Officials have overturned a semifinals disqualification on Molly Hannis, adding her into tonight’s final as the Olympic selection heat’s 9th swimmer.
Hannis, a 2016 U.S. Olympian in the 200 breast, finished 6th in last night’s 100 breast semifinal. But she was disqualified out of the race – at the time, we were told the DQ came for underwater dolphin kicks. In breaststroke, each swimmer is allowed just one downward dolphin kick on the underwater pullout off of each start or wall.
Hannis did not appear on the original start lists for the final. But sometime between last night and this afternoon, Hannis’s DQ was officially overturned, her 1:07.15 returned to 6th-place in the semifinals, and her name added to the start list for tonight’s final.
Kaitlyn Dobler was the swimmer who moved to 8th place with Hannis’s DQ. Rather than bumping Dobler out of the final, officials chose to add Hannis into the final and keep Dobler – leaving the Olympic Trials final with an unorthodox 9 swimmers.
The decision to hold a 9-person final is at the referee’s discretion. We actually saw this same situation in the Wave I Olympic Trials meet last week, with an overturned DQ leading to a 9-swimmer A final in the women’s 200 IM. (Oddly enough, in that case, the DQ’d swimmer was placed in “lane 0” on the side of the pool, with the original 8 swimmers named to the final keeping their original lanes. This time around, Hannis was placed into lane 7 where a 6th-place finisher would be placed. It’s Dobler who was bumped out to lane 0).
The swimmer originally DQ’d in Wave I, Tennessee’s Trude Rothrock, wound up finishing fourth and just 1.1 seconds away from transferring on to the Wave II Trials meet.
This time around, though, it’s not just a transfer to another Wave on the line – it’s a qualification for the Olympic Games. Hannis has only been 1:07.7 and 1:07.1 in her two swims so far (well behind the trio of 1:05s currently expected to battle it out for two Olympic spots). But Hannis has a career-best of 1:05.78 from the summer of 2018 and has proven she can excel in the Olympic Trials spotlight. In 2016, Hannis came through with one of the most buzzworthy swims of Olympic Trials, skipping the underwater pullout entirely on the last wall of her 200 breast and surging from 4th to 2nd on the final 50 to make the Olympic team.
Hannis has always had a bit of an outside-the-box breaststroke kick, as we profiled back in 2016. She gets a lot of extra propulsion from an upward snap of her feet at the end of each breaststroke kick. While some fans have complained about that stroke, the concept of an upward dolphin kick at the end of a breaststroke kick is entirely legal within the FINA rulebook. Downward dolphin kicks during the stroke are not allowed, and underwater, athletes are only allowed a single downward dolphin kick per wall.
It’s not clear whether Hannis’s overturned DQ is related to that upward snap of the feet during the stroke, or to the underwater pullout portion as originally indicated. We’re working to get an explanation from meet officials and will update this story when we learn more.