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lefty
August 7th, 2008, 10:19 AM
Others may know too, but semi-finals were added to the Olympic program in 2000. Would it actually be more accurate to say that they were reintroduced in 2000? This is related tothe Phelps/ Spitz comparison. I seem to recall that semi-finals were part of the Olympic program in the 70's. But evrything I read says otherwise. Does anyone know the history of semi-finals in the Olympic program.

thewookiee
August 7th, 2008, 10:27 AM
Don't know the full history, but yes, semi finals were re-introduced in the '99-2000 era.

There were semi in the early-mid '70's and before but not sure how far back they go.

Like, you, I would love to read more about the history of them.

Rain Man
August 7th, 2008, 10:54 AM
The smartest thing they had done was to get RID of the semi-finals. All sporting events that have quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals, etc. implies that the winners of the semi-finals get into the finals. However in swimming this is just a wasted step, because they simply take the top 8 times from the two semis. If you feel the need to have semis, why not be more like track.. take the top 3 from each semi and the next 2 fastest times?

It's rubbish, just a way to add more "premium" night time swims to the program. It's also adding more races for the athletes and is another deterrent to swimming multiple events. I could imagine Phelps, Hoff, or Coughlin swimming more races if they didn't have to deal with so many semi-finals. Lochte too. They need to change the system and make the semi-finals meaningful, or scrap them and use the P/F format.

I could go on all day about this but I'd rather hear others' opinions.

Frank Thompson
August 7th, 2008, 12:56 PM
Others may know too, but semi-finals were added to the Olympic program in 2000. Would it actually be more accurate to say that they were reintroduced in 2000? This is related tothe Phelps/ Spitz comparison. I seem to recall that semi-finals were part of the Olympic program in the 70's. But evrything I read says otherwise. Does anyone know the history of semi-finals in the Olympic program.

Others may know too, but semi-finals were added to the Olympic program in 2000. That answer is correct. The 2000 Year was the first year since 1980 that semi-finals were used but they were used a little differently in that all of the events except the 400, 800, and 1500 distances used the heats, semi, and final formats.

Prior to 1984, 100 meter distances used heats, semi final, and final formats. For 200 meter distances and above only prelims and finals were used. In 1972, Mark Spitz swam both the 100 meter Free and Fly using the heats, semi finals, and final formats. His time in the 100 Free using this format was :52.46, 52:43, and in the final :51.22. His time in the 100 Fly using this format was :56.45, :55.98, and in the final :54.27.

In the 200 Meter distances he swam only prelims and finals. In 1972, Mark Spitz swam the 200 Meter Free in the prelims in 1:55.29 and swam 1:52.78 in the final. His time in the 200 Meter Fly using this format was 2:02.11 in the prelims and 2:00.70 in the final.

In the 3 Relays that Mark Spitz swam in he only swam in the finals of those Relays and other swimmers from the 1972 team swam the prelim/heats of those Relays to qualify for the finals. Remember back in those days only swimmers that swam at night in the finals were eligible for Olympic medals and it was not until 1984 that prelim/heat relay swimmers would be eligible for Relay Olympic medals.

The big difference in 2000 was that all events 200 meters or lower would have the format of heats, semi, and final formats. From 1968 to 1980 only 100 Meter events were swam in this format.

In 1964, all events except the 400 and 1500 events were swam in heats, semi finals, and final formats. There was no Women's 800 Free and only 5 events swam the prelim and final formats and those were both the 400 Meter Free and IM for Men and Women and the 1500 Free for Men. 1964 was also the first year for the IM events and there was only the 400 distance offered in that event.

1964 was also the last year where only single events were offered for each stroke except Free. For example the Men swam 200 Back, 200 Breast, 200 Fly, and 400 IM. There was not 100 stroke events and no 200 Meter Free. For the Women the same events were offered except they did not swim the 200 Meter Fly and swam the 100 Meter Fly instead. The 50 Free was also not offered and didn't become an Olympic event until 1988.

In 1968, there were big changes in the Olympic program. All of the individual events offered today except the 50 Free were on the Olympic program. And this was the year that Nations could take up to 3 swimmers per event and it was this way until 1984 when only 2 swimmers per Nation could be eligible to swim in the Olympics. There was also a change in 1952 about the number of swimmers each nation could take per individual event. Prior to 1952, it was always 3 swimmers. From 1952 to 1964, it was only 2 swimmers per Nation. From 1968 to 1980 it was 3 again and from 1984 until the present its only 2 swimmers.

