Tennessee’s Erika Brown Swims Wrong Stroke in 200 Medley Relay Prelims; Vols out of Final


Prelims of the 200 medley relay at the 2018 Women’s NCAA Championships had an odd result. The Tennessee Volunteers, who were seeded 5th, missed the top 16. The most puzzling part of that result was Erika Brown‘s 22.97 anchor split. Brown has proven to be more than 2 seconds faster than that in her best anchor split (a 20.81 from the SEC Championships).

When she dove in for the free leg, Brown swam butterfly on the first lap. She did an open turn, and then switched to freestyle on the 2nd lap. The unintentional stroke mix up didn’t lead to a disqualification, but the Volunteers now won’t earn any medley relay points at this meet. Last night, they were disqualified for a Lochte Rule violation in the 400 medley relay final.

Officials told coaches they didn’t notice Brown swimming fly, so they couldn’t call it a DQ. The stroke rules of freestyle in a medley relay clearly state that freestyle means any style other than fly, back, or breast. Had they caught it, they would have called a DQ.

“Stroke — In an event designated freestyle, the swimmer may swim any style,
except that in a medley relay or an individual medley event, freestyle means
any style other than butterfly, breaststroke or backstroke. Some part of the
swimmer must break the surface of the water throughout the race, except it
shall be permissible for the swimmer to be completely submerged during the
turn and for a distance of not more than 15 meters (16.4 yards) after the
start and each turn. By that point the head must have broken the surface.

Before the free leg, Tennessee was certainly on track to make the final. They touched in 1:14.69 with 50 yards to go. It took a 1:37.04 to get 8th, so Brown would’ve needed to go a 22.35 or faster for them to get in, which is easily doable for her. There was a re-swim announced in the 200 medley relay, but it was Virginia Tech, not Tennessee. No explanation was given as to why there was a re-swim. Virginia Tech swam next to Tennessee in their prelims heat.

Brown will compete in tonight’s 100 fly final. She’s the fastest woman in the nation this year and will go head-to-head with USC’s Louise Hansson, who dropped a 49.90 this morning to become the 3rd fastest performer ever behind Brown.

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The one thing i never thought I’d see is a swimmer messing up their stroke at this level. Guess there’s a first for everything.


I did this in summer league when I was 9. My relay got DQ’d


My daughter took a stroke of fly the first summer club State 200FR relay she was on, nobody called that either. Then again, she was 6 and has managed to keep it straight since for the last seven years. She was also FL on the medley relay and was so psyched up for her race she forgot which relay they were doing. Despite two girls swimming FR in front of her. Then again, she was SIX.

As a stroke and turn official, it boggles my mind that she could have swam a 25fly with nobody noticing, WTH?

Becky D

Swimming fly in a free relay is not an infraction; fly in the final leg of a medley relay is.

Right Dude Here

I once was at a meet where they had 50s of stroke even for adults and higher level age groupers. In the 50 back, one swimmer intentionally swam the entire length underwater (it was long course), fully expecting to be disqualified. Sure enough, the entire race he never surfaced until the end, but no officials called it, because they were just looking for heads to emerge at about the 15-20 meter area, just past the marker. He was later disqualified for being submerged at the finish, but no call for 15 meter violation.


You had good officials at your summer league

Right Dude Here

It was a sectionals meet at A&M.


1 question: Why?


What’s worse, swimming the wrong stroke or the two officials watching her lane who “didn’t notice”


May be all about jurisdiction. The stroke official on the side would have the call and he/she probably lost focus since it was freestyle; easy to do. The 15 m official would not have jurisdiction nor would the turn officials. That is my best guess. Another official that is not retired like me chime in.


it should also be ‘not allow to ref the rest of the meet’. I mean, what the hell WERE you watching during that 25? texts on your phone?


The turn officials can’t make stroke infraction calls?


Depends on the jurisdiction given to the official.

Arthur Curry

The stroke official(s) (on the sides) are supposed to keep observing the lanes assigned to them even if they don’t walk the sides during the freestyle leg of a medley relay or IM. Usually, the official at the turn end is given jurisdiction from last stroke into the turn until first stroke above water coming out of the turn. This jurisdiction can be either narrowed or broadened by the Meet Referee (the person in overall charge of the meet) prior to the session, however. The Deck Referee (the person blowing the whistle) has jurisdiction over the entire pool at all times, and is supposed to be scanning all lanes during a race. It is extremely embarrassing that such a clear… Read more »


Short course pool, 15 m of fly kick underwater, then a few strokes before the turn. Agree that deck ref could/should see as well as the stroke judge, but they had less than 10 yards to observe the fly. Both missed it. Not good.


I agree with Fred that it’s probably a jurisdiction issue-the walkers had it but they missed, and those noticed didn’t have the jurisdiction. This is a call that the deck ref could make but apparently didn’t happen. It is embarrassing but also understandable. First, swimming the wrong stroke in the freestyle leg is very rare. Second, many officials (myself included) are used to relaxing a bit when the freestyle leg comes along. Usually this is the time to catch up writing DQ slips or simply take a breather. Guess this is lesson for all officials. Speaking of the Lochte Rule, you will be surprised how many college coaches don’t know or understand it.

Eric Lahmy

For my money, the Lochte rule is not easy to understand!


This is like the radiologists who could accurately detect a lung nodule but 83% of them didn’t realize they were looking at a gorilla


Inattentional blindness. BTW an angry gorilla is a normal phenomenon in your left upper lobe, unlike in the lower 🙂

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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