View Full Version : Pool issues for Masters swimming

June 7th, 2011, 12:49 PM
I am responsible for booking the venue for our SCY state championship meet in 2012. The location we have been using for the past 10 years is getting too small for us. A new pool has opened up in the area with a lot more seating and deck space. The pool is a 25Y by 50M pool with two bulk heads. For SCY competition, the two bulk heads are used right in the middle of the pool with warmup/cool down lanes on either side of the bulk heads. A couple of issues have been raised concerning the configuration of the pool as it pertains to Masters swimmers and I am hoping to get some opinions on these issues.

1. Bulk head starts - while the pool can be used for SCY swimming from wall to wall, the touch pads and starting system are meant for the bulkhead and the starting system is integrated into the bulkhead. The bulkhead isn't that wide (~6 feet) and some are concerned swimmers will fall off the bulkhead.
2. The other issue is that the bulk heads have "cut outs" above the waterline and some are concerned bad flip turns will result in feet going into these cut outs. They wouldn't get stuck but since the material on the bulk head is a little rough (to prevent slipping) it could result in cuts.

Any thoughts or experiences with running large meets in this type of configuration. I could post some pictures of the pool if that would be of any help.


Redbird Alum
June 7th, 2011, 02:24 PM
Without any further info on the pool and/or gutter configuration, or accuracy/measurment of the 25yd length...

I would suggest you look into renting a timing system so you can run the meet on the 25yd venue. You might even be able to set up two 25 yd pools (on either side of the bulkheads), and run the events even faster, or have more warm-up cool-down space.

June 7th, 2011, 02:37 PM
By suggesting we run the meet from wall to wall are you suggesting that the issues I brought up are serious enough that the meet should not be run from bulk head to bulk head (which is 25Y as well)?

June 7th, 2011, 02:39 PM
Please post photos, if possible.

Are there starting blocks on the bulkheads only? Or can they also be used on the fixed sides of the pool?

One thing to keep in mind is that, if you are swimming against one or more bulkheads, you will need to measure the course several times during the meet. It's not difficult to do; you just need to be prepared to do it. Before the start of the meet, you need to measure every lane. After each session of the meet, you need to measure a minimum of three lanes (the two outside lanes plus a middle lane). Your state meet, if I recall correctly, is a 3-day meet so you would be measuring the pool four times - Friday before and after the session; Saturday after the session; and Sunday after the session.

June 7th, 2011, 02:40 PM
Here is a picture of the pool configured for 25Y racing.

Redbird Alum
June 7th, 2011, 02:42 PM
By suggesting we run the meet from wall to wall are you suggesting that the issues I brought up are serious enough that the meet should not be run from bulk head to bulk head (which is 25Y as well)?

Nope... just offering another idea, since you thought the issues worth noting in the first place.

I've seen 50m pools with two Bulkheads where they have a 25yd venue at each end, and use the space between the bulkheads in the middle for warm-up/warm-down. Allowed them to run boys at one end, girls at the other, -or- alternating events at each end so you aren't waiting to clear the prior event before starting the next one.

June 7th, 2011, 03:15 PM
Here is a picture of the pool configured for 25Y racing.

The gutters (cut-outs as you call them) on the bulkhead are above the waterline, much like the gutters on the fixed wall are above the waterline. There is no difference between the two...if someone's foot goes into the gutter on the bulkhead it would just as easily push into thin air on the fixed wall. That should not be an issue.

The bigger the bulkhead, the more people that will try and stand on it before their event. It looks like a sufficient size to me, but regardless of the size someone can always fall in the pool.

As for the roughness of the bulkhead wall...do you have double pads available?

As previously mentioned, using the fixed wall is much easier in terms of measurement procedures. But obviously utilizing the built-in timing system might be more advantageous.

June 7th, 2011, 04:04 PM
You have a few options. You could swim width-wise and just rent a harness for the touchpads, assuming there are holes in the deck for blocks. This is my least favorite of your options because:
(1) Your lanes are probably narrower set up that way (our pool is very similar to yours and lanes are 9 feet wide when swimming length-wise and 8 feet wide when swimming width-wise).
(2)Swimmers would rather turn on a bulkhead than a wall as they are less slippery.
(3) The pool is faster swimming into a bulkhead as the waves flow thru the bulkhead instead of bouncing off the wall and right back at the swimmer.

