Illegal Triple-Dolphin Kicks Seen in World Record Breaststroke Swim

  35 Braden Keith | July 31st, 2012 | London 2012 Olympics, News

Yes, we’re back to this. Our old friend, the butterfly kick, has again reared its ugly head in the men’s breaststroke races, after the above video shared with us by Alex Pussieldi shared with us by Brazil’s Blog do Coach. The video asks the question “breaststroke or butterfly?” and seems to be right on the mark, and fairly indisputable.

The underwater footage on the start of the men’s breaststroke shows just about everyone in camera frame doing multiple butterfly kicks on their underwater pullout (by rule, each swimmer is allowed only one, and only after their hands have separated). Perhaps the worst offender is South Africa Cameron van der Burgh, who would go on to break the World Record in the event.

This hearkens back to the World Championships in 2011, where multiple swimmers were seen with clearly illegal dolphin kicks. We wrote then that breaststroke is a sport that has always been about pushing the limits of the rules and trying to gain advantages (read that here).It’s one of the few strokes where the form even allows such variations.

FINA apparently hasn’t learned their lesson, and chose not to institute any sort of underwater video monitoring to guard against these sorts of things, even at the highest-level meets where underwater cameras are installed anyway.

Every swim coach in the world, at every level, knows that a butterfly kick done upon entry from a dive is both indistinguishable in the splash, and hard to separate from the momentum of entry. This is not a tactic unique to the South Africans, the South Americans, the Europeans, the Japanese, or anybody else. It’s done at every level of swimming. If FINA hopes to curtail this practice, FINA has one of two choices: either they institute video monitoring, or they cut down on cheating by deregulating the butterfly kick.

That would include allowing a butterfly kick on the last stroke into the wall, and somehow devising a way to give everyone the equal opportunity to “cheat” on the pullout without disrupting its nature. In the past, they’ve shown the propensity to use this strategy instead, such as when one dolphin kick was allowed.

How would you regulate that? It would take some serious creativity. Perhaps unlimited dolphin kicks are allowed for the first 5 meters, with the presumption that the splash has calmed enough at that point for on-deck officials to observe under the water. 5-meters is already marked on most pools with flags and a change in lane-rope color or pattern, so it wouldn’t require an increase in equipment.

Whatever is done, the issue must be corrected. It’s a similar situation to when a large portion of a sport’s athletes are presumed to be doping, like baseball in the late 1990’s. The lack of regulation leaves athletes in a position where they have to choose between following the rules and being successful with the chance of being caught and exposed in front of the whole world.

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35 Comments on "Illegal Triple-Dolphin Kicks Seen in World Record Breaststroke Swim"

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Watched a lot of this at the recent 2015 World Championships. Lots obvious of Fly kicks into the wall. Very disappointing.

If all breaststrokers do this then can someone explain to me why there was an IMer who did this in the semi final and got DQ’d. They got 9th place so overall it didnt matter, i believe they were from G.B. If he got DQ’d then why didn’t everyone else not get DQ

seems like the only thing that is going to keep the integrity of this stroke is an in water start and 100m pool – i’ve watched a ton of crappy breaststrokers in the past 4 years develop fast 100 times because of lack of legislation and consistency on this rule! I’ve also seen a “ghost” fly kick develop within the stroke prior to each arm stroke – FINA: grow a pair and make some decisions!!!


About Braden Keith

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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