Ryan Murphy swam two 50m backstroke finals at the world short course championships on Friday. He won the one that counted.
Murphy, who swept the backstrokes at the 2016 Olympics, won the 50m back at short course worlds in Melbourne after it was re-run nearly an hour after the original race was thrown out due to a technical error. Murphy was second in the original race to Australian Isaac Cooper.
“That’s definitely not the way you want to win,” Murphy said. “It worked out in my favor, but I feel for Isaac Cooper. He’s 18 years old, and winning a world title certainly means a lot. I am going to talk to him in the warm-down pool and give him my congratulations.”
The first race (timestamped in the video above this post) was marred after three extra sets of beeps went off immediately after the start, signaling something went wrong.
Five of the eight swimmers still swam the whole race: two lengths of the 25-meter pool. Short course worlds are held in 25-meter pools, while most other major international meets, including the Olympics, are in 50-meter pools.
Cooper touched the wall first in 22.49 seconds, according to commentators, a time that would have won the re-swim an hour later. It appeared swimmers were notified while still in the pool that the race wouldn’t count.
“On the first start, we all heard the double beep, and you know you just have to go if you are swimming in a world championship final,” Murphy said. “You just have to finish that race. But after the turn, I hit the wall and I felt that the [starting] wedge was still in. I thought, ‘Oh damn. We have to do that one again.'”
World Aquatics later attributed it to “a technical error by an official.”
“After speaking with all the competing athletes and team officials from the competing countries, it was unanimously agreed that the competition would be re-swum,” according to World Aquatics.
Cooper later took silver behind Murphy in the re-race for his first individual global medal. This past summer, he was removed from Australia’s team for the Commonwealth Games after what Swimming Australia called “wellbeing challenges” that included the use of medication.
“The end of the day, life just keeps on throwing s— at me, and I’m just gonna keep on pushing through,” Cooper said Friday, according to World Aquatics.
Also Friday, Kate Douglass won her second individual title of the meet, taking the 200m breaststroke in a U.S. one-two with Lilly King.
SHORT COURSE WORLDS: Full Results
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