…..oh wait yes they would

Coach
1 year ago

4/1

EHHH
1 year ago

I wonder whether ‘Lin Quanting’ and ‘my 72-year old former high school swim coach’ really exist. lol.

The Dean Farris one was better
Reply to  EHHH
1 year ago

I can confirm that Lin Quanting does not exist
Edit: there are 1 or fewer people with that name.

EHHH
Reply to  The Dean Farris one was better
1 year ago

Yep. And I just realized that only mainland China spells this surname as Lin. In Hong Kong it’s spelled as Lim, Lam or something like that, so Lin Quanting shouldn’t be from Hong Kong.

spectatorn
Reply to  EHHH
1 year ago

better name will be something like Quan Ran-tin… LOL

Other Coach Mike
Reply to  EHHH
1 year ago

On any other date, BK probably would’ve gone with the more traditional English spelling “Link Wanting”.

Gen D
1 year ago

Not the first time I get caught on 4/1 here. Nice one!

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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