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KatieK
September 9th, 2012, 12:33 PM
I'm starting this thread because I'd like to see some discussion about the USMS rules/fees for sanctioning open water events.

Until recently, we had two different open water swim series here in Arizona, one USMS sanctioned, one not.


The USMS event (AZ Open Water Series) included a 1K, 2K and a 4K swim. Wetsuits were allowed, but they started in a separate wave and were awarded separately. At least 80% of the participants are triathletes. Most people wear wetsuits unless the water is too hot.
The non-USMS series (Splash & Dash) always has a choice of two distances, ranging from 750m to 4K, depending on the event. The swim is followed by an optional 5K run. Wetsuits are allowed, and awards are not separated. At least 90% of the participants are triathletes.

Going forward, neither event will have USMS sanctioning. It looks to me like these are some of the factors that influenced the change:


Very few participants are USMS members, so they have to pay the $12 one-day sanctioning fee. Non-USMS events have private insurance, so there's no need to pay an additional fee.
USMS insurance doesn't cover kids under the age of 18. Private and USAT insurance does.
It's very difficult to time the event when wetsuits and non-wetsuits start in different waves. The problem is that people change their mind at the last minute without telling anyone. If they're registered as non-wetsuit, but they put it on at the last minute, their time ends up being 5 minutes faster. The published "winners" of the non-wetsuit races are often swimmers from the wetsuit wave. Chip timing would not solve the problem.

I wish for two things:


I wish sanctioning and insurance could be separated. This would make USMS sanctioned events more competitive. It would also allow kids to participate.
I wish wetsuits and non-wetsuits could start in the same wave. I still want the awards to be separate, but I don't see a reason to separate the waves. This would make the timing much easier. It would also make the non-wetsuit event feel more like a race--there are usually so few people in that wave that I might as well be swimming alone.

I think USMS sanctioning is important because the rules support pure swimming.

Kevin in MD
September 9th, 2012, 09:08 PM
I think chip timing would stop this easily.

You were signed up to go in wave 2 with the non wetsuits, but you actually beeped in when we called the athletes for wave 1, your times don't count.

Chip timers do that kind of thing all the time.

And most races have different color caps for the waves. So that makes it easy as well, the folks in wave 1 should be wearing fuchsia caps, if a lime green cap is in wave 1, they are in the wrong wave and are stopped.

Chris Stevenson
September 9th, 2012, 09:38 PM
I wish wetsuits and non-wetsuits could start in the same wave. I still want the awards to be separate, but I don't see a reason to separate the waves. This would make the timing much easier. It would also make the non-wetsuit event feel more like a race--there are usually so few people in that wave that I might as well be swimming alone.

I like that idea; I don't think it should be *mandated* -- I don't believe you are proposing that -- but race directors should be allowed to do it as long as they provided a reasonable plan for separating the times of wetsuit & non-wetsuit swimmers.

jbs
September 10th, 2012, 11:08 AM
I like that idea; I don't think it should be *mandated* -- I don't believe you are proposing that -- but race directors should be allowed to do it as long as they provided a reasonable plan for separating the times of wetsuit & non-wetsuit swimmers.

I just looked through the rules quickly -- but I don't see anything in them that requires that wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers be separated by wave. In fact, Rule 303.1.1(B) says "For competitive swims, separate scoring divisions may be contested at the same time, with separate results tabulated." So, it would seem to me that as long as the race director kept separate results between the wetsuits and non-wetsuit swimmers, there would be no issue with having "mixed" waves.

Of course, this was a quick look, so I could have missed something.


I wish wetsuits and non-wetsuits could start in the same wave. I still want the awards to be separate, but I don't see a reason to separate the waves. This would make the timing much easier. It would also make the non-wetsuit event feel more like a race--there are usually so few people in that wave that I might as well be swimming alone.


I've done a couple of USMS sanctioned swims over the years, but only one allows wetsuits. Wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers start together in that race.

