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Jeff Commings
April 14th, 2005, 11:26 PM
Last November I wrote a short editorial about my feelings toward the seeding rules for masters nationals. Between now and then I have been trying to get the editorial published in one of our two swimming publications, but to no avail.

So I am "publishing" it here, for all masters swimmers to read as we approach the spring nationals in Fort Lauderdale.

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Please excuse all the question marks in this column, but I have a lot to ask.

Why are the 400 IM and distance freestyle events seeded by time at nationals, while the other events are seeded by age first, then time?

Here’s the rule, from the United States Masters Swimming Rule Book, about seeding events at nationals: “Pre-seeded events shall be seeded, with oldest age groups first, slowest heats swum first in each age group.” Not “... may be seeded...” No room for leeway there.

Why is this a steadfast rule that applies to every national championship, but only an optional policy for regional, state and local meets? An option that, I might add, is never used.

How much longer can we stand to watch another man or woman win a race by three body lengths, then watch another man or woman win a race by the same amount three heats later? To make matters worse, we don’t notice -- or don’t care -- that often the swimmers (in different age groups, obviously) finish the race with times less than a second apart?

Case in point: At the 2004 masters long course nationals in Georgia, Razvan Petcu and Michael Ross set world records in the 100 fly in the 30-34 and 35-39 age groups, respectively. Ross was faster than Petcu by less than two tenths. Imagine the sub-56 second times both would have posted if they had raced in the same heat -- the fastest heat consisting of the top eight 100 flyers at the meet. Imagine the crowd’s enthusiasm at witnessing a great race between two extraordinary swimmers -- and the other six who would have definitely fed off their energy.

I’ll give you another example. I was one of hundreds to watch in amazement as the 25-29 100 yard freestyle at last year’s short course nationals featured a race that had three swimmers break 45 seconds. And yet, by that time, many had forgotten that two swimmers in the 40-44 age group, John Smith and Paul Smith, weren't too far off the pace, swimmig under 47 seconds.

How great it would have been to have the Smiths swim in the same heat as Sabir Muhammed and Gary Hall Jr. Would the Smiths have moaned about swimming against people 15 years younger? Doubtful. Would the younger swimmers have laughed at two men in their 40s racing them? Highly unlikely.

Unfortunately, that is a race we will most likely never see. And if the rule makers at FINA and USMS can’t see the inherent advantages of erasing this current rule, then we’ll never see races of that caliber.

We’ll continue to see Bobby Patten race all alone in the 200 fly, instead of getting pure competition from swimmers in other age groups who would jump at the chance to race one of master swimming’s best.

I’ve only been a part of masters swimming for five years, so I wasn’t around when this rule was passed. So can someone please tell me the logic behind it?

Are the older swimmers scared of getting their butts whipped by a 28-year-old? Did someone complain that they miss the days of age group swimming and wanted to return to that?

Please tell me the logic behind that rule -- if there is any logic.
And while you’re thinking of an explanation, think about what would happen if this rule were in effect in USA Swimming and Olympic/World Championship meets. It would mean that Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe would never get to race because Phelps belonged in the 19-24 age group. Would Katie Hoff be relegated to the 15-18 age group, while Amanda Beard swims all alone in the 19-24 bracket?

Yep, that’s a bunch of baloney, but that what I’m seeing in masters swimming. And as some of us begin to map out our training and competition plans leading up to next year’s master’s world championships, I fear we’ll never get the kind of exciting matchups we take for granted in the Olympics.

Wouldn’t you rather see four swimmers duke it out for the overall title in the 200 free at nationals than to watch them one by one in their respective age groups? (Don’t worry. They’d still get their first place medals for winning their age groups.) And wouldn’t it be better for all swimmers to race people of their own ability?

What would it take to make this policy change? Would it just take one person to finally vocalize what so many have whispered about on decks around the world? OK, I’ve done that. What’s next?

I’ve asked a lot of questions here, and the answers (read: the future of US Masters Swimming) lie within you.

Rob Copeland
April 15th, 2005, 09:00 AM
An interesting dissertation.

First as a distance swimmer I get the opportunity to compete in both time seeded events and age-group seeded events. And I’ll tell you that I’m very happy with the current arrangements. I like the fact that I can swim with similarly paced swimmers in my mile. And that I can compete within my age group in the 200 free.

Second, USA-Swimming DOES swim by age groups. And you will be hard pressed to find any USA-S meet where they combine the 11-12’s and 13-14’s based on time. Events such as USA-S Senior Nationals are conducted as one age group events, with, for example, 1 Men’s 100 free and one set of awards. Are you suggesting we swim our nationals following this USA-S model?

And finally, your observations appear to be from the perspective of a spectator of the event and not a participant. I assume you competed as well as observed these events. So the question that comes to mind is; as a competitor in these events how would you prefer to be seeded?

LindsayNB
April 15th, 2005, 09:18 AM
I personally prefer age-blind seeding, but I'm not in contention for winning my age group at a national meet.

The arguments that have been given in the past run along the lines of: if you are a contender for winning your age group do you want to be racing your rivals or a bunch of people who are in other age groups? How will you feel if your main rival and you end up as the fastest swimmer in one heat and the slowest in the next? Especially how will the person in the outside lane of the faster heat feel about being edged out on time by a rival who got to swim in the center lane of the slower heat? (Presuming a perceived disadvantage to the outside lane)

Is masters swimming about providing a show for the spectators or catering to the swimmers? Are the people who are in contention for in any age group the exception or the rule? Is what's good for the fastest person in the 40-44 age group good for the fastest person in the 70-74 age group? Is there a contradiction between the existance of age groups and open seeding? Certainly one reason for not seeding by age group at smaller meets is that there are not enough competitors to fill age-group-separated heats. I think it comes down to whether you are racing for the best time or for your placing in your age group.

Given that the added complexity can easily be handled in software I think it would be ideal to allow people to enter age group or open catagories. It would be interesting to see how many people went each way and the meet timeline would be reduced.

Jeff Commings
April 15th, 2005, 10:34 AM
To answer Rob's question, I have competed in the 2003 and 2004 spring nationals, so I have been a spectator and a competitor.

To add more perspective, I wanted to swim against three other swimmers in the 25-29 age group in three events last spring (100-200 IM, 100 back), because our times were within a second of each other. I watched their heats after swimming mine, and wished I had been able to race them. It would have helped me focus on something other than pain in the last 20 yards!

This leads to Lindsay's comment. I swam in USA Swimming from age five to age 22, so I know the way meets are done. I am only mentioning the nationals for the purposes of my argument, not local meets. I think seeding by time only will benefit the swimmers AND spectators. The swimmers get to race people of their talent, and ther spectators get to see more close races -- in all heats.

If there are two people at the top of one age group who don't get to swim together as a result of this seeding, I'm certain the guy in the "slower" heat will get some competition anyway. I don't see how anyone could not benefit from it.

cjquill
April 15th, 2005, 11:46 AM
I much prefer to compete against my own age group at nationals. When I am swimming my race, I like to know exactly where my competitors are. When I finish my race, whether I'm 1st or 8th, it is so much more meaningful to look at the scoreboard and KNOW how I've placed, not wait an hour or two and look on a sheet. I've only seen my name with a "1" next to it twice, but it's something I won't forget - ever. It is tremendously motivating during training to visualize the entire race including looking at the scoreboard and seeing a time and place.

I would prefer to swim the 400 IM and distance freestyle events with my own age group. I am fortunate that I will be able to do so next week at Y Nationals. I realize that this practice is time consuming and don't suggest that it be implemented in USMS championships.

I suspect that your proposal will appeal only to a small handful of elite male athletes.

Beards247
April 15th, 2005, 01:28 PM
Jeff -

I think the concept for you article is nice, though I understand why editors were not interested in the article (this assumes what you posted here is what you submitted to publication). The writing itself lacks refinement and as evidenced by the responses, not very well researched. I do however, think it's excellent fodder for the forums, and the feedback you recieve could lead to a better composed article.

As for the issue, tough call for me - I see both sides of the issue. Being the best in your age group but being buried in lane 8 by youngins' may be a bit demoralizing - the greatness of your achievement hidden by the speed of youth. But as a top notch swimmer (ahem) I would want to race against the best I could. I should disclose I am [just] a male athlete, but I know numerous top females who want to compete against the best of the best - and one who takes particular pride in beating someone younger - and a male (not applicable at all competitions of course).

There is no real resolution to an issue like this, the preference is rooted in personal preference with no research, logic or logisitcal reason to choose one approach over the other. This could be an excellent opportunity to use the Forum polling
and publish the poll and results in the new magazine.

