View Full Version : Reasonable seed times

March 13th, 2002, 10:38 AM
Question to throw to the group out of curiosity -- What do people think about reasonable seed times for swim meets? Now, I know that people almost always enter masters meets with times that are best guesses, but what about entry times that are definitely not best guesses?

Hypothetical scenario: 400 IM and 50 free are back-to-back events at an end-of-season championship meet. Swimmer enters both events, with a time of 15:00.00 for the 400 IM, and 23.50 for the 50 free. For other events in the meet, the same swimmer is entered at 2:06 for the 200 IM, 2:10 for the 200 fly, etc. So _clearly_ this person is faster than 15:00 in the 400 IM. When asked, the swimmer says, honestly, that the seed time is bogus so that he has a longer rest before swimming the 50 free right afterwards. (The meet info for this hypothetical situation does _not_ allow for 'NT' entries.)

What do people think about this? I can't find any USMS rule that prohibits this, but it feels rather unfair to the other people in Heat 1 who actually do belong in Heat 1, and will have some fast person in an outside lane lap them a couple times. My personal feeling is that if the order of events doesn't work for you, then don't swim one of the events.



Bert Petersen
March 13th, 2002, 11:35 AM
In Oregon, we call this "sandbagging". It is a very selfish and rude attempt to get rest or calm water. We tell people not to do this on the entry form. If someone persists, we talk to them. If that doesn't work, we send Vinnie around to break their legs. I have been guilty of this early on, only because I didn't realize that it was hard on other people. Always inform politely before stronger methods are employed. Swim fair, people !

March 13th, 2002, 11:52 AM
We Masters swimmers pride ourselves in being inclusive. Why not allow the swimmer to do this? Does it really harm the other swimmers, I doubt it. Many times that first heat of the 400 IM will have one, maybe two swimmers who take ten to twelve minutes to complete their 400 swim.

You must remember many LMScs do not have a lot of swim meets, the swimmer may not get another chance to swim the 400 IM. We are not here to satisfy a meet host, we provide the meets for the swimmers. So let them swim. It is the same with people entering a slower time at Nationals, it is up to the swimmer, we are not police. This is adult swimming, if an age group swimmer doen't submit proof of a time, they don't get to swim. We are not that way, and that is a good thing.

I know that at many meets, there is no 200 breaststroke, so we swim our 200 breast during the 200 freestyle event. Is that harmfull, NO. But to do a good 200 breast or 200 fly at nationals you must swim three or more 200 races before Nationals. The only way to do that is during the free events.

Bottom line that is why we do not have a rule against this.

Wayne McCauley

March 13th, 2002, 05:23 PM
I think the issue raised by Rick's hypothetical is whether a swimmer is "acting in an unsportmanslike manner" by entering a bogus seed time. This is totally unrelated to swimmers who elect to swim "stroke" in freestyle events but still enter a realistic seed time for that stroke. I've rarely if ever heard anyone complain about that kind of situation.

I share Rick's concern about this kind of situation NOT because I want to police seed times BUT I do want to strive for a competitive race for every swimmer within the obvious limits. [Obviously, if you have a swimmer who will take 5 minutes to complete the 50 free it will be hard to provide them with a very competitive race] In other words, I agree that swimmers should be discouraged from entering such bogus seed times on the grounds that it is unsportmanslike

Wayne says that we don't have rules against this practice. Strictly speaking he is correct. However, Section 102.15.3 does give the meet referee the power to penalize or disqualify "any swimmer who acts in an unpsportmanlike or unsafe manner" so it is not entirely out of the realm of possiblity that a swimmer could be DQ for such behavior. [I've not actually seen anyone does this and suspect that most referees would warn a swimmer if the seed time was obviously bogus]


Gail Roper
March 13th, 2002, 07:21 PM
Wayne, what makes you think it doesn't affect the swimmers in heat one when some fast swimmer enters a NT or slow time? As someone who has moved backward thru the years to heat one, I have a different perspective. New, slow swimmers in heat one are made to feel awful by someone lapping them. The older age groups all feel that way, just you wait until you're in heat one and not by choice. Swimming breaststroke in a freestyle heat also makes everyone else feel badly. They think, "Here I am swimming my guts out in the 200 free and he's some guy swimming breaststroke keeping up with me, I must be terribly slow". Give us a break. Swim your 200's breast in practice like everyone else. If it's"not the same" as doing it in a meet, you need to focus more.

