'Can't do that': Olympics swimming event rocked by 'illegal' controversy

·2 min read
Kira Toussaint made it into the final of the women's 100m backstroke on Monday. Pic: Getty
Kira Toussaint made it into the final of the women's 100m backstroke on Monday. Pic: Getty

American defending champion Regan Smith set a new Olympic record to qualify fastest for the women's 100m backstroke final on Monday, but it was a "questionable" moment from one of her rivals that drew scrutiny from the swimming world.

Smith outgunned Australian world record holder Kaylee McKeown to qualify fastest for the final, touching in a new Olympic record time of 57.86 seconds.

McKeown's time of 58.11 sees her go into the final with the third fastest time, behind Smith and Canada's Kylie Masse (58.09).

Fellow Aussie Emily Seebohm also takes her place after posting a 58.59 to qualify sixth fastest.

But it was the actions of Dutch swimmer Kira Toussaint in one of the semi-finals, that led to outcry from two Australian commentators.

Aussie Olympic swimming great Liesel Jones noticed something underwater that she insisted should not have gone unpunished.

Toussaint appeared to perform an "illegal" kick underwater that seemingly went unnoticed.

“That was really interesting seeing that underwater with the backstroke kicks, that’s actually illegal," Jones said. 

"That was really interesting, you can’t do that.

"Was that (Kira) Toussaint? Yes... doing a backstroke kick into the wall. You have to do a little kick into the wall and one lunge. I’d like to look at that again. That is very questionable.”

Making matters even more controversial, Toussaint posted a 59.09 to qualify seventh fastest for the final. 

Dutch swimmer Kira Toussaint was accused of doing an illegal kick underwater in her semi-final. Pic: Getty/Ch7
Dutch swimmer Kira Toussaint was accused of doing an illegal kick underwater in her semi-final. Pic: Getty/Ch7

Stage set for epic final

If the heats and semi-finals are anything to go by, the women's 100m backstroke final is set to be one of the most eye-catching showdowns in the pool at Tokyo.

Three consecutive Olympic records fell in the heats with McKeown‘s mark of 57.88 then bettered by Smith in the semis.

Masse set an Olympic record in her heat and, minutes later, Smith bettered that.

The 20-year-old McKeown, showing nerves of steel on Olympic debut, eclipsed them both with a fresh Games benchmark of 57.88 seconds - just 0.43 from her world record 57.45 - set last month at the Australian swim trials.

with agencies

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