View Full Version : The Losers

February 6th, 2002, 10:13 AM
Aside from the affected meet hosts, the real losers of this dilemma are the swimmers from the two affected SCM meets who stand to lose their placing in the USMS Top Ten. In short order, R&T will release the 2001 SCM Top Ten and we’ll discover who was denied placement on the list because their worthy performances were conducted in pools they believed were legitimate for sanctioned competition.

I do not yet know if I will be one of those people, but I expect to be. You might remember the story of my 1500m Freestyle that turned into the 1550m Freestyle (or rather the 1498.7m Freestyle that was the 1548.68m Freestyle) at the NWZ meet. My time was 19:04.76, a 50-second improvement from my previous lifetime best. (The 19:55 swim as well as a 20:05 swim both put me into the SCM Top Ten in those years)

Many folks in the discussion forums have sounded off about how important they view the Top-Ten rankings. I’ll simply say that in my case, if I had been told by the meet director before my 1500m Freestyle that the pool was less than 25m long, I probably would not have swam the event. There was no other swimmer in my age group at the NWZ meet. My “competition” was the other 30-34-year-olds nationwide.

The impending ruling by the EC could very likely demand that I and other swimmers at the affected SCM meets make a sacrifice for the betterment of USMS. Honestly, I do not know what greater good is supposed to result from locking out certain swimmers from the Top Ten. I do not even know if this sacrifice is even necessary.

The EC certainly is considering the relationship between USMS and its swimmers in making its judgment. It is inevitable that some swimmers will be affected negatively by whatever “final” decision the EC renders. My contention through all of this has been that (1) deserving swimmers ought to be appropriately recognized for there outstanding achievements, and (2) that if we must do harm to swimmers and strain the USMS-to-swimmer relationship, we affect the least amount of harm upon the least number of swimmers. I’m glad that we are soon to be bringing this matter to a close, but I do think that this decision does harm to more people than necessary, as well as to the wrong people.

If it turns out that the 10th place 30-34 swimmer went slower than 19:04.76, I will be happy to congratulate him publicly and acknowledge that he earned his position. If there is any kind of positive outcome from all of this that I can guarantee, this is it.

jim thornton
February 6th, 2002, 11:47 AM
It seems to me that for an event as long as the 1500 meters that your overall pace is not going to be materially altered much, one way or the other, by the addition or subtraction of a handful of meters. This would not be the case, obviously, for much shorter races like the 50 or 100 or even the 200. But for 1500s and above, it's ludicrous to think this will make a big difference on your pace.

Why not simply compute your average pace over the course of the race, calculate your rate of speed per meter, then make a mathematical adjustment to compute your "exact" time for a 1500. If you swam a few meters short, and your pace was, say, .66 seconds per meter, simply multiply it out and add it to your time. If you swam a few meters extra, do the same but subtract this.

Perhaps such simple mathematical modeling to get an extremely precise estimate runs against the grain of swimming purists. But it seems a reasonable solution to me given that you swam this in good faith, and the "model" truly would make up for any minor discrepancies in distance swum.

Philip Arcuni
February 6th, 2002, 01:38 PM
I've already established my position on this issue; I am entirely in sympathy with Dan. To keep deserving people off a fun list because of a technicality (and the length discrepancy is a technicality - way small) is meanspirited and does not follow the spirit of Masters.

The regulatory aspects that Dan discusses in other threads are scary. I swam recently at a SCM championship where the backstroke flags were a non-regulation height. It certainly messed up a few of my turns, and made a lot more difference than a couple of centimeters in length. Is the entire meet to be desanctioned because it was not completely perfect? [unlikely but plausible scenario - my arch enemy invalidates my only SCM times so that I can not be ahead of him on the top ten lists] We are opening up a terrible can of worms here. Perfection is too much to ask an already overburdened meet host.

Jim - Dan can certainly calculate his pace and his corrected time. The question is whether his time for the 154x.xx distance can be in the top ten list, even with the extra almost-50 meters.

Here is one discussion where I won't miss the anonymous posters.

Paul Smith
February 7th, 2002, 05:28 PM
Sorry to be the lone dissenting voice in this thread so far, but I feel it necessary to voice my opinion. It's unfortunate that the meet was conducted in a facitily that did not meet the criteria required in our sport to recognize times, I can understand Dan's (and the other swimmers) frustration.

The more important point however is that our "sport" when participated in during a "competition" is defined by one factor alone: time. We can go round and round about what Masters stands for but I think its far more "harmful" to the sport of swimming to drop the rules that govern its meets than it is for everyone to move on (and swim the next meet, with a vengenence).

When I hear that we will "do harm to swimmers" and "strain the USMS-swimmer relationships" if we don't break the rules to accomadate those who swam this meet it concerns me greatly.

No one is asking for "perfection", no one is saying that these folks didn't get screwed, what we are saying is don't sacrafice the basic underlying principles that apply to our sport when recording Top 10s, National, State, Local, etc. "records". In my humble opinion, going down that road opens a far bigger can of worms (where do we stop, short pools, mis-set flags, "Ts" to far from the wall, poor weather, how about different size athletes? a weight division? Altitude adjustments?)

Philip Arcuni
February 7th, 2002, 06:17 PM
That's the whole point Paul, where do we stop? Do we stop at invalidating results because of a small length discrepancy, or do we continue, and invalidate results because of mis-set flags, or invalidate results because of the temperature of the pool not being as required, or because the S&T judge was not paying attention? In fact, I am so confused by your comment in the last paragraph that I am sure I do not understand the logic of it, it went way over my head, even after reading it several times. This is not an argument for time adjustment to adapt to different conditions, but whether results at a sanctioned meet should be accepted.

I disagree that I am arguing to break or drop any rules. As I read it, and I know that this will be a controversial statement, what is proposed by some is the creation of new regulations to inforce some kind of idealized conception of how the sport should be. Not only that, but the regulations will be enforced retroactively, on meets that have already taken place.

No one here is arguing that meets should be run in pools that are *known* to be too short (or that procedures to insure proper length not be inacted.) Organizers of meets that are desired to be sanctioned should perform the actions as required by the rules and regulations. The meet is sanctioned and run according to the rules and regulations. The results should count.

Life is unfair. Yes, if the pool is short the swimmers in that meet will have slightly better times. But unfairness happens a lot. If I one-hand my fly turn, but the judge does not see it, my time will still count for records and top ten. Tough, all you people who did it right will have to accept it.

As for the basis of our sport, I do not agree that it is 'times.' Instead, it is a meet where I compete against other swimmers. I do not let times in a top ten list determine if I am faster than someone else. I save that evaluation for when we are in the same pool, in the same heat. That is why the olympic champion gets more respect and fame than the world record holder.