Tom Ellison
March 13th, 2002, 07:32 PM
I weigh in with Wayne on this one. If it is not against the rules, it is legal.
I do not do this, but I have no problem with other swimmers doing this. In some instances I have entered higher times for a specific event that I was not confident in my conditioning...or better put...how my conditioning would hold up after swimming other events. Thus, I entered a higher time for a specific event. Did that make me a sandbagger? Gosh, I hope not. It was not my intent.

Steve Ruiter
March 13th, 2002, 07:35 PM
I think there is a lot of room for sandbagging, because I don't think it should matter so much who is next to you. I know it does matter some, but here is the other side of the coin:

Imagine entering the 400 IM in a local meet in under 5:00 and being placed in a heat where people are legitimately seeded at over 12:00. No one is sandbagging, but it has an undesired result. This is what the rules say to do.

My point is that there is no rule against vastly different times in the same heat.

Tom Ellison
March 13th, 2002, 07:45 PM
Gail, I am not being a wise guy here. I always thought that freestyle was just that...free to swim whatever stroke you chose to swim. My limited understanding of the rules (please correct me if I am wrong) say that a swimmer may swim any stroke they chose to swim in a freestyle event. BUT, once that swimmer begins the race using a specific stroke, they must continue with that stroke and cannot change to any other stroke.

March 13th, 2002, 08:18 PM
This is done all the time. It is no big deal. Even if there was a rule against it, what are they going to do? DQ you? Ouch, that's going to hurt (no ribbon for you!).

Are you bothered by a fast swimmer who is deck entered and gets put in the slow heat (as many meets do)? It's all the same.

March 13th, 2002, 08:32 PM
No, Tom. In a freestyle event, you may swim any or all strokes, one stroke or mix them up if you prefer. And I agree that there should be no rule forbidding this.
I'm going to my first meet in five years this weekend and can only go on Sunday, however I would have liked to try the 200 fly which is on Saturday. The 200 free is on Sunday and I thought about entering the 200 free with a seed time for a 200 fly. I've reconsidered though and decided that I'm just not ready for a 200 fly, but there is no legal reason for me to not have done so.
As for sandbagging, I have entered times that are slower than I think I can go, just for the reason mentioned above, that I'm really not confident, having not been a meet in over five years. I really don't know what to expect.
Sandbagging is done at all levels of swimming as well, especially in the distance events where all but the fastest heat is swum in the preliminary session, and the fastest heat is swum in the evening with finals. A kid who is likely to be in finals in other events may get entered in a 1650 with a slower time to ensure swimming in the morning heats. I've seen this done before and whether it's ethical or not, there's nothing illegal about it.
Regarding the bruised psyche of the slower swimmer, I would say that the faster swimmer who sandbags is not doing it to feel good about lapping other swimmers, so the slower ones should not feel bad. They are in Masters swimming for fitness and competition, but one person who may skew the competition a little every once in a while isn't that big a deal.

March 13th, 2002, 10:44 PM
I'll re-chime in here.... Personally, my concern isn't really of the 200 fly being swum during the 200 free. That happens, and it _is_ freestyle. And especially if the seed time is representative, I see that as an OK thing.

Also, adjusting seed times a bit because you aren't in good shape, etc... I find that _responsible_ rather than irresponsible. You're doing your part to out yourself in "the right heat". If you're wrong (you swim better than you expected), fine. But I would still applaud you for having the good honest intent.