Paul Smith
April 15th, 2005, 05:23 PM
Hey Jeff how you been?! Are you swimming with us this year in FL?

Regarding your post, I brought the same thing up in this forum a few years back and got pretty beat up over.....lot's of the "E" word thrown around (Elitist).

Problem is, the vast majority of the membership for USMS does not come from the type of competitive background guys like us do and many of their goals are very different (jquills post being a great example and bravo to her).

The good news is that the many regional meets around the US are seeded "open" and allow for some great competiton, in particular the Long Beach short course meters meets. There is even a pending proposal by Mark Gill to try and organize a championship around these meets....very cool idea which hope comes through.

One of the things USMS could do a far better job of is working with the LMSC's in trying to coordinate a calender that would allow more people to make more than just one of these if they wanted and to help market them as well.

Alas that brings up another point of contention between the two "camps" at USMS because one group is very much against "growth". And you through th Democrats & Republicans brawled!

Jeff Commings
April 15th, 2005, 05:42 PM
Paul, I won't be going to nationals (big wheels turning here in New Mexico that keep me busy), but I'm very much looking forward to world championships next summer.

Anyway, I had a feeling this would have a backlash, and that's fine. I wanted to see what the word is on the street. I think I've got my answer, though I hope more people will chime in.

I've heard about that Long Beach meet and others like it. They sound like fun meets to attend. I might just make a visit there this winter!

Fritz
April 15th, 2005, 05:58 PM
I'm in the seed it by time camp. I can wait a few minutes to see what the overall results are in my agegroup. I also think it would be fun to be in a heat with people my own speed and of all different ages. Motivation to beat the younger ones and also to not get beat by the older. I've never understood the downside.

matysekj
April 15th, 2005, 06:47 PM
I'm in the undecided camp. I would enjoy watching the fastest 8 duke it out in the pool, regardless of age. However, I have to admit that I like being able to see my results in my age group immediately and knowing that if I let that guy next to me beat me it has an adverse effect on my placement. I would support trying out seeding by time only at nationals to see how it is received.

Paul, the proposal that I remember getting a lot of discussion at convention was a little different. It was a hybrid - seeding events by age group, but separating out only the top 8 overall to swim in one final heat regardless of age. I do not support this idea because it does not have a uniform seeding method for all swimmers in a given event and I consider that unfair. Imagine being seeded second in your age group, but not getting a chance to swim head to head against the first place seed because he made the elite heat and you didn't. I know, this can happen with 8th and 9th place seeds today, but at least the rule is uniformly applied within an event today.

mbmg3282
April 15th, 2005, 07:28 PM
Jeff,

You have brought up some interesting points and started a good discussion. My first thought when I read your proposal was that it discriminates against our older swimmers. Sure, it would be fun to watch the extremely fast swimmers from the 40 - 44 age group swim with younger age groups of similar speed and perhpas win. But what about some of the fastest in the older age groups. Consider someone in the 60 -64 age group who crushes the world record and goes time within a 3 tenths of what they swam when they were college age and the American Record holder. The swim is going to be lost among the 30th place swimmers in the 30 - 34 age group, some 15th place finishers in the 40 - 44 age group and the 4th place finisher in the 45-49.

You mentioned making the meet more exciting for spectators. I wonder if it really would. Undoubtably, the final heat out of 66 in the 100 free would be great. But what of the first 65 heats? There would be so many age groups mixed together that the announcer would have a difficult time knowing when the fastest swim in an age group occurred or when records were broken. Those two aspects also add some excitement to the meet and do occur every couple of heats with the current seeding practices.

However, I agree with Jim Matysek. We won't know unless we try. I would support doing this at nationals one year on a test basis. One change is that I would make a few age breaks. Maybe have the 40 and younger, the 50 - 64 and 65 and older. Something so that the older swimmers don't get lost in the meet.

You asked "what would it take to make the policy change?" You live in New Mexico and I assume that you belong to that LMSC. It has not been represented at the annual convention in the last several years. Convention is when something like this change would be presented and brought before committees and possibly the house of delegates for a vote. One way to start this moving would be to contact your LMSC and let them know of your interest. Perhaps you could be designated as the delegate from New Mexico.

Jim, I think the proposal that Paul was referring to was the creation of a distributed short course meter nationals. The original idea consisted of several SCM meets located around the country during the November to December timeframe. The results from the 4 meets would be compiled to determine the winner of each event. These meets could be seeded however the meet host wanted. The idea was to take our already great regional meets and make them a little better and help grow the attendance. I am still working on this proposal. I should probably work a little harder.

TRYM_Swimmer
April 16th, 2005, 07:37 PM
I would generally favor keeping the seeding as is for the Nationals, because of some of the above mentioned reasons. I like to watch the superstars shine in their age groups. It emphasizes how much better they are and I think gives them the recognition from the spectators. It would surely make spectating a lot more work to have them mixed, and try to catch your favorites, while warming up/down yourself.

I enjoy swimming in the regional meets by time, because you do get some competition of your own caliber. Even that is not perfect, however, and I would like to propose some tweaking with that, even at the local level. I have seen meets where there will be three swimmers from the same age group, separated by not much time, in the same heat, but let's say in lanes 2, 5, and 7. (NOTE TO MEET MANAGERS - If you read much further you will want to kill me!!!) I don't know if Meet Manager has a simple way to override seedings to make minor changes (as a computer programmer, I know that it could), but it would be nice to have those swimmers in 5, 6, 7 so that they would have a better look at each other and the lane 6 swimmer could be moved to 2. I have been in an outside lane with my competition in the other outside lane. I don't like that much in a local meet and would hate it at Nationals. OK, you can start throwing your darts!!! I would like to see if it could be done without much work and would be willing for someone to email me their meet layout for a practice tweak. It might be surprising how few changes would have to be made to fix this.

Just my 2 cents worth. Love the forum, glad to be reading postings from a lot of thoughtful, talented people. Hope to be meeting more of you in person as I get back into the groove. Miss the nationals!

michaelmoore
April 17th, 2005, 02:18 AM
Jeff:

I dont think you should hold your breath about seeing a change in the seeding method at nationals.

The basic philosphy is that this is a national championships for the age groups and the swimmers in the age group should be competing against each other. The distance events are seeded by time so that the meet will not run to midnight - imagine having the 1650 seeded by age group by time - it would take forever!!

Mark was right you could go to convention to try to make your case. The LMSC could also sponsor a rule to make the change. (While that is possible, I believe the best way would be to go to convention as a delegate then get on the championship committee). A major change like this would have to get the support of the Championships Committee and I do not see that happening.

I think the rule change that Jim was thinking of was that the eight fastest women would be seeded in their own heat of the 1500 and 1650.

michael

knelson
April 17th, 2005, 08:00 PM
I'm a little on the fence on this one, but I do think Jeff's perspective is different since he's an elite swimmer. As more of an "average" swimmer myself I like to swim against my competition (i.e., those in my age group). But, honestly, if Nationals were seeded strictly by time I can't say I would really mind that much.

Peter Cruise
April 17th, 2005, 10:28 PM
I also, am of two minds on this- but, a small gesture (and kind of neat, I think) would be this: in additions to the regular age group listings posted with results, also 'break out' regardless of age the top ten or whatever for that event. I know for a lot of Nats Jim McConica would 'place' very high indeed in such a listing. It might even result in some media interest(heaven forbid). What-the-heck with some zone or local meets, you could open that top 10 to regardless of sex criteria & get some good talking points...

Swimmer Bill
April 17th, 2005, 11:31 PM
Personally, I like swimming in heats with people of my age group. All year long, at local and regional meets we can swim with people in other age groups based on seed time.

Swimming by age group is something a little different, and I think there must be some good reasons why that situation is reserved for Nationals. For example, when your club is in the running in the club scoring, seeding by age groups can give you an opportunity to go head-to-head with seven other people in your age group. Sometimes that can help you score an extra point or two for the club.

I agree on the point about becoming a delegate, going to the convention, getting on the Championship Committee, etc. Sometimes USMS does change when people speak up and discuss new ideas. It's a lot like the government: there are delegates (local representatives), they bring new ideas, the ideas are discussed, and there is a vote (majority rules). Case-in-point: one year ago, how many people thought USMS would have a new magazine?

Side note: Personally, I like watching the swimmers who are way ahead of their age groups. It shows how outstanding they are in the context of their own divisions. However, if I was one of those swimmers, perhaps I'd have a different opinion. I respect Jeff's opinion and understand why he feels this way. He's a "top shelf" swimmer. If you could go 55.99 in the 100 yard breast, there wouldn't be too many people in any Masters age group who could give you a good race. On the same token, if I could go 55.99 in the 100 breast, I'd be doing a lot of USA Swimming meets and beating the youngsters.

