August 8, 2012

Dolphin kicking — when and why it's illegal and whether Olympic officials should police it more closely.

Link.
The underwater cameras that NBC used throughout the Olympics could easily detect illegal kicks, allowing judges to disqualify scofflaws immediately. So why doesn’t FINA use the swimming equivalent of the replay booth? Probably because it’s less controversial to let swimmers get away with Flipper-izing than it is to kick someone out of an Olympic final. And maybe FINA also realizes that stricter guidelines would slow down times, reducing the volume of attention-getting world records.

25 comments:

Paul Zrimsek said...

Hard to believe anyone would be making a big fuss about a moment of silence for dead Israelis when there's a sport like dolphin kicking going on.

Rabel said...

Can't talk Dolphin kicking without this:

I keek a touchdown

harrogate said...

Seems like all they would need to do would be to strictly enforce it during the championships in years leading up to an Olympics. by the time it got there, the message would be received by everyone.

if their real concern is the glory to be gotten by record breaking times, then they should just allow this "dolphin kick." Not a difficult problem, by my lights.

MadisonMan said...

Multiple dolphin kicks is a hard call for an official to make if you're standing behind the blocks trying not to get splashed, and if the perturbations in the water are distorting the view. It's a lot easier for Walkers (officials walking along the side of the pool) to make the call, but there aren't walkers in the Olympics. I don't think there are, at least.

The Benefit of the Doubt goes to the swimmer always.

john said...

Otherwise they would certainly win nearly all the swimming metals.

Perhaps not backstroke.

Geoff Matthews said...

Or they could just have swim races that tell you to move as fast as you can.
This is my complaint with speed walking.

MadisonMan said...

If they want to enforce their own rule, though, it's not going to permanently end records, either. They said that would happen when the borg suits were banned in 2009. Yet records continue to fall.

And yes - enforce the rule in the meets leading up to the Olympics, and the swimmers will adjust. By the time the Olympics roll around, it's mostly all muscle memory with a few tweaks.

traditionalguy said...

PETA will be all over this kicking scandal...oops I just read the article.

The winner freely admits that all swimmers sneak in a few illegal kicks, so his doing them is called trying to win a Gold.

That is good news for lawyers employment. The World Celebration of Human Bodies carries inside those bodies the human mind/soul.

Rules and cheaters meeting is why lawyers are needed.

rehajm said...

High speed, high resolution cameras create a sticky issue for sport. The largest events have the most camera coverage, but lesser events- qualifiers, regional and local competitions must rely only on 'traditional' methods of observation and officiating. Competitors learn what they can and can't do from the local and regional events. Should their strategies change just because the observer is superior at the big meets? What if it's determined the swimmer made not 1 kick, but 1.1 kicks as determined by the high res replay- do we fault the competitor? Golf has had to deal with this. The high resolution cameras can detect a ball moving that is imperceptible to the naked eye. Competitors have been disqualified for things they could not see. The USGA has said competitors should only be expected to hold to the standard of what can be observed without the cameras. Sounds like swimming is doing the same thing...

Tim said...

Did anyone else stop and laugh after reading, "dolphin kicking."

It sounds like a punchline to a bad joke; which are my favorite kind.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't think dolphins should be allowed to compete whether they use their special kicks or not.

Chris said...

What I want to know is, are the Olympic basketball refs calling players for traveling?

Paul Zrimsek said...

My impression is that pretty much anything goes in Olympic dolphin kicking, provided you're not holding it by the blowhole or the dorsal fin. I don't follow the professional dolphin-kicking circuit, but I've heard they're a bit stricter.

Matthew Sablan said...

"The winner freely admits that all swimmers sneak in a few illegal kicks, so his doing them is called trying to win a Gold."

-- Winners say all sorts of things about what everyone else does to justify what they do.

madAsHell said...

Dolphin kicking!?!?

Quick! Somebody call PETA!!

Tibore said...

Dolphin kicking's illegal? Huh. Shows you what I know. I always wondered why Olympic swimmers don't utilize it more. Now I know.

Tibore said...

Oh, dammit, just read through everyone else's post. The obvious Flipper jokes didn't even occur to me! :(


------

Word Verification: msArre. What, it's the Microsoft Talk-Like-A-Pirate captcha? :-S

Curious George said...

"john said...
Otherwise they would certainly win nearly all the swimming metals."

I saw this misuse of a word and thought "medals"....but then thought both are the same...gold, silver, bronze!

wyo sis said...

Make dolphin kicking legal. It's like pot. Some people need it. If dolphins kicking is legal then all records can carry the caveat before or after dolphin kicking. Dolphins are under represented at the Olympics. Maybe we could start a dolphin kicking version and a non-dolphin kicking version. Maybe a whole new dolphin kicking event.
This ridiculous expectation that athletes should have some sort of rules to keep them from winning is not fair. They wouldn't train so hard for so many years if they couldn't win.
I demand equality for dolphin kickers.
Don't just accept it...embrace it!

Another pleasant and virtuous endeavor ruined by socialism.

ricpic said...

It would be neat if there were a race in which each competing swimmer was allowed to use whatever combination of upper body and lower body strokes worked best for him and no strokes were illegal in order to determine who could swim the fastest possible 100 or 200 meters. Six different swimmers might be using 10 or 12 different combinations but you'd end up with speed records broken regularly.

Of course anyone here who actually is or was a competitive swimmer will probably tell me that could never work, but to someone who's never swum competitively it sounds great. ;^)

Rabel said...

ricpic, you just described the freestyle competition.

Joe said...

The winner admitted he cheated and the IOC does nothing. Yet another reason to not watch the Olympics.

AndyN said...

Multiple dolphin kicks is a hard call for an official to make if you're standing behind the blocks trying not to get splashed...

If you're concerned about getting splashed, you shouldn't be a swim meet official at any level.

FINA has only themselves to blame for this. When Kitajima got caught breaking the old rule, the obvious thing to do should have been to figure out a better way to enforce the rule. Instead they changed the rule to allow everybody to take one dolphin kick at every start and turn, and then act surprised when people start to try to sneak in at least one extra. It would be like the IAAF responding to long jumpers going a step past the board by telling everybody they could take one step past the board and not expecting some people to try to get away with two steps past the board.

Big Mike said...

In order to understand what's happening you need to know how the old rules went.

Back in the day (I won't say how long ago, merely note that I took notes in class using cuneiform on clay tablets) I swam butterfly, IM, and some breaststroke. The breaststroke rules were that you could take one kick and one arm pull underwater and then you had to be at the surface. At the surface your arm pull doesn't come back past your shoulders, but the underwater pull goes back as far as your arms will reach.

It turns out that for a lot of swimmers it's very natural to flex your knees after you push off the wall, and then straighten them out as you took your big underwater arm pull -- which counted as one kick. When you took your normal breaststroke kick you were disqualified.

Then they started letting swimmers get away with the knee flex and leg straightening, which meant that some swimmers would now do that extra dolphin kick deliberately instead of accidentally.

And once you let them get away with a deliberate dolphin kick, how do you stop them from doing multiples? IMHO they shouldn't.

city said...

thanks for sharing.