For me, true sandbagging is just as bad as the opposite. Consider the complete reverse situation. It's the 50 free. You're seeded 9th in the event. So (8 lane pool), you're fastest person in the second-fastest heat. You don't get to swim against the fast guys in the fastest heat. Then you watch the fastest heat, and find out that the top seed is some bozo who was playing around and seeded himself at a 19.99 for kicks. In reality, he's someone who finishes in 35 seconds. There was no way this person would have ever gone 19.9 in the 50. He just wanted to be in the fastest heat, because he was in the previous event, and wanted as much time between swims. And because of the bogus seed time, you (the 9th seed) lost the opportunity to swim in the fastest seeded heat. Is this fair? Personally, I don't think so.

Note also there are plenty of other swimming contexts (I know! not masters!) where at championship meets, you are _required_ to enter with your best times for the qualifying period.

I don't want to police times. I know masters swimming is different. And I'm interested to read the different opinions expressed here. That's why I posted the scenario.

I also think it's pretty clear that there's no strict rule against this. And as much as maybe I'd like to, you'd be hard pressed to actually get a meet referee to invole the "unsportsmanlike conduct" clause for something like this. So to those who only say "Since it's not illegal, it's legal", well, that's not what I'm after.

The question is do you think it _should_ be allowed or not allowed.


March 13th, 2002, 10:48 PM
Another follow-up -- I'll point out that a similar situation did arise at a meet I ran last year (a meet with 500+ masters swimmers). We were running the 1650 and 1000 freestyle on Friday evening. We were deck-seeding between two competition courses. There was an administrative screw up, and someone wasn't seeded in the fast heat. The fast heats had already gone, so we had no choice but to put a faster person (someone who would have been either fastest or second-fastest heat) in the slowest heat in an empty lane. I think we even put an empty lane between. However, we did have a couple of complaints from other people in that slowest heat that we put the fast person in with them. They didn't like being lapped 10 times in the event.


March 13th, 2002, 10:59 PM
You are a great swimmer with lots of records. I can only guess that you have competed in excess of 1000 meets in your lifetime. I just can't believe you would rag on breaststrokers swimming in a free event. We could easily go into the inequities during the last 40+ years, why are there a 50, 100, 200, 400 (500) 1000 and 1650 freestyle and only three breaststroke or butterfly events. So when I swim in a meet that has an award for High points in an age group, the freestyler automatically have a huge advantage.

Believe me, any fast (young) swimmer that either through seeding or error gets put in a lane with older swimmers (60+) they are not out there to embarrass you. You are the first person I have ever heard that felt bad about swimming with younger swimmers swimming back, fly or breaststroke. Most people are like me, long before getting on the blocks, I will tell everyone in the heat that I will be swimming fly or breaststroke, so they will not be confused. That is just common courtesy. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a 200 free race with two lanes swimming free, two back, and two breaststroke. The reason for this is we really, really need racing at this distance. NO amount of workout or "focus" can equal racing.

Lets put this from a different perspective. In SPMA a meet provider can run any event they choose. So say every single meet host during the season chooses the 200 free, but not one 200 breast or 200 fly. It can happen. What would you do? Especially if you wanted to do well at Nationals, I think you would enter a 200 free race and swim a 200 fly if that was your goal.

Also lets keep in mind that we do have specific rules that are vastly different at Nationals. No 22-year-old man swimming in your womenís 400 freestyle event. That is why we want to be inclusive at local meets. Give everyone a chance. Many your swimmers have a much harder time taking off from work or have a lot of family responsibilities. So they may be only able to swim on one day of a three-day meet. I have been there and done that, as they say. So I want them to be able to swim whatever five events they can get in on that day. And they might have three-four races in a row, so they might "sandbag" one event to get more rest for the next event. Most of our older swimmers are retired, don't have to worry about spending 3-4 days at a swim meet. And when they enter a 44.5 in the 200 fly, do we laugh or embarrass them. No. We offer them a proper heat or let them swim in the fast heat. And they will get a lot more cheers for just finishing than any young guy will ever get. And why do we cheer so loud. Because every one of us whether 19 or 50, want to live and still be competing in that 200 fly when we are older (80 -90-even 100+).

