FINA must allow underwater video review from officials


Good point here on SwimmingWorld Magazine:

Debate continues on the current breaststroke turn and finish rules that govern competitive swimming. Video from the 2011 FINA World Championships of Brazil’s Felipe Silva finishing with an illegal dolphin kick to capture gold in the 50 meter breaststroke is proof that FINA needs to take another look at how it monitors the stroke.

Breaststrokers have been using the illegal dolphin kick UNDERWATER for ages—and FINA knows it. FINA has passed rules that disallow it, but it has no mechanism other than the human eye ABOVE WATER to monitor it.

With the advent of underwater cameras that stream real-time video to the public around the world, FINA must change the rules or set new standards that no longer exclude underwater video review from officials.

Currently, judges on the pool deck are trained to observe a legal hand touch at the same time they are trained to observe a legal leg kick. Both actions are performed at two different points on the athlete’s body and often take place within a fraction of a second of each other. The reality is that most judges concentrate on the hand touch and not the leg movement.

FINA has an obligation to avail its judges the same race views that the thousands of fans are enjoying back home in their living rooms.

Under current FINA rules, it would take a walleyed judge suffering from exotropia even to have a chance of making the right call on both movements during turns and finishes. The Japanese have a term for this visual anomaly. It is called “Lon-Pari,” meaning one eye on London and the other on Paris. I would rather call it “Shang-Switz,” meaning one eye on the pool in Shanghai and the other on the FINA offices in Switzerland.

Unfortunately for Silva, his race footage offers compelling evidence that a change is necessary because the world saw it on TV while no official was privy to the same view. The race footage should serve as a warning to FINA of the challenges ahead if they continue to turn a blind eye. View Footage of the Silva Finish Here

This is not a referendum on Silva. Congratulations on his win. But at this point in the evolution of the sport, FINA needs to evaluate its options to strengthen the sport.

About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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