Bert Bergen
February 7th, 2002, 08:06 PM
I was really hoping that my first comment in the Forums would not have to be on this thread. This is a tired one at best. I read every comment from the original thread up to the last two from Phil and Paul. I guess my two cents are up: There is a reason that FINA and USMS recognizes courses as 25 meter and 50 meter (and USMS only 25 yard) and not 22, 37, 62 or any number a builder chooses: a "level playing field" is desired for competition, records, etc. The NW Zone didn't purposefully run a meet in a "short" pool; it just ended up that way. That doesn't mean that we can turn our heads and allow the results in. I'll guarantee they won't make the mistake again. We have rules in this sport that inherently must be followed. They don't take away from the fun and enjoyment but they are parameters to make the competition fair. If the flags, pool distances, lane lines, starts are all equal, it comes down to what these are designed to: individual performance. If one of these variables is altered, where is the old standard "fair play?" What about the swimmers who competed and earned their top ten swims in "legitimate pools?" If NW times are included, a number of the legitimate swims likely get bumped. There are no clear winners here. There have been no correct answers on the Forums either. Records will likely exclude the times and we will all have to move onto SCY. It is unfortunate, but just (in my opinion, of course).

jim thornton
February 7th, 2002, 08:34 PM
Since I don't swim too many USMS sanctioned meets--most of the competition around here in Western PA is YMCA Masters--I'm not sure about how different times either qualify or not for USMS Top 10 times. I'm assuming these do not need to be swum in national championship meets but rather in any local or regional competition that's sanctioned by USMS. (If this is NOT the case, ignore the rest of this.)

Anyhow, I know that in our YMCA masters league, some of the meets are electronically timed, and some are hand-timed. Depending on the luck of the hand timer "draw", you can sometimes get a highly beneficial time. The reason is the person's reaction time is slow, so they start the watch a split second after the starting horn sounds, then they anticipate your finish and help you out by stopping the watch prematurely on the back end. Net result: you get a significantly better time than you truly deserve. I've been at meets where two hand timers were a full second apart on my time. They split the difference to compute my "final" time, but even so, I feel like I was getting a significant break.

My question is this: are all USMS sanctioned meets electronically timed? Have they always been? If not, there are almost certainly Top 10 times that have benefitted from precisely the human error described above.

Other questions: are all pools laser-measured down to the hundredth of an inch? What if there's been some geological settling over the years, and a pool has either slightly contracted or elongated? Obviously no one is arguing about nanometers, but if you allow tiny reasonable discrepanices to be considered acceptable, you are, in fact, acknowledging there's some wriggle room for judgment.

George Bernard Shaw (I think it was him) once asked a society matron if she would have sex with him for a million dollars. She blushed but ultimately said yes. They he asked her if she would do it for a quarter. "Absolutely not!" she replied. "What kind of a woman do you think I am!?!"

"We've already established that," retorted George. "Now we're just haggling over the price."

When it comes to this decision about whether to count times for TOP 10 in a slightly off-distance pool, I think this is what it boils down to here in this forum: we're just haggling over the price. "Purists" argue that only the most demanding standards of exactitude can protect our sport from subjectivity. "Relativists" like me argue that some humane pragmatism should be given consideration.

I think everyone would agree that A) you shouldn't be able to swim 4 lengths of a 23 yard pool and claim a new record for the 100 yard freestyle, and B) you shouldn't have to require Caltech physicists, armed with laser-guided measurement devices, to assess every pool for exact length before each individual race (in case settling has occurred during a previous swim.) Between these ludicrous extremes exists, one would hope, some middle ground. But where this middle ground lurks is the nature of our spirited haggling.

Peter Cruise
February 7th, 2002, 09:06 PM
I for one, though a little tired of the subject, am happy to add my two bits in an atmosphere markedly different from two weeks ago. I understand your frustration, Dan, in that you swam considerably longer than needed to get your time; however, I don't think the times should stand in any official capacity other than in the one immediate one: who won the race? If this were the Olympics that would be the most important question, even over and above a world record. I realize that most of the time we masters adopt a "aw shucks, I don't care who won, but what was my exact time?" attitude, but in this case I feel that only the placings can stand (even if there was no direct competition in one's age group). Yes, one could cite inattentive stroke judges (they always catch me though!), flags, lane ropes, water level (nobody thought of that one, but there was a Cdn Natls where that was a factor) etc., but they are only germane when officially noted. NWZone Champs results & length issue have been officially noted & should not stand for time rankings.
NWZone officials in all ways acted honorably & in an open manner.

February 8th, 2002, 12:34 AM
To many the real essesnce of competitive swimming is speed over distance or time and distance. There are many things than can affect a swimmers performance:the depth of the pool, the altitude of pool, temperature, the height of the backstroke flags , what the swimmer ate or did the eat the night before - all of them will performance. But when we look at results, we are just looking at how fast the swimmer traveled over a given distance.

If a distance of 24.98 meters is allowed, isnt that the new baseline for the 25 meter distance. And if 24.98 is allowed what happens when a pool comes in at 24.97 it is just a centimeter shorter. When do we draw the line?

I have seen an instance where in a relay the second swimmer jumped early- could not have been more than a tenth or two tenths of a second. That team beat the national record by about ten seconds. I was at another meet where a swimmer left early in a relay and the team would have broken the record by over 20 seconds. The rules do not allow for any adjustment of times. In both cases the relay teams were disqualified and the old record held. Again where do we draw a line?

While some wonder how they did against others in a given race, I once saw the fastest heat of 50 free at the Santa Clara International Meet. In the nine man final, eight hit the finish at almost the same time (one swimmer was a half a body length behind the pack). The timing system failed. The results were determined by a mixture of watch and button times as I recall. The difference between first and second 0.02 second. The difference between second and third 0.01 second. I have no idea of who hit the touch pad first. I can look up and see who won, but that could have been the result of a timer who had faster reactions. (I only point this out because, I havent told this story in a while :-) Actually it was just to illustrate that sometimes we are arbitrary in how we decide who wins a race or a gets a record.

As Bert Bergen said "The NW Zone didn't purposefully run a meet in a "short" pool; it just ended up that way." (and by extrapolation Virginia). I applaud both NW Zone and Virginia for calling a rule violation on themselves. But as you cannot unring a bell, once you note it you have to go by what the rules say.

The rules are arbitrary but fair. For me, I have drawn the line: the minimum distance for a course is 25.00 yards, 25.00 meters or 50.00 meters. Any distance less than that, the swimmer did not swim the course. (IMHO)


Bert Petersen
February 8th, 2002, 02:15 AM
Gonna make a REAL interesting Convention next year !! I know this has all been said before, but for those who were not privy to the last Forum, I can speak as one who's times are now disallowed. My 100 fly @ 1:12 would have been a National Record. I was one of the first people told that the pool was not the full 25 meters. I was asked for my opinion and, without hesitation, I asked that my time not be submitted. Now I was fortunate indeed to have another 25 meter shot at it the next month, at which time I went a 1:11 and buried the matter. ( for me ). I understand the angst that was created. Time is an arrow - it only goes one way. To try to undo the problem in the interests of " fairness " only creates more problems. Let us agree to fix this problem in the future - AS WELL AS OTHERS, that will undoubtedly crop up, to the best of our abilities. This is an inexact science as was noted. I once drove 12 hours just to get a hand-held time !!

