It’s not cheating if we change the rule!

Regulations within any sport tend to change as science and technology progress.  It is understandable that advances in technology change the playing field and that, in sports, it is important to keep that playing field equal. Adding 2 buffer lanes to the course and increasing gutter depths to handle the large surge of water during races are examples of changes in technology that allowed a playing field to be more equal to the entire heat.

When fast skin suits first entered the market, world records started being broken left and right. Now it is controversial and banned for suits to go below the knee as it is believed to be an unfair advantage. Certainly it is an unfair advantage of the sports former best of the best that relied on the removal of body hair to reduce drag and move faster in the water, but is it really unfair when the technology of which suit you wear can be decided by the swimmer swimming the race? To me, that line is crossed when you start to change what is allowed or not allowed as it pertains to technique of a stroke.

I was never a breaststroker, but saying that it is okay to dolphin kick completely changes the stroke itself.

 Rule 101.2.3 states:

PhelpsAfter the start and each turn, a single butterfly kick, which must be followed by a breaststroke kick, is permitted during or at the completion of the first arm pull.

The regulations committee clarified when the instance of the first arm pull would be considered initiated with the below statement:

For the purposes of Article 101.2.3, as it relates to what constitutes the initiation of the first arm pull and the allowed single downward butterfly kick, the following applies:

After the start and after each turn, any observable lateral movement of the hands or arms is considered to be the initiation of the first arm pull.

Not only did this interpretation modify the way the race is swum, but by allowing a swimmer to keep a medal after they violated the known interpretation of a regulation sends the wrong message to our youth:  Cheating is OK unless you get caught, and it’s still OK if people are willing to change the rules for you.

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