Another bottom line, every one of us is in awe of people like Gail Roper, Rita Simonton and other women like that. In SPMA a whole generation of swimmers, both male and female have lived in awe of Frank Piemme. Many swimmers goals were for years one thing, to swim as fast as Frank. They did not care if he was 20, 30, 40, or 50 years older, he is a role model and just equaling his time made them feel great. I will bet that in your association, many younger swimmers feel the same about you. They may never swim as fast as Lara Val, but if they equal your time, they are as fast as someone truly great. Ask around. I will bet you are a goal for many swimmers.

Wayne McCauley

March 14th, 2002, 12:19 AM
This doesn't really belong under this thread but anyway:

Hi Gail I have question for you! Someone told me that they heard that you started swimming competitively at 18 years old and made Olympics a couple years later... is this actually true? :eek:
I'm asking because my goal is to reach that level but I only started swimming when I was almost 17 and I just turned 18 recently.
Thank you!

Gail Roper
March 14th, 2002, 11:06 AM
I began swimming in the Delaware River during the summer, just for fun, when I was young. In high school I was on the girls team, but we weren't allowed to do laps and our three meets were for form only. We received points as in diving. I graduated from HS and continued in open AAU state events as I only wanted to win the state 50 yd free Junior event, which I won on my 18th birthday. After that, things just accelerated..... No Wayne, I would not swim the 200 fly in a 200 free race, I did it once and realized it was rude to the other swimmers. There is no reason you can't prepare correctly in practice for a 200 fly without racing it in a meet.

March 14th, 2002, 08:50 PM
Rude? How is that rude? Rude would be to purposely not shake the hand of the person next to you behind the blocks when they offer theirs and say "good luck". Rude would be to taunt and/or trash talk a follow swimmer after you beat them. (Fortunately a basketball game has never broken out in a Masters meet). Rude would be to spit in a competitor's lane before the start of a race (remember Amy?). However swimming the fly (or any other stroke) in any free event is not rude. It is legal and it says so in the rules (101.5.2 In an event designated freestyle, the swimmer may swim any styleÖ).

March 14th, 2002, 10:43 PM
Originally posted by Steve
Rude would be to spit in a competitor's lane before the start of a race (remember Amy?).

LOL!! :cool: :p

March 18th, 2002, 11:57 AM
Rude, in my opinion, is not telling those in your heat that you are going all out for a split time in your race (for instance, going for a 100 free time in your 200 free). Are you obligated to inform anybody? Of course not. Should other swimmers be swimming their own races? Yes. But as a courtesy it is much appreciated when these swimmers let others know their intentions.


March 18th, 2002, 09:24 PM
I know that when my daughter, swimming USS, was trying to get her junior national 100 backstroke cut during the first half of the 200 back, she had to notify the starter and the swimmers in the lanes immediately beside her. I cannot quote the rule.

Also, recently, I read on the Chicago Tribune Prep Swimming Bulletin Board that a swimmer who had swum a 1:50 in the 200 free in his prelims, was DQ'd for unsportsmanlike conduct in the finals for swimming a 2:07. The real penalty was that he was not allowed to swim on a relay later that evening - the relay that he was "resting" for. He essentially was keeping someone else from finals that could have taken his place.

I realize this is pretty much the opposite of what this thread started out to be, but I thought I would just throw it in. Personally, I think as Masters, we have to be adult enough to be flexible. Most of the time, we do not swim against the competition of our age group anyway. The only time we really get to is at Nationals. If someone wants to put in a slow time for a 500 free so that he/she can get some rest before the next event, then so be it. There is no physical impact to the other lanes of swimmers. When meets do not have enough people to support resting between the events you want to swim, then you gotta do what you gotta do.

