View Full Version : Do we need the variable portion of the USMS registration number?

July 1st, 2003, 12:03 AM
Dear USMS BOD member, swimmer, coach, or LMSC officer:

I am writing to you on behalf of and as a member of the USMS Database Task Force. I would like to get your feedback on a proposal that might affect many of our USMS members.

Now that we have a permanent ID assigned to each swimmer within his or her USMS number, there have been some suggestions that perhaps the variable portion (the first four characters) of the USMS number could be eliminated. For example, my USMS number, which currently is "283J-01NPT", would become simply "01NPT".

The task force is evaluating the role of the variable portion of the ID number going forward. We are also aware that different individuals may or may not use this portion of the Swimmer ID for a variety of purposes. We would like to know a) how you currently use the variable portion of the USMS number, b) how you would feel about USMS dropping the variable portion of the number, and c) if you use the variable portion, how much time would you need to adjust your processes to work without it. Remember, the variable portion is the four characters before the hyphen.

Please add your comments and pass the information about this discussion to any meet directors or team managers in your LMSC or to anyone else who uses the swimmer's registration number.

Anna Lea Roof
Chairman, USMS Registration Committee
Member, USMS Database Task Force

July 1st, 2003, 09:38 AM
Glad you brought this up, Anna Lea. The only time I pay attention to the variable portion of the number is in my capacity as a meet director, as a quick way to make sure the swimmer is registered for the current year. There are other ways I can confirm this, though. In Kentucky, we post our swimmers' names and registration numbers on our website (minus any other identifying information), so I can easily confirm Kentucky swimmers' registration, which accounts for most of the meet entrants. Once the national database is available for all meet directors, it will be even easier. I could easily live without the variable portion.


July 1st, 2003, 10:22 AM
I do SCM TT tabulations for the New England
LMSC, including our NE-LMSC all time top ten list.
I use the variable portion of the USMS
number to determine the swimmer's LMSC. This
way I can quickly filter out the swimmers from
other LMSC's. So, I would not be in favor of
dropping the variable part of the USMS number.


July 1st, 2003, 10:26 AM
Any time I think about changing a primary key in a schema I have to have an unbelievably good cost benefit to do it. unanticipated problems always crop up.

Some questions that cross my mind, Will reducing the key by five characters really help? If it was left alone as permenant key, should it be rand? What is the logic behind the nomenclature "01NPT"? Will the string grow beyond 5 characters? How many combinations will this allow us (do the first two characters have to be numeric - The last three alpha)? Is there a possibility of this naming structure conflicting? If so, how would this be negotiated?

Chris Beardsley

July 1st, 2003, 11:02 AM
There appears to be several reasons why and uses for this extension of the number. Personally, I am unaware of what those reasons may be but, before we make a decision to change, you should retransmit the notice and include the pros and cons associated with this action. Only then would we have an informed basis upon which to render our choice of decision.
Dick Monahan

John Kopsky
July 1st, 2003, 11:22 AM
From a register's stand point as long as I know the year the person has last registered in the registration information I do not need the fields that chang. I have forward this ? to our records charman because this my have a larger impact on that function as was noted by a previous contribuitor.

July 1st, 2003, 12:16 PM
As a meet director I often fall back on the first 3 digits to determine LMSC for reporting purposes. Even though we provide a space for LMSC some swimmers leave it blank or enter information only a clueless person would think of.

Perhaps we tell the swimmer their USMS # is LMSC-xxxx as in GMSC-0NT4.

July 1st, 2003, 02:54 PM
I agree with Ed Gendreau. The first 2 digits identify the LMSC. It is a big help in preparing your LMSC-only Top 10 to be able to remove all those swimmers who competed in a meet within your LMSC who are registered in other LMSC's. This is important to those LMSC's which host large meets and/or Zone meets attracting swimmers from many different LMSC's.

