Illegal Triple-Dolphin Kicks Seen in World Record Breaststroke Swim

  35 Braden Keith | July 31st, 2012 | Featured, 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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David Berkoff
3 years 9 months ago

The best way to stop this is have officials looking at each lane underwater. The technology to do so is there and officials cannot see these kinds of infractions from the surface.

snowbro
3 years 9 months ago

I find it peculiar that the person responsible for modern day dolphin kick is trying to stifle a swimmers creativity. He’s utilizing the lack of underwater judges like you utilized the lack of a rule against dolphin kick for 20+ meters. He deserves at least a couple points for creativity. The quickest way to solve this problem is to create a 15 meter dolphin kick rule for breaststroke.

Chris Stevenson
3 years 9 months ago

As you say, when David first started doing extended underwater dolphin kicks there was no rule against it. But there is a rule against it in breaststroke, and the only “creativity” being used is in ways to get away with rule infractions.

The problem with the underwater technology is probably that not all pools can use them (or meet hosts have the budget to get them). That means there is an uneven playing field, and swimmers in those “lesser” meets can get away with more.

But it is probably the best bet. If we outlaw the dolphin kick, we’re back to where we started. They began allowing it because it was hard to differentiate from “natural undulation” after starts/walls.

s gomez
3 years 9 months ago

did u see the dqs at usms nationals? they were specifically looking for what we saw in the video here, as stated by coach turner of maryland masters, dolphin kicks before the initiation of the arm pull. As she told me, the idea was that since not everyone in masters streamlines like the FINA elite level swimmers as seen here will, to standardize their interpretations of the international rule they would just say ‘no kick before pull’ it seems like this would have gotten a hand raise in Greensboro but not in London apparently

Predicta57
3 years 9 months ago

Ah yes….. the Mark McGuire defense. It wasn’t illegal…. so it must be legal.

3 years 9 months ago

I thought I recognized that name – that’s fantastic.

underwater
3 years 9 months ago

SnowBro, Berkoff didn’t break ANY rules that existed at the time. Van Der Burgh knowingly broke a rule that’s currently on the books. Just because you used the same verb “utilize” in two sentences doesn’t make it anywhere close to a valid comparison. And you want to give him points for “creativity”? I think “cheating” would be a more appropriate word. Plus, Van Der Burgh isn’t being creative and inventing a new technique; swimmers were already allowed to take one butterfly kick during the pullout. He just decided he could take more than one and get away with it.

underwater
3 years 9 months ago

I completely agree with David Berkoff and what Braden Keith wrote in the article: we need judges looking at the underwater cameras ASAP.

ChestRockwell
3 years 9 months ago

If the dolphin kick so soon off the start doesn’t provide propulsion that exceeds the speed generated by the dive, isn’t the drag created by breaking the streamline actually slowing him down?

3 years 9 months ago

I was gonna say, I don’t think it actually helps.

The ones these guys do into the turns at the finish though, those are useful.

Philip Johnson
3 years 9 months ago

it’s clear as day, no one can deny it. unfortunately, because FINA refuses to enforce their own rules, i see it becomming rampant. “heck, if he can win an Olympic gold medal & set the WR, what’s stopping me!” Silva won gold using this tactic. van der Burgh won gold. who is next? Kitajima?

Rafael
3 years 9 months ago

Next is Kitajima? Kitajima has been using that illegal tech since his ealry days..

3 years 9 months ago

In watching it, it could be argued that at least the first dolphin kick is inconsequential given the velocity off the block. His early dolphin kicking could disrupt the free speed from the momentum carried off the block.They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t help, but it looks so unnecessary to me when watching this video.

Alanna
1 year 4 months ago

Which is why backstrokers, butterflyers and freestylers NEVER kick immediately after starting.

ArtVanDeLegh10
3 years 9 months ago

I agree that the kicks probably didn’t help him go any faster, although what he did is illegal, but it much too difficult for any official on deck to see.

