Shouts From the Stands: What’s It Like To Have a State Title Stolen From You?

by SwimSwam 206

February 28th, 2017 High School, Lifestyle, News, Opinion

SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please [email protected]

The following piece comes to us from Dylan Warren, a high school senior swimmer for Gahanna Columbus Academy, and touches on the issue of incorporating video replay into swimming, starting at the sport’s highest levels and then trickling down from there, similar to what volleyball has done recently with the inclusion of video replay for Olympic and NCAA competition.

The air in C.T. Branin Natatorium at Canton McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio was alive. As the swimmers stepped up to the blocks, the noise of the crowd died down from loud conversation, to a soft murmur, and then to total silence. Teammates gathered behind the lanes of their respective team, preparing to cheer their hearts out for what was sure to start the night with insane suspense. The top eight teams of the 200 Medley Relay walked out of the ready room and lined up behind their lanes. Top seed in the event, Columbus Academy, stood behind the blocks of lane four. “Take your mark…” the starter said into the microphone. The crowd and the teammates collectively held their breath, ready to scream in an instant, on the verge of their seats: tense.

The buzzer sounded and the swimmers flew off the starting blocks. The crowd erupted into a deafening roar. Teammates stood at the end of the lanes screaming and jumping up and down. Columbus Academy finished first with a 1:33, dropping over an entire second from prelims the day before. Hawkens finished second.

What’s it like having a state champion title ripped from you? Why don’t you ask Junior Backstroker Max Driesbach, Senior Breaststroker Nate Goldfarb, Sophomore Butterflier Jack Campbell, and Sophomore Freestyler Jacob Eismann. They know all too well…

The order of the 200 Medley Relay goes: Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, Freestyle. Jack Campbell, swimming butterfly, came charging into the wall as Jacob timed the exchange and flew off the blocks with a purpose. When Jacob finished, we stood behind lane four going absolutely nuts. As a senior and captain on the team, I was so proud of my boys and what they had just accomplished. Not only had they just won Columbus Academy’s first ever state title in that event, they had also broken the school record by over a second.

And then it all changed. A collective gasp went up from the crowd, and as my teammates and I looked up to the scoreboard we saw the infamous “D” next to Columbus Academy’s time, in place of where there should have been a “1” for finishing first. It meant the most damning thing possible at the state competition level: we had been disqualified.

As the realization set in, fans yelled in anger and outrage, others cheered with joy. As for my teammates and myself, we stood in shock. Of course, the Hawkens fans were ecstatic. We walked away in silence, heads hung low.

My fellow Vikings and I quietly returned to our team area in the gym, meeting our assistant coach along the way. Usually an extremely positive guy, even he held his head low, the usual smile that filled his eyes noticeably absent.

One by one, members of the Columbus Academy relay team entered the gym. We silently hugged them all. Their moods varied considerably. Jack entered first in total silence, scowling, and with a far away look in his eyes. Nate stomped in, threw his clothes at his bag, and stormed out, heading for the warm down pool. Jacob, charged with the disqualification for false starting, entered the gym sobbing. He crashed down into his seat and buried his face into his hands, body shaking as he heaved. Finally, Max walked in fast, pointing at Jacob from across the gym. “Don’t you do this Jacob,” Max yelled, “Don’t you dare do this.” We all looked up. “That wasn’t on you,” Max said angrily, now right next to Jacob. “That wasn’t on you. That was on all of us, all four of us. We are a team, we did that together. Understand?” Max now held Jacob’s head to his chest. Jacob nodded. Max crouched so that he was eye level with Jacob. “Now, lets go warm down, okay? We’ve got more racing to do.” Slowly, they got up and walked toward the warm down pool.

And so the Columbus Academy Vikings rallied. Max went on to finish 5th in the 200 IM and 4th in the 100 fly. Nate went on to finish 7th in the 200 IM and 2nd in the 100 breast. Jacob finished 6th in the 50 free and 4th in the 100 back.

