Video Evidence Of Trent Grimsey’s Impeding Disqualification

Trent Grimsey of Australia was disqualified at the recent State Harbour Crossing race in New Zealand for impeding the progress of Troy Prinsloo of South Africa. The video evidence was promised to show the reasons for this disqualification.

A mention of the impeding disqualification by Grimsey is included in the first video below at 7:25. Video evidence of the impeding disqualification is shown at 5:13 in the second video. The judge made the decision based on Grimsey’s “deliberate zig-zagging across and in front of Prinsloo blocking him from his direct swim path deemed not acceptable.”

Scott Rice, the State Harbour Crossing event director, explains, “The decision to disqualify Trent Grimsey was not based on television coverage, but on the eyewitness reports and accounts from our On Water Elite Swim Marshal. The marshal had no doubts in what he saw. The TV coverage was only there to back up his reports for which I viewed in close up frames. The On Water Elite Swim Marshal was alongside the two swimmers at the time of the incident as you can clearly see in the video footage.” The infractions as shown in the publicly available footage are not clear in demonstrating Grimsey’s impeding from the chosen camera angle, but every race official should ask the following questions when making these types of decisions:

1. Confirm the lead swimmer was zig-zagging in the path of the trailing swimmer. Was the lead swimmer frequently looking back over his shoulder in order to anticipate the trailing swimmer’s next move? If the lead swimmer is not looking back over his shoulder at the trailing swimmer, then it is highly unlikely that the lead swimmer is deliberately blocking the path of the trailing swimmer.

2. Confirm the speed of the trailing swimmer is faster than the speed of the lead swimmer at the time of impeding. That is, is the trailing swimmer in the process of overtaking the lead swimmer? If the swimmers are swimming the same speed, there can be no impeding.

3. Confirm the reason for the frequent changes of direction by the lead swimmer. Did the trailing swimmer swim over the lead swimmer’s legs? Did the trailing swimmer hit the feet of the lead swimmer? Did the lead swimmer avoid flotsam in the water? Does turbulence or waves in the water have any effect on the direction of the lead swimmer?

4. Confirm which swimmer was initiating the change of direction. If the lead swimmer initiated the change of direction, then that is the right of the swimmer. If the trailing swimmer initiated the change of direction which was then replicated by the lead swimmer, then this is grounds for impeding. If the lead swimmer initiated the change of direction while the trailing swimmer was touching the legs or feet of the lead swimmer, then this may be incidental contact. If the lead swimmer is kicking strongly, then this is a hint that the trailing swimmer is touching or pulling on the feet or legs of the lead swimmer and grounds for impeding by the trailing swimmer.

While the decision of the head referee stands, making a judgment call on a lead swimmer impeding a trailing swimmer, especially under turbulent conditions, is always up for interpretation.

Given the difficulty of making a judgment call on impeding, especially in crowded or turbulent conditions, it is best for officials to clarify their interpretations of impeding before the race and for athletes to understand how and when those judgement calls will be made.

In the videos above, the top men (Ky Hurst, Troy Prinsloo, Codie Grimsey, Trent Grimsey,Phillip Ryan) frequently switched positions as they bounced up and down in crooked tangents across the harbour until Trent clearly pulls away from the field in which he won by over a minute.

Additional articles on the disqualification are below:

What Is Impeding In Open Water Swimming?
Open Water DQ – What Happened In New Zealand?
Disqualification Shakes Up State Harbour Crossing

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Steven Munatones