That's also been my experience with all of the races I've done. I've never done a race where wetsuit swimmers were in a different wave from non-wetsuit swimmers. When people are divided into waves, the waves are based upon expected finish time. As far as I am aware, there's never been an issue of someone "winning" the non-wetsuit division when they actually wore a wetsuit.

The timing and people switching at the last minute problems sound like a race management issue rather than an issue with the USMS rules. In a well organized race, people go down a chute to the start. Volunteers check off numbers in the chute. I know they do that to make sure that they know that everyone who enters the water also leaves the water. But I've also seen them check to validate which people are or are not wearing wetsuits. And once that information is on the system, I believe it's an easy matter for the chip timing company to separate out results.

ALM
September 10th, 2012, 03:34 PM
I'm not the expert but I don't see anything in the Rule Book that requires separate heats for wetsuits. Part 3 (http://www.usms.org/rules/part3.pdf) of the Rule Book contains the long distance and open water rules.

303.7.3.B Wetsuits or any other heat-retaining swimwear
may be allowed at the discretion of the event director when
the water temperature does not exceed 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Any published results or records must clearly indicate which
swimmers wore wetsuits.

There is also an Open Water Manual (http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/owmanual.pdf) in the USMS Guide to Operations (http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/). It contains this statement:

201.1.D Heats are recommended for larger events. Heats
reduce congestion on the course, minimize overtaking, and
prevent injuries. Heats by age group rather than ability are
better for spreading the field and minimizing bunching at the finish
line. Separate heats for wetsuit competitors may be
considered but are not absolutely necessary.

The experts on this topic are the members of the USMS Long Distance committee. The chair of the committee can be reached at: LongDistance@usms.org

That Guy
September 10th, 2012, 03:41 PM
I'm not the expert but I don't see anything in the Rule Book that requires separate heats for wetsuits. Part 3 (http://www.usms.org/rules/part3.pdf) of the Rule Book contains the long distance and open water rules.

303.7.3.B Wetsuits or any other heat-retaining swimwear
may be allowed at the discretion of the event director when
the water temperature does not exceed 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Any published results or records must clearly indicate which
swimmers wore wetsuits.

There is also an Open Water Manual (http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/owmanual.pdf) in the USMS Guide to Operations (http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/). It contains this statement:

201.1.D Heats are recommended for larger events. Heats
reduce congestion on the course, minimize overtaking, and
prevent injuries. Heats by age group rather than ability are
better for spreading the field and minimizing bunching at the finish
line. Separate heats for wetsuit competitors may be
considered but are not absolutely necessary.

The experts on this topic are the members of the USMS Long Distance committee. The chair of the committee can be reached at: LongDistance@usms.org

I'm glad to hear the events I participated in that had wetsuits and nons in the same heat were not violating a rule :D

jaadams1
September 11th, 2012, 01:40 AM
I'm glad to hear the events I participated in that had wetsuits and nons in the same heat were not violating a rule :D

I think you violated every rule in the book in your last OW swim! :agree: But nice job doing it! :bow:

That Guy
September 11th, 2012, 09:25 AM
I think you violated every rule in the book in your last OW swim! :agree: Which ones? :dunno:


But nice job doing it! :bow: Thanks, I think :bolt:

KatieK
September 11th, 2012, 10:27 AM
Thanks for the clarification on the rules. Any thoughts about the insurance/$12 fee/kids under 18 issue?

jbs
September 11th, 2012, 11:02 AM
Thanks for the clarification on the rules. Any thoughts about the insurance/$12 fee/kids under 18 issue?

The $12 fee is a tough one, but not one that's unique to USMS. For instance, there's a swim race around here that's sanctioned by USA Triathlon. If you aren't a member of USAT, then you have to pay $10 for a one-day membership.

You mentioned that most of the participants in your races are triathletes. Maybe there's a way to have a dual sanction. I know that we have a race here that has a dual sanction from USMS and USAS. Perhaps you could get the races sanctioned by both USMS and USAT -- that way the only people who would have to pay an extra fee would be those who were not members of either organization.

On the other hand, I don't know anything about the practicalities of that suggestion -- it might be more trouble than it's worth, but thought I'd throw it out there.