Karen Duggan
April 18th, 2005, 12:47 AM
Growing up an age group swimmer I found the transition to Masters an easy one except for the 50s and 100 IM of course!

An argument I can see: if you're going to swim everybody together regardless of age for national championship titles why bother having world records and LMSC records for the age groups? Who would care?

For me personally, I like knowing my competition as I race them regularly (or see their times on-line) and I know their strengths and weaknesses. And even when the results are in I check the other age groups to see what place I got OVERALL, just because I'm curious :)

One frustrating thing about swimming by time: at one nationals my husband thought he had won the 400 IM and he didn't (by a few tenths). The guy who won was in the heat several heats slower than his. Pat, my husband, was really... upset (so I don't get in trouble!) He knew that if that guy were in his heat he would have beat him or at least pushed it more (my husband won his heat by at least 10 seconds). So that also raises that age old question about sandbagging... I know a world record holder in our LMSC (not Suzanne!) who sandbags all the time because she's afraid to compete with the fastest. At our LMSC championships she looks really stupid. Everybody knows she's the fastest but she swims in a slower heat and decimates everybody...

For now, I'm for swimming by age-groups. For example, I know Suzanne Heim-Bowen is faster than me in freestyle, it doesn't matter how old we are. In fact I think her accomplishments are accented even more when she finishes her heat well ahead of everyone else in her age group. Until swimming is an "interesting" sport to America, no one really misses it or sees it as a spectator sport. I myself, think meets are boring unless I'm swimming.

Also, on another note, it's important to remember that the fastest do not show up at every nationals. The Top Ten is the only true way to measure the best of the best for now and that's by age group. Maybe add an "overall" Top Ten category?

justforfun
April 18th, 2005, 11:11 AM
How about this idea:

Conduct the meet exactly as we do now, seeding according to age groups. Then, take the top eight overall finishers from each event and swim one additional heat (Finals, if you will). This way, there would still be individual age group winners from head-to-head competition AND the opportunity for the fastest in each age group to go up against each other for the overall title.

The "finals" heats could be swum at the end of the day's competition or the beginning of the next day. Or, if there's a feeling that the meet would be too long, as is always a concern, an additional 1/2 day could be added to the meet with all "finals" held in that session. I would probably prefer the same-day format.

This proposal would not affect most Nationals participants, but would give the elite swimmers a chance to test themselves against the fastest from each event.

What do you think?

osterber
April 18th, 2005, 11:17 AM
Originally posted by Jeff Commings
Here’s the rule, from the United States Masters Swimming Rule Book, about seeding events at nationals: “Pre-seeded events shall be seeded, with oldest age groups first, slowest heats swum first in each age group.” Not “... may be seeded...” No room for leeway there.


If you're going to quote the rulebook, you should read all of the rules. You're quoting rule 104.5.5(A)(2). You should also read rule 104.5.5(a)(4) which says:



Events 400 yards/meters and longer shall be deck seeded by one of the following
methods: (a) by entry time only, (b) by age group, the oldest age group
fi rst, slowest heats seeded fi rst within each age group, then by time, or (c) by a
combination of (a) and (b). The USMS Championship Committee shall make
all seeding decisions.


That says that the 400+ events must be 'deck seeded'. If you look at the Nationals meet information:



All events, with the exception of the 1650, 1000, 500 and 400 IM, will be pre-seeded unless meet management determines that the meet cannot be completed in a timely manner. Three courses (a total of 26 lanes) will be used for the 1650, 1000, and 500 free and possibly the 400 IM. Men's heats will precede women's heats for each event. The 1650, 1000 Free and 400 IM will be seeded slowest to fastest by entry time regardless of age. All other events will be seeded by age group with the oldest age groups first, slowest to fastest within each age group.


... you'll see that it says exactly that.

As for changing a rule in the rulebook, the best course is to get support for your idea, and get it onto the docket at the Convention.

-Rick

osterber
April 18th, 2005, 11:25 AM
Also, to address another question:



Why is this a steadfast rule that applies to every national championship, but only an optional policy for regional, state and local meets? An option that, I might add, is never used.


One reason why this rule works at nationals is because there are _so_ many people at nationals. Most local meets have only a couple of heats per event. Seeding-by-age breaks down real quickly with a very small number of heats.

At the regional level, sometimes we have to weigh the options a little differently. At the NE Masters Champs last week-end, we had 768 swimmers in the meet. The best facility we have available for a meet this size has just an 8-lane competition course. We don't have a SCY facility in the region that would give us two courses _and_ have the appropriate facility space and warmup space.

We are a meet that is large enough so that seeding-by-age would work reasonably well. We had 30 heats of men's 100 free. However, seeding by age would probably have added a couple of hours to our timeline for the week-end. As it was, one of our days started at 9:00am and didn't finish until almost 8:00pm. So every minute counts.

At nationals, where you always have large facilities with plenty of space (certainly in relative terms), there is less pressure on the timeline.

-Rick

Karen Duggan
April 18th, 2005, 02:10 PM
I like Just For Fun's idea. When we were discussing, years ago, about being allowed to swim both distance events something similar came up.

I suggested having Nationals for everybody (more like a consols for the elite) and then having another day, meet, etc. for the elite (that would be finals). The finals wouldn't affect age groups and doesn't even need awards, etc. It would go really fast (no pun intended) as it would be only one heat of each event.

Really it would be "just for fun" and bragging rights, particularly if your last name is Smith :p

Western Ky swimmer
April 18th, 2005, 02:47 PM
I think the seeding by age groups should stay as is. The idea of swimming a final heat!!! Would that mean swimming the event twice in one day!! I swam competitively as a younger swimmer and prelims and finals were fine but as a 45 year old I think that would be a little to much. I am in agreement with the concept that if you are outstanding for your age you should be able to flaunt that at Nationals. If you swim masters meets the rest of the year they usually seed those events by times.

justforfun
April 19th, 2005, 10:27 AM
The idea I proposed above would mean swimming an event twice, perhaps in one day depending on the format. But, this would only affect 8 males and 8 females in each event. The vast majority of competitors would swim their events as they do now: seeded according to age group and with immediate feedback about where they placed. Those who finish with one of the top 8 times overall would be eligible to compete in a race for the "all event" or "overall" title. I would propose that this race be completely separate from the regular placing and scoring according to age groups. Of course, anyone could decline their spot in the top 8 race if they didn't want to swim it twice.

I think this format would satisfy all parties, with the only potential negative being where to fit these races into an already crowded Nationals timeline. We're only talking about a few heats per day, however.

Jeff Commings
April 19th, 2005, 01:10 PM
I appreciate all of the feedback I've read so far, even the ones against my proposal.

At one time I thought having a heat of the top 8 swimmers in the evening ("finals") would be fun. But most swimmers, myself included do six events at nationals, which means multiple events in one day. To have to do those events in a finals session again would probably mean less than an hour between swims -- not a good plan for peak performance. And then we'd have to get up and do it again the next day, which could affect performances as the weekend goes on.

I suspect there's no one way to make this work, but then again, someone could (I hope) prove me wrong.

LindsayNB
April 19th, 2005, 02:13 PM
I haven't heard an explanation of why it wouldn't work to allow competitors to choose to enter either an open (seeded only by time) or age group (seeded by age group then time) event. Those that want to compete against the fastest regardless of age would swim in the open event the others in the age group event with neither group imposing their preference on the other. If the open event is swum first the age group people will know the time they have to beat to win their age group.

knelson
April 19th, 2005, 03:57 PM
Originally posted by LindsayNB
I haven't heard an explanation of why it wouldn't work to allow competitors to choose to enter either an open (seeded only by time) or age group (seeded by age group then time) event.

That would only serve to dilute the competition and I'd be strongly against it.

I agree with Jeff that there's probably no way to make the single heat "finals" work either. My guess is a lot of the top dogs would scratch from the finals heat and, again, it would dilute the competition and this would defeat the whole purpose of having the heat.

justforfun
April 19th, 2005, 05:02 PM
I'm actually satisfied with seeding at Nationals the way it is...there is plenty of competition in my age group. But, if there were an additional top 8 heat and I swam fast enough to qualify, I would sure take advantage of the opportunity.

I do understand the feeling that a person who qualified for mutiple top 8 heats might choose not to swim some of them in order to conserve energy for other events. What that tells me, though, is that even the most elite swimmers at Nationals are more interested in achieving personal goals (a personal best time, a record, etc.) than setting up a system that allows head-to-head competition outside their own age group. There's nothing wrong with that.

