South African gold medalist Cameron van der Burgh admitted to taking extra underwater kicks during his world-record performance in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Olympics, an illegal move that would have earned him a disqualification if judges had caught him.
Swimmers are allowed one underwater dolphin kick during their underwater breaststroke pullouts. Replays show van der Burgh took three on the start.
[ Photos: South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh ]
He told the Sydney Morning Herald that he took extra kicks, but defends himself by insisting he's not the only one.
''If you're not doing it, you're falling behind," he said. "It's not obviously - shall we say - the moral thing to do, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my personal performance and four years of hard work for someone that is willing to do it and get away with it."
Allowing dolphin kicks during breaststroke is relatively new. The rules were changed, in part, because of four-time gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima, a Japanese breaststroke star who routinely added rogue kicks underwater. When swimmers push off a wall and tighten into a streamline, their legs can arch slightly and resemble a kick. Kitajima and others tried to make this natural movement into an advantage by adding some force behind it. It was illegal and the move angered rivals, like American Brendan Hansen. But the kick was tough to enforce, so FINA changed the rule to allow it.
But the old "give 'em an inch" rule came into play and now breaststrokers are trying to sneak in as many kicks as possible, hoping to do it without drawing the attention of officials.