The way the picture you included is the fastest possible way to set up the pool. The only problem with this setup is it's very very tight with 8 swimmers and 16 timers on one bulkhead. We run our biggest college meet of the year like that and while it's fast, it's also very crowded on that bulkhead. Usually we have 4 swimmers walk in from one side and 4 swimmers walk in from the other side. Then after the race they don't walk off the bulkhead because it's too crowded but rather climb straight over the bulkhead and fall into the warm down lanes.

If you decide the bulkhead is too small your third and possibly best option is to swim bulkhead to bulkhead but shift the whole thing to the deep end. That way you're still using the blocks and touchpads like you had intended but you have all the area under the diving boards for timers & swimmers. Put a towel on the end of the one-meter diving boards and lift them up to lean against the wall behind them to get them out of the way.

Depending on how shallow the shallow end is you could also shift the entire setup to the shallow end to avoid the diving board issue. I just can't tell from your picture whether the pool is deep enough in the shallow end, and whether you can put blocks and plug in touchpads on the shallow end bulkhead.

I guess you have to think about backstroke flag holes and the "T" markings on the bottom of the pool too. If you don't have those then you can't move the bulkheads to another location.

June 7th, 2011, 04:54 PM
I swam at UT-Austin in college and all of our dual meets and conference championships were configured the way you describe and show in the photo. It worked just fine. I would think, though, that your timeline will run slower as you'll need to leave a little more time for people to file onto and off the bulkhead since people won't be able to line up behind the blocks.

The pool looks awesome.

June 7th, 2011, 07:51 PM
The bulkheads at Auburn have a cutout like in the photo and they are hosting nationals and have a really fast pool. If it's good enough for nationals, should be fine for a state meet!

June 7th, 2011, 08:50 PM
Our summer league meets last year were mostly held at a pool with that set up. We imposed a strict "one way" system on the bulkhead to reduce overcrowding, so swimmers filed on from the announcer's side of pool and filed off towards the stands. As far as I know we didn't have anyone accidentally fall off the back of the bulkhead.

June 7th, 2011, 09:15 PM
That is a beautiful facility. I like the "one way" suggestion for entering the bulkhead. I think you'll be fine.

June 7th, 2011, 10:00 PM
(2)Swimmers would rather turn on a bulkhead than a wall as they are less slippery.

I disagree with this. I think most people would rather turn on a wall.

To me the facility looks great. Yes, it will be a little crowded on the bulkheads with the timers and swimmers, but I think it will be fine. The timers seem more apt to fall into the water than the swimmers!

June 8th, 2011, 04:17 PM
Thank you every one for all the great ideas and suggestions. I have looked at shifting the bulk heads to the deep end but unfortunately the pool markings (T's and flags) are only setup for long course in that configuration. We have thought about renting the pads and harness for a wall to wall meet but the facilities manager isn't too keen on this. There are blocks in this configuration but they are really only for practice, that and the lane lines are narrow in this config.

I did not know about the measurement requirement so thanks for that information. Also, what are "double pads" and how do they help with rough bulk heads? Currently, the pool lays out towels on the starting bulk head to make it easier for swimmers to exit the pool.

Lastly, love the idea of a one way bulk head. We will stage heats off to one side and only allow a heat at a time on the bulk head with all heats exiting to the other side. Great idea!


June 8th, 2011, 06:26 PM
Would the amount of relay swimmers on the bulkhead & timers cause problems???

June 8th, 2011, 09:15 PM
Would the amount of relay swimmers on the bulkhead & timers cause problems???

From memory it was a bit of a squash with 4 swimmers two timers and a couple of others still hanging from the current relay behind one block. Swimmers exiting a relay were "moved along" and everyone carefully shuffled round each other. Depending on the amount of relays and time available, you could always allow one heat to completely exit before lining up the next heat.