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Rio 2016: Did a flaw in the Olympic pool play spoilsport for swimmers?

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:47 IST

With the likes of Michael Phelps, Simone Manuel and Joseph Schooling winning big at Rio, the swimming competitions have been a keenly-anticipated and popular event at this year's edition of the Olympics.

However, a new study has revealed that swimmers who competed in lanes four to eight at the 50-meter freestyle competitions at Rio Olympics may have had an unfair advantage.

Researchers - Joel Stager and Chris Brammer at Indiana University's Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming and Eastern Michigan University professor Andrew Cornett - analysed performance data from the Games to arrive at this startling conclusion, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The researchers revealed that the data indicated that swimmers in the higher-numbered lanes had a performance boost in the 50m - the length of a standard swimming pool. Researchers suspect that the current in the pool affects the speed of the swimmers.

Swimmers who moved to lower-numbered lanes showed a decrease in performance, researchers said. Anthony Ervin of the US was the sole medallist in the 50m from the lower lanes.

Researchers said that there was a reverse effect for swimming in the opposite direction and concluded that the lower-numbered lanes had the same advantage on the return.

The study attributed the findings to a flaw in the pool - constructed by Myrtha Pools. The WSJ quoted the firm as saying that no current had been detected during the testing phase of the pools.

The researchers reported that the direction and lanes also affected the times of the swimmers in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter categories.

The FINA is currently reviewing the analysis.

First published: 21 August 2016, 2:51 IST