Barcelona 2013: Troubling News Filters Through

Photo: Patrick Kraemer

We heard the whisper in Barcelona: was it possible that the filtration system at the Palau San Jordi pool could b affecting results? The suggestion was clear: lanes 1-4 were at a disadvantage to swimmers in lanes 5 t0 8. The issue came to light when Florent Manaudou, the French Olympic freestyle dash champion, swam 0.3 slower than his semi and bombed out of the medal. The numbers are now in – and they are troublesome

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We heard the whisper in Barcelona: was it possible that the filtration system at the Palau San Jordi pool could b affecting results? The suggestion was clear: lanes 1-4 were at a disadvantage to swimmers in lanes 5 t0 8. The issue came to light when Florent Manaudou, the French Olympic freestyle dash champion, swam 0.3 slower than his semi and bombed out of the medal. The numbers are now in – and they are troublesome



Manaudou does 21″37 in the semis, in lane 4, the same lane he swims in the final. For me, there is no excuses to his performance to be affected by a swirl.


Yeah I had read the full french article on the last day of the championship and I have to say it looks like there WAS a skewed in the results that looks nothing like natural =s especially if you add the skewed results for the long distances !! If you look closely at long distances results for lane 8 and & let’s say, they swim faster one way down the pool than the other and the way they swim faster is opposite in lane 8 than lane 1 =s =s

To be honest this is a MAJOR issue that needs to be solved for any future championship ! sure we’re not gonne change the results of this one but an inquiry needs to be conducted !!

some might say it’s only the 50m results that are affected but it’s bullshit ! IM for example, you might be affected in your weak stroke or best stroke therefore loosing more time than anticipated or gaining less. Same for the long distances where the moment you put an accelaration is sometimes crucial to the end results !! same for 100m what about the fact that Morozov goes out hard and magnussen come back hard … if they were swimming next to each other one would be much advantage compared with the other !

anywayz, an inquiry needs to be made !! but just by looking at results you can see something is odd =s


and like the 100m free race at the olympics showed … a hundredth of a second of unnatural advantage could decide a race !!

Lennart van Haaften

Shocking, this must be investigated further. Here are the 50 meter results with lane numbers:

With this in mind suddenly a lot of skewed results pop up, especially the men’s 50 free with lanes 6, 7, 8 on the podium, and lanes 5, 6, 8 in the men’s 50 fly.
7/24 medals for lanes 1-4, which normally perform slightly better than lanes 5-8, is very few. In Shanghai 2011 lanes 1-4 won 13/24 medals in the 50 meter events. In 2009, 15/24. In 2007, 13/24.

Nijhuis went slower by 0.70 from semi (lane 6) to final (lane 1) in the 50 breaststroke, but that could easily be an incident. 😛


I would like to know WHERE is the advantage.In the middle of the pool?At the end?
Cesar Cielo was only fifth at 15 meters mark in 5.28(his best is 4.9 from 2010 panpacs).Everyone knows how good(in the recent past) his start was.In 50 fly final only one guy improved(Godsoe) time… and i am sorry to say that, i was expecting something near 21.1/21.2 for Manaudou, he was the guy who lost more time(comparing with his semi time).Maybe the filtration system dont like lane 4 swimmers…


50 free biomechanics:

Click on “Series1” to see the full data.

Craig Lord

There may well be no excuse … but it would be interesting to see the pool log and the times and sessions when filtration was turned full on and turned off… it is hard to imagine this pattern as pure coincidence, regardless of Manaudou’s experience.


It seems you got some attention quicly. At least Schoeman tweeted about this article, which was quicly re-tweeted by Ruta Meilutyte etc etc.


Ricky Berens also tweeted about it ! Fina needs to look into the matter. Not to reshuffle the results and take away from the swimmers but to establish guidelines for future meets !!

And Manaudou is only an example. The shock comes when you look at stats from all the championship and see a big skewdness towards lane 6-7-8 !!

DDias: how do you know cielho’s time at 15m =s ???? either you’re on pool deck with the perfect view and perfect angle or you’re a timing god 😉 …



Check those links to biomechanical analysis that DDias posted. The analysis have been made for almost every event and such information is available.


