An Unfair Pool at the 2013 FINA Swimming World Championships?

By Aly Abdel Khalik and David Wang

During the 2013 FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, there was much controversy as to whether the temporary Myrtha Pool was truly a “fair” pool. As the competition proceeded, many spectators started noticing unusual results, especially in the 50m events. The swimmers who were swimming closer to lane 8 were more likely to finish in the top 4, an unusual coincidence as the fastest seeded swimmers are placed in the middle of the pool (lanes 3,4,5,6) and in most competitions are the ones performing the best.

Moreover, for the longer events, athletes competing closer to the two sides of the pool noticed a large difference in their splits between odd and even 50s, even though almost no swimmers adopt that type of strategy. These strange results suggest that there may have been some type of current in the pool that mainly impacted the swimmers on the outsides of the pool, as lane 8 and lane 1 often had “flipped” relative 50m splits. Among the swimming community, there was much discussion theorizing the cause of this phenomenon.

In this study, we would like to add a quantitative statistical analysis to answer the question many competitors, spectators, and coaches had: Was there really a current in the pool at the 2013 FINA World Swimming Championships?

Read the full paper here: AbdelKhalik_Wang_statS139finalproject

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