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Salnikov: Breaststroke Rules 'To Be Eased'

Feb 26, 2013  - Craig Lord

FINA, in a move believed by some as a way around introducing underwater cameras in disputes and appeals, may relax the rules on breaststroke to allow multiple dolphin kicks at the start of races, according to former 1500m great Vladimir Salnikov.

Now the president of the Russian swim federation, Salnikov today tells the Russian swim community that breaststroke swimmers would be allowed to take multiple dolphin kicks during the first 15m of races. Currently, rules allow one kick, with many using more but getting away with it because officials on the deck cannot see through the splash generated by the dive at the start of races. The one-kick rule will remain in place at turns, when there is no splash to block the view of judges on the poolside.

The debate rumbled on in the wake of events at London 2012, with many calling for video monitoring of all lanes to ensure a level playing field.

“The athletes will be allowed to make an unlimited number of dolphin leg movements in the course of the first 15 meters of the distance, although actually it is realistic to do two or three,”  says Salnikov in a statement on the Russian federation website. “In this case, they have decided at FINA that there is no sense to take measures on the basis of subjective judging in this situation, so they feel it is necessary to completely abandon this rule.”

The  1980 and 1988 1500m free Olympic champion and the first man ever to break 15mins over 30 long-course laps, Salnikov confirmed that discussions have already taken place within LEN, the European body that account for at least a quarter of all votes at FINA Congress. He suggested that rule changes could be approved in the autumn after discussions. FINA yesterday confirmed to SwimNews that the issue of underwater cameras will be decided by Technical Congress on the eve of racing at the world championships in July.

If Congress approves underwater cameras, the argument for allowing multiple kicking, allowed in all other strokes out of starts, may be weaker.