One of swimming's four strokes could soon have a brand new look and not everyone is happy about it. As rules stand now, swimmers are permitted one dolphin kick at the start of each breaststroke race and coming off the wall of each turn. However, swimmers tend to fudge the rule by sneaking in an extra, or at least a pseudo-dolphin kick when they can in order to gain an advantage. Now, a proposal presented to FINA, the sport's international governing body, would permit unlimited dolphin kicks to the 15-meter mark after each turn, making the stroke easier for some swimmers, in theory. Critics argue that the rule would defeat an essential tenet of the stroke, and it would also make it difficult to compare one generation of breaststrokers to another. Didn't FINA just go through this a few years ago with the different makes of suits that were allowed and then were not allowed?
Megan Quann Jendrick, who won the Olympic 100-meter breaststroke (and a relay gold) in 2000, doesn't see it as progress. "As far as I'm concerned," she tweeted, "breaststroke should never have been given one dolphin kick, let alone unlimited. Terrible idea. Hope FINA turns out to be smarter than that!" Brendan Hansen, the U.S. swimmer who once held the world records in the 100 and 200-meter breaststrokes, recently said to SwimVortex.com, "Don't change the rule because the officials are afraid to make a call. Get new officials. The stroke I loved will never be the same." Hansen took two silver medals at the Athens Games after the gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima of Japan was criticized for using questionable kicks during the race.
U.S. Diving has named its squad for the world championships in Barcelona this summer. The men's squad includes some familiar names, including David Boudia, the Olympic champion on the platform, and Troy Dumais, a 33-year-old, four-time Olympian. Kristian Ipsen, who teamed with Dumais to win bronze in the synchronized three-meter springboard event in London, will join Dumais again in Barcelona. None of the women named to the U.S. team has competed at an Olympics.
Track & Field
Here's another name to watch for in the world of distance running. Mary Cain broke the national high school 1,500-meter mark by five seconds this week in Eagle Rock, Calif., lowering the record from 4:09:10, set by Suzy Favor in 1987, to 4:04.60. Cain turned 17 earlier this month and has now set indoor and outdoor prep marks from 800 meters to two miles since going on her record binge in February.
The normally agreeable world of gymnastics took a testy turn in Germany this week when Fabian Hambuchen, one of his country's most decorated gymnasts, threatened to boycott his national championships in Mannheim after a scoring controversy in which his marks on the floor exercise were raised and then lowered once officials ruled he and his coach filed a protest seconds after the deadline to do so. "If the judges are too stupid to do their jobs," he said, "I must consider whether I should compete here again." Hambuchen, 25, has a ton of hardware on his resume (two Olympic medals, seven world medals and six European titles). But the side issue here is that Hambuchen, tremendously popular among fans, is persona non grata with officials. His coach is also his father, Wolfgang Hambuchen and the pair has defiantly trained away from the national team and its training center for years.
IOC Presidential Race
The race for the IOC Presidency is heating up. Within the last week Richard Carrion, 60, an IOC member from Puerto Rico with a strong business and marketing background joined the race, as did Ng Ser Miang, an IOC member from Singapore who is largely responsible for creating the Youth Olympics. On Thursday, Taiwan's C.K. Wu, the head of the always star-crossed International Amateur Boxing Association, jumped in. Germany's Thomas Bach, an Olympic gold medalist in team foil fencing, has already declared his candidacy and is considered the front-runner by many. Pole vault legend Sergei Bubka of the Ukraine, has not yet declared, but would likely draw strong consideration if he decides to enter. Candidates need not be IOC members, and they have until June 10 to announce their intentions. The winner will be chosen at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September.