Loss of faith

The rules is the one thing that should unite us - we can have different ideas about many things - but the view of what is a good performance must be clear to all of us. USA, Canada and Sweden is currently not accepting any LMC in their national records/ranking. This rift has to be mended.

Text; Sebastian Näslund, Sweden (athlete, judge, Aidasweden board)

A story from the championships.
I was coaching my athlete as she surfaced after a DNF 84 meter dive. She had signs of LMC and struggled with the surface protocol. The safety diver grabbed her. The athlete finishes the SP that she has started.
My athlete gets a red card from the judge.

I ask for the reason. He answers; the safety had to grab her.

We protest. Argument; the safetydiver grabbed the athlete without cue from the judge and before any SP rules had been violated. She has a right to fight it out within the 20 seconds. She was hanging secured over the line and she had her head in control.

Many other athletes has under the new rules gotten a chance to prove themselves during the SP 20 seconds. The safety should not be the judge by grabbing to early.

We are called into the eight member judge meeting to watch the video. It is not a perfect video. When the athlete starts to remove the mask, her hands gets in the way of her mouth for a few seconds. We cannot see.
Three people on the poolside has said that they at no point saw her mouth touching the water (one of them another judge).

We put forward our arguments and leave. We are called back and are told that the ruling stands. I ask what rule she violated. They answer (reluctantly): the same as in the first ruling. I ask what the first ruling was. They answer; her airways was under the surface.

The judge has apparantly changed reason (first he said the red card was because of the safety grabbing). Now nine judges watch a video where at no point we see her airways under the water and yet claim she was under water. The video is out there somewhere so I would be a fool to make this up.

I have had some time to try and understand this.

My athlete deserved to be diqualified. My guess is that she would not have been able to finish the SP without loosing power in her legs and touching the surface with her airways. These nine judges feels this aswell. The athelet had an LMC and deserves to be disqualified. My theory is that they disqualified her because she most likely would have sunk if the safety had not grabbed her. Most likely, perhaps, probably e t c. (We protested for the sake of testing the rules, to make a point that something is still wrong).

So they disqualified her without any basis in the rules not giving the athlete "the benefit of the doubt". 1:25:2 and 8:3.

We see eight judges that has lost faith in the rules! They felt is was their duty to keep as many LMC´s as possible out of the ranking. Thats what I think. LMC should not be an issue.

Another case:
An athlete in the static has a mild LMC. Judge tell safety to grabb. She gets red card. She protests since she claimed that finishing the SP would have been "a piece of cake". She gets a new start - "beneifit of the doubt" - system works.

We saw at the championship judges that had no standardized way of using the safetydivers. Some leaving most power of decision to the safety. We saw other safetydivers not moving a finger while their athlete was head under water before judges decided to give an order.

We wanted objectivity - what did we get.
We get judged by if we have a nervous safetydiver or a judge that claims that the possibility of having our lips under water is a danger and that we should be saved.

We also saw judges at the championship that had not among themselves been discussing what a BO is or is not. How much Loss of motor control should be considered BO. What is the nature of a BO?

It is clear for all by now that the objectivity we looked for is not there. The boundries has been moved forward - we get judged somewhere between an LMC and a BO.

It doesn´t bother me that fresh and strong athletes get DQ from putting the mouth under water by shear misstake. My only advice to them is to go home and train the surfacing protocol. Yet others have trained the protcocol so thoroughly that clear LMC´s get passed the judges, even small blackouts. See below.

The board or the technical commission has not helped judges to interpret the rules. Either by lack of initiative or just because they believed that the rules were good enough. The old board claimed that the SP had been tried out. This does not seem true. We see now that LMC is moving into the sport and into training aswell as competitions.

Dealing with an LMC and do the SP can be done! See below a few examples I happen to have on video.

I do propose the following.
Do not accept any more worldrecords under the current SP. Do not accept any records whatsoever under the new SP until a new SP has been tried out. Below I have some suggestions that I have heard in discussions with other athletes/judges.

I suggest a sharper/harder SP.

1) Reduce SP to 15 seconds - force the athletes to disqualify themselves by asking more of them in shorter time. Shorter recovery ask for less hypoxia upon surfacing. (Apnea academy has 7 seconds I believe)

2) Only accept the SP done ONCE in THE RIGHT ORDER. This will prove mental presence.

3) Disqualify any athelete with clear and obvious LMC (even if doing the SP correct) - give small LMC´s "the benefit of the doubt" if they pass a new and stricter SP (our only problem with the old LMC-rule was the athletes that had fatigue or cold or balance problems that could be seen as small LMC´s).