Watching the scene quietly from the center of the gym stood the the head coach of another team. Upon the exit of Max and Jacob, he walked over and expressed his condolences. “What happened?” he asked us. ‘We don’t know,’ we answered. We explained that we guessed it was a false start on our freestyler during the final relay exchange. “Really?” the coach asked, irritated. “That’s total bullshit: there was nothing wrong with that start.” He shook each of our hands and wished us luck for the rest of the meet, urging us to keep our heads held high.

30 minutes later, we had video and photographic proof that there was nothing even slightly illegal about the relay. As the picture in this article shows, Jacob’s feet had not yet left the blocks before Jack’s hands had touched the wall. As a matter of fact, it was a perfect start: as a team we could not have asked Jacob to do more. And we told him so, showing him the picture to help ease his guilt.

The night ended with the announcement of the final scores. The Columbus Academy Boys finished third with 146 points. Cincinnati Seven Hills finished second with 171 points. Hawken finished first with 230 points. Third place is the highest the boys team has ever finished at the state meet. The disqualification cost the Columbus Academy Boys their first ever State Runner-Up finish in the history of the school. However, they rallied valiantly. They swam best times throughout the night, refusing to be deterred from standing on the podium. They finished with a 2nd place finished in the 400 free relay.

OHSAA rules dictate that all decisions regarding disqualifications are final, and are not subject to further review, even when considering photographic proof as evidence contradicting the call. This article has been a recounting of the event from the observer’s perspective, and a retelling of the emotions and brutal reality of the situation, in an effort to help others realize the flaw in the OHSAA officiating system. Disqualifying a state champion on simple human error is the most controversial call one could make as an official. To not even reconsider the call after there is proof the call should be reversed, is the true injustice of the system. On top of it all, the official standing over Columbus Academy’s lane dropped the disqualification paper into the water. OHSAA is behind on the technological curve, and it’s about time they modernized.


Editors Note: While the video and photo do shed light on the exchange in question, it’s also worth noting that officials are not allowed by OHSAA rules to overturn a decision after reviewing photographic or video evidence.

The video in question:

The still photograph, courtesy of Ron Eismann:

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Dude, over dramatic much? That sucks, but this happens more than you’d think. Lol


At the highest level of competition for high school swimmers? I will agree that it happens, but you do not disqualify those who win by 1.5 seconds unless you are sure. Plus these are supposed to be the best officials the community has to offer.


I mean the picture says it all though, they disqualified them and as the editors note states they couldn’t fix it because of what seems to be an outdated rule based on the level of competition the sport has seen in recent years

Sean Justice

Hawken went 1:33.9 and the article state that 1:33, no hundredths given. That would be less than a second.

K Brown

Sorry, but you don’t wait until the event is over to see if the swimmer should be DQ’d. It doesn’t matter how much they would have won by. Last year, in Ohio, and the D1 NW Sectional Cleveland St. Ignatius was DQ’d in their medley relay, which they won by about 7 seconds. Didn’t matter. They would have been top 3 in the state but it didn’t matter. That being said, they should hold the state tourney (sectionals through states) at venues that have electronics to determine this. Spire, Cleveland State, OSU, etc. should all have it (my daughters home pool in HS was Cleveland State – and they don’t have it). These are better venues as far as seating… Read more »


sadly, the electronic relay block wedges arent foolproof either.


are you confusing block wedges and electronic relay judging platforms?

Eddie Rowe

Happened to my 400 free relay at the state championships. We also had video proof. It also didn’t change anything.


They hadn’t won by 1.5 seconds at this point, and the margin is irrelevant.


No, no they’re not the “best officials the community has to offer.” It’s an old boy network.

Taylor Warren

It’s not over dramatic. You don’t understand how improtant that relay was. It cost them the state runner up title, and over a wrong call. So yes it is a big deal and they aren’t being over dramatic. This rule needs to change.

