Otopeni 2023: Video Judging implemented for the first time

Credit to: European Aquatics

European Aquatics authorised its first-ever use of Video Judging at the European Short Course Championships in Otopeni to ensure fairness for the athletes.

More than 20 underwater cameras were used together with others above water level.

There were 18 disqualifications across the six-day meet, including a number of world-leading athletes, and 14 overturned reports.

In an interview with the World and European Aquatics Technical Swimming Committee Chair Craig Hunter, he explained that video judging not only protects competitors from those who commit infractions but also protects the accused athletes from mistaken calls.

In fact, Hunter has found that more calls from the pool deck have been overturned than confirmed. This is to say that while disqualifications may be shocking and unexpected from world-renowned swimmers, they do not go unnoticed.

Either an official on deck will alert the video review team of a potential disqualification or it is called from real-time viewing by experienced judges working in the video room.

After minutes of evaluating the infraction, the judges will come to a final decision.

In the case the swimmer is disqualified, the athlete and coach can review the footage with the officials to understand the call/infraction. 

Hunter said: “In reviewing an infraction post-disqualification with coaches and athletes, you generally see more than one lane.

“Sometimes, the feedback we’ve had is, ‘I accept my disqualification, but I think you should be disqualifying the swimmer in the lane next to me.’

“Now, that’s not part of the process.”

As video judging becomes integrated into the sport of swimming, the Technical Swimming Committee recognises there must be limitations to the use of this technology until its use is refined further

Hunter’s hope for the future is to broadcast replays of the call in question and educate the viewers on the rules to understand the violation.