The reason the 3rd digit is important is that it shows the year registered. If there were no cheaters in the organization, a permanent number that never changes would be OK. However, it is unfortunate that from time to time there are a rare few individuals who will try to get away with entereing meets and/or races without having renewed their USMS memberships. If you see a number that says xx2x-xxxxx for a race in 2003, you automatically know that there is a problem with the registration that needs follow-up.

Tracy Grilli
July 1st, 2003, 03:11 PM
Hi All -

I received the following three responses and I will post them here for you


From - EONielson@aol.com

Change it!!! Less is more.


From - artmayerswims@aol.com

Variable number allows you to tell if swimmer is currently registered. How would one know?

Art Mayer

From - splessaa278@earthlink.net

Makes no difference to me. The simpler the better.

R Scott Pless (AMS)

Tracy Grilli
July 1st, 2003, 03:29 PM
Another just in from mezollner@comcast.net

As Treasurer of CMSA I have no need to use the individual swimmers's number. From a personal standpoint so long as I am able to swim occasionally in a meet I have no preferences for number sequence. Whatever is most efficient for USMS and LMSC is fine.

Max Zollner

pat tullman
July 1st, 2003, 08:02 PM
Re: first four symbols.. who knows what the random fourth symbol does? I believe meet directors and tt recorders find the first three symbols useful.. especially if they have to play catch up at the close of a season..the lmsc code and the year is needeed.. ooooooooh i guess that fourth symbol is for when we get to 2010..etc.. so it a place holder for now. If all top ten work and all registration work will happen centrally then i guess we don"t need the lmsc symbols..but otherwise they seem to have some purpose.::p

Marnie Kern
July 1st, 2003, 08:03 PM
Change numbers as best for you...

July 1st, 2003, 08:09 PM
I don't think that by removing the numbers there will be any added benefit. In fact, it may become quite confusing because in order to link to past records, corrections to the old numbers must be made and somehow linked to...so for every 283J-01NPT number; a new number must be created after its deleted. This seems like a real slow moving process to correct and I think the old numbers should remain as is....HOWEVER, if new members were to be part of a new list containing the last 5 characters I'm all for it.

Mark Urban
Publicity Chair
Illinois Masters

Jim Coleman
July 1st, 2003, 09:07 PM
I think maintaining the current numbers would help meet directors who accept entries on the day of the meet. Otherwise they have no way of checking.

Tracy Grilli
July 2nd, 2003, 08:27 AM
I have received the following 2 responses from long time registrars June Krauser and Richard Fetters -

June - I agree that the first 3 numbers are most important.

Richard - I should think the first four characters are more important to the National Office than to anyone else. How would you know where they belong and whether or not they are registered for the year? It would be important for me to know whether a person is registered for the current year or not. I think it would be important for meet directors also. We have problems now with some people saying they are registered just to get into the meet.

July 2nd, 2003, 01:12 PM
If I haven't forgotten how to do the math, I calculate that a 5-character ID (first two numeric, 0-9, last 3 alphabetic) would give us unique IDs for about 1.8 million swimmers. That's probably good until way into the future, even with agressive outreach programs.

The 5-digit ID is the only one that makes sense to me for a permanent record. Suppose I joined masters in 1980 and continued my member ship for two years before dropping it. Then, upon rejoining in 2001, that 5-digit number would not need to change. The prefix four numbers would only be useful for administrative purposes, as has been pointed out by a number of folks in this forum, but would not have to be a part of the permanent ID. The prefix would not be useful, for example, in identifying a photo of a swimmer in the picture archives of USMS under the following circumstances: Suppose Carl House took a pic of Duke Kahanamoku in the 1920's but the most current ID was from the 40's (all hypothetical, folks). Searching the historical archives using a 1940's ID prefix wouldn't yield the photo from the 20's unless the search engine simply dropped the prefix. Hence, for that purpose, it is not necessary.


John E Pilger
July 2nd, 2003, 03:17 PM
None of the discussion seems to focus on the benefits of cutting the 4 characters. What are they?

Otherwise leave it alone.


