Evgeny Koptelov 1:54.79 Breaker; The Oddity Of Yuya Yajima; & Three Crowns For the USA

Evgeny Koptelov, of Russia, and, inset, Yuya Yajima, the Japanese ace with the intriguing technique, a pace of porpoising less ordinary

A week after Tamas Kenderesi clocked 1:54.79 for season world-rank No 2 in Hungary, Evgeny Koptelov, of Russia, matched the mark for the Unviversiade crown in Gwangju after racing from fourth to gold with a 29.43 last lap; in his wake came the oddity of Yuya Yajima, of Japan, while the USA celebrated three golds courtesy of Leah Smith, Josh Prenot and the women’s 4x200m free quartet

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A week after Tamas Kenderesi clocked 1:54.79 for season world-rank No 2 in Hungary, Evgeny Koptelov, of Russia, matched the mark for the Unviversiade crown in Gwangju after racing from fourth to gold with a 29.43 last lap; in his wake came the oddity of Yuya Yajima, of Japan, while the USA celebrated three golds courtesy of Leah Smith, Josh Prenot and the women’s 4x200m free quartet



The 200 fly ranking shows the women. Surely you meant to show the men?

Tom Rushton

Seliskar’s goggles broke right before the race. Team USA tried to hold up the start but the signal to step up had already been made.

He had goggles on but the strap was broken under the cap, so likely had a hard time seeing anything. Tough break for a young talent, but I’m sure he’ll rebound quickly!

Craig Lord

Thanks Tom – valuable lesson indeed … it happens to the best of ’em, Phelps in Beijing, for e.g…. but he held on for the win, of course 🙂

Craig Lord

completelyconquered – the difference between an M and an F in a strong of code is fairly big 🙂 thanks for the alert


Was Leah Smith not the first leg and Chenault the third?
Great swim by Koptelov. Is he swimming in Kazan?
Amazing style from Yajima. I wonder if it will catch on.

Craig Lord

Ger, yes – thanks 🙂 and yes, at least he was 2nd in the national final inside target time… so I think yes.


Actually the butterfly style of Mr. Yajima is very similar (though perhaps a bit “slower” in pace) to the way Laszlo Czech swims butterfly. I was very surprised when for the first time a saw a video of the 200m butterfly race in Beijing.

Craig Lord

I know what you mean, for33… but the stroke count is different… 18-19 strokes a length mostly… the surge gained is similar in effect…


Yuya Yajima swims ‘fly very similarly to another Japanese swimmer, IMer Miyu Otsuka. She took about 17/18 strokes lengths 2, 3 & 4 when I watched her swim… Much higher rate opening 50 though. I’m not aware if they train together but the similarities are stark. Ida Marko Varga also had a similar ‘catch’ when she swam butterfly.

Craig Lord

Yes, thanks Dee, all similar-ish examples but quite a few more strokes. Even so, I’ve never seen anyone take 14 strokes a lap average on the way to a 1:55 200 fly. A genuine oddity in my experience


Wow! The Yuya Yajima swim is intriguing isn’t it?

He is using a conventional 2-beat kick (there’s nothing in the rules that profits 3, 4, or even 100 kicks per cycle) but he holds the streamline ‘glide’ position (hate that term) for way longer than is conventional.

It’s butterfly returning to its roots, which, of course, is breaststroke. It’s butterstroke.

His two beat kick uses the four sensible movements (2 down and 2 up) which fit exactly with the four arm-stroke phases – outsweep, insweep, upsweep, recovery (as every style,of butterfly must do to be effective) – but he then holds the extended position after the recovery for way longer than usual as he seeks to maintain the momentum from the previous cycle. And he does it very well.

And, of course, fewer stroke cycles, caused by extended use of the momentum, uses less fuel, therefore less energy expenditure. Win-win all round.

We may have witnessed a glimpse into the future of butterfly/butterstroke.


Could the increased number of strokes per lap be down to Otsuka being female and out-putting less power/propulsion? I am not really too familiar with the science of the sport haha. When you watch them, they really are uncanny in how similar they are.


I have read some comments stating that Yajima’s technique is illegal as he is submerged after each stroke. Citing the following rule:

SW 8.5 At the start and at turns, a swimmer is permitted one or more leg kicks and one arm pull under the water, which must bring him to the surface. It shall be permissible for a swimmer to be completely submerged for a distance of not more than 15 metres after the start and after each turn. By that point, the head must have broken the surface. The swimmer must remain on the surface until the next turn or finish.


I would have assumed that Fina officials would have passed it as OK but having read articles on here about FINA, that is questionable.
So, legal, or illegal?


Some good swims in the 200m breast, most of these kids are young 2.08, 2.09 is hot!

Craig Lord

Thanks for that explanation Clive – the holding of the expended position/efficiency of/maintenance of speed is fascinating

Craig Lord

Ger, I have to say I didn’t see him underwater for more than 15m at any point in the race, so I can’t see how his stroke is illegal; on ‘fly it is allowed to be submerged after every stroke


Good for Yanjima and good for breaststrokers! As a breaststroker myself, I can tell you how annoying the constant effort to turn breaststroke into butterfly is. Now we are finally getting a little revenge here. Woo-hoo!

Craig Lord

🙂 – my sympathies, easy speed…the fight is almost 100 years old



clive rushton

SW 8.5 is a classic example of the ambiguity of many of the [badly written] FINA rules.

” The swimmer must remain on the surface until the next turn or finish.”

