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.