Is it ever happened that a swimmer was disqualified during a top-level competition (for example, the Olympics or World Championships) for a bad or incorrect stroke?

  • @Philip Kendall thank for the editing, but the original question was a bit different. I was asking if a swimmer has ever been disqualified for an irregular swimming style. I mean "freestyle" has more speed than any other style, so I was asking if any swimmer change a bit his style to find more speed or an easy swim and is been disqualified for it
    – Ale
    Aug 4, 2015 at 12:06
  • That's what my edit is intended to convey, but if you think I've missed the point please edit some more or if you really think I've done it completely wrong just revert my edit :-)
    – Philip Kendall
    Aug 4, 2015 at 12:13
  • What do you mean with illegal stroke? The touch at the end of the pool or tha action of swimming? My question was about the action, is not limited to the final/inversion touch
    – Ale
    Aug 5, 2015 at 10:19

2 Answers 2


Emily Overholt was disqualified from the 400m individual medley at the 2015 Pan American Games for an incorrect touch at the end of the breaststroke leg: both hands must touch the wall at the same time in breaststroke and butterfly. Thiago Pereira was disqualified from the men's 400m individual medley at the same games for the same reason.

  • From the 2015 Worlds, currently going on, There are already disqualifications (in prelims) in the Men's 100 Back and Women's 100 Breast. In each case, the athlete was not going to make the semifinals, much less finals, but they were competing at Worlds. One can also look back at, say, the 2014 US Nationals, and find a variety of DQs (as distinct from DFS - Declared False Start, NS - No Swim). Some meet results include the reasons for the DQ, some don't.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 4, 2015 at 18:34

In addition to the ones listed by Philip, there have been many other instances of swimmers being DQ'd in top level meets, sometimes being overturned, sometimes not. The one that comes to mind is in 2004, Aaron Piersol was DQ'd for turning over onto his stomach too early in the 200m backstroke. It was later overturned, and many felt that the initial DQ was because he was critical of FINA and a Japanese swimmer, Kosuke Kitajima, for taking extra dolphin kicks in the breaststroke.

Many times this is due to techniques and rules changing, such as the initial allowing of dolphin kicks on the backstroke, later reduced to 15m from the wall, not allowing dolphin kicks in breaststroke to allowing one (And this is very much abused) on the pushout from the wall. In addition, what might be allowed in an individual stroke race would not be allowed in a medley or medley relay.

While the file at this link is for the Masters FINA championships, you can go through and see DSQ for using tape on the body, using aids, no touch at turns/finish, illegal kicks/turns, etc. This link shows the 2015 FINA World Championships, and it shows 14 people disqualified, but no reason given (Most will be a false start, that's the most common infraction).

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