Philip Arcuni
February 8th, 2002, 02:04 PM
This issue may be tired to some, but it is yet to be decided. Also, Dan introduced several new twists and arguments that should be addressed. Here are the arguments, as I see them:

1) The NW zone and meet organizers followed all of the rules and regulations in getting sanctioned. The national organization agreed with that and sanctioned the meet. Top ten times are collected from all sanctioned meets, which are sanctioned iff all of the rules and regulations are followed, to the best knowledge of the organizers and the national office. To those who say "but the rules specify a specific pool length" I say, a rule without a procedure of enforcement is not enforcible. As an analogy, if the rules say the speed limit is 60, there needs to be a mechanism of enforcement. If the police, or automatic radar system, or whatever, does not catch the speeder, a ticket can not be issued.

2) Punishment for rules broken, but not caught by the procedure, are not retroactivly applied. I would not get a ticket if I went to the police and said "I sped yesterday on I-101." Nor will I get disqualified if I told the referee that I one-touched my butterfly turn.

3) the removal of sanction after the meet is completed is a very dangerous precedent. As said by both sides, just *where* do we draw the line? I say we draw the line at following the rules and regulations that lead to sanctioning a meet.

4) We are not talking about running future meets in a short pool. We are talking about meets that have already happened. So the *where do we draw the line* argument is not relevent. Obviously, we make sure our future meets are in a pool of the proper length.

5) This particular discrepancy of length leads to insignificant time differences, so the whole issue of 'fairness' to other swimmers who did not swim in the meet is moot. Other factors, such as altitude, pool depth, . . . have much more significant effects on the times in the top ten. I say with confidence that *no one* will be kept off the top ten because of the small difference in pool length.

6) Given all of the environmental variables, anyone that takes the times in the top ten to hundreths of seconds seriousness is a fool. The whole list is for fun, and the process of getting into it should be inclusive - that is, it can be a goal for everyone, and technicalities should not prevent a legitimate effort from getting on it.

7) Given all of the above, I think the swimmers in the NW zone have a good chance of getting shafted. It *would* be unfair. No procedures were violated, regulations should not be retroactive, the efforts are legitimate, and no one gets hurt if the times are allowed to count.

There. The final answer, and on this thread, too.:)

Paul Smith
February 8th, 2002, 06:13 PM
The pool at this meet was found to be to short, period! The results under the current rules are invalidated, period! If USMS wants to change the rules and alow a variance in pool distances for meets great I'll support it.

Congratulations to the swimmers who competed and swam well (or just enjoyed themselves). To those who had times that would have been recognized in the pool had met standards I applaud your efforts and wish you a great SC season.
Time to move on for me!

Philip Arcuni
February 8th, 2002, 07:35 PM
Despite your strong assertions, Paul, your first paragraph contains three misleading or wrong statements: 1) The pool *was* found short, but outside of the regular enforcement procedures, as established at the time 2) The results under the current rules are in no way invalidated, in fact they are supported, and 3) only if the results are invalidated will any rules be changed.

I'm glad for you if you are comfortable moving on, the discussion can continue without you, though not as well. It is certainly continuing with the people that need to make the final decision. You are also not the only person that has made up his/her mind on the issue (how about a poll? (smiley here for 'evil grin')) but I hope the decision makers are still open to other viewpoints. I also hope that they get advice on how regulations are enforced from someone with a legal bent. If this were a real serious issue (for example, qualifyers for olympic time trials) the swimmers in Washington would have a slam-dunk case.

February 8th, 2002, 07:52 PM
Thank you all for your comments.

If you're wondering "where will it all end", I hope it ends right here.

Philip mentioned a meet he attended with the backstroke flags too low. I'm thinking that I attended that meet as well and Michael Moore officiated there. Do we throw away that meet because the flags were less than 1.8m from the water's surface? (See rule 107.13) Michael already pointed out that there's a difference between a pool that's too short and a pool with flags that stand too short. I'm sure that the Rules committee would interpret 107.13 to say that even though the flags weren't at the proper height, it's still a "legal" meet.

But now that (after the fact) Michael, Philip and I know that the pool for that meet isn't to specifications, are we being less than honest in not reporting it to USMS? Do I have a duty to do so?

(Personally, I'd like to set that thing aside and move onward.)
(Really, bad things don't happen at EVERY meet I go to. Honest!)
(Once the official EC ruling comes out, we can THEN move on to fix the rule book for the future.)

Philip Arcuni
February 8th, 2002, 08:02 PM
I was also at another SCM championship (Paul was there) where the crosses at the bottom of the pool drifted all over the place. Not only was the pool non-regulation, but each lane was different!

Bert Bergen
February 8th, 2002, 08:49 PM
There is NO SUCH THING as "insignificant time differences" in our sport when races, titles, and championships are decided by 100ths of a second. There WOULD undoubtedly be top ten standings affected (ie., 10th place 23.00 at NW pool; 11th place 23.01 at 25m pool) if we considered their times with all others.

NW Zone brought the attention to the situation themselves; therefore the dangerous precedent we speak of was not such! They were mindful of a mistake and brought attention (too much on these forums, perhaps) to the situation.

We can (and likely will) debate this forever. Next...

February 9th, 2002, 01:29 AM

There are a couple of statements I wish to comment on:

"The NW zone and meet organizers followed all of the rules and regulations in getting sanctioned. The national organization agreed with that and sanctioned the meet. "The USMS national body does not sanction meets. All the meets are sanctioned by the the Local Masters Swim Committee. The NW Zone meet would have been sanctioned by Oregon Masters. The 2001 USMS Short Course Nationals at Santa Clara was sanctioned by the Pacific Masters Swimming Committee.

To be sanctioned by Pacific Masters and I would guess by many of the other LMSC's, the meet director has to fill out sanctioning meet request forms. One of the forms asks for the length of the course. As the Oregon/Virginia short pool problem has brought out holes in how we look at pool length, Pacific Masters at the last monthly meeting voted to measure all the competition pools.

"The NW zone and meet organizers followed all of the rules and regulations in getting sanctioned. The national organization agreed with that and sanctioned the meet. " There is no ex post facto rule here, the pool length is specific proscribed in the rules. When the pools were measured, the pools were found short.

"the removal of sanction after the meet is completed is a very dangerous precedent. " I have not read where the sanction is being pulled, the pools were measured and found short. There still was a meet and the meet was still covered by USMS insurance. If what Dan said is true, then it appears that the times will not be recognized for records and top ten.


Tom Ellison
February 9th, 2002, 10:24 AM
I weigh in with Paul and Bert on this issue. Yes, it is unfortunate the pool was short. It’s unfortunate that hard working Masters swimmers are going to be denied the recognition their hard work provided….but…. the pool was short. Bad deal? Yes, for all involved…

Philip Arcuni
February 11th, 2002, 01:52 PM
It is clear that we have some fundamental differences in how rules should be enforced.

