Courtesy of WOWSA, Austin, Texas.

How and why did University of California Berkeley sophomore Daniel Carr find himself swimming all by himself in a special 100-yard backstroke race at yesterday’s NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships at the University of Texas yesterday?

It was due to a protest by coach Dave Durden and the fairness of Jay Thomas, a commercial pilot for American Airlines and arguably the world’s most experienced open water swimming and pool swimming official, who stepped up to the plate at the NCAA Championships yesterday.

Thomas, the head NCAA official and a long-time member of USA Swimming board of directors, has also served as a FINA open water swimming official and was selected as an official for both the pool swimming and Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

During the preliminary heats of the 100-yard backstroke, Carr swam directly into a starting block wedge that was unexpectedly floating in his lane. Durden saw his swimmer get rattled by the inadvertent flotsam in his lane in the middle of the race and protested the situation with Thomas.

Thomas, with his usual calm demeanor, vast knowledge of the rules and utmost focus on fairness, listened to the protest and came up with a reasonable solution – and a happy ending for the University of California Berkeley and the swimmer Carr himself.

That is typical Jay,” observed Steven Munatones. “He is always fair, always basing his decisions on the rules and common sense, thinking about the fairness of his rulings and the best interests of the sport and athletes. That is why you always want Jay to be one of your officials at an open water swim.”

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