Karen Duggan
April 19th, 2005, 11:30 PM
What if there was an extra day at Nationals to swim these "finals" heats? Everyone would be tired and in the same boat. And it is for fun after all isn't it? Bragging rights, etc? I'd totally do it (if I made it).


I think a lot more people would do it at the end when all was said and done.

I do think though that 10 should make it thought with the 9 and 10 spots being alternates. People in the top 8 need to have a timeline to scratch...

LindsayNB
April 20th, 2005, 08:59 AM
Originally posted by knelson
That would only serve to dilute the competition and I'd be strongly against it.

It seems to me that your reply is a little too terse since the presumed effect would be a concentration of the most competitive swimmers in the open event. Anyone wanting intense competition could enter the open event, so it seems to me that an argument that the age group competition would be diluted implies an attempt to impose one's own preferences on others instead of allowing choice.

knelson
April 20th, 2005, 11:08 AM
I disagree, Lindsay. People who enter USMS meets have implicitly agreed to compete within age groups. There are other competitions not divided by age--such as USA Swimming Senior meets. I would suggest anyone who is looking for this kind of competition should go that route rather than expecting USMS to change.

Conniekat8
April 25th, 2005, 04:13 PM
Originally posted by Jeff Commings

This leads to Lindsay's comment. I swam in USA Swimming from age five to age 22, so I know the way meets are done. I am only mentioning the nationals for the purposes of my argument, not local meets. I think seeding by time only will benefit the swimmers AND spectators. The swimmers get to race people of their talent, and ther spectators get to see more close races -- in all heats.

My experience has been that at the national convention when the decisions are made this particular issue has been discussed ad-infinitum, and the prevailing votes and opinions are actually in favor of the age-group splitting.

I can see both sides of the argument, personally, I prefer to swim with oeople my own speed, rather than the age group.
But, if I'm in contention for a win, being that the awards are given based on the age grouos, I understand the added satisfaction and the immediate knowledge you beat the others.

I suppose there could be an 'exhibition event' where people get to a 'face-off', perhaps time trial style, regardless of the age group. I wonder if there's time for such event at the nationals, and how many people would actually sign up for it.
Let's say it waas a 100 free (a) nd 100 free (b), and you could sign uop for either, and have your time count... One seeded by age group, other by time... see where you get more signups.

As for the spectator value of seeding, in Masters Nationals it is the Competitors rather than the sopectators that are the main revenue generators, and priority of preferences will naturally be given to them.
In my experience, people who come to just watch the Masters nationals are few, even with no admission cost.
It's a hard argument to make, to cater to almost non-existant spectators, vs. the competitors.

Jeff, how many times and how far have you travaled to just watch the Masters Nationals, rather than being a spectator because you were there, and waiting for your events or cheering your teammates?

Jeff Commings
April 25th, 2005, 04:24 PM
Connie, I've never just gone to a masters meet to watch. In fact, there are few meets where I've been only a spectator (2003 NCAAs the only recent exception).

But if I lived in the Savannah, Ga., area, I might have participated in the long course nationals last summer, and been awed by Razvan's and Mike's separate 100 flys, then puzzled why they couldn't have swum it together to produce a better race and possibly faster record times.

Conniekat8
April 25th, 2005, 04:34 PM
Originally posted by Beards247
There is no real resolution to an issue like this, the preference is rooted in personal preference with no research, logic or logisitcal reason to choose one approach over the other. This could be an excellent opportunity to use the Forum polling
and publish the poll and results in the new magazine.

Actually, USMS has issued a poll similar to what you guys are talking about to all those who attended the '04 LCM Nationals in Savannah, and the results have been discussed at the USMS convention.

I would venture a guess that one of the reasons there was not a lot of interest in Jeff’s article being published is that many opinions much like his have already been voiced at the convention during the decision making, and may more other opinions and preferences have already been voiced, considered and discussed.

Yes, there were swimmer considerations, spectator consideration and logistical considerations, all given their realistic weight of importance, looking at the whole picture, not just one strong feeling side of it.

The rules as they stand now are the result of that process.

Frankly, the opinions that you voice all have more impact if you voice them at the convention, rather than in articles. Yes, there is a cost to making changes, if you're passionate about making those changes, you need to get involved in places where you *can* make a difference. USMS is a volunteer run organization, and I believe they are always looking for passionate individuals to get involved with the organization. There's definately room for them.

Conniekat8
April 25th, 2005, 04:49 PM
Originally posted by Swimmer Bill
Side note: Personally, I like watching the swimmers who are way ahead of their age groups. It shows how outstanding they are in the context of their own divisions.

I'd have to agree with that one.
I remember watching Nadine Day in one of her distance events, she was laps ahead of everyone, and going strong.
There was something truly special about watching it.

Different then watching two swimmers going head to head.
I cant really say that I prefer that more or less than watching two or three elites go head to head. They're both special in their own way.

Conniekat8
April 25th, 2005, 05:00 PM
Originally posted by justforfun
I think this format would satisfy all parties, with the only potential negative being where to fit these races into an already crowded Nationals timeline. We're only talking about a few heats per day, however.

What if it came down to having to choose between dropping the 6th event and have the final heats, or not have the final heats, and keeping the 6th event?

What if you knew that by most likely dropping the 6th event you may end up discouraging 20% of swimmers from coming to the event, and that makes it unfesible to host the event in the first place?

What if some of the people you would like to see swim against people their speed outswide the age group would really prefer to swim within the age group? Whose preference should count more, the spectator or the competitor who has paid out of their pocket to travel to and attend the meet?

In Masters Nationals, it's the swimmer that is the customer, not the spectator.
In the elite USA swimming, their nationals and the olympics, it's the spectator that is the customer.

Little different positioning of the interests.

justforfun
April 25th, 2005, 06:06 PM
Connie, thanks for your comments that come from the pragmatic point of view.

As to your first point, I don't think that dropping the 6th event would be an equivalent trade-off for adding 1 finals heat to each event. On this year's SCY order of events, there are 5-6 individual events each day, which translates to 10-12 extra heats. At an estimated average of 3 minutes per heat, we're talking about 30-36 minutes. Dropping the 6th event means striking 1 swim for nearly everyone in the meet. This translates to eliminating 1500-2000 swims from the meet, which is roughly 188-250 heats.

Your second point is the key one, in my opinion. I don't know how many competitors would be interested in swimming head-to-head against swimmers outside their age groups. Perhaps many would scratch from the final heat, not wanting to do an additional swim. In that case, it wouldn't be worth the trouble.

I don't think we should specifically take "spectators" into consideration--no one has suggested that. Any change in format like this would be purely to satisfy our competitive spirits. With that in mind, I don't think anyone will forget the excitement on the pool deck at Indianapolis last year when we saw Gary Hall Jr, Sabir Muhammed, et al duke it out in the sprints. Those heats were different than the rest of the meet and the energy spread to everyone watching...I think that maybe these finals heats could do the same thing.

Conniekat8
April 25th, 2005, 06:23 PM
Originally posted by Jeff Commings
Connie, I've never just gone to a masters meet to watch. In fact, there are few meets where I've been only a spectator (2003 NCAAs the only recent exception).

But if I lived in the Savannah, Ga., area, I might have participated in the long course nationals last summer, and been awed by Razvan's and Mike's separate 100 flys, then puzzled why they couldn't have swum it together to produce a better race and possibly faster record times.

So, if people don't go to the nationals to watch, they're not televised, they're not sponsored with high amounts due to large audiences they draw, and the way it's seeded right now is reflective of the preferences of most competetive swimmers wo actually spend their own money to come and compete, why cater to the non-existant, non revenue generating spectators?

Also, how would we determine that your personal preferences described here are indicative of the majority of the potential spectators?

Conniekat8
April 25th, 2005, 06:59 PM
Originally posted by justforfun
Connie, thanks for your comments that come from the pragmatic point of view.

As to your first point, I don't think that dropping the 6th event would be an equivalent trade-off for adding 1 finals heat to each event. On this year's SCY order of events, there are 5-6 individual events each day, which translates to 10-12 extra heats. At an estimated average of 3 minutes per heat, we're talking about 30-36 minutes. Dropping the 6th event means striking 1 swim for nearly everyone in the meet. This translates to eliminating 1500-2000 swims from the meet, which is roughly 188-250 heats.

3 minutes per heat? I don't know anyone so fast that they can swim a 1500 in 3 minutes. How about a 400 IM, what's a fast time for that?
Do you suggest we do a final heat only for the 100's and the 50's and not for the 200 and the 400 and 800 and 1500 or whatever the case might be?
By doing that you've just ticked off about half the swimmers in the meet, those who prefer the distance.

