Thursday, February 29, 2024

Swimmer Disqualified for Celebrating? Spirit of the Rule

NC State swimmer Kenneth "Owen" Lloyd finished first in his Men's 1650-yard freestyle Final in record time and climbed into teammate Ross Dant's lane to celebrate. After the race, however, referees announced Lloyd had been disqualified for switching lanes prior to the heat's end in violation of NCAA Swimming's interference rule. Let's talk spirit of the rule vs technical letter of the law.

NCAA Swimming & Diving Rule 2-5-1-b, a section called FOULS with the article titled INTERFERENCE, states, "A swimmer who changes lanes during a heat shall be disqualified."

There it is, black and white. A heat, event, or race effectively ends when the final competitor touches the wall to stop the clock. Replays indicate that Lloyd finished so quickly that other racers were still swimming—in the opposite direction—when Lloyd and opponent-but-also-teammate Dant touched up.

Lloyd then climbed atop the lane divider between himself and Dant's lane before dropping into his teammate's lane to celebrate a dominant victory.

Upon the race's conclusion, referees met (they are allowed to use video review) and determined that Lloyd was to be disqualified for changing lanes during the heat—e.g., while opponents were still swimming.

It didn't matter that Lloyd didn't appear to actually interfere with anyone (Dant had already finished when Lloyd breached the lane)—he was DQ'd based on the strict technicality of the interference rule.

This brings us to spirit vs letter of the rule—should this rulebook-supported decision been withheld due to Lloyd's obvious victory...or are the rules letter-tight for a reason in all situations?

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Referee decision disqualifies college swimmer from Final for celebrating too early


Post a Comment