Ryan Lochte called it “ridiculous.” His coach called it “disappointing.”
A new FINA interpretation of a rule outlaws an underwater turn technique that Lochte used en route to winning his fourth straight World title in the 200m individual medley Aug. 6.
Lochte called the decision “ridiculous,” according to NBC Miami.
“They made a rule, like the Lochte rule, I guess because I was so much faster underwater than anyone else,” he said, according to NBC Miami, after tweeting “too funny” about the rule change in August, before it became official.
His coach, David Marsh, called it “disappointing” on Sept. 9 but accepted the decision.
“Ryan is a good enough athlete to figure out how to go fast,” Marsh said in a telephone call with reporters after being named one of the two 2016 U.S. Olympic head coaches. “If you tell him to jump out of the water and do a front flip, he’ll go fast doing that if that’s the rule.”
Also in the NBC Miami interview, Lochte said Michael Phelps owes him $1,000 from a 2012 bet.
“When he first said he retired after 2012, I went to him the next day and said, ‘I bet you $1,000 that you’re going to be back,'” Lochte said, according to the report. “And he was like, ‘No, no, I won’t, I’m done, I’m done.’ So he owes me $1,000.”
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. “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.
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