Taylor Warren

It’s not over dramatic at all.

Lane Four

How about a little empathy.


Dude I actually do have empathy. This exact same thing happened to a team I was on and it cost us our college conference championship. We even had the video replay and all. It sucked at the time, but then you have to move on and learn from it. If you have more swimming in your career, let it be a swimming and life lesson. If you’re done with swimming, unfortunately it’s just a life lesson (life isn’t fair and people screw up all the time) The swimming lesson: understand the pool you’re in. Does it have reaction times? If not, be a little safer next time. There is usually human error in all sports, so you need to be… Read more »


“Happens more than you think” is actually a better reason why people *should* be up in arms about this than the way you’re using it, IMO.


Dude I should have rephrased. I meant the overall description of the event seemed over dramatic, especially the dialogue.

Also, the video replay surfaced 30 minutes after the race. So much can happen after an event like a DQ and it would be even more unfair to change all of the points in the meet. The 200, 2IM and 50 could have all happened in that time period. Plus, it would take several minutes (probably at least 10 in a situation like this) to review this video and make a decision.

It would be incredibly unfair to the other teams to completely change the point totals and overturn a DQ several events later lol


your basically saying that if someone got murdered. But the sunshine came out and three flowers bloomed before they got the evidence, it wouldn’t matter. How’s that analogy for ya.


Dude, that isn’t the same at all. I’m just saying to review it before the consoles of the 200 free. In every other sport the review has to be taken place before the next play. Basketball would be an exception but they do it at the next stoppage in play. You shouldn’t review it after several events take place because so much emotion comes in after a DQ. Swimming is such a mental sport and that DQ could have had an effect far beyond the 200 medley.

Having a ridiculous murder analogy is a little morbid and honestly inappropriate lol


From someone who was sitting in the stands during this- the video was being reviewed by the parents who took it as soon as the disqualification was announced. We wanted to see whether it was in fact a true false start. Video and photo evidence reached the coach during the next event. The swimmers did not know about the video until half an hour later, but evidence was shown to the officials beforehand. In addition, I agree that the fact that “this happens more than you think” only strengthens the argument that something should be done about it. The description of the event was dramatic, because this was a big moment for a small school that doesn’t get much swimming… Read more »


Dude, did they REALLY find it more important to get up and keep competing? Because from my understanding, the person who wrote this article is a member of that team. And from my reading, a lot of the commenters are associated with this swim team. And all of them are not praising their efforts, rather bashing officials and legislation. To me, it looks like this whole team and their associates find it more important to complain about this result and demand change for the outcome, and demand change for a system that honestly is not that bad. Literally the entire piece’s point was about their loss lol


Yes, they did. The piece focused on the loss and calls for a change in rules but also these boys still placed the highest ever in school history. Not one of them had a “bad” swim following this race when they could’ve just given up. They got up, accepted reality and fought back stronger. Don’t criticize if you don’t know the full story.


I am with Swim Dude. If that was the authors purpose it is not apparent from the piece and furthermore not apparent from the commenters. Most of the comments are official bashing and in poor sportsmanship IMHO.

okay you do not understand the circumstance and the effort these boys put into winning this race. they worked all season for it and the time they swam would have got them noticed as All-Americans, not to mention that they broke their school record by over 2 seconds. It’s not one bit over dramatic. Their hard work, dedication, and everything they put in to swimming their best was ripped away from them over a flaw in the OHSAA system. You do not get to decide that it was overdramatic because you were not there and you don’t know these boys. It sucks that it’s fairly common, but I’m sure everyone gets their hearts broken over this, so I’m sorry that… Read more »


This is not a tragedy. It’s a disappointment. Every team does prep, and other teams went through just as much to get there. Every team I’ve been on and coached has made sure that if you’re rocking a lead, you keep starts safe and don’t jump in afterwards.
Closure on this comes from talking with teammates and coaches, moving forward. Throwing officials under the bus is completely inappropriate and not worthy of a championship effort.


but it is the officials fault that they got dq’d not the swimmers fault. So they have every right to throw the official under the bus, because they made a wrong call. The swimmers I bet spent hours perfecting their starts, as dedicated swimmers do. The official system must be questioned here, and yes, thrown under the bus.