Michael - thank you for your corrections of my procedureal understanding. I do not think that the source of the approval to run a sanctioned meet affects my arguments, however. I was referring to 'sanctioning' in the sense that the top ten times will be culled from all sanctioned meets, not in the insurance sense. My wrong assumption was that to not count the times, the meet would have to be 'desanctioned.' I see now that the justification is in the second half - 'all rules and regulations having been followed." (It is not clear to me if that phrase refers to the procedure leading to sanctioning, which I had assumed, or something different. Perhaps it should say 'all *other* rules and regulations . . .') I argue, and continue to argue, that all rules and regulations were followed. I am glad that Pacific will improve on its procedures, at least.

Bert - do you really think .01 seconds will make a difference in who gets in the top ten? I checked the top ten for last years SCM in the 50 free for all the age groups (50 free is at the top of the page, so it is easier to look at all of them.) Only in three cases was the difference between the ninth and tenth place .01 or less seconds (.01 seconds is the appropriate time for a length discrepancy of 1/2 inch). In any of these three cases, do you think the ninth place was a NW swimmer? As I said, I remain confident that the length discrepancy will not bring a NW swimmer from eleventh to tenth place, in any event, for any agegroup.
And of course there are irrelevant time differences. That is why they don't report times with an accuracy of better than .01 seconds.
Before I made the basis of my argument legal rights and wrongs, I would have said that incredibly small chance of hurting a tenth place swimmer was well overcome by the 100% chance of hurting all of the NW swimmers that will not have their times counted at all.

Finally, I am curious as to the enforcement differences between a length discrepancy from the required length, and a discrepancy with other requirements for a competition pool, such as height of flags or the location of the lane crosses. Dan, the rest of you, and I have succeeded in demonstrating that three of the top four SCM meets west of the Mississippi were in non-regulation pools (NW zone (pool length), Pacific Championship (flag height), and SW zone (lane crosses)). (Representing well over 1/4 of all USMS membership) Why not throw all those times out?

This last question is a direct challenge to those people (Michael, Paul, etc.) that argue that that the procedure for establishing a competitive, official meet is, without question (apparently), trumped by an after-meet finding that the pool did not really meet requirements. I suppose someone will say that a length requirement is more important than the others that I have mentioned. Where in the rules does it say that?

February 11th, 2002, 02:42 PM
I might as well throw my two cents in, everone else has.
As to enforcement of backstroke flag height and lane crosses, no change in those will make a time faster, only slower. I don't think this discussion would be taking place if the pool was 25 yards + 1/2 inch.
I'd have to argue that 1/2 inch does matter. At some point between 25 yards and 24 yards all would agree that times should not count. But at what 1/2 inch increment? Seems to me that has already been decided - at the 1/2 increment that makes a pool less than 25 yards.

Fritz Lehman
February 11th, 2002, 05:35 PM
I may be missing the point but I'll ask anyway. How short would a pool have to be before everyone would agree that it was too short?

Philip Arcuni
February 11th, 2002, 06:08 PM
Believe it or not, I thought I was done.

Any pool shorter than regulation (at the resolution and accuracy of the (specified) measuring device) is too short. How many times do I have to say it? Such a pool should not be approved for competition. There are, and will soon be better ones, procedures laid out to insure that all pools used for top-ten type competition are the proper length.

The question is what to do with the results of a meet after it has been approved to host a competitive meet and after the competition is finished. I say that if the existing at the time procedures were followed the results should stand. Some of you have already followed the logic: If the pool were really 24 meters long, the results should still stand. That *would* be too bad, and really unfair to people who swam in other meets. But as others have said on the other side, bad things happen, get on with it. The error was in the procedures that allowed the pool to get approved, but it *was* approved.

Michael Heather
February 11th, 2002, 09:17 PM
Golly, this is a horse beaten thoroughly and often from every angle, but apparently has no inclination to die.

If the pool is too short, then the times don't count. The national EC does not really have anything to do but affirm that point.

The results of the meet(s) in question should be pitched into the trash with no further hand wringing, which only serves to deepen the sense of irony and loss to many of the swimmers affected.

Any ill feelings (should anyone admit to having them) are to be directed at the meet host and/or the facility manager for not knowing and certifying the pool length at some time before the beginning of the meet. USMS simply acts to accept or reject any appropriate information submitted, based upon our rules and codes.

I have been in USMS since only 1977, so am a newcomer, and have been successful to greater and lesser degrees over the years, but would never think to apply to the governing body to accept times swum in a short pool. Maby the dignity of expecting a "level playing field" is an anachronism, but I would rather lose in a fair competition than expect a break just because I think I gave a great effort in a short pool.

I yam what I yam.

February 11th, 2002, 11:57 PM

February 12th, 2002, 12:05 AM

February 12th, 2002, 02:06 AM
"I argue, and continue to argue, that all rules and regulations were followed." if they were followed, the course would have been at least 25.00 meters long.

If you look at 103.13 "An official time shall be achieved in a USMS sanctioned competition or recognized even in accordance with all applicable rules." It is unfortunate but not all the rules were complied with, the pool length was short.

"The question is what to do with the results of a meet after it has been approved to host a competitive meet and after the competition is finished." When a sanction is granted and this especially applies to pools with bulkheads, it is assumed that the pool will be at least the nominal length of the course. One grants a sanction expecting the pool to be the length of the course. How else could you grant a sanction to a pool that has a bulkhead. If this was not the case, when would the sanction be granted? The morning of the competition?

Last month I was talking to one of the senior Pacific Swimming officials, he said that at a USS National Championship the lane lines were pulled so tight that they caused the bulkhead to bow in the middle. When they measured the middle lanes at the end of the first day of competition, the lane was found to be short. He said there were a couple of times that were faster than the national record. The times were not considered for national records.


February 12th, 2002, 10:44 AM
I have to disagree with Philip Arcuni on his post with seven arguments.

The pool in question had tile work done on it, the sanction should not have been given until the pool was re-measured. The pool should be measured before the meet and after the meet. This just shows that even experienced meet hosts can't remember everything. You cannot believe how hard it is to run a meet, even a small one. There is a line in the ASCA Coaches certification pages, "if you have run a national Championship meet, you deserve a place in heaven, you have already been through hell."

None of your analogies apply at all to the situation, the pool was too short. The North West Zone people have been honest and above reproach. Yes a mistake was made, you can conduct all the polls you want. But the pool was too short. They are not removing the meet sanction, they are not accepting the times for consideration.

You are trying to make a black and white rule into a grey area. There is no grey area on pool lengths, it had to be greater than 25.00 meters with touch pads attached.

And with meters meets, we are not alone in the world. If you allow Top 10 times for this meet, what will the rest of the world think of us. The rest of the world has a Top 10 list, our credibility would be damaged if we submitted a meet that was too short. I have swum in Australia, Paris and Scotland. The Masters are very professional, all timers are qualified after years of experience. The pools are measured, the times double checked. If a friend in Scotland swims a faster time than me, I am happy for him and certain he would have beat me in a race, because the rules were followed. What you consider as unfair would be considered cheating to the rest of the world. To your comment on qualifyers for olympic time trials, yes there would be a slam dunk, the swimmers would loose in any court of arbitration, because issues like these have come up before. FINA is black and white. If a time was swum in a pool too short, it simply never happened.