March 19th, 2002, 12:28 AM
There are a couple of things to point out:

(1) For Nationals, the clerk of the course may change a sandbaggers time (see 104.5.5A (11) If a swimmer enteres a deck seeded event with a time significantly slower than his/her recently recorded time, the meet director may, after notifying the swimmer, change the seeded time to a realistic time.

(2) for those of us on the west coast (and I am sure the "new center of Masters racing" ;-) will find out) trying to keep meet managable is a concern for meet management. Pacific Masters championships will start at 9 am and it is not unusual to be still swimming at 6:30 or later that evening. It is important for the time line that a realistic time for each splash be given. A person who writes down a 15:00 500 free then has a 5:00 swim has just lengthed the meet. (the 5:00 swimmer took the spot of the 9:00 swimmer who should be in the first heat, it works it way down).

Yes it is unsportsmanlike conduct. The swimmer for his own selfish reasons has just lengthed the meet for all the officials and the rest of the swimmers.

We try to put the seed the swimmers in the correct heat. There have been many times when a swimmer put the 100 time in the 200 race. Hopefully those are caught before the heat is seeded.

In the freestyle the swimmer can swim any stroke the swimmer would like to swim. If the swimmer wants to swim the 200 breaststroke in the 200 free. The swimmer should go for it. I agree with Wayne, race conditions are not the same as practice no matter how we want it to be.

If a freestyle swimmer is being passed by the breaststroke swimmer, what does the freestyle swimmer have to be upset about? Gee the breaststroke is a better swimmer than me? Lets get realistic about our own strokes and times. Yes we want to swim faster and to swim our best, but we also have to be aware of our own times. (and of course maybe a goal for the freestyle swimmer being passed is to beat the time of the breaststroke who beat him in that heat).

Rick and Bob, I would suggest that the "new center of Masters racing" add a rule like 105.5.5A (11) to the NEM Guide to Operations.


March 19th, 2002, 09:02 AM
Originally posted by Nate
I know that when my daughter, swimming USS, was trying to get her junior national 100 backstroke cut during the first half of the 200 back, she had to notify the starter and the swimmers in the lanes immediately beside her. I cannot quote the rule.

USMS has a similar rule. It's 103.13.1, and it says your split in a longer race can count as an official time if you notify the meet referee, before the end of the meet, that you want your split to count. For backstroke and relay lead-off splits, though, you have to notify the referee BEFORE you swim the event. This is so the officials can verify that you do a legal finish at the split distance, and if they don't know in advance to look for this then they can't attest that you touched while on your back at the 100 split of your 200 back. Also, for your relay split to count, your relay can't be disqualified. I guess this is to prevent someone from swimming just the 50 back in a 200 medley relay, with no other teammates and no intention of actually competing in the relay race. The notification has to be in writing, and your best bet is to get a form from the meet director well before your event. There's no requirement that you have to notify the other swimmers in the heat that you're going for an initial split, but sometimes the starter will announce this before starting the race.

Meg Smath
Editor, Rule Book

March 19th, 2002, 10:22 AM
Michael Moore has provided a good summary of the reasons why many of us want people to provide resonable seed times. In fact, the vast majority (more than 95%) of people do their very best in putting in seed times. Nevertheless, as Michael points out, that very small minority can have an impact on the 95% in terms of a timeline (just think about the impact of having an extra heat of the 1650 on the day's timeline when some fast swimmers but in bogus seed time and force a 25 minute 1650 into the second heat).

Since our pre-meet literature did not clearly state guidelines or rules regarding seed times we have decided that we cannot change seed times or DQ people for unsportsmanlike conduct for bogus seed times. NEXT YEAR, however, we will change this. We believe that a meet director should be able to change an unreasonable seed time (think of the hypothetical but not so rare 1650 example above) to keep the meet competitive and to enhance the meet experience for all (think earlier finishes).