No swimmer “remains on” the surface of the water. It’s not possible. Swimmers move below the surface. They float at the surface. They do not and cannot remain on the surface.

If the rule is interpreted as meaning the swimmer cannot fully submerge at all after the 15m mark then, yes, he is DQ-able, but why would that be the intention of the rule?

A good example of why the rule book needs a total makeover.

Craig Lord

Quite right, Clive … in any challenge a CAS and beyond the swimmer would win because the wording of the swim law is an ass.


I guess, Clive, the intention of the rule is to prevent swimmers circumventing it, e.g. by emerging at the 15meter mark and then immediately submerging again? Just guessing.

I have already written in another website that, if this swim is DQ-able, then we should question the way M. Phelps swam the 200 free back when he was a WR holder.

Craig Lord

ThereaLuigi, you would have to question many many more beyond Michael Phelps… so many, indeed, as to be farcical…

Ian Wright

The Yajima stroke, and indeed any swimmer on any stroke who fully submerges (even momentarily for 0.01) after the 15m mark is illegal under FINA rules and should be disqualified.

Judges/referees in the UK are disqualifying swimmers for this at meets every week. Earlier in the season I had a referee DQ one of my swimmers for submerging in a short course 1500m freestyle swim on the very last stroke of the race as the boy executed his finish.

Of course it is not the intention of the rule, and it is written badly, and does need changing – but the reality is the that the rule exists, and swimmers (in the UK at least) are being done for it every week. Some referees do realise the real intention of the rule and overlook it, but as in most sports, not all referees referee in the same way!

If Yajima beats swimmers from some countries at the Olympics with that stroke, I wonder how long it will take for him to be accused of cheating!?

Craig Lord

Ian, thanks for that insight… the accusations appear to have started in some places… I don’t think that fair; nor do I think he’s cheating. It seemed to me he swam ‘at the surface’ and was not submarining or doing several dolphin kicks underwater up the pool etc. A great many swimmers in a great many intl races you can watch far and wide from this season show swimmers submerged at some point in their strokes (all strokes) – the rule is badly written. It is a shame if Britain’s officials have been instructed to collect their peaked-cap award by enforcing what many see as the unenforceable. If you enforce the wording of that rule, you wipe out a vast shoal of world-class swimmers fairly quickly – and the line between ‘totally submerged or looked like he might have been but couldn’t tell’ is very fine indeed – not a place of safety, let’s say. Where is the line: bubble, splash, still water… no definitions are provided. Swimming takes place IN water, not on it and there is no specification for the depth of ‘surface’ so anyone who wants to challenge a DQ on the basis of the current wording should feel free to do so and know that no court would back the silly side of doubt. The 15m rule is there and is specific and can be enforced (sometimes is, sometimes not, as we have seen from Gwangju) but anything else – beyond the obvious of seeing swimmer’s submarine their way between the flags – is daft. In terms of time spent ‘submerged’, there is not much difference between Yajima, Cseh and several other big contenders.

Craig Lord

He turns 19 next week, Roy

clive rushton

SW 5.3 (FR) and SW 6.4 (BK) both say, “[After 15m] Some part of the swimmer must break the surface of the water throughout the race.” Both the strokes are long axis, alternating arm action strokes, so in terms of the possible anatomical combination of movements, it makes sense for them to be identically worded. Whether you agree with the rule is irrelevant at this stage of the conversation.

However, when we come to read the short-axis stroke rules they differ, and the difference is quite marked: Breaststroke (SW 7.4) reads, “During each complete cycle, some part of the swimmer’s head must break the surface of the water.” Butterfly (SW 8.5) comes back with, “The swimmer must remain on the surface until the next turn or finish.”

The breaststroke and butterfly rules are not even close to the same meaning. After the past 100+ years of tinkering with the breaststroke rules I think everyone can live with the “current head up every stroke” rule and I am sure everyone would be reasonable happy to see the same for butterfly; the currently published, impossible to perform rule, however, does not say that or come anywhere even close.

“Remaining on the surface” (whatever that really means) while swimming butterfly seems to be promoting head up swimming. The undulating see-saw/teeter-totter action imposed by the simultaneous over the water arm action means the swimmer MUST submerge after every hand entry. Sir Isaac Newton knew that in 1687; why can FINA not understand it in 2015? The only way to conform to the current rule is to deliberately flip the feet out of the water as the arms enter. Some swimmers do that anyway but they shouldn’t have to do it; it should be a choice. Many coaches search for ways to teach their swimmers to kick in the water, not out of it.

The illogicality in the way the rules are written is quite astounding. They seem to deliberately give a misleading impression and promote ambiguity and confusion. As I have posted previously, the FINA Swimming Technical Committee acts as though it is immune to constructive input because of infallibility. If you write to them pointing out ambiguity, or straightforward factual errors regarding the movements of swimmers in water, they do not even acknowledge the communication.

Silence is [a] golden [throne].

Craig Lord

Yes, indeed, Clive… thanks for all that. And when we say FINA in this regard, we mean USA Swimming and the like, for example, Carol Zaleski the chair of the TSC and a very long-time member of that committee … and a delegate who recently helped to persuade the Board of USAS that all was basically well in FINA World, when clearly, as we know, it is not – not even close. Ignoring all those who realise that the language and wording of some of these rules is very poor indeed – and is so on substantive issues – is unacceptable but the unacceptable has been accepted as the ‘norm’ for far too long in swimming and too ingrained is the notion that to raise a flag is to rock the boat instead of an approach that takes criticism as a tool with which to carve improvement.

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