You need to account for on heat for each event, and then double that, for men's and womens, so, what's a fast heat for 1500.. some 15-18 minutes times two, then 400 IM times 2, then 800 free x 2, then 400 free x2, then 200 free x 2... add it all up (anyone adding this?) Then add some time in between the hneats, and make sure that all finalists have had enough of a chance to rest between teir prelim and final, and don't have back to back events... I bet you're looking at adding another half a day or so to the timeline. Not mere 30-35 minutes.



Your second point is the key one, in my opinion. I don't know how many competitors would be interested in swimming head-to-head against swimmers outside their age groups. Perhaps many would scratch from the final heat, not wanting to do an additional swim. In that case, it wouldn't be worth the trouble.

I can tell you of the people on my team, we have a national champion in 45-49 age group, and we have a world record holder, and about 3-4 other top contenders, in fastest age groups.
They all know and have created a friendly rivalry with other people they compete against in their age group, and are all adamant about competing against each other, rather than someone outside their age group they hardly know.
I know our nation champion wouldn't even bother to swim if she couldn't compete against a specific gal in her age group. Right now, they are so close in the 200 and 400 free that one holds a title in the 200, and the other in the 400.
Well, their votes about how they like it are just as valid as a 26 year old sprinter t the top of his age group, as a 75 year old distance swimmer at the top of her age group.


I don't think we should specifically take "spectators" into consideration--no one has suggested that. Any change in format like this would be purely to satisfy our competitive spirits.

According to whom? Last time USMS did the polling, it was a minority.


With that in mind, I don't think anyone will forget the excitement on the pool deck at Indianapolis last year when we saw Gary Hall Jr, Sabir Muhammed, et al duke it out in the sprints. Those heats were different than the rest of the meet and the energy spread to everyone watching...I think that maybe these finals heats could do the same thing.

I doubt it. There were many other super fast heats that weren't that far behind Gary Hall and Sabir, and they didn't generate that kind of an atmosphere. If I remember right, the heat with Gary Hall and Sabir in Indy ( I was there) wasn't even the fastest heat in one of the events.
I bet you that if Michael Phelps just entered the room, and didn't even swim, you'd still get that kind of an atmosphere. It's not how the swim is seeded, it's who is in it.

We have a kid that swims 20-21 seconds in 50 free SCY, and locally has swum against and sometimes beats Eric Hockstein, and even though in same age groups they are often seeded 3 and 4 in local championships. You don't get that kind of an atmosphere from just fast swims and a very minor celebrity.

Do you know who Eric Hockstein is? Would you have the same reaction to watching him swim vs. Hary Hall Jr? Even if they're only half a second apart?

Heck, having Paul Smith swim in a meet should generate that kind of excitment considering his acomplishments, but it doesn't.

justforfun
April 25th, 2005, 10:08 PM
Perhaps we should revisit what we're talking about here. The original question was, essentially, should we seed nationals according to time rather than age group to allow people to swim against a heat full of competitors roughly their own speed? It seems as though there is not much desire on the part of most participants to do it that way (myself included). So, I suggested a format that might accomplish at least part of what Jeff wants (and it certainly isn't an original idea at that) without disrupting the regular meet for the vast majority of swimmers.

I would never suggest that the longest events (1000, 1650) be swum twice. This is rarely done at any meet. These events are already seeded differently from the others at nationals anyway. Even if the 400 IM and 500 free were done twice, I still think the average would be around 3 minutes/heat. 50s take less than 1 minute, 100s 1 1/2 minutes, 200s less than 3 minutes. 400 IM and 500 free would be 5-6 minutes. I'm also not suggesting that there should be large amounts of time between these heats. People would have to be careful about the way they choose their events according to the given order. Those fast enough to make more than one final in one session might not swim both in the final. Finals could be held at the end of the regular session or another day...there are a few different options. Finally, with this format, those content to stay within their own age group could do that...the rest of the meet would be exactly the same except for the added top 8 heats.

As I stated in an earlier post, I actually like it the way it is now. But, my point is (for the sake of discussion) if there was interest in something like this, it could be done.

By the way, I do know who Eric Hockstein is...German Olympian, right? Maybe I'm just too much of a swimming junkie, but I do get excited to see Smith vs. Smith, or watch Jim McConica or Trip Hedrick, or see anyone swim fast. Or, if I had the chance, I'd love to swim against some of them myself. Surely I'm not alone.

breastroker
April 25th, 2005, 11:26 PM
I remember more than a few years ago Eric Hockstein swam at the SPMA SCM regionals, back when it was the best in the USA.

He swam 49+ for 100 meters!!!!

And there are many more that would give him a good race.

I would like USMS to have sponsored races across the USA to build excitement. Kind of like the Clarol Challenge with Mat Biondi vs. Mark Spitz. Say a prize of $5000 .:D

For me watching say the best breaststrokers under 45, say you have to go under 59 seconds. And a 45 to 60 race to see the first Masters over 55 under a minute.

But when it really counts, when I have been training hard, time racing is better than age group racing. I remember a 200 meter breaststroke, I went out in 1:14.75, was at 1:54.9 at the 150 mark, but was 20 meters ahead of the next guy in my age group. I would have loved to be racing Gerry Rodrigues in the same heat. We had a beer (six pac) on the three breast races. But Gerry had Mike Winterbaurer next to him to push that last 25 meters of PAIN. Close races bring out the best in us.

LindsayNB
April 26th, 2005, 09:43 AM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
...
Let's say it was a 100 free (a) and 100 free (b), and you could sign up for either, and have your time count... One seeded by age group, other by time... see where you get more signups.

I still think this idea has merit. It would be interesting to see how many people signed up for each although I don't see it as a majority rules issue, as long as there are enough people to populate the heats I don't see why you shouldn't let each group compete according to their own preferences. At worst, if you end up with a half heat of swimmers for the slowest heat of the time seeded heats you seed them in with the age seeded swimmers to avoid any impact on the timeline. In general the time seeded heats should reduce the timeline.

To me if you have one group that likes silver cars and one group that like blue cars, you can either argue over whether to make all cars silver or blue and take polls etc. etc., or you can let people choose the color of their own car.


Wayne wrote:
It's not how fast you swim, it's how fast you slow down.

All I have to do is not slow down into my eighties and I'll be a contender! ;)

matysekj
April 26th, 2005, 10:11 AM
Originally posted by LindsayNB
I still think this idea has merit. It would be interesting to see how many people signed up for each although I don't see it as a majority rules issue, as long as there are enough people to populate the heats I don't see why you shouldn't let each group compete according to their own preferences.


One issue is that these are not mutually exclusive decisions. We are running a national championship. Let's say that you and I are in the same age group and my preference is to swim under the current system where I compete against others in my age group, while your preference is to be seeded in the age-independent heats. Let's also assume (fantasize?) that you and I are the fastest two swimmers in our age group, much faster than all the others. Well, your decision to swim in the age-independent heats has affected me. I would have no competition in my heat and would be unable to swim against you head-to-head, while you may be swimming with others of similar speed. As you can see, letting everyone make their own decision does not "let each group compete according to their own preferences" because your preference impacts my situation.

Jeff Commings
April 26th, 2005, 10:30 AM
Every comment here has merit, and every comment makes sense in its own fashion. I don't have the absolute solution to my question. If I did, I might be already stumping to be my LMSC rep.

But talking about it often brings about a solution or an impasse. Either way, it's good to see that there are opinions on both sides and that this issue, which has been going on longer than I have been alive, is still hotly debated.

LindsayNB
April 26th, 2005, 11:41 AM
While I acknowledge that your point is that my decision to enter the heat seeded by time would have an affect on you, I think it is interesting to note that the effect on you, having to swim in a heat with no one of similar speed is exactly the effect that the current rules impose on people who dominate their age group. And under the duel system you would at least have the choice to swim in a heat seeded by time if swimming against someone of similar speed was important to you. In your hypothetical setup if one swimmer decided stay home that also affects the other swimmer, but I doubt anyone would suggest that anyone be forced to attend the meet.

Extending my car color scenario, if one person prefers that ALL cars be silver and another person prefers ALL cars to be blue, one could argue that majority rules and that the person who prefers silver cars is affected if I am allowed to have a blue car. I think there is a distinction between saying you have your color car and I'll have mine and saying I want you to conform to my prefered car color.


Originally posted by matysekj
One issue is that these are not mutually exclusive decisions. We are running a national championship. Let's say that you and I are in the same age group and my preference is to swim under the current system where I compete against others in my age group, while your preference is to be seeded in the age-independent heats. Let's also assume (fantasize?) that you and I are the fastest two swimmers in our age group, much faster than all the others. Well, your decision to swim in the age-independent heats has affected me. I would have no competition in my heat and would be unable to swim against you head-to-head, while you may be swimming with others of similar speed. As you can see, letting everyone make their own decision does not "let each group compete according to their own preferences" because your preference impacts my situation.