July 2nd, 2003, 07:11 PM
What I call the 'business side' of the registration number is VERY important to the registration transmittal process, to our registration archival systems, and to competitive achievements' verification both currently and over time, as is the permanent ID, i.e. the 'competitive side' of the number.

In the transmittal process, the four digits with the LMSC, the year, and the check-digit or authorization code, is an indispensable item for shepherding the transaction through the books and separating the entries from one LMSC from another.

As others have already mentioned, this is also important for the Top Ten recorders; even more so for the national recorder, who is faced with the same swimmer often competing for one association in the Spring and another in the Fall.

Given that the competitive piece does represent uniquely a single swimmer, it is tempting to think that we could just use this, and it might make good sense when signing up for a meet. But at some point even this would require somebody to be able to verify that this swimmer is currently registered (and insured), and the burden would then be on somebody to keep a list or file connecting the two pieces. One person would have a lesser burden in some context, but ultimately somebody else would have to make up for that.

One point to consider is that 'other information' such as additional numbers or dates are often used to help verify or interpret a birth date or a registration number when the handwriting is ambiguous, typos creep in, and other 'gremlins' pop up.

From personal experience in uploading registration files for Jim Matysek for use with championship sign-ups, I have found that the separate 'competitive piece', by itself, does not behave well in a spreadsheet.. as does no field that begins with a leading zero.

For example, zip codes routinely give us problems when ported from one system to another, unless one does a lot of database-type work and put restrictions on the field. Not all our volunteers have the expertise or tools to do this or the knowledge to even worry about it.

The national office has solved the zip code problem by simply always adding a hyphen to all 5-digit zip codes, which makes the field automatically a TEXT field and the zeros aren't dropped. The post office OCR systems just ignores hyphens, so it is no problem for USPS. The mailing houses solve the problem by concatenating the state with the zip code, e.g. NH03053. That keeps the zero in place.

On the permanent ID with the leading zeros, I have found that not only do the zeros get dropped, but certain numbers get 'formatted' by Excel (and likely also other spreadsheets) into an exponential notation (i.e. 03E48 becomes 03E+48). Not all the numbers are the 03NXT format, some are all numbers, e.g. 03999. This is so that the 5-digit configuration will have enough permutations to take the USMS well into the next millennium, should we survive that long. And it gets worse, an ID like 03MAR may get shown as 3-Mar, in line with whatever default reigns in the spreadsheet or software environment used.

So, we solve the problem by not using Excel.

Unfortunately not. Excel happens to be what is on most people's machines and even if the national office or others didn't use it, probably many Top Ten recorders would. These 'others' might be the people tasked with verifying questionable registrations when assisting with setting up a championship which otherwise might be in MS Access. But the queries may be created in a spreadsheet since a lot of long fields need to be communicated, as was all the work done for the One Hour Swim recently, and routinely for the Long Distance people {who for many years have required regnums with their entries, and always verify them with the national office.}

Note, however, that when we use the full regnum with the hyphen included, NONE of these problems pop up because the field will always be treated as a text field.

The problem with numbers is that a computer will always treat what looks like a number as a number (something that can be used in calculations), and not just a 'picture of a number' or TEXT. We can format the number to be TEXT on the sending computer, but the receiving computer will always default to whatever default setting it has, unless the number has been formatted in such a way that nothing can override and initial setting. We cannot assume this will be the case when dealing with such an army of volunteers from all walks of life and all manner of systems.. theirs or others'.

My personal solution in the national office environment has been to simply add a "P" to the 5 digits when using these separately to roll up all records on one swimmer over time for statistical purposes.

Getting back to managing the transmittal transactions (and nobody should forget that before we even have a database problem, we have a huge accounting problem), we have also had to add a 'sequence number' to help manage the transactions. Because the 4th digit in the regnum (the check-digit) is variable, we cannot sort the regnums sequentially and tell if any are missing, indicating that perhaps some record got dropped in transit, or never submitted by the registrar. This SEQN number shows up in the registration software but is otherwise 'off-line'.