Seeing Anthony Ervin stats, contradics a bit these stats.In semis, Ervin swam in LANE 3, he made 21.42.Manaudou was in LANE 4(made 21.37).Ervin first 15 meters was 5.40.In final he was only 5.60(Thats huge in a 50free event).But Ervin was in LANE5, and should benefits from the filter pool.Well, he was 0.03 slower than semis in last 35meters.
In final, Cielo was 0.08 faster than shis semi time in the first 15 meters.Manaudou was 0.08 slower.
If you saw Manaudou semi stats, you see besides his first 15 meters slower, he was slower in T25(0.08) and T45(0.12) meters.
Cielo(comparing with semis) was faster(besides his first 15 meters) in T35(0.08) and T45(0.16)
Morozov was 0.04 faster in finals in his first 15 meters.He was faster in T25(0.04),T,45(0.04) and T50(0.04).
Bovell was faster(comparing with semis) in T25(0.08),T35(0.04) and T45(0.16).
If you look with attention, you see Cielo and Bovell made huge gains in T45(0.16), but Morozov as consistent ALL the way.Cielo and Bovell made slower finish than semis(0.04 for Cielo and 0.05 for Bovell).But Morozov was faster(0.04).
In semis, Cielo was in lane 4,Bovell in lane 1 and Morozov in lane6.

Semis analisys here:


I believe this is just sour grapes from the French. There has been considerable expectation on Manaudou and some others who didnt deliver to their country’s expectations.

Dont forget that certified engineers are required at the end of such meets to measure the pool to ensure it is the same as it was at the beginning.

Filtration system….really?

If this was a real scientific study then they would have gathered data from all events where this company produced these pools. Also it would have to be submitted to any independent body including comparative analysis of water flow (velocitiy) and density (all for example) in each of the lanes with no swimmers in it for a starters.

This argument is scientifically flawed

Europeans want these portable pools…..really, this is just an excuse for unmet expectations.


I hope fina doesn’t screw up their reaction to this. He results are the results and the 50s are mostly luck anyways and the 50s of strokes should not even be worlds events. Fina should take the time to figure out what went wrong and change it next time for the better. Lets not let the complainers detract from the performances of Meilutyte, Yang, Ledecky, Franklin, Lochte, etc!

Tomas Victoria

Typical French BS excuse.

Craig Lord

I think the evidence merits investigation – if only to make sure that if there is a problem it cannot happen again.

Craig Lord

I also think that people should leave out of the argument silly generalisations about particular peoples and nations (it is perfectly normal for media and others to seek explanations when an Olympic champion goes .3 (huge) slower on a 50m free… of course not all of that could possibly b accounted for by filtration but in looking at that issue a very odd pattern was found… one that merits consideration to make sure the race environment is fair.


“Le Monde” had an interesting blog article on this issue
Readers made statistical analysis on the Barcelona results and posted their observations in the comment section

Here is a script
and the chart

This based on 22 events


In the same blog entry, readers drew a comparison between Roma 2009, Shanghai 2011 and Barcelona 2013 as far as medals were awarded in the 50s


ligne1: 0 médaille
ligne2: 0 médaille
ligne3: 0 médaille
ligne4: 6 médailles
ligne5: 7 médailles
ligne6: 7 médailles
ligne7: 1 médaille
ligne8: 4 médailles


Ligne 1 : 3 médailles
Ligne 2 : 0 médaille
Ligne 3 : 3 médailles
Ligne 4 : 7 médailles
Ligne 5 : 6 médailles
Ligne 6 : 2 médailles
Ligne 7 : 2 médailles
Ligne 8 : 1 médaille


Ligne 1 : 0 médaille
Ligne 2 : 3 médailles
Ligne 3 : 3 médailles
Ligne 4 : 4 médailles
Ligne 5 : 6 médailles
Ligne 6 : 4 médailles
Ligne 7 : 4 médailles
Ligne 8 : 0 médaille


As for Ervin’s first 15 meters in the final, his underwater was horrible. I’ve never seen so bad start from him. I don’t know what happened but he fails in his underwater totally. Ervin is in line 5:

I am of course championing further investigations as it’s the only way how we can be better in the future, but we should avoid seeing evidences for one argument everywhere once the issue is at hand. It’s pro et contra; both arguments, for and against, much be taken into account.