Conniekat8
April 26th, 2005, 01:55 PM
Originally posted by justforfun
Perhaps we should revisit what we're talking about here. The original question was, essentially, should we seed nationals according to time rather than age group to allow people to swim against a heat full of competitors roughly their own speed? It seems as though there is not much desire on the part of most participants to do it that way (myself included). So, I suggested a format that might accomplish at least part of what Jeff wants (and it certainly isn't an original idea at that) without disrupting the regular meet for the vast majority of swimmers.

I understand what you suggested. Having sat through and observed a number of meetings at the convention where all the opinions get voiced and those rules are made, I can just hear the opposing arguments to that. For one, the logistical issues for the meet host... from software and timing system to timelines etc...
Another one, if you hold prelims and finals on separate days, you may have people complaining that that requires them to stay an extra day. Also, there's a cost in lifeguards, medical personell, officials, timers etc...

I would never suggest that the longest events (1000, 1650) be swum twice. This is rarely done at any meet. These events are already seeded differently from the others at nationals anyway.

But what if the distance swimmers want to have prelim and a final as well? The general sentiment of I believe majority distance swimmers at nationals is that there is not enough distance events offered to begin with. You add more events to sprints and shorter distances, you'll have them very much up in arms, demanding equal treatment.

Even if the 400 IM and 500 free were done twice, I still think the average would be around 3 minutes/heat.
50s take less than 1 minute, 100s 1 1/2 minutes, 200s less than 3 minutes. 400 IM and 500 free would be 5-6 minutes. I'm also not suggesting that there should be large amounts of time between these heats. People would have to be careful about the way they choose their events according to the given order. Those fast enough to make more than one final in one session might not swim both in the final.

And what if there is a number of them that don't like that idea?

Finals could be held at the end of the regular session or another day...there are a few different options. Finally, with this format, those content to stay within their own age group could do that...the rest of the meet would be exactly the same except for the added top 8 heats.

As I stated in an earlier post, I actually like it the way it is now. But, my point is (for the sake of discussion) if there was interest in something like this, it could be done.

Theoretically, anything is possible. It's getting people to agree, and making it practical that's going to make one thing prevail over another.
I know that asking few hundred people that are used to doingthings a certain way to pay attention and follow the changed program is a chineese fire drill in the making.
You'd have to have extra staff just to remind and direct people, and fend off questions and complaints... If you don't want to have delays, that is.

By the way, I do know who Eric Hockstein is...German Olympian, right? Maybe I'm just too much of a swimming junkie, but I do get excited to see Smith vs. Smith, or watch Jim McConica or Trip Hedrick, or see anyone swim fast. Or, if I had the chance, I'd love to swim against some of them myself. Surely I'm not alone.

Maybe someone would want to hold a sprint only exhibition meet... All Stars Masters invitational series sprint meet or something like that? (50's 100's and maybe 200's only)
How do you get the elites to get interested and show up?

Conniekat8
April 26th, 2005, 02:09 PM
Originally posted by breastroker
I would like USMS to have sponsored races across the USA to build excitement. Kind of like the Clarol Challenge with Mat Biondi vs. Mark Spitz. Say a prize of $5000 .:D


If they're promoted right, perhaps they'd get some media coverage, and get a national sponsor or two interested in donating the prize money...
Or maybe have a webcast, if you can't get any networks interested in it.

Conniekat8
April 26th, 2005, 02:24 PM
Originally posted by LindsayNB
To me if you have one group that likes silver cars and one group that like blue cars, you can either argue over whether to make all cars silver or blue and take polls etc. etc., or you can let people choose the color of their own car.

Yeah, and if 300 people want a blue car, and 5 of them want a silver car, the cost of that silver paint and production goes way up, or you have to amortize it across everyone that buys the blue car as well. If the Blue cars find out that they paid for part of the silver one, you have a lot of ill feelings on your hands to deal with.

You kow, all the way up to the nationals, I gather that most meets are seeded according to your time. if elites are so eager to swim against one another, how come they haven't gotten together and decided to choose one or two regional meets acroiss the country, andmake it into a face-off?

We just held regionals in Southern California, there was plenty of room and time left for, easily another 50 or even 100 swimmers. Nice pool, nice facility and area, 3 day meet, could have had the the face off, time trial, exhbition event... It was at a local College that has it's own little TV broadcast...
In USMS you don't have to compete in your own LMSC or Zone...

Perfect setting to have the fast people swim against one another. Can anyone tell me why they weren't there? There's plenty of fast people just in our LMSC!

Can anyone explain to me hiw come in the fastest heat of men's 100 there were 7 no-shows, and only one guy swam it in a heat all by himself, at 40some seconds...
He *did* get a big standing ovation.

Yeah, theoretically we could do this and we could do that... getting the fickle to go along with the program and actually participate seems to be the struggle.

knelson
April 26th, 2005, 02:35 PM
I just thought of an idea I don't think has been mentioned yet. How about a hybrid system? The top 8 or 16 seeded swimmers would swim in the final heat or two regardless of age. All the remaining heats would be seeded by age group.

Conniekat8
April 26th, 2005, 02:46 PM
Originally posted by LindsayNB
While I acknowledge that your point is that my decision to enter the heat seeded by time would have an affect on you, .....

I'm curious, do you have much involvement with, or experience organizing swim meets?

You're setting up an argument that includes just one consideration of probaby 20, 30 or so that would have to be made to actually make it happen.

What if your meet entry fee for nationals went from 80 dollars to 350 dollars to accomodate the dual system and make up for the loss of disgruntled swiimers who didn't like the change and decided to not show up and make the meet feasible for the host. Would you still want that choice?
What if thr meet host charges exdtra 200 bucks per entry to give you a choice? What do you do with people that mail in their entry, and don't indicate their preference?

Would you agree to have your USMS Dues doubled, so that USMS can offer prize money to the elite swimmers, and make it more attractive?

You know, majority of USMS swimmers, the ones who would end up paying for it aren't that interested in competition. Lot of their concern is that too much of their money is already spent on the elite ompetition, and not enough representing their interests. These are the people that in a way 'own the organization', almost as if they're your stockholders. You kind of have to answer to them wny you're spending your efforts in one place, when they think there is a deficiency elsewhere.

Seems to me that profits vs. the effort it takes to organize the nationals are slim enough that you don't exactly have meet hosts flocking to put one on.

Sure, you can have anything you want, on paper. But if noone steps up to the plate to actually do it, you end up with a rather elaborate version of nothing.

Speaking of cars, there's a reason for manufacturers to give you limited choice of colors. Remember the old days, before cars were in mass production, before it was feasible, they were all the same color.

mattson
April 27th, 2005, 11:58 AM
Originally posted by knelson
I just thought of an idea I don't think has been mentioned yet. How about a hybrid system? The top 8 or 16 seeded swimmers would swim in the final heat or two regardless of age. All the remaining heats would be seeded by age group.

I can think of two drawbacks. Both cases are for someone 35-45ish, but fast enough for the top 8/16. (Think Tall Paul, or Tom McCabe...)

1) If it is the last event before relays, instead of having a dozen heats or so to recover, they end up swimming the last heat, and one of the first heats of the relay.
2) Instead of swimming in the middle with some clear water (age-group heat), they end up in an end-lane getting battered by waves from the walls ("fast" heat).

TheGoodSmith
April 27th, 2005, 12:11 PM
Jeff's arguement is solid. You can not deny that seeding by time will ultimately produce faster swims in general than seeding by age group. It is a fact of human nature and competition.

When it all boils down..... your competition is always the person next to you...... older or younger.

Note: I have drowned in Jeff's wave during several 100 IMs in the lane next to him. He is younger, stronger and meaner than me........ so what. He reminds me that I have become weak and lazy in my old age. Hell, its good to draft off him !

Seed it by time...... Don't be so chicken to try something new .... lighten up...... it's just Masters swimming.

If you seed by time, you will see a 60 year old man (Rich Abrahams) in the 2nd to last heat of the 50 and 100 free.......... It'd be great ! Its amusing and respectable at the same time !

Hell I say throw the men in with the women together and seed by time. That'll get a few of the men off the asses.

After all....... you can't let girl beat you .... :-)


John Smith

Jeff Commings
April 27th, 2005, 01:25 PM
Note: I have drowned in Jeff's wave during several 100 IMs in the lane next to him. He is younger, stronger and meaner than me........ so what. He reminds me that I have become weak and lazy in my old age. Hell, its good to draft off him !

I'm glad to be of service, John.

