Ryan Lochte‘s new swimming technique coming off the wall for the final 50 meters of freestyle in the 200m individual medley, which he used to win the World Championship on Aug. 6, has been outlawed by FINA, the sport’s international governing body.
At Worlds, before FINA ruled it illegal, Lochte swam on his back while turning off the wall switching from breaststroke to freestyle, while everyone else stayed more or less on their belly. He debuted the technique this summer.
“I’ve never heard a rule saying that you can’t do that, but I think they’re going to start changing the rules now,” Lochte told Michele Tafoya on Universal Sports after his fourth straight World title in the event. “I took that chance tonight going into it. They said you might get disqualified.”
One month later, FINA announced an interpretation to its rules that will make Lochte’s turn illegal during individual medleys but not during freestyle-only races.
“Being on the back when leaving the wall for the Freestyle portion of the Ind. Medley is covering more than one quarter of the distance in the style of Backstroke and is, therefore, a disqualification,” FINA said Monday. “Backstroke swimming is only defined as being on the back.”
It’s unclear how much the technique benefited Lochte compared to the rest of the field in the 200m individual medley final Aug. 6.
Lochte won by a comfortable .84 of a second. It’s unlikely he would have given up gold with a more conventional turn off the last wall. His split time for the final 50 meters, which included the now-illegal technique for the first 10 meters or so, was second fastest in the field of eight men.
If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.
Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.
Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.
If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.
Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.
The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.
Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.
The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.
Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.
Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.
Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.
The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.