So if you do the SP, you can still get DQ if you have a clear LMC.

Signs of a clear LMC
- Big head noddings more than once (epeleptic, not small skakes)
- Upper body nodding more than once (epeleptic, not sways of unbalance)
- Limbs with epeleptic movements more than once (mainly arms and shoulders).

Signs of small LMC
- No facial movements should be seen as LMC.
- No hand movements should be seen as LMC.
- No movements under water should be seen as LMC (cannot be judged fairly and objectively)
Yes, athletes can train to keep hands/arms/shoulders under water - but this moves their airways closer to the surface (a calculated risk).
Yes, athletes can use forcfull breathing while moving the upper body to "hide" LMC nods - this is a sign of mental presence and motor control (as long as they don´t mimick "epeleptic jerks").
Yes, athletes can put their head on their arms on the wall to try to stop jerks. This is a sign of mental control (and also some motor control). But It would be easier to judge if the head was not allowed to touch the wall or arms resting on the wall. Head control is a main factor in proving your motor control - if head is not resting anywhere, we ask more of the athlete and they have to stop further away from hypoxia.

The idea of an athlete being able to save himself and therefore should be an accepted performance has a nice logic in it. But this will bring clear LMC into training and sports - we must find a way to take one step back from hypoxia (or rather hypoxemia). The SP and recovery phase IS part of the dive!

4) Additional idea - silent coaching from the coach. This is a one man sport you and should be able to take responsability for all your perfomance. We all know that an athlete can snap out of LMC thanks to a yelling coach. We cannot enforce this on the audience. Let them yell "googles" if they like - it ads a feeling of competition which we need. (Audiences are further away - coaches are closer).

EXAMPLES (how it would be judged in accordance to my proposition)

SP done but several epeleptic nods in body = DQ

2. http://www.fridykning.org/mov/dnf103.mov
SP done, sway of body is OK but LMC in left arm is not = DQ

3. http://www.fridykning.org/mov/sta6.58.mov
SP done but epeleptic nods in body = DQ

4. http://www.fridykning.org/mov/sp.mov
SP done - small LMC in arm, some sway (border case) benefit of doubt = No DQ

5. http://www.fridykning.org/mov/jens.mov
Safety interveenes during SP, protest possible, but several epeleptic nods = DQ

6. http://www.fridykning.org/mov/andreas.mov
SP done, movement forward OK but several epeleptic jerks in arms is not = DQ

7. http://www.fridykning.org/mov/sebbe2.mov
SP done, LMC in arms, sway in body, border case = no DQ

8. http://www.fridykning.org/mov/yamina.mov
Smart athlete rests head on hands, finishes SP but has two head nods = DQ

9. http://www.fridykning.se/mov/bill68fim.mov
SP done, LMC free but airways under surface due to uncontroled surfacing =DQ

New rule proposition "the sharper SP":

1.27 Surface protocol
1.27.1 Without any cues from the jury, officials or official coach, the athlete must when he surfaces:
1. Maintain airways over the surface.
2. Remove all face equipment.
3. Make the OK sign to the judge
4. Must say a verbal " I am OK" to the judge.
5. Keep your head without a resting point.

All of the above must be done within 15 seconds in this specific order and in a row (once mask is removed, OK sign and verbal OK must follow in the correct order).

1.27.2 The coach
After the athlete surfaces the official coach may not interveene in any way (neither by touching, talking or making signs)

1.27.3 LMC-rule
If there are any clear and visible signs of LMC above water the athlete will be disqualified.
Signs of a clear LMC include:
- More than one epeleptic head jerk.
- More than one epeleptic body jerk.
- More than one epeleptic jerk in arm or shoulder.
- Any two jerks in combination of the above will be judged as a clear LMC.
- Athletes mimicking any of the above mentioned movements will be disqualified.

Signs that will not be judged as LMC or penalized:
- No facial movements will be penalized.
- No hand movements will be penalized.
- Head momentarily touching an arm will not be seen as a resting point.


It is my belief that these rules will be more objecvtive than the old LMC rule and as objective as the current SP-rule. I also believe that this rule will greatly reduce the possibilty of getting an LMC approved.

Please feel free to find faults and improve my reasoning.

Please note that I respect all final judgings and accept that as in many other sports we must rely on the judges and their judgement - they have a hard an often ungrateful job.
I want to give them better rules and keep the sports reputation clean!