Frank Thompson
August 7th, 2008, 01:13 PM
The smartest thing they had done was to get RID of the semi-finals. All sporting events that have quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals, etc. implies that the winners of the semi-finals get into the finals. However in swimming this is just a wasted step, because they simply take the top 8 times from the two semis. If you feel the need to have semis, why not be more like track.. take the top 3 from each semi and the next 2 fastest times?

It's rubbish, just a way to add more "premium" night time swims to the program. It's also adding more races for the athletes and is another deterrent to swimming multiple events. I could imagine Phelps, Hoff, or Coughlin swimming more races if they didn't have to deal with so many semi-finals. Lochte too. They need to change the system and make the semi-finals meaningful, or scrap them and use the P/F format.

I could go on all day about this but I'd rather hear others' opinions.

Rain Man:

We had a discussion about this a little over a month ago and I have linked that here http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=11144 and hope this helps explain why the IOC, FINA, TV Networks and the Swimming fans like the current format.

I remember reading somewhere that no one was paying attention to the consolation heats at either the Olympics or World Championships and FINA and maybe the IOC wanted to change the format and add excitment to the swimming meet for both the fans and the swimmers. TV and money could be attracted more and everyone would win out in the end.

It would bring kind of a March madness NFL NBA playoff type of enviroment to swimming. However, it wouldn't have the sudden death upset type of feel that those events have. It would give real good swimmers a second chance if they swam bad and not made top 8 and then have another go to make the finals. Also it makes a swimmer swim good two times and the swimmer has to use strategy so he does not tire out and not make it. Also you cannot sandbag or you risk losing out and not making it.

It makes every session mean something and the crowd at the arena and home on TV will pay attention because all events continue to a final and swimmers are eliminated with every heat, semi, and final. The 400 events and longer are not done this way because of the time of the event, the interest of the TV with distance events, and the physical drain of the swimmers swimming the event. The old way with consolation finals was not interesting for both TV, swimmer fan interest, and the swimmers themselves because a lot would scratch if they did not make the finals.

I don't think they are going to change this format and they want this event to be similar to Track & Field because they use this format a lot except for some events like swimming does. Of course its bad for swimmers like Phelps, Hoff, Lochte, and Coughlin because they swim multiple events but for the overall good of the sport FINA and the IOC thinks this is best and NBC does also because they can show more on TV which means more advertising revenue and more ticket revenue at the gate because there will be more interest.

Rain Man
August 7th, 2008, 01:49 PM
Skip, is there any reason though that they just take the 2 semi swims and order the results 1 through 16, rather than rewarding the swimmers for finishing high in their heat? I believe in track, placing 1-3 in your heat guarantees you move on, regardless of time. This takes into account that for a particular reason a heat may be faster or slower than the other. I'm thinking in swimming, your 200 events may be dictated by the pace of the race, rather than the time of the race. I remember when it was re-introduced, it was the first time I'd heard of a semi-final format where winning the semi-final doesn't guarantee you a spot in the final (unlikely, but possible).

Frank Thompson
August 7th, 2008, 02:13 PM
Rain Man:

I know they circle seed the swimming events but I am not sure how they do the Track events. Swimming has always been more clock oriented since electonic timing has been used in the Olympics and other Championships in Swimming. I know before electonic timing they had decided races like this in swimming. I also notice in Track running events especially the sprints, it sometimes is hard to determine who the winner is when seeing the events. In swimming, its immediate in that you can see the scoreboard and see who advances to the semi final.

My feeling is that every swimmer in the field will have to do there best and cannot coast just to victory because you never know what the other heat and times will be. In track somebody can let up if they know they will take top 3 and can conserve energy for the final. I think its just the culture difference in both sports. I also think this could cause controversy because some swimmers could draw a more difficult semi final depending on how the top swimmers swim there heats. You could actually have a 4th place finisher in a heat be faster than a heat winner because of results and the seedings of heats. The way its done now, there would be no controversy because you would advance by the clock not by the individual competitor and there are differences in individuals in performances but not the clock.

Rain Man
August 7th, 2008, 02:32 PM
I agree with you about taking the top times. But if that's all they are going to do then it's just a superflous round that could (I think should) be done away with.

Quoting you: "every swimmer in the field will have to do there best and cannot coast just to victory"... I agree with that sentiment, but it should be applied to the preliminary rounds.

I understand it generates excitement, and it offers more races in the evening that "mean something". But I'm not sure they put the athletes interests at heart when making that decision. Swimming is grueling. Swimming 3 rounds of a 200 in the span of 36 hours is grueling, especially if you have other races to boot. Personally, I like seeing domination by the top swimmers, and if removing the semi-finals allowed the dominant swimmers to do more events I'd be all for it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it's an interesting topic.