As mentioned above, we could also treat the 'business side' of the regnum as off-line information (like the twelve user fields in the registration software), but at some point somebody is going to have to connect the dots. I am not convinced we gain anything by cutting the piece loose.

There are other problems with the 5-digit ID in itself. Not problems per se, but considerations. Because the letter O and the number 0 can easily get misinterpreted, the letter O is never used in making up the number. Neither is the uppercase I, lowercase l, or Q. This works well when transmitting the numbers via the systems, once entered, but since most people aren't aware of this, we routinely get numbers sent to us containing a zero a quoted as an O, as f.inst. when we get address changes. The average human is wise to this ‘interchangability’, but a computer is a very literal beast and will reject such a number when we try to match it up. {One registrar has suggested that it would be well if we had also not used the letter “D” since this looks a lot like an “O” when printed on a dot-matrix printer which a lot of registrars use for printing the cards.}

One major reason for needing the business side of the number is TRANSFERS and other remedial changes that get put through by the LMSC. The registration software is not designed to do ‘reversing’ entries, but the national office often has to deal with this. Some swimmers just move across the country and register anew without telling the new LMSC that they carry a current card. Since we can't spot the impostor until we have all the pieces available for cross-checking, the remedial/reversing entry often straddles more than one accounting period. We cannot just delete it because the swimmer may have participated in meets in the meanwhile. The audit trail needs to be there.

And because of name differences and the swimmer not remembering to clue the registrar in, duplications in registrations occur within the same LMSC and have to be reversed. Besides that, a swimmer can easily pass through the books half a dozen times during the year, even without counting address changes.

The 'internal' changes aren't that pesky (club changes within the same association or changes from club to UNAT), but the 'exernal' ones can be a bear. We have half a dozen swimmers who not only have transferred out of the LMSC they originally booked into, but transferred back in again. And this is only July. In ’01 and ’02 we had sixty-some mid-year, between-associations transfers; last year we had over 120, for whatever reason.

Leo's software does a great job of managing all these transfers and simply retains the permanent piece for each swimmer, adding the four 'business digits' from the current LMSC. But the transaction itself also needs to be identified separately from other transactions during the year, both with the same LMSC and in sequencing the transactions across several LMSCs, chronologically.

I don't see how this could not be so, because at some point the need pops up to determine whether this swimmer legitimately could swim on a given relay in March, and be legit for a different relay in September. If the swimmer gives the full number when swimming in a meet and this number accompanies his entry to Top Ten and to the national recorder, it will then be easy to check whether the entry was valid. We need to be able to preserve and follow the registration trail USMS-wide. How else are we going to do it?

To me the real question is not whether all the various pieces of the organization needs this part of the number, but whether we require the full number any time it is used or can use only the permanent ID piece on chosen occasions. The latter is quite feasible as for signing up for a meet or event, but as outlined above somebody still has to make the connection to the full information.. at a given point in time.. and there are inherent problems in the number itself when separated from the whole. That’s my 2 dollars worth, from learning things the hard way.

Sorry for the length of this, but it's that important, as we try to implement online registration and create one cohesive database environment.

July 5th, 2003, 11:35 PM
Esther has explained why it is important that we keep the first four digits of the registration number. I totally agree. As an LMSC registrar and registrar for several meets I use these numbers and would not like to see them be eliminated or imbedded so that it would be necessary to hunt for them..

Some swimmers are unaware of their LMSC while others seem not know the differences among an LMSC, Club, or team/workout group; the numbers help us to complete their forms. I like to think that it is mostly new swimmers that fall into this group and that they will be educated by the swimmers around them. But until that time, the first three digits are helpful to administrators and alas, as has been pointed out, it is necessary to have the Check Digit to prevent the very few dishonest people from successfully creating fake ID numbers.