Bert Petersen had the luxury of having another meet, down in Long Beach. That meet started late because the pool length was measured and the bulkhead had to be moved to the correct position. He has moved on, we all should do the same and make sure USMS follows through with modifications to the Rules to preclude this from happening again.

Jim Thornton, the rules require a steel or fiberglass tape measurement, as of now laser-measurements are not official. The LMSC Top ten recorder is supposed to keep a record of all pool measurements in an LMSC. You talk about wriggle room for judgment, in fact FINA does allow for wriggle room, the pool must have been greater than 25.00 meters with touch pads attached, with a slight length extra distance allowed of 0.02 meters.

Wayne McCauley

Philip Arcuni
February 12th, 2002, 01:56 PM
Welcome back, Wayne. :)

Do you have any references, or anecdotes, for how FINA has solved a similar problem? I'm not talking about records, but qualifying times.

I have tried to find the FINA requirements for length, but couldn't. I recall 25.00 (-.00 +.02) meters. That would imply to me a resolution of .01 meter (1 cm), which would mean the pool could be 5 mm short, and still be regulation. Anybody know of anything different? (This is a separate subject, I know the NW pool was off by more, apparently.)

February 12th, 2002, 02:47 PM
Originally posted by Philip Arcuni
Finally, I am curious as to the enforcement differences between a length discrepancy from the required length, and a discrepancy with other requirements for a competition pool, such as height of flags or the location of the lane crosses. Dan, the rest of you, and I have succeeded in demonstrating that three of the top four SCM meets west of the Mississippi were in non-regulation pools (NW zone (pool length), Pacific Championship (flag height), and SW zone (lane crosses)). (Representing well over 1/4 of all USMS membership) Why not throw all those times out?

Article 107 of the rule book deals with facilities standards. The requirements are pretty detailed, even including the proper lighting for an indoor meet (in case you're interested, it's supposed to be 100 foot-candles!). But all standards are not treated the same. The people who wrote the rule book (and I was not one of them) recognized that there are some things beyond the meet director's control, and so these standards are not as rigidly enforced as others. So there are three levels of "mandatory." There's [M]--"mandatory requirement for all competition" (article 107.1.1). Then there's [M*]--"predicated upon facility availability, LMSCs may waive strict compliance with these requirements when sanctioning local competition" (article 107.1.2). Finally there's [NC]--"mandatory requirement for national championship meets and international competition" (article 107.1.3).

The standard for lane crosses (article 107.4) is designated [M*, NC]. If I found out after the meet I am in charge of that the lane crosses at Lancaster Aquatic Center at the University of Kentucky are 2.1 meters from the wall instead of 2.0 meters (as specified in article 107.4.1), then I would try to do better next year, but I would still turn times from the meet in for records and Top Ten. But pool length is designated [M]. If I found out after the meet that the pool is only 24.99 yards long, then I was not in compliance with article 107.2.1C, and therefore would probably not turn the times in. I would do the same thing as the Oregon meet director did, and bring it to the attention of my LMSC, and let the LMSC decide.

All of the requirements for backstroke flags (article 107.13) are designated [M]. No exceptions to the rules. So the level of enforcement SHOULD be the same as for pool length. Following the same logic as used in the decision to reject the times from the NW Zone meet, times from the meet at which the flags were not at the proper height should not have been submitted, because all of the relevant rules were not followed.

Now here's my usual caveat that I'm not interpreting the rules, or saying whether I think those who have interpreted have done so properly. I'm just answering Phil's question about what the rule book says about the level of enforcement.

The only thing I will admit to agreeing wholeheartedly with is Wayne's statement that being a meet director is HARD!

Meg Smath
Editor, USMS Rule Book

February 12th, 2002, 03:58 PM
From FINA web site at http://www.fina.org/facilityrules_2.html

FR 2.1 Length
FR 2.1.1 50.0 metres. When touch panels of Automatic Officiating Equipment are used on the starting end, or additionally on the turning end, the pool must be of such length that ensures the required distance of 50.0 metres between the two panels.

FR 2.1.2 25.0 metres. When touch panels of Automatic Officiating Equipment are used on the starting end, or additionally on the turning end, the pool must be of such length that ensures the required distance of 25.0 metres between the two panels.

FR 2.2 Dimensional Tolerances
FR 2.2.1 Against the nominal length of 50.0 metres, a tolerance of plus 0.03 metre in each lane minus 0.00 metre on both end walls at all points from 0.3 metre above to 0.8 metre below the surface of the water is allowed. These measurements should be certified by a surveyor or other qualified official, appointed or approved by the Member in the country in which the pool is situated. Tolerances cannot be exceeded when touch panels are installed.

FR 2.2.2 Against the nominal length of 25.0 metres, a tolerance of plus 0.03 metre in each lane minus 0.00 metre on both end walls at all points from 0.3 metre above to 0.8 metre below the surface of the water is allowed. These measurements should be certified by a surveyor or other qualified official, appointed or approved by the Member in the country, in which the pool is situated. Tolerances cannot be exceeded when touch panels are installed.

FR 2.9 Backstroke Turn Indicators - Flagged ropes suspended across the pool, minimum 1.8 metres and maximum 2.5 metres above the water surface, from fixed standards placed 5.0 metres from each end wall. Distinctive marks must be placed on both sides of the pool, and where possible on each lane rope, 15.0 metres from each end wall.

USMS rules 107.12.2 A, B, C are rather dumb in my breaststroker opinion. A states 5 meters from the end of the pool and like the Fina rule, 1.8 to 2.5 meters above the water.
B is dumb in that it requires backstrokers to use a different turn sighting post for yards and meters. It states 15 feet (4.75 meters) from the wall and 7 feet (2.13 meters) above the water. It would be common sense to adopt the FINA rule for all backstroke races including short course yards.

So it seems that the flag height at Pacific was probably not in violation of the rules. And Southwest Zone meet did not require T's at the pool botton.

So there really is not a lot of problems with the rules, we just need to apply the top 10 times for all courses to the rule requirements. Not being able to swim on my back, how about a rule chance for eliminating backstroke?

Wayne McCauleyhttp://www.breaststroke.info/SWIM.GIF

February 12th, 2002, 04:16 PM

As another breastroker, I'd like to say that I've had no problem with the 5 yards vs 5 meters on the backstroke flags. In SCY I turn over much faster and so the strokes are the same. I don't swim SCM very much anymore, but when I did in HS I don't remember having a problem.

As far as this controversy goes, I'd say the whole thing is a tragedy but it gives us the opportunity to fix the rules up to avoid any ambiguity in the future. I personally wouldn't want my times to count if the course were short, but I'd be very bummed out since I only peak once a year or even every few years. That one meet would be my only shot at top ten. And another meet is not occurring nearby one week later!

Swim fast,

Philip Arcuni
February 12th, 2002, 04:26 PM
Thanks Wayne. I still understand a 1 cm resolution, or +/- 5 mm for each number, including the minimum length. If it were 25.000 meters, I would assume a resolution of 1 mm.