Craig Lord

Quite so: this is about pursuing inquiry to establish whether there was an external influence … it can’t change the result but it can help to ensure that the risk of external influence on results is removed wherever possible.


does this mean Campbell was disadvantaged in the 50 free?

Then i do think she’ll easily go under 24 next year 🙂


I wonder what proper statisticians would make of basing such analysis on the outcome of eight races? I’m not sure “fairly convincing” or “strongly supporting” would be their response to the data…

Even considering 24 medals, you wouldn’t necessarily expect an ‘average’ distrubtion. Using an online coin toss calculator, the odds of 17 *or more* medals (out of 24) going to either lanes 1-4 or lanes 5-8 are 6.4%. Or about 1 in 16. This was the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships (LC), and how many Olympics, Europeans, World SC, etc. have there been held…?

If there is any evidence from water-flow measurements, engineer reports, etc., then this should be investigated. Not on the basis of the medal distributions from 8 races.


(Before some better than me at statistics says it – my coin toss analogy is not completely accurate as the individual medals aren’t all independent (in one race, one lane can’t get all three medals!). However the exact calculation gets pretty complicated, and I think my general point still stands.)


waow I didn’t even know the times at 5/10/15/20 … meters were collected lol crazy

anywayz i totally agree with Craig ! there needs to be an inquiry !!

Not to satisfy the french, the americans or whichever nation but to ensure another mistake (if one was make) is not made again in Kazan and beyond !!

And it’s not french BS ! If you look at the results there IS a lane rope bias which was not there in Shanghai and rome !! therefore logic tells something is not going normally !

And we’re not taking anythg away from the swimmers !! they swam incredibly !! it’s FINA who might have once again screwed up !!

And to the peple that say engineers had to check the pool before so it’s not possible … ok, let’s say there was no current , then how do you explain the bias ???

Craig Lord

That last line of yours: that has been done … more news soon

Craig Lord

No, as you say, tossing a coin doesn’t really do it… there is a clear pattern there … one that cannot be seen nearly as starkly at previous championships (Olympics since 1896, 1908 in a pool and Europeans since 1926 … and no, I haven’t gone back and counted the winning lanes in all of them 🙂

Lennart van Haaften

Overthetopstarts, lanes 1-4 have faster qualifying times than lanes 5-8 (at least paired one by one; 4 is faster than 5, 3 is faster than 6, etc). Therefore the coin toss analogy isn’t entirely correct.

Lennart van Haaften

And for what it’s worth, this is the 7th WC where the stroke 50s are contested, not the 15th.


and how do you explain the difference in the 800 and 1500m between laps ??? the fact one is slower and one quicker but it’s the opposite depending on which side of the pool you’re in ! one of the swimmer even found it odd when looking at his splits =s I think it was the one from the feroe islands

Some say it might be affcted by which way you look and breath (right or left) when you swim. But then Why is it only in Barcelona that you see such a bias and such a difference in laps ??

Also the coin thing is a poor example. a race is more likely to be won by somebody in lane 4 or 5 therefore it’s not a simple coin toss. and the probability of only one medal earned between lane 1-2-3 I’m sure is way less than 6% 😉 I haven’t done the stats but that seems like a high probability 6%

and then just for the sake of clarity and inquiry should be made ! if there’s nothing to find or hide, nothing will be found, simple as that.


My point was: the fact that 17 out of 24 medallists came from one half of the pool (regardless of seeding, or exactly how many WC where the stroke 50s are contested) is not sure fire evidence that something MUST have been dodgy with the pool (no matter how it ‘seems’).

I completely agree that the 800/1500 splits is much better ‘evidence’, so it seems strange to me that most people don’t seem to be focusing on that (e.g. no mention in the above article). Even the people at IU continue to look at the ‘splash-and-dash’ (= unpredicatable) 50s more than the longer distance splits in their latest report (

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