July 6th, 2003, 02:41 PM
1) how you currently use the variable portion of the USMS number,
Pacific has about 20 different sanctioned events each year, from clinics to pool meets to open water swimming events. Many of these events require that a participant be a member of USMS. We tell the meet directors when a particpant must be a member of USMS and we have told them how to check the card or the number. Those sanctioned events would mean that about 10,000 USMS numbers would have to be checked at least once.

The variable protion of the membership number is important - at least the first three numbers as it has the LMSC number, which for us is 38 and the year code. Until the algorithm for check digit become available to the LMSCs the fourth number is entirely useless. It could be very useful to the meet directors but the formula has to be released to developers something which the USMS has been loath to do.

b) how you would feel about USMS dropping the variable portion of the number I would feel very bad, to answer the question. :) I think that it not a good idea. The first three digits are a quick check to see if there is some reasonableness to the USMS number. The check digit would be a much better received if the algorithm was distributed to developers. (hint- hint). And due to the number being made up of numbers and alphabet, entering the USMS number has become VERY difficult to input on a keyboard, thus making a check number almost imperative.

if you use the variable portion, how much time would you need to adjust your processes to work without it. I dont know. What tools are the DB committee going to give us to help us with quick way to check idea? Are we going to get an on-line real time data base where we can instantly tap into it be assure the meet director that a number presented by the a person has some relationship to the person who has signed up for an event?


Tracy Grilli
July 7th, 2003, 12:42 PM
Hi -

Margie Huntinger asked me to post the below message for her -

Keep the first three numbers in our ID

Although I can empathize with teams entering swimmers for meets, I do not favor eliminating the first 3 digits. Perhaps, technology could incorporate an addition to entry programs to automatically enter these identical 3 digits for a single team.

The first two numbers are the visible identity for LMSC and Zone swimmers. Many of us volunteers are responsible for LMSC and Zone Top Ten and records. Now, it is simple to go to the results for USMS Nationals and download any LMSC results, for local teams. Our zone meets identify swimmers by their LMSC.

The third number, year, identifies that the swimmer is still registered for that year. Having been a meet director for the 3000/6000 Yards and One Hour Postals, the year on their card was the first clue they were registered for the year of the event. I received new and old registration cards, which weren't acceptable. As a Top Ten recorder, I have tracked down numerous swimmers who have entered meets and are not registered. They appear to delight in "beating the system."

Not all of the USMS volunteers are computer savvy and can deal with the intricacies and challenges involved if these numbers were eliminated.

Margie Hutinger, FL

July 7th, 2003, 02:39 PM
I'd be in favor of dropping the 4th digit. The first 3 are useful from the standpoint of the LMSC and year identifier.

- Maria Doelger, Metro Registrar

July 7th, 2003, 04:20 PM
Somebody asked “Why are we having this discussion” and “What is the problem we are trying to solve.”

In reviewing again the original questions/messages from Anna Lea Roof and Mel Goldstein, it dawned on me, belatedly, that we are trying to solve a problem that isn’t there.

The problem with an issue like this is that looking at just an individual part of the ‘elephant’ and solving for that is not enough. There are so many people/groups/systems that are, or will be, using this ID, and in so many different ways, that we need to give the comprehensive answer covering the whole ‘elephant’.

A lot of us don’t have time to do this, and some of those who have the time don’t have the answers and barely even the questions. Since I am in a unique vantage point for seeing (most of) the whole elephant, I thought it is important for me to take the time to do this. Just as Michael Moore took the time to map out as much of the elephant as he usually works with. People can read it or not and take from it as they please.

We obviously will only have one 5-digit permanent ID assigned to any one swimmer, currently and over time, if they have been registered before. (I think that was one of Mel’s questions). But whether we use this ID separately as a sort of ‘shorthand’ notation to save keystrokes or time, or as I do to be able to roll up all entries for a single swimmer in the archives, or whether we concatenate it with the other three/four digits of the registration number, really doesn’t matter. Each of us using it will do what makes sense in that particular context.