It is the Swimmer’s fault the Swimmer committed the infraction!


Throwing officials under the bus? I spoke to the head official and he said that he would have done the same thing. They want to get better and make the right calls all the time. They are not upset about this at all!


I studied the video extensively, and the angle of the spectator may make the film misleading. the officials are right there, looking for the wall touch w/ toe still on block. They can see things spectators can’t always see. I’ve been preached to about this, and after timing many meets, I can agree. In this case I can’t say I can clearly see his toe still on the block because of the angle, and because of the super fast hop-start. In my opinion, it looked like it could be a legitimate DQ. If dual relay takeoff judging was used for this meet, both officials had to independently cite the infraction. To cross check myself, I sent this to a respected… Read more »


Knowing that your a coach upset obviously not a good one bc you would understand this. And let’s be clear there is video and picture proof that it was a SAFE START.


Sally honey, watch the video again. There was nothing safe about this start. I wouldn’t call it an illegal exchange, but it surely couldn’t be called safe.


Yes! I coached rec, HS, and US Swimming. Over reaction to things like this is rampant. It hurts, absolutely. But there is no perfect system, and never will be.


Well said!!


Dude, I do know the circumstances. I was on a state champion relay and we all made sure our starts were fast and safe, but to not push them (we were all about .12 reaction times). Winning the team title was far more important than if we won or got second in that relay, so we knew not to DQ’d or to leave it up to an official. I too worked all year long for that relay win but you have to be smart and know the circumstances, and luckily we still won the relay What was more important to this team? Winning the medley, or getting second as a team at states. If it truly was the latter, their… Read more »


It wasn’t long ago that we didn’t have electronic sensors (which I know don’t always work property) I hope that someday soon we can say the same about video replay. The pool doesn’t even have to implement it.. since the organization of the meet would be required to bring it. NCAA, Conference Meet, High School Athletic Association, etc. it’s 1 meet per year, how hard would it be to rent out this equipment. I’m guessing it wouldn’t be expensive either renting for only 1 day and you could Potentially get underwater angles, great for online streaming too to have multiple angles for playback! First we have to make the resource readily available, for cheap, easy to use, lack of technical… Read more »



Swim Fan

Similar experience happened to Connecticut College in their “B” 4×100 free relay at the Nescac Championship in 2016. However, it ended up costing them a 2nd place finish overall. I’m all for video review, after all its about who swims faster legally, if video review can help determine the legality of a swim, what’s the harm?


Dude, the harm is people having to take 20 minutes to see if a 3:10 B relay DQ’d when everybody wants to go home. And don’t even act like Colby College didn’t also get robbed lol

Savage Tater Tottss

well this is an A relay, that went a 1:33….. big difference


MY DUDE… there is a drastic difference between a B relay going a 3:10, and an A relay at a state meet going a 1:33….dude


What’s your problem, dude? Afraid of overturning a WRONG call?

Excuses, excuses …

Humans use better ways to correct human errors.

In case you don’t know, a lot of sports are using instant replay that was not adopted years ago. Swimming is behind, that’s all I can say.


Dude, they review it immediately after. Not the next quarter, inning, period, etc. If video replay were to be installed, it should be by cameras installed at the pool, and it should be done before the next event. That really isn’t a hot take as that is how it is in every other sport. I’m all for video relay but not in this circumstance.

And I’m sorry, I’m not the one with an excuse. You all are the ones that have convinced yourselves that these boys are state champs when they’re really not lol


The LOL on the end if your anonymous comments is very fitting.

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