Underwater Video Can Be Used To Initiate Stroke Infractions, Not Just Overturn


After we saw an influx of breaststrokers disqualified on the opening day of the 2021 Short Course World Championships, questions arose on whether or not these were strictly judgment calls made by certain officials or if it was underwater video catching an unusually high number of swimmers breaking the rules.

The answer is that underwater video can initiate a stroke infraction, a rule that has been in place since last year.

The use of underwater video at both the Olympics and World Championships was approved to “initiate stroke infraction calls” in early 2020, and made its debut in Tokyo this past summer.

At Olympic Games and World Championships approved Automatic Officiating Equipment, including Underwater Video Judging Equipment shall be provided and used. The approved Underwater Video Judging Equipment shall be used to initiate stroke infraction calls, confirm stroke infraction calls or assist the Referee to overturn calls made on the pool deck.

In the prelims, 13 swimmers were disqualified across the women’s 50 breast and the men’s 100 breast, and then during finals, Alia Atkinson, the top seed, world record holder and defending champion in the women’s breast, got DQed.

All of the DQs were reportedly called by the underwater cameras, and Atkinson, Arianna Castiglioni and Yu Yiting (who were both DQed in the women’s 50 breast prelims, and would’ve made the semi-finals otherwise) were all called for a downward dolphin kick prior to the finish.

The video review system does not mean that officials cannot make a disqualification, but the footage can be used to either overturn a referee’s call, in addition to finding illegal infractions on its own.

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Follow the Rules
2 years ago

I think this is a great idea! There are swimmers out there who willingly and knowingly cheat by adding in an extra dolphin kick and then there are swimmers who swim it and follow the rules. Hopefully this will even the playing field. Cheaters will always try to cheat.

2 years ago

So, in a 8 or 10 lane pool how many video referees and how many cameras would you need to identify the stroke infraction? It’s very hard to see many swimming infractions from above the water due to swimmers splash as well as speed. I think the key is teaching the swimmers the correct stroke. Coaches and swimmers will always push the limit and should for evolution of the stroke. Covid has caused a great loss of officials in the sport in Illinois. At a meet last week we had one stroke turn official over 9 lanes. Impossible to judge fairly. Think long and hard before thinking underwater video should be used for identifying stroke infractions. Let’s get enough qualified… Read more »

Scotty P
2 years ago

Sick. I wonder who the real winner of the London final of the Men’s 100 BR would have been.

Reply to  Scotty P
2 years ago

Sprenger. Australia would have doubled our gold medal count lol

Reply to  jamesjabc
2 years ago

It would have been Hansen. Sprenger took a dolphin kick at the finish during the semi-final. The dude has gotten screwed out of an olympic gold medal twice

2 years ago

I don’t know if this is a good idea. Its seems like it can be used a political thing. By that I mean they can pick and choose when to apply it as opposed to applying it fairly to everyone.

Reply to  Taa
2 years ago

You don’t think that individual referees can’t already do that?

If anything, I think it would be better for all videos to be reviewed before medals. That way all swimmers hoping for a medal know that their swim will get looked over 100%. Might actually stop people breaking the rules.

Reply to  jamesjabc
2 years ago

Goof point. Find some referees from some neutral countries and let them look at all the video they want

2 years ago


About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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