And, sorry, Anna Lea, this doesn’t follow your outline, but I thought it might be a reasonably good primer for everybody on how/why we use the permanent ID.

For those who want the full discourse, see link below.

Fellow swimmers, my opinion here is not intended to fix the world or even solve this problem. Although I believe that often the best way is to anticipate a problem up front and stack the deck against it, I also think we can snatch defeat out of the mouth of victory on occasion, and solve a problem that we really should evaluate for a while, as it crops up, because it often takes a while to learn all the ramifications, as several people mentioned in their responses. Nor should my expressing these opinions be construed as the national office having spoken :-). But we ‘are’ part of the issue, like everybody else.

Tracy Grilli
July 11th, 2003, 08:23 AM
Hi All -

Barbara Dunbar asked me to post the below -

In my various capacities as meet director, LMSC top ten recorder, LMSC records keeper, and LMSC chairman, I use the "variable" portion of the USMS Swimmer ID number, or at least the two-digit LMSC portion and the portion designating the year. I agree 100% with USMS Registrar Esther's comments about the need to retain the portion which designates the LMSC code and the year. We definitely need and use the LMSC portion and the year portion.
I think it would be helpful to explain that the swimmer IDs do not use certain letters. The letter "O/o" and "Q/q" are NEVER used; anything which looks like a zero ("0") is a zero. The letter "L/l" and "I/i" also are not used, and anything looking like the number one ("1") is a one.
We have difficulty reading some of the other numbers and letters depending upon the font used by the various registrars and the condition of the registration card copy attached to an entry form. The letter "B/b" and the number eight "8" are confused sometimes as are the letter "S/s" and the number five "5." We have noticed problems deciphering with the letter "Z/z" and the number two "2" as well.
B. Dunbar

Tracy Grilli
July 18th, 2003, 09:36 AM
Here is a post from Todd Bazzett -

Here are my thoughts:

There are many good points raised in the comments. I think the random fourth character would be more valuable if it was used as a "checksum" like validation character. Simply stated, often with data transmission one bit is used to determine if the whole message (string of bits) is valid by performing an algorithm on the data and comparing the checksum value. Here's why I think this would be valuable:

As a team manager, validating the USMS number is a hastle since most of the members forget to bring in their cards and our registrar is reluctant to provide the information. Since we dont allow the swimmer to swim unless they prove membership, this becomes an issue at the beginning of the year.
If the fourth character were used as a checksum/validation character and the algorithm was provided to the team managers, then we could validate the swimmers registration through email, without them needing to bring their cards in. Basically a swimmer would recieve the card in the mail and send an email to the team manager with the USMS number. The team manager would then go to a validation page posted on the USMS website which takes the swimmer's name, the team name, the year and possible some password and applies an algorithm to generate the checksum character. You could either use the password in the algorithm or use it to access the validation page. Either way, the password could be controlled and administered on a yearly basis to team contacts. It may sound complicated, but this could be done fairly easily without advanced web development using basic encryption technology. The key here is that since the year is included in the algorithm, the variable fourth character would change yearly.

Of course, the easiest solution for validating member registration is providing a website which accesses a central repository/database. This unfortunately requires more advanced programming and control over the web hosting environment.

July 18th, 2003, 10:28 AM
My vote: drop the leading numbers. They do not identify the swimmer in any way. They are "meta-data", i.e., data that describes the person, but not data that identifies the person.

If it's important that the ID number include the LMSC and registration year, why isn't it also important that the ID number contain my name, birthdate, and team affiliation. Those are all 'important' meta-data items that help describe a swimmer.

USA Swimming figured this out years ago. My USA Swimming ID number was NE9ORBmmddyy, where NE is the LSC, 9 is the registration year, ORB are my initials (last, first, middle), and mmddyy is the DOB.

USA Swimming figured out years ago that it was more trouble than it was worth to have everyone's ID number changing every year. So they went to a system where your ID number never changes. Ever. Your ID number identifies you uniquely, but does not describe lots of things about you.

