Swimming Champ Loses Title Over 'Dumbest Rule'

Owen Lloyd crossed into next lane to celebrate with teammate at college championship
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2024 7:35 PM CST
Updated Mar 9, 2024 12:05 PM CST

North Carolina State University swimmer Owen Lloyd scored a huge win at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships—and was immediately stripped of his title. Lloyd climbed into the next lane to celebrate the 1,650-yard freestyle title with teammate Ross Dant, who finished in second place two seconds behind him, and was disqualified for interfering with another swimmer, CNN reports. Dant had already touched the wall, but other swimmers hadn't finished the race yet, and the NCCA rulebook states that "a swimmer who changes lanes during a heat shall be disqualified."

Lloyd's victory at the Feb. 24 event would have meant a "conference title, an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, and a one-two finish with one of his closest friends," per the Athletic. Dant was awarded the title, but he told the ACC Network that Lloyd was disqualified under "the dumbest rule in swimming." "Owen beat me fair and square, he should be on that podium. He was excited," Dant said. "That's a huge win for him, right? He earned that. He earned that, and that's his emotion." Lloyd, he said, "works so hard every day. He is going to be on that No. 1 trophy. I am not going to stand up there."

Lloyd says he was in tears after the ruling. "I've seen people get on the lane line before and I didn't think twice about it when I did it there. It happened to be unfortunate that in the mile, where there's the opportunity to pull ahead farther, that someone was still swimming," he tells the Athletic. "That did not cross my mind at all that potentially I'd be disrespecting them or showing emotion that I shouldn't while they were still racing." Dant says he understands the need for the rule, but he doesn't think it should be enforced when it doesn't interfere with a swimmer's ability to finish a race. He made good on his promise and handed his first-place medal to Lloyd after the event. (More swimming stories.)

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