LindsayNB
April 27th, 2005, 02:06 PM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
I'm curious, do you have much involvement with, or experience organizing swim meets?

I did organize our club's meet two weeks ago but that is quite different from a Nationals size meet. My only involvement with larger meets is as a swimmer or in my roles as masters cochair at Swimming New Brunswick and as a member of the board of Masters Swimming Canada.

What if your meet entry fee for nationals went from 80 dollars to 350 dollars to accomodate the dual system and make up for the loss of disgruntled swiimers who didn't like the change and decided to not show up and make the meet feasible for the host. Would you still want that choice?
What if thr meet host charges exdtra 200 bucks per entry to give you a choice?

These seem like highly hypothetical possibilities to me. If you are not interested in exploring the feasiblity of offering a duel system that's fine, I don't see the harm of dicussing the possibility and am open to the possibility that there are good reasons to stick with the status quo. I think it would be good for everyone to have those good reasons out in the open and understood. At this point I see no reason why splitting the events into two sets of heats would drive up the costs to the radical extent your examples imply. I guess it is possible that people would stay away if they couldn't have their way, but I doubt it. For all we know a lot of people are currently staying away due to a dislike of the current system.

What do you do with people that mail in their entry, and don't indicate their preference?

I guess you would have a documented default? Presuming that you didn't implement each event as two events in your schedule (Event 12A 50Fly by time, Event 12B 50Fly by age group)

Would you agree to have your USMS Dues doubled, so that USMS can offer prize money to the elite swimmers, and make it more attractive?

I would neither propose nor support such a proposition.

You know, majority of USMS swimmers, the ones who would end up paying for it aren't that interested in competition. Lot of their concern is that too much of their money is already spent on the elite ompetition, and not enough representing their interests. These are the people that in a way 'own the organization', almost as if they're your stockholders. You kind of have to answer to them wny you're spending your efforts in one place, when they think there is a deficiency elsewhere.

Which is why I joined the MSC fitness committee and am putting my efforts into helping develop fitness oriented programs.

Sure, you can have anything you want, on paper. But if noone steps up to the plate to actually do it, you end up with a rather elaborate version of nothing.

I think it is constructive to have a good discussion of the pros and cons of a potential change before pushing to have it implemented. I thought that was what we were doing here.

I guess I should also make it clear for anyone who hasn't run across any of my times in other threads that I am not one of the elite swimmers that can't find competition in my age group, I am one of those much slower swimmers that some people enjoy seeing get lapped by the more elite swimmers in my age group.;)

Conniekat8
April 27th, 2005, 02:54 PM
Originally posted by TheGoodSmith

Seed it by time...... Don't be so chicken to try something new .... lighten up...... it's just Masters swimming.

Hell I say throw the men in with the women together and seed by time. That'll get a few of the men off the asses.

John Smith

Just about all masters meets, except for Nationals are seeded by time only, and except for Zone and Regional championships where men and women are separated but still seeded by time, all other local meets are seeded by time only, men and women combined. Atlest here in my LMSC it's that way.

Conniekat8
April 27th, 2005, 03:22 PM
Originally posted by LindsayNB


These seem like highly hypothetical possibilities to me. If you are not interested in exploring the feasiblity of offering a duel system that's fine, I don't see the harm of dicussing the possibility and am open to the possibility that there are good reasons to stick with the status quo. I think it would be good for everyone to have those good reasons out in the open and understood. At this point I see no reason why splitting the events into two sets of heats would drive up the costs to the radical extent your examples imply. I guess it is possible that people would stay away if they couldn't have their way, but I doubt it. For all we know a lot of people are currently staying away due to a dislike of the current system.

Those reasons have been discussed a lot on several comittees at the convention, if I remember right. I believe championship comittee is the one that has most say in this.
As for the costs, till a lot more research and analisys is done you really don't know what the cost would be. My point was not so much that it would really go up to 350, but what if it does, how much extra would people be willing to pay, where do they draw the line?


Would you agree to have your USMS Dues doubled, so that USMS can offer prize money to the elite swimmers, and make it more attractive?

I would neither propose nor support such a proposition.

Why not? What if the increase was 20%, and that would enable to use some elite competition to promote Masters swimming, and attract members and sponsorships to the sport. As it is, compared to many other sports associations, the dues are very low.
I spend more than some 30 bucks a year on chewing gum and sodas within one year, and get a lot less benefit out of it.

I'm getting the mixed message here though, people want competition, but they don't want competition.
If one is not that ointerested in competition, then why worry about how the competetive events are seeded to give competitors certain opportunities?

Which is why I joined the MSC fitness committee and am putting my efforts into helping develop fitness oriented programs.

That's good.
I'm curious though, how come you ended up getting invested in a discussion about one of the most competetive events?


I think it is constructive to have a good discussion of the pros and cons of a potential change before pushing to have it implemented. I thought that was what we were doing here.

If I remember right, a discussion very similar to this has already happened at the last convention. One of the suggestions that were made was to seed the nationals by time only (men and women separated), not so much in the interest of competetiveness, but more the interest of time savings, and it had met a very large and very strong opposition, by a lot of the oeople that few people here are saying they'd like to see them swim against someone outside their age group.
Even though I'm not onthe championship comitee myself, being that I'm one of the organizers of the LCM nationals this year, I sat in on the comittee meetings watching pretty closely what was happening, knowing that it will have impact on what we have to do this year.

If I followed it right, the next year where rule changes will be discussed will be at the convention in 2006. So if someone is really passionate about making this change, they have some time to do their research and make their case when and where it actually may make a difference.

As I said though, it won't be the first time similar idea has been presented.

TheGoodSmith
April 27th, 2005, 05:47 PM
Hey,

If we combine the men and the women in the same heats at nationals, Paul Smith could race Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen in a few events for a Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs grudge match in backstroke.

After all...... Paul is substantially older than Karlyn.....

Yeah...... I'd watch that.


John Smith :)

Paul Smith
April 27th, 2005, 05:52 PM
Hey folks, what your seeing her is the lashing out via sarcasm of a tired old man who just happened to marry and Olympian and it pisses him off everyday!

Besides, Karlyn scares the hell out of me and you could count on my not showing up to th blocks for ass whuppin she would put on me!!

Speaking of Mr. Cummings wave abuse (I've suffered it as well)......how can a man who's feet stick straight up out of the water when he kicks swim backstroke so fast???!!!

TheGoodSmith
April 27th, 2005, 06:00 PM
Yeah Jeff...... your backstroke is pretty fast given that funky kick you got going on. I don't remember Eddie teaching that kick when I was at Texas. Must be part of that new backstroke cheatin' generation. Didn't you ever learn that breastrokers ain't supposed to be able to swim backstroke.

Note: Paul and I have perfect strokes because we are older and have many years of wisdom on you.


John Smith
:)

Jeff Commings
April 27th, 2005, 06:06 PM
Don't get me wrong Mssrs. Smith, but I am constantly in amazement that I swim backstroke faster than those who can kick 15 meters off every short course wall. Seeing that I was second in my age group in the world in long course backstroke last year increased my confusion.

Believe me, Eddie did all he could to fix my ankles -- short of breaking them. If you look at my backstroke, what you see going on above my waist cancels out whatever is going on in my ankle area.

I know breaststrokers shouldn't be backstrokers. Why do you think almost every meet puts the two strokes back-to-back?

Paul Smith
April 27th, 2005, 06:07 PM
Come to think of it, Jeff went a 21+ in the 50 free.....how he did that with his toes hitting the bottom of the shallow end of the pool is incredible!

Breastrokers.....outta be a law!

Jeff Commings
April 27th, 2005, 06:11 PM
My feet had a nickname in college -- Aquabrakes.

LindsayNB
April 28th, 2005, 12:27 PM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
I'm getting the mixed message here though, people want competition, but they don't want competition.
If one is not that interested in competition, then why worry about how the competetive events are seeded to give competitors certain opportunities?

It seems to me that there is no logical contradiction between wanting to allow those who want to swim seeded by time to do so and not wanting to double fees for everyone in order to provide prizes for a few elite swimmers! It seems quite unlikely to me that doubling fees and offering a $5000 purse is going to be an effective way to promote masters swimming. Wanting to swim under conditions that will optimize your performance seems entirely in line with the goals of masters swimming but asking a large group of people to pay money to motivate you is not a reasonable way to achieve that motivation. The demotivation of the many is not justified by the motivation of the few. The point I am trying to get across is that the impacts on the people that are effected have to be evaluated against the goals of the organization. For group A to demand that group B participate under group A's terms is different from demanding that group A be able to participate under group A's terms while group B competes under group B's terms.