As a meet manager who does entries for a large (700 swimmers) USMS meet each spring, one of the biggest hassles is that people don't know their USMS ID number. Because it changes so often. And even people who are registered this year still use their old registration numbers, because they don't know any better.

The 100% worst decision that was made with regards to the new USMS ID numbers is allowing numbers and letters to intermix. Looking at lists of number, _most_ are of the pattern 999A-999AA, but the numbers and letters mix all over the place. When decipering handwriting, this is a _huge_ pain in the rear. For 700 entries for my meet in April, I had to manually look up somewhere between 75-100 of them to verify the number in our registration list.

And that only works for people in our own LMSC.

USMS needs to get with the data program and make data available for things like this. I'm aware of the privacy issues. But there are ways to make it all work. As a meet manager for a large meet, there needs to be a way for me to verify USMS registration status for anyone in the country. Out of 700 entries, about 10-15% are from other LMSCs.

In New England, for USA Swimming, we have a web interface that allows meet managers to upload a meet entry file, and it will issue a report on mis- or un-registered swimmers. We don't distribute the entire database to everyone. We just let you check against it. If something doesn't match up, you need to go back to the coach/swimmer to get the correct information.

USMS has this tradition, it seems, of being overly paranoid about data. You can't even get an electronic copy of nationals results without a ruling from the Supreme Court.

This wasn't that hard to do. I wrote the code for it in an afternoon.

For walk-up meets, there aren't many good solutions. People need to bring their USMS cards. Plain and simple.

An ID number should not change from year to year. An ID number should ID you, and should be constant from year to year. It should stay constant even if you move to another LMSC. All of the other descriptive meta-data is kept in a database, and that data needs to be made available to those people who use it.

If Ed Gendreau needs this data to tabulate top ten stuff, then he should have it. At the very least, the local NE LMSC registrar should be able to give him the list of NE registrations, so that it's easy to tell that 'everyone else' isn't part of NE LMSC.

If it's too complicated to do, then better tools need to be made.

Next challenge -- waiver signatures on meet entries. Why do we need them?


July 21st, 2003, 10:05 AM
On behalf of Oklahoma Masters Swimming, we
use the variable portion of the newly assigned
USMS numbers in several ways.

Of course, we use it to determine the LMSC
of a meet participant. This is a quick and
painless way to confirm the eligibility of
a swimmer to compete.

More importantly, we have just completely
re-written the software we use for creating
both citizen and state records within our
LMSC. The software relies heavily on
the ENTIRE USMS number, not just the
non-variable portion. By sorting the numbers,
the software automatically knows who is eligible
for citizen records and who is not. We can
also create numerous records history reports
based on these numbers. We waited to rewrite
the software until the new numbers were in
place, and now USMS is talking about changing
them again?!? Leave a good thing alone!

We have redone our software with the
understanding that the new USMS numbers were
to become the standard.

Please leave them as they currently are.

July 21st, 2003, 12:00 PM
One other thing that's worth pointing out... everyone is saying that they depend on the variable portion to figure out if someone is registered this year, or where they are registered.

What people forget is that the number tells you no such thing. The number tells you what LMSC or registration year the number is sequenced from. The number by itself can't verify that the person is _actually_ registered with that number. The number by itself can't tell you if it is actually the correct number.

I could make up any number of USMS formatted registration numbers to say that I'm registered in Pacific Masters, or New Jersey Masters, etc. Fact is, no matter what descriptive data is part of the registration number, you _still_ need to cerify that the number is (a) correct and (b) attached to the person you think it is.

So for everyone complaining that without the variable portion, you'll lose the ability to keep track of what LMSC someone is from... I ask this: How do you keep track of what the person's name is? How do you keep track of the person's gender? Easy, it's part of the descriptive data attached to the registration. But it is not part of the registration number itself.


Rob Copeland
July 21st, 2003, 04:37 PM

The LMSC number and year in the variable portion of the registration number, does provide the Meet Directors with the person’s LMSC and registration year. If a membership card begins with 563, this tells me the member is from Alaska and is a member for 2003.

