A Special Olympics swimmer's disqualification for swimming too fast has now led to a rule change.
Joshua Coy, 20, looked defeated Sunday, moments after he got the news at the regional competition.
"I was apparently disqualified for being too fast," said Coy.
Coy, who lives in Renton, said his time was more than a 15 percent improvement from his last recorded swim. But that was a red flag for the "maximum effort" rule. It is something Special Olympics Washington introduced to help place athletes in competition divisions where they are challenging athletes of similar abilities.
It came as a surprise to Joshua's mom, Jean Coy.
"We've done swimming regionals for many years and this is the first time they have had a rule for swimming too fast," she said.
Joshua attributes his strong swim, in part, to a pool that was colder than what he is used to. He says it helped him move faster.
"I tried to push harder," said Coy.
And apparently, Coy was not the only one.
"I heard the person in front of me also got disqualified, " he said.
Jean says it happened to one swimmer after another.
"I saw lots of tears, people crying," she said.
In a statement, Special Olympics Washington said, "After statistical analysis of data collected from recent region tournaments, we are reassessing and will be changing the violation threshold to 30 percent so that only those with the most serious variances will be disqualified."
Joshua's time falls below the 30 percent threshold which means his disqualification is overturned.
For the sake of transparency, we do want to mention that KING 5 is a media partner with Special Olympics Washington. We will support Team Washington at the 2018 games this July.
Full statement from Special Olympics Washington:
We appreciate you reaching out to us regarding the Honest Effort rule. As part of Special Olympics Washington’s (SOWA) ongoing commitment to ensure more equitable and meaningful competition for athletes of all abilities, we introduced a “maximum effort” rule used throughout Special Olympics so as to help improve qualification scores submitted prior to competitions. This helps us place athletes in competition divisions where each athlete competes against athletes of similar abilities.
After statistical analysis of data collected from recent region tournaments, we are reassessing and will be changing the violation threshold to 30% so that only those with the most serious variances will be disqualified.
As a result, those who are now under the 30% threshold will be awarded according to their placement earned at competition. We will work to better communicate with and educate our coaches, families and athletes about this rule change, so as to better provide a fair, competitive experience. We apologize for any confusion that has occurred and appreciate everyone’s understanding and feedback as we work to address this.
Vice President of Development and Communications
Special Olympics Washington