? the Pacific Championship flags were less than 1.8 meters, so why do you think they were legal? 1.8 meters is about as tall as I am, so I remember it well - as I recall, they were about waist high at the supports. It *is* a problem. Fortunately for everyone in the meet (and me, if I don't want to be found floating under pool covers after my next workout) I did not measure and can't prove it. (whew, I'm out of that corner :D )

As nicely summarized by Meg, the lane crosses are M*, a requirement that can be waived, depending on the facility. Was it? Meg, is there a written procedure for waiving the requirements? Is it possible to waive the requirements *after* the meet? Would our insurers like that possibility? (These are safety regulations, as much as anything.)

I think a strict post-meet adherence to the rules will cause a lot of problems, and Dan and I have shown how. This makes the already hard job of the meet director even harder - one mistake and the entire zone is after you! And you want volunteers to do this?

Michael Heather
February 12th, 2002, 08:15 PM
I don't know where Phil Arcuni got the idea that you could derive some extra wiggle room out of very explicit dimensional data. And at least twice offered.

If the dimensions are stated as: 25.00 metres -.00 +.02 metre, there is NO possibility of there EVER being a situation that would allow for a pool length even 1 Millimetre short (even though the resolution goes to centimetres).

Let's look at this like business would. USMS wants me to make them a whole bunch of pools on my pool making machine, and I give them a teriffic deal if they buy lots of them. They tell me to make them 25.00 metres long, +.02 -.00 metre. OK, I try to make them the nominal length, 25.01 metres, Because I know I will not be paid for any pools delivered that are less than 25.00 metres long, and manufacturing processes dictate that you do not try to lose money by making things on the very edge of the tolerance given. I would look very foolish trying to sell a pool to my customer based on the resolution formerly offered, and that is why the pools are to be NO LESS THAN 25.00 metres. Ever.

Fritz Lehman
February 13th, 2002, 10:33 AM
After looking at the top 10 rankings I noticed two of my times went unrecorded. After some checking, I discovered they were rejected because they were done at a meet in VA where the pool was too short. Too bad for us but rejecting the times was the right thing to do. I did a little mental math and added a little time and am personally satisfied that my real times aren't that far off.

On the bright side, I think I'm number one at
the 99.8 meter backstroke, 49.9 meter backstroke and still ahead of Tall Paul!

February 13th, 2002, 12:02 PM
I'm going to weigh in on a comment above by M. Heather...

It is true that a pool can legally be a few mm short of 25 meters if in fact the rule states the pool must be 25.00m long. As Philip has noted, the key word is "resolution." In this case the measurement of 25.00 is taken out to 2 decimal places, or 1cm. Therefore the official measurement needs to be rounded to 2 decimal places. So if the pool is 24.996 meters long (4 mm short) it would satisfy the condition of being 25.00 long as a minimum because 24.996 rounded to two decimal places is in fact 25.00

(Of course it is likely the margin of error in taking the measurement is probably far more coarse than two decimal places so this example is purely hypothetical. I simply wanted to try to explain how you can have a "shorter" pool than 25m but still satisfy the minimum length.)

Any other engineers want to back me up?

Jeff Roddin, P.E.

February 13th, 2002, 12:39 PM
Jeff - you are correct sir - especially your remark about the coarseness of tape measurement. Now, lets take that a bit further.

Steel tape introduces inherent inaccuracies (the measurement will ALWAYS be longer than the actual pool length) due to problems cited by others in actually getting the tape straight (tape sag due to no flat surface to lay it on). When a person uses a steel tape and measures 25.01, there is a very real possibility that the ACTUAL length of the pool is well under 25.00, even under 24.996. It is entirely possible, even likely, that many of the pools that have been measured as "correct" by steel tape, are, in fact, too short - especially LC pools.

Fibreglass tapes can be made in such a way as to allow them to float on the water surface and thus dramatically reduce such error. I know the one we have is NOT of the floating variety and therefore measures the pool SOME amount longer than it actually is - but certainly not as badly as with a steel tape.

Laser measurement, done by properly trained people eliminates the "tape sag" problem and is a more accurate method. Why is this not allowed?

Are there any known situations where a pool measured by steel tape and found to be "long enough" have subsequently been remeasured by more accurate methods and found to be too short?

Philip Arcuni
February 13th, 2002, 01:03 PM
Thanks Jeff. The concepts of measurement, uncertainty, and how to specify them are beaten into the heads of every engineer. Otherwise, things won't fit together.

I am not trying to find 'wriggle room' but trying to clarify the rules, so we are all on the same page. [I've given up my quixotic effort with the top ten. That appears to be a dead issue. (I can hear the loud cheers from here)]

I am a little annoyed at the people that consider it a 'black and white' issue; these people are oversimplifying it. I have pointed out how the rules are vague and open to interpretation. I have even pointed out how the specification of a pool length, or even the measurement of a pool length (see another thread) can be uncertain. I have pointed out how the consequences of a decision may not be what was desired. We can disagree about the interpretation of the rules, and even agree to disagree about them (at least I have), but lets not pretend it is simple. The desire to reduce the complexity of an issue so that the answer (whether correct or not) seems obvious is human nature, but intellectually careless.

I *do* think that there is an honest argument for the decision as it came out relating to the top ten. I also think that all people in this discussion were concerned with fairness, following the rules and regulations, and regretted what happened to the people in the NW zone and Virginia meet. No hard feelings here.

My final comment: Man! those top ten times are fast!

Philip Arcuni
February 13th, 2002, 01:18 PM
Hi Emmett, I don't think laser systems will work through water - the length needs to be accurate 0.8 m below the surface. Also, I think the walls will move if you lower the water level that much.

If we go by the FINA rules as laid out by Wayne, the measurement needs to be carried out by a qualified, competent authority. Are the LMSCs that are trying to insure proper pool length making sure a surveyor does the work? Are they paying for it? Or are they just asking someone to measure the pool length with a steel tape? Michael, what is Pacific doing?

February 13th, 2002, 03:59 PM
Why would the walls move a measurable amount? At .8 meters below the wall lip the water pressure on the wall is roughly 1.2 lbs per square inch regardless of pool size. I don't see where releasing that pressure is going to move a steel reinforced concrete wall a measurable (with steel tape anyway) amount. I suppose an easy way to find out would be to see whether the difference between the center lane measurement and the end lane measurements change when the water level is dropped. The end lane area of the wall would have to move less than the center lane area ofthe wall due to the end lane wall istied directly to the side wall (which would have to compress to allow movement of the end wall area immediately adjacent to it - and if I recall my Materials Science correctly, concrete doesn't do much stretching or compressing even under extreme loading - which pool water doesn't come close to approaching).

February 13th, 2002, 04:06 PM
Also, the pool length certification form indicaes that the length must be measured "at water level" - nothing about lowering the water to or measuring at .8 meters below the edge of the wall.

And I don't see mention in the USMS rule book about surveyors or any specially trained person doing the measuring - just "a responsible person".

