Ryan Lochte is somewhat famous for dolphin kicking on his back due to a disqualification (DQ) he received doing it on the freestyle leg of an individual medley (IM). The DQ has aroused a lot of controversy, because what he did would have been perfectly legal in a freestyle heat.
The essence of the ruling was that the freestyle leg of an IM is inherently different from a freestyle heat because the rules require that the stroke used in the freestyle leg of an IM not be any of the other strokes used in the IM (i.e., butterfly, backstroke, or breaststroke). Since the competition rules for backstroke say only that you have to be on your back except during a turn, dolphin kicking on your back constitutes a legal backstroke, and it was therefore ruled that Lochte was doing backstroke during part of the freestyle leg, which would be illegal.
The reason that it's legal to dolphin kick on your back coming out of a turn in a freestyle heat is because freestyle is (as the name implies) freestyle - i.e., any style you want, and it is therefore legal to do backstroke for all or part of the heat.
Last edited by CoachBobM : 05-10-2016 at 05:23 PM.