It seems to me that the desire to optimize one's own performance by swimming with people of similar speed is entirely consistant with USMS philosophy while a desire to demonstrate your utter domination of the others in your age group is not.

All I would like to see is some descriptions of scenarios where people suffer under a dual seeding model that don't already occur under the current system and where the suffering contradicts the principles of the organization.

If you tell me that a dual seeded system was discussed thoroughly at convention and outline the reasoned principles on which it was rejected I'll be entirely satisfied.

Karen Duggan
April 28th, 2005, 12:54 PM
Lindsay,

Maybe I misunderstood you, but did you say you want people to suffer under a duel system. What does that mean exactly? Why does there have to be a duel system?

Isn't Nationals THE champonship meet. Do we need another one for the elite?

I'm a little confused. (Nothing new :p)

MPohlmann
April 28th, 2005, 01:22 PM
Are we talking "duel" or "dual" here.

Choose your weapons. :)

Karen Duggan
April 28th, 2005, 01:48 PM
Pardon me, dual :p

LindsayNB
April 28th, 2005, 02:21 PM
Originally posted by Karen Duggan
Lindsay,

Maybe I misunderstood you, but did you say you want people to suffer under a duel system. What does that mean exactly? Why does there have to be a duel system?

Isn't Nationals THE champonship meet. Do we need another one for the elite?

I'm a little confused. (Nothing new :p)

:p I have corrected my post to say that I want people to describe how people would be hurt by a dual system.

The reason why we might want a dual system is that some people would prefer to swim against people of similar speed while some people would rather swim against people of similar age. Most of the debate I've witnessed so far assumes it has to be one or the other or involves adding extra swims. My hypothesis is that happyness and performance can be optimized by a simple change in seeding.

I haven't heard any compelling reasons why it would be advantageous to have the time seeded heats swum in a different meet. The only one that comes to mind is that swimmers could then go to both meets, but it seems dubious they would actually do so. One of the attractions of Nationals is getting people from all over at one meet.

I guess it also bears mentioning that the elite swimmers are not the only ones who suffer under age group seeding. When slow swimmers are seeded into the same heat as fast swimmers it doesn't optimize their performance either. This is mostly a factor in less popular events in less populous age groups.

Karen Duggan
April 28th, 2005, 03:06 PM
I disagree. While I don't enjoy getting beat by the elite, it does motivate me. I'd rather swim with faster swimmers than with those who are the same speed as me. I guarantee I'll swim faster with those faster than me (as opposed to those with the same times as me).

I still contend that it would be useful, for those interested, to take THE fastest times of the meet and have "finals" on what would be the last day of the meet.

Bobber
April 28th, 2005, 03:16 PM
Originally posted by LindsayNB
:p I have corrected my post to say that I want people to describe how people would be hurt by a dual system.

The reason why we might want a dual system is that some people would prefer to swim against people of similar speed while some people would rather swim against people of similar age.

What about those who want to swim against others in their age-group including the best in the AG, but some of the best in the AG select the open seeded heats? These AG-heat swimmers will know what the time-seeded heats swam (assuming they went first) but may not be swimming head-to-head with the other top swimmers in the AG.

This kind of thing happens all the time in triathlons that offer an elite wave. Many triathlons exclude the elite wave competitors from AG awards because of this. In triathlon national championship races, there are no elite waves.

Western Ky swimmer
April 28th, 2005, 03:30 PM
After reading all the different responses to this issue I have one question for you all Whatever happened to swim your own race? It really does not matter whose swimming next to me or how fast they are swimming I will swim as fast as I can in the race. Maybe I was coached in the old days but many times I remember my coach telling me to swim my own race don't look at the other swimmers. Does that sound familiar to anyone else??? Thanks for the comedy in the middle of the day though. Paul I shared your times with one of our up and coming hot shots on the age group team all the senior swimmers got a big laugh out of his response!! Keep up the awesome times regardless of who you swim against.

Karen Duggan
April 28th, 2005, 04:02 PM
I agree with swimming your own race, but I have happened upon the circumstance (albeit not lately!) where I was far ahead of the competition and really didn't finish as hard as I could have.

Alternatively, I have been in some very close races where I really gave it everything I have.

You can do your own race (that's ideal) but it can happen that you get caught up in the heat (of the moment!) :p

Jeff Commings
April 28th, 2005, 04:32 PM
Cindy, I was told many times to "swim my own race." Unless you can complete the distance with your eyes closed from start to finish, it's not possible.

With that said, I don't like swimming my own race. I'd rather compete.

Racing the clock is not fun.

LindsayNB
April 29th, 2005, 09:52 AM
Originally posted by Bobber
What about those who want to swim against others in their age-group including the best in the AG, but some of the best in the AG select the open seeded heats?

I thought I covered this, the idea being that when two groups are in conflict with group A wanting to swim their own prefered way and group B wanting group A to swim according to group B's preferences there is a stronger case to let group A control group A then to let group B control group A.

These AG-heat swimmers will know what the time-seeded heats swam (assuming they went first) but may not be swimming head-to-head with the other top swimmers in the AG.

If they want to swim head to head they do have the option of swimming in the open heats.

This kind of thing happens all the time in triathlons that offer an elite wave. Many triathlons exclude the elite wave competitors from AG awards because of this. In triathlon national championship races, there are no elite waves.

I'm not sure triathlon is a good analogy due to the ability to draft. I also assume that the national championships are not seeded into "waves" of eight athletes?

There is the option to exclude the open seeded swimmers from age group placings and possibly to add placings within the open seeded swimmers. If more awards are a good thing the latter should appeal. It would make for interesting choices, are you willing to give up a good placing in your age group to try for a good placing in the open catagory? Perhaps Jeff can comment on whether he would be willing to forgo winning his age group in order to compete with the fastest swimmers in his events?

Jeff Commings
April 29th, 2005, 10:35 AM
Perhaps Jeff can comment on whether he would be willing to forgo winning his age group in order to compete with the fastest swimmers in his events?

Absolutely.

Bobber
April 29th, 2005, 12:42 PM
Originally posted by LindsayNB
If they want to swim head to head they do have the option of swimming in the open heats.


But they still may not get into the same heat with their AG competition.

I'm not sure triathlon is a good analogy due to the ability to draft. I also assume that the national championships are not seeded into "waves" of eight athletes?

True, triathlon has many differences. I was just trying to point out that for triathlon nationals, the focus is AG competition, so the waves are organized by AG to give everybody in the same AG the same racing conditions.

LindsayNB
April 29th, 2005, 01:41 PM
Originally posted by Bobber
But they still may not get into the same heat with their AG competition.

No but they will be swimming 'head to head' with people of similar speed. And all the previously stated principles still apply.

If we go with eliminating the time seeded competitors from the age group results then the argument that people competing for the same award should go head to head collapses entirely.

Departing off topic a bit, perhaps we should introduce an entirely new type of meet, call it a challenge meet, sort of like the duels between Biondi and Jager but with up to eight swimmers and many of them in all events all in one meet. Everyone can contact their own personal arch rivals and challenge them to a duel and, if their rival accepts the challenge, heats will be seeded to place them in adjacent lanes. No more having rivals seeded in lanes 1 and 8 or in subsequent heats.
Just having some fun thinking out of the conventional box.

Paul Smith
April 29th, 2005, 05:37 PM
Although I would prefer to swim in events seeded by time (vs. age groups).....which by the way is how the Australian Nationals are run which we just attended....I can accept that at our nationals things are kept as they are now.

Much of my reasoning is that we do have the option of swimming in time seeded regional meets that are often held at great pools (Santa Cruz, Minnesota, Long Beach, etc.) and have some very fast swimmers in attendence (I really want to encourage more people to look into these meets and for USMS to do more in helping promote them).

As for "swimming your own race", I have always sucked at swimming "time trials".....for me it's about the people in the lanes beside....case in point Evil Smith being a GREAT rabbitt in the 200 free since I suck at taking that race out hard!

TheGoodSmith
April 29th, 2005, 05:45 PM
Paul is confused. He means the "Good Smith" is the Rabbit.

Paul is obviously the Evil one.

Paul Smith
April 29th, 2005, 06:12 PM
you ain't foolin' no one......

Once a rabbitt always a rabbitt

Once an Evil Smith always and Evil Smith

You can try as you might oh one of great distance training this year, but those in the know aren't fooled by your "handle" and trying to "spin" off your Evil moniker to me!

knelson
May 3rd, 2005, 11:18 AM
Originally posted by Paul Smith
you ain't foolin' no one......

Once a rabbitt always a rabbitt

Are you saying "The Good Smith" is actually Eddie Rabbitt? :D

I hear he loves a rainy night.