And while the number itself does not prove anything, the number on a copy of a USMS membership from an individual, attached to their meet entry, as required in our rules, is proof that the individual did receive a valid membership card from the listed LMSC for that year.

And, yes if a person wishes to fraudulently enter into a meet, they can do so in a number of ways. Entering an invalid registration number is one way. But, this person could just as easily fraudulently apply for membership and lie about their name, age, address, sex (now this one may get them caught). This hypothetical person could register as a 104 year old woman from Nome Alaska, while in fact being a young man from Brookline MA. In today’s world USMS does not have the manpower to police all members. We rely on the sportsmanship and integrity of our members.

I would love it if USMS got a simple easy to use interface that would automatically populate all vital information about a member, from the 5 character fixed registration number. However, such a system does not exist today.

And to Rick’s questions:
How do you keep track of what the person's name is? As a meet director I manually key in the name of each meet entrant.

How do you keep track of the person's gender? Ditto on the gender.

Hopefully you are not suggesting that for the LMSC that I type in “Alaska Local Masters Swimming Committee”. I’ll prefer to type in “56”.

July 22nd, 2003, 12:27 AM
And while the number itself does not prove anything, the number on a copy of a USMS membership from an individual, attached to their meet entry, as required in our rules, is proof that the individual did receive a valid membership card from the listed LMSC for that year.

Exactly. That's what I'm trying to point out.

Since you have the copy of the USMS registration card, that has things like the year of registration and the LMSC printed on it. So it's no extra use to have that information as _part_ of the ID number. It's on the card that you're already typing information from.

(I'm perfectly happy to stipulate that USMS registration card is plenty "enough proof" of registration. All I'm saying is that you don't just take numbers blindly without checking... you check it against the card copy that is sent in.)


July 22nd, 2003, 12:30 AM
I would love it if USMS got a simple easy to use interface that would automatically populate all vital information about a member, from the 5 character fixed registration number. However, such a system does not exist today.

One thing I was discussing off-line with someone that I never realized... if USMS were to adopt the FINA standard of age-up date of December 31 for SCY meets as well, then the only data you'd need from someone would be:

Year of birth

full date-of-birth is no longer needed. This makes the data set ofUSMS registration data much less 'sensitive', and much easier to make more public for validation purposes.


August 15th, 2003, 12:00 PM
While I readily admit that I do not know enough about the variable portion of the registration number to make an informed decision, I do have a question that arose in a post on this thread. Why exactly is USMS "over-paranoid" about data? Any worthwhile software can generate an SDIF file that makes data entry almost a thing of the past...it is embraced with open arms by virtually everyone in USA Swimming because of its simplicity, even though it does contain some personal information (ie DoB). It makes no sense really for a meet entry person to have to enter everything by hand...clubs should have an entry sign up deadline and then easily the computer can generate the entry report and it can be imported so simply. Also, if electronic copies of meet results aren't available...does everything have to entered by hand all the time?? Talk about data redundancy!! Finally, I have to wonder why USMS is so protective of data but I can find an electronic copy of a majority of sanctioned USA-Swimming meets on the web.....and they have the "personal" information of minors??

Sorry about the rambling post.....I am just curious

August 15th, 2003, 06:03 PM
My answer to Chris Roberts' post:
2 reasons meet data entry managers do it all by hand. One is that many meets (most, except championship meets) allow deck entries, so there is no hard and fast entry deadline. Second, almost all meets are entered by INDIVIDUALS, not by clubs. It is a lot different in USA Swimming where the swimmers are often asked to turn in their entries to the coach (who often then has to hand enter the information into a computer) who generates the SDIF file you are talking about and sends it to the meet director. I doubt that most Masters swimmers have the computer programs necessary to provide electronic data for meet entries. I would love to be proved wrong, however, as I am one of those meet directors who has to enter entries into my computer from the paper work sent in by the swimmers.