NCAA Rules Committee Proposes Usage of Video Review for 15-Meter Violations

The NCAA Swimming & Diving Rules Committee has a new proposal to be voted on in June. If the proposal passes, official video review would be approved to use in order to determine if 15-meter violations were called accurately or not. This would be enacted for all NCAA meets: in-season, at the conference level, and at the NCAA championships. Click here to view the full release about the proposal.

The NCAA refers to a 15-meter violation as such: ‘A 15-meter violation occurs when, after the start and each turn, a swimmer fails to break the surface of the water by the 15-meter mark.’ This goes for freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly.

Right now, video review is only sanctioned for checking on potentially faulty electronic timing equipment, most typically when reviewing relay exchanges.

Only the meet referee and a conference or NCAA committee representative (read: those not tied to any particular school or program) would be allowed to view the video, while the meet referee is the sole person permitted to make jurisdiction based on the video review. Coaches cannot challenge the review or the resulting call, nor can they view the video review.

Prior to meets, meet committees would determine when video reviews would be conducted (if needed), given that they are conducted and a final call is made prior to the announcing of official results.

“With the video technology that is available,” said Dan Gelderloos, committee chair and men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach at Calvin, “we believe this rule will help maintain fairness for the athletes on decisions that may be difficult to judge.”

The 15-meter mark is something beginner swimmers learn to surface before once they start using underwaters. Of course, swimming underwater is the quickest way to swim off of a start or turn, so pushing it close to the 15-meter mark has become something of an art form by top swimmers. Sometimes, swimmers go too far, while sometimes, they push it to the last inch. Some swimmers go past and get away with it, some swimmers don’t actually go past and get called for a disqualification. This rule would allow for another look at a disputed call.

In recent memory, Remedy Rule’s 200 fly disqualification at the 2017 NCAA Championships was a controversial and highly disputed call. Many believed she had a legal underwater, the official did not, and ultimately there was no official video review procedure to check back on. Rule scored zero points, as she was disqualified, and Texas finished in 5th at the meet by a half-point.

Though it was not an NCAA meet, Olivia Smoliga’s 100 back DQ was overturned at the Atlanta Classic earlier this month after an official looked over video her friend had taken of the swim.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel is scheduled to go over this proposal on June 26th to make a final decision. If approved, it would go into effect immediately for the 2019-20 season.

It’s important to note that this would mean video review is used to determine only if electronic timing equipment is working and if 15-meter violations occurred or not, nothing more. This would not mean that video review would now be allowed for use to determine if there were dolphin kicks on breaststroke pullouts or one-handed touches in butterfly, for example. USA Swimming, in comparison, states in their rule book that video replay footage from pre-approved cameras can be used to review any stroke or turn infractions called on deck.

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Mark Rauterkus
3 years ago

Do not allow the coach to see the video. What?

3 years ago

Maybe in the 20th Century. In this day & age, with the prevalence of video recording, it makes no sense to not have video replay. Placement is simple. Pools are rectangles and the line is easily discoverable. Coaches can whine all they want, but video replay will be used to determine in an official’s CALL is correct. No red herrings please.

Reply to  FletchMacFletch
3 years ago

It’s not hard at all. We’ve been doing it for years now at major US National Meets, Pan Pacs, Fina Champions Series, etc….

And this whole thing is part of the evolutionary process. To be honest, the NCAA is slow-playing this, as the technology is already out there to go full-tilt on video review (i.e. more than just 15m calls).

Reply to  DrSwimPhil
3 years ago

There is some lag in ‘transparency’ in the process, though, as you and I both found out at the 2016 Olympic Trials…

Right Dude Here
3 years ago

Finally, justice for Remedy Rule.

2 Cents
3 years ago

Question is, will they have to listen to Rowdy commentate when they go to review? That could keep it short and sweet.

Reply to  2 Cents
3 years ago

They’re breathing to the wrong side!!!!

Reply to  2 Cents
3 years ago

This was actually hilarious

Rob C.
3 years ago

Karl, the referee at the Atlanta Classic overturned Smoliga’s 100 back DQ, after conferring with the 15 Meter judge. He didn’t look at the friend’s video until after the call was overturned. And then he said that the video did not clearly show where Olivia surfaced.

I assume that only an “official” 15 meter camera will be used to review 15 meter violation DQ’s. Just like relay take-off cameras, no coach/friend/family video will be considered.

3 years ago

Video review is archaic. There are laser sensor techniques which can easily be adapted to any point in the pool. I know of a company in CA which would offer this system to the NCAA for free.

Reply to  Daboss
3 years ago

Lasers don’t work in pools. That’s because the surface of a pool is not flat, and there is too much interference with a laser in a pool. If you shine a laser across the flat surface of a pool, once the race starts, the only one in real danger of being accurately identified by the laser is the one closest to it.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

The infra-green KTX laser WILL work when mirrored from above each lane.

3 years ago

Should use to review the multiple dolphin kicks in breaststroke too.

3 years ago

It should be pretty cut and dry in swimming. In football and basketball they have ridiculously long reviews so agree there. Baseball and hockey are ok at it. Tennis is the gold standard but they also have some minor issues

2 Cents
Reply to  Sccoach
3 years ago

Cricket is just as good if not better than the tennis review system, although I think it is essentially the exact same one.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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