March 19th, 2002, 11:16 AM
What Bob said. "The new center of masters swimming" :) is seeing very long meet sessions at championships as well. Every minute counts. With each meet we run, we learn a little more.

Note also for USA Swimming rules on intermediate distances... as far as I know, there is no requirement of notifying others in the heat that you're going for a split time, but it's definitely a polite thing to do. Also, for the time to count, you need to finish your own race legally. In a relay, if you lead off, you only need to finish your own leg legally. If the relay gets DQed for a false start, etc., your lead-off split still counts.


March 19th, 2002, 11:30 AM
I do beleive the USMS rule book indicates that for an intermediate distance to count for record or TT that the official must be notified in advance that such a swim is being done. The officials I've seen generally then make an announcement of this to the field prior to the start.

Paul Smith
March 19th, 2002, 10:57 PM
At Santa Clara last year was the firs time I've ever gone for a "time/record" in an event from my "split". I entered the 1000 and went for a 100 free time, I had to notify the meet director who told the starter, who announced what I was doing to the heat.

In spite of all that I felt pretty uncomfotable about going out in 47 seconds for the first 100 of a 1000 free and made sure I personally told all the swimmers around me what I was doing, hopefully it made their races a little more enjoyable.

I'd hate to see us "legislate" this sort of thing, ideally we all approach meets with a sense of respect for those around us. However I do beleive that ultimately swimming is a very individual sport and that we as atheletes need to learn to adapt/react to each race regardless of what someone else is doing in the lane next to ours.

Bert Petersen
March 20th, 2002, 01:39 AM
Paul: You are exactly right in what you just said. Your motives were correct and you handled it like the gentleman I'm sure you are. I think the original concern here was about people who enter BOGUS times for less than honorable reasons, (getting more rest than their competition, clear water, etc), This is what I object to. It's a sportsmanship issue. Yes/no ???? Bert

March 20th, 2002, 05:40 PM
I recently participated in a meet where, due to circumstances, we threw out the entire pre-seeded meet plan. When it was time to start an event, everyone entered in the event (young/old/male/female/fast/slow) marshaled with the referee and just picked a lane. We had heats with mixed sexes, fast swimmers along the wall lanes, oldest and youngest next to each other, you name it! I didnít hear one complaint about itÖeveryone seemed to think that it was pretty fun. Nobody thought that it was inconsiderate.

I'm sympathetic to Rick because I also run Masters meets. My point, though, is that seeding canít and shouldnít be legislated beyond what already exists in our rules.

I try my best to seed myself accurately even if it would be competitively disadvantageous to do so. I do that because many participants enjoy the meet experience better if my performance meets their expectations. (It also makes the meet run faster and smoother) However, I am not concerned about trying to meet someone elseís expectations. I do not care if I make other swimmers angry/happy because I swim faster/slower than my seed time. (Or, whether I'm going out too fast for you because I'm going for an intermediate time.) It is not something that you, I, or they should worry about.

Likewise, Iíve been in meets where weíve had some swimmers in a heat swimming freestyle and others swimming IM or strokes. Iíve never seen anyone express a hint of anger or dismay about that.

Thatís not to say that people donít get upset when false seedings and similar things occur (as many speakers here have expressed). But there are also people out there who donít care and/or believe that such actions do fall within the definition of ďsportsmanshipĒ. Itís a judgment item in the eyes of the beholder. Officially, itís a judgment item in the eyes of the referee. It should stay that way.

One final sea story: I participated in a different meet, not too long ago, where I seeded myself much slower than I normally did. It was, however, an accurate seeding given that I was recovering from an injury. The mere fact of my presence in the early heats among much older swimmers, however, drew evil stares and comments. I was where I should be in order to make the meet run efficiently, but it still seemed to upset some participants. Think about that.