Jamie Lindsay
3 years 9 months ago

So you would have me believe the swimmer is doing a triple dolphin kick knowing it probably doesn’t help or might actually slow him down? Seriously? If they are doing three it is because in their judgement and in the judgement of their coaches and their studies, three is better than two and certainly better than one. As they say in hockey, it ain’t cheating until the ref exhales into his whistle. Time to remove the rule or call the penalty. Doesn’t matter to me what they decide, but decide….

dan
3 years 9 months ago

Obviously intentional, and done where it is impossible to see from the turn official’s vantage point, but clearly illegal. Something should be done about this

3 years 9 months ago

Van de Burgh also had an uneven touch at the turn.

liquidassets
3 years 9 months ago

Thanks for bringing that up, Eddie. I’ve given up worrying about the dolphin kicks because officials don’t seem to care anymore. Maybe they know they’re fighting a losing battle. After all, breast is the only stroke where you can’t dolphin for 15 meters right? But I saw that uneven touch. Unlike the dolphin kicks it was most likely an unintentional mistake, it gives an advantage, it’s an old basic rule we all learned in age-group swimming, and it’s inexcusable that officials at the Olympic level missed it, after all, he touched first at the 50. Between that and Jedreczack’s one hand touch at Worlds in the 200 fly, it makes me wonder how they pick their officials at this level, and/or why they don’t use video replay more, like other sports.

beachmouse
3 years 9 months ago

FINA just has an utter aversion to ever admitting something might be wrong. Remember how they kept claiming that the Seiko timing system was working perfectly at the 2001 World Championships.

PsychoDad
3 years 9 months ago

I hope you meant “non-simultaneous”. Uneven (not at the same level) is legal.

Swimlong
3 years 9 months ago

What do you mean by “uneven”?

Jiggsar
3 years 9 months ago

If it’s part of the dive, it should be legal. That’s simple.

Ole 99
3 years 9 months ago

Wonder if Australia or the US could file a complaint? Assuming of course that Sprenger and Hansen didn’t do this as well (or at least no evidence exists to the same).

wannaswim
3 years 9 months ago

I see more than one person doing dolfin kicks

wannaswim
3 years 9 months ago

That is, more than what is legal.

Riaan
3 years 9 months ago

Guys, EVERY SINGLE GUY IN THAT FINAL DID IT!!! Its more that these days if you don’t do it then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. Sad but peer pressure has made it now acceptable that everyone does it

Jg
3 years 9 months ago

All those aaaaaas give you away.

Jg
3 years 9 months ago

I know a coach who hates breastroke so much that he only allows them to come on certain days. hehe.

Another fave memory is when a guy with an amputated forearm was disqualified for not touching with two hands on the finish wall.

I am sorry but breastroke has to go the way of the dinasaurs. Another Ice Age should do them in but like last time we will be left with some crocs lurking in pools of water waiting to lurch out & disrupt us swimmers by their menacing claws & vicious kicks.

Another idea would be to go completely random like Gymnastics judging. Have all the competitors race for a time & we give /deduct seconds for things we like/dislike.

I would need to give Christian Sprenger a bonus 2 seconds because he is very good looking.:)

PsychoDad
3 years 9 months ago

So much stupidity in this post, especially:

>Another fave memory is when a guy with an amputated forearm was disqualified for not >touching with two hands on the finish wall.

You make that up. That is not possible, There are rules how to deal with swimmers with disability.

chzhead
3 years 9 months ago

As a long time official, back to when the top of a breaststroker’s head couldn’t go totally underwater during the swim, there have seemed to always be ways to cheat in this stroke – top of head under, big splashes at turns that disguise non-simultaneous touches, and dolphin kicks that can’t be detected because of turbulence i.e. Unfortunately, even at the state level, we don’t have access to underwater views such as shown in this video. The best swimmers can use the additional kicks to make a difference.I was amazed to see it when the rule was changed to allow one dolphin. It will be interesting to see if FINA makes any changes to the rules that will actually make a difference.

Jg
3 years 9 months ago

Psychodad. I could send you the proof . Why would I lie ?

As you can see I think some things in swimming are quite hilarious. The australian newspapers covered this – iirc a regional meet in Victoria.

Yes the swimmer was registered for disabled comp but they can compete in open. Btw our Nationals feature SWD in club score tallies.

So it s not unusual & yes the 2 hand rules were broken – and he came 2nd or 3rd but los the ribbon.

Please do not accuse people of lying. You really are psycho -lighten up.

baxter
3 years 9 months ago

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!!!

Steve H
3 years 9 months ago

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

Bernard P
9 months 12 days ago

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

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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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