Were There More DNSes and DQs in the 2021 World SC Championships than Before?


Complete Meet Results


The talk of the meet was the seemingly high number of disqualifications. As previously reported, 13 breaststrokers were disqualified in the opening session of the World Championships, with more following in subsequent races. The breaststroke DQ’s continued as both would have been top seeds in the 50 breaststroke Alia Atkinson and Emre Sakci were disqualified in the semifinals. Atkinson is also the world record holder in the event.

Underwater video cameras have recently been approved to be able to initiate DQ’s. Medal contender Arianna Castiglioni of Italy was even disqualified twice, once in the 50 breaststroke and then the 100 breaststroke a few days later. This is a high number for breaststroke as the breaststroke DQ’s totaled 24, meaning that there were only 10 DQ’s in any other strokes and relays combined.

After looking back at the results from the past three SCM World Championships before this year, DQs have been steadily increasing throughout the editions. There were more DQs in 2021 than 2018 but not as many as it may have seemed like based on the eye-popping number of breaststroke calls this year.

Aside from DQs, COVID-19 had an impact on the meet as 15 swimmers tested positive and several others left early to avoid infections that might keep them there through the holiday. This, along with contact tracing and the usual ‘coach’s decisions’ resulted in many swimmers not starting, receiving a  “did not start” result (DNS).  The amount of DNSes was high this year but not as high as it was in the 2016 World Championships that took place in Windsor, Ontario in Canada. The 2016 meet edged out the 2021 meet by one more DNS, 203 compared to 202. Both of the 2021 and 2016 meets were much higher than the 2018 and 2014 meets.

Even at swimming’s major meets, like World Championships, empty lanes continue to be commonplace. Even when athletes were sent home or forbidden from competing, like the teams from Nigeria and Singapore, races were still not re-seeded and athletes still were not formally scratched out of the races.

Below, see a comparison of DNS and DQ’s for the 2014-2021 World Short Course Swimming Championships below:

2014 2016 2018 2021
DQs 25 26 30 34
DNS 117 203 57 202

Note: 2014 was when the event schedule expanded to the current 46 races.


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About Anya Pelshaw

Anya Pelshaw

Anya has been with SwimSwam since June 2021 as both a writer and social media coordinator. She was in attendance at the 2022 and 2023 Women's NCAA Championships writing and doing social media for SwimSwam. Currently, Anya is pursuing her B.A. in Economics and a minor in Government & Law at …

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