February 13th, 2002, 04:32 PM
Originally posted by jroddin
In this case the measurement of 25.00 is taken out to 2 decimal places, or 1cm. Therefore the official measurement needs to be rounded to 2 decimal places. So if the pool is 24.996 meters long (4 mm short) it would satisfy the condition of being 25.00 long as a minimum because 24.996 rounded to two decimal places is in fact 25.00

Rounding up for 5-9 and down for 1-4 is common practice, but it's not what's done for other rounding instances in the rule book. When you're averaging watch times, you simply drop any digits after the hundredth place. So if the same protocol is followed for measuring distance as for time, then 24.996 would still be 24.99. Sorry to rain on your parade, Jeff.


February 13th, 2002, 04:46 PM
Here's an umbrella Jeff...

Meg, unless the "drop the digits" protocol is explicity called for by the code (I don't beleive it is) the conventions applicable to the real world would apply. The real world rounds to the nearest significant digit in every measurement context I'm aware of.

February 13th, 2002, 05:16 PM
Building the pools is black and white. It has to be larger than 25.02 meters because it must accomodate the touch pads. I am sure the specs must read something like 25.02 to 25.05 to follow the FINA "a tolerance of plus 0.03 metre in each lane minus 0.00 metre on both end walls at all points from 0.3 metre above to 0.8 metre below the surface of the water is allowed. " this must include the touch pads. The touch pads are all about the same thickness, but there needs to be a fraction of leeway there too.

FINA says "These measurements should be certified by a surveyor or other qualified official, appointed or approved by the Member in the country, in which the pool is situated. Tolerances cannot be exceeded when touch panels are installed." So with FINA if a surveyor uses a laser it would be OK, but USMS states
steel or fiberglass tape measurement.

So lets go on to what we need for rule changes:
1) A change to allow a surveyor or other qualified official to measure a pool with steel or fiberglass tape or laser. This for most pools is a one time measurement, unless changes to the pool are made, or if there is a moveable bulkhead.

2) Have all pool lengths recorded in a database. Right now it is the Top 10 recorder in each LMSC that is responsible. Include yards, and all meters pools so Top 10 results are covered, not just World Records. USMS keeps a data base for meters pools, we need to include yards.

3) Make sure the meet certification forms let the meet host know the pool measurement is a requirement, esp. if the pool has changed or has a moveable bulkhead.

4) Adopt FINA tolerances for pool lengths and change the pool length certification form on Appendix B to state pool length tolerances, right now it states "no tolerances have been established."

Lets make some good rules changes this year.
Wayne McCauley

Philip Arcuni
February 13th, 2002, 06:34 PM
Emmett: On an 8 lane, 8 foot deep pool, lowering the water level by .8 meters would change the load on the end wall by about 42 tons. (1.13 lbs/in^2 times the number of square inches of the wall. The loss of pressure would be subtractive for all of the wall below 0.8 meters). Of course, it depends on the construction of the pool how much the walls will move. I can imagine much more sophisticated calculations, using moments of load (or whatever it is called). We are not talking about compression of concrete, but flex. If the earth behind the wall has settled, or been washed away by rain in spots, things could move more - anyway, one should be check it out. (Is it *really* true that once a pool is built, its length does not change?)

I think you're right, the walls, if they move, would bow in. Maybe the side lanes would even get shorter, as the side walls should bow in, also, pulling the end walls together, so I am not sure the differential check you suggest would work.

The .8 meters, and the qualified surveyor commment, came from the FINA rules, as laid out by Wayne. I understand the USMS rules are different, though there seems to be a move toward convergence (see Wayne's latest post.)

Construction of the pool could be black and white, if everyone agreed on what it meant. For example, specifying a length without a tolerance is not specifying a length at all. You will not get a civil engineer to agree that a length and tolerance specification like 25.00 (-0.00 +0.02) means that a pool can't *really* be 24.998 meters long (if you could measure it to that precision). The long established definitions of tolerances are how civil engineers avoid losing lots of legal suits.

Wayne: some record of the type and thicknesses of touch pads used at each pool should be maintained also, as changing the make may change the pool length, or is it totally standardized?

Is cost of establishing pool length, and who pays for it, an issue? And like Emmett, I fear we will lose lots of pools by these more stringent rules.

Philip Arcuni
February 13th, 2002, 06:38 PM
sometimes meets are run with pads on both ends, sometimes only on one, sometimes with none, all on the same pool. Should this be allowed, or permitted as long as the two-pad format is the proper length?

February 13th, 2002, 10:34 PM
I am glad those of us who love open water swimming don't have to worry about being .01 to .02 meters off in the measuring of our courses* -I've seen some courses that have varied by 20 plus meters from year to year! Everyone swims the same course -and you can usually hear several swimmers remark after the event about how "it was really short this year" or "we had to swim an extra 30 meters this year!" Then we go have pizza and beer.

*with the exceptiion of cable swims where records are kept, and survey required, from year to year

Michael Heather
February 14th, 2002, 01:30 AM
It had to be engineers (or liberals) that wanted to give away what wasn't theirs (or there) to give. I have spent 25 years dealing with (and sometimes enlightening) engineers, and with all respect, this has gotten far from the issue.

If the pool is short, you don't report.

By the way, steel tapes are just fine, thank you, if you use the proper tensioner in the proper manner while measuring. The stretch is accounted for in the sag (or vice versa), and everyone is happy.

And I doubt that FINA would be happy accepting times from a pool that was 4MM short (that's 5/32 of an inch), even if the resolution was explained to them.

Resolution be damned, I would rather swim in a pool that was 6 inches long (and I have, on occasion) than one that was one angstrom short. The latter would just seem wrong.

February 14th, 2002, 10:06 AM
Michael Heather is Chairman of the SPMA subcommittee on pool measurement. Along with Steve Schofield they have measured pools within SPMA for over a dozen years. Perhaps we can call upon Michael to write up a procedure for measuring pools using steel or fiberglass tape measures. We can call this a "Guideline for pool measurement" and along with laser measurement our LMSC's can begin to fix this problem and make masters swim meets a level playing field.

There are so many variables in a swim meet, such as pool depth, lane line size, starting block height, even water purity that I think we have enough rules to cover everything. We just need to clarify and close any loop holes. If we do our job as a governing body the swimmers will never know, nor need to know all the rules and tolerances for pool design.

And those who swam in 24.98 meter pools can have solace that they will allways have the world records for that distance. SPMA has a swimmer who will always hold the 300 meter backstroke record.

Wayne McCauley
SPMA Chairman

Philip Arcuni
February 14th, 2002, 01:58 PM
Hi Michael Heather,

Like Wayne, I would be very interested in the measurement procedure, as I politely asked for in another thread. What is the proper tensioner, and how do you know the stretch is compensated by the sag? Why did you let the relatively ignorant conversation of people who need information go on so long without your insight and experience? A lot of people will be measuring pools and they will need good guidance - evidently you can give it. I tried to start a new thread to discuss this topic of how to measure a pool, but that thread did not go anywhere. Someone with your expertise and strong opinions could certainly have contributed.

I've asked similar questions before with no answer, but do you have any evidence, including anecdotal, that FINA knows about, cares about, or has acted on length discrepancies of 4 mm? I stand by my understanding of how to specify dimensions - I do it professionally. If I were your engineer I would listen to you, and write the length as you want it (ignoring pad thickness, for now) as 25.0000000000 (-0.0000000001 +0.15) meters, Then tell the contractor something different, perhaps 25.010 (+/-.005) and you would be little wiser. That would be the average length. I would need to give another specification for the differences from lane to lane.

Actually, I do have a FINA story. Way back when, a swimmer lost an olympic race by a couple of thousandths of seconds. After that, it was decided to record only hundreths of seconds, and allow ties if the times were the same. Why? Because the "dimensional tolerances" could not be maintained from lane to lane! These are the differences in length that we are now talking about.

Meanwhile, could you explain your first sentence? Who is a liberal (or was that a gratuitous and irrelevant insult at people who, as far as I know, have not contributed to this discussion)? What are liberals (or engineers) trying to give away? Trying to clarify the meaning of a measurement definition is giving something away? Asking for advice is giving something away? Or were you bringing up the dead horse of the NW zone meet (but still, what would be given away?).

Wayne, I assume your comment about enough rules was addressed to my suggestion about the timing pads. I am only trying to make everything consistent and avoid loopholes. If we really care about 1mm (or one angstom) than we should certainly be concerned about the width of pads, and whether they are used or not. I imagine many pools would be OK with watches, but not OK with pads, so I see my suggestion as a way to make more pools available for meets.

Incidently, I am surprised a market for timing pads ever developed. Before pads, I assume pools were designed for the nominal length (25 y, 25 m, 50 m). But to add a pad would make the pool too short, so there could be no 'legacy' market, and they could only be put in pools that were designed for them. But there were no suppliers of pads . . .

Frank Thompson
February 14th, 2002, 03:44 PM
The swimmer your talking about in your FINA story was Tim Mckee, the great swimmer from the Univ. of Florida and USA, in the 400 IM in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, against Gunner Larsson from Long Beach State and swimming for the country of Sweden. You are right in your story. This race would go down as one of the closest in Olympic history and result in an international rule change. Both swimmers were clocked at 4:31.98 exact time to the hundredth. The timing device, which was by Omega was dismantled and upon inspection was found that Larson had touched two-thousandths of a second ahead of Mckee so officials determined Larson won and he was awarded the Gold medal. What was strange is that both swimmers were listed with the identical time in the record books.

After the Olympics it was argued that pool walls and lanes could vary slightly making it unfair to measure time to the thousandth of a second. This is the only swimming race in Olympic history this has happened (tieing to the hundreth) and not awarding two Gold medals. It happened two times since then in the Olympics, the recent one being the Gary Hall and Anthony Ervin 50 Meter Free in 2000, and in the Women's 100 Free in 1984, with Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer. All four of these swimmers were awarded the Gold Medal.

One of my friends and Michigan Masters teammates, Larry Day (World Record Holder in the 100 and 200 Meter Fly 50-54) is currently representing Tim as an Attorney to get FINA to overturn this decision and award him a Gold Medal. Like anything the wheels of justice move slow and its very hard to overturn anything regarding the Olympics with FINA. This goes for Rick Demont, 1976 Olympic Women that were awarded silver medals against the East German women, namely Shirley Babashoff, and others.

I saw Tim McKee at the 1983 Short Course Nationals, in fact he swam as a masters swimmer and won the 400 IM, keeping Jim McConica from sweeping 1st place in 6 events in taking 2nd place in the 400 IM and winning by .69 seconds over Jim. I think he still lives in Fort Lauderdale but has not competed in many years.

Philip Arcuni
February 14th, 2002, 06:00 PM
Did you know that if the water temperature changes from 90 F to 70 F a 50 meter concrete pool will get about 5 mm shorter? (No wonder those southerners get faster in the winter!)

Anyway, if you measure your pool empty, be sure the sun is not shining on it, and the concrete is a uniform 80 degrees F.

Michael Heather
February 14th, 2002, 09:36 PM
To those who care about measuring pools with a (steel) tape:

In the mid 1980's, one of the members of the Southern Pacific LMSC went to England on a holiday, and picked up a metric steel tape for our use in measuring 50M pools.

This tape has a spring loaded tensioner that clinches the tape, and the instructions were to pull to a certain number of Newtons at a particular tempurature, depending upon the length of the pool. one party pulls at one end and another holds the zero at the other.

I am giving the engineer who came up with the idea the credit for taking into consideration the elastic effect of the tape weighed against the gravitational forces at the specified temperature, without feeling a particular need for any floatation devices to be used.

I do not pretend to know if the same type of device would be appropriate for use with a fibreglass measuring tape. Undoubtedly the coefficient of elongation is vastly different, and the specific gravity may be much less.

Philip Arcuni
February 15th, 2002, 12:48 PM
That is a cool tape. One way it could work is that at the appropriate tension, the 'mis-measurement' as a consquence of the sag is a constant fraction of the total length. Then the marks on the tape are made slightly farther apart than the nominal length of meters. If one person can hold the zero position of the tape I doubt that the tape will stretch much.

That would mean that Michael's tape could not be used if it were supported (or laid on the ground.) I wonder how much its measurements differ from that of a regular steel tape.

February 16th, 2002, 06:07 AM
In our LMSC the approach to measurement, rightly or wrongly, has been to assume that, since all the pools we use are regularly used for USS and/or college competition, they are the correct length. In the only instance I'm aware of that a Masters-motivated measurement has taken place, it was done, years ago, "by the (USMS) book" - that is, by rank, though responsible, amateurs with a fibreglass tape usually used for measuring track and field courses. That tape was chosen over a similar steel tape because there seemed to have no appreciable sag compared to the steel tape. The pool was judged to be within the required specifications.

February 26th, 2002, 01:54 AM
For a different thread I was thinking about sag when measuring a pool. I remembered from high school geometry the pathagorian theorem (If I spelled it correctly it is only by luck). I assumed that the sag would be close to a straight line (I think it is really a curve). Assume that you have a 10mm sag, create a right triangle, one side is 10mm one leg is 12500mm and from that compute the hypotenuse (if I spelled that correctly I have hit the daily double). The length of the hypotenuse is barely longer than the 12500mm leg and so small as to be not measurable. (I think the co-efficient of expansion or the stretch of the tape would be more significant, but I will wait for the engineers to let me know).

As I said this was 10th grade geometry, by 12th grade I was more interested in getting a date on Saturday night than studying and really forgot analytic geometry. Rob Copeland wrote back "a true 25 meter pool is measured with a 0.1 meter sag, in the tap, the length on the tape would read 25.001066663 meters"

According to Rob, the formula used to calculate the segment of a parabola is
s = sqrt[4h2+c2/4]+[c2/(8h)]* ln[(2h+sqrt[4h2+c2/4])/(c/2)]
Where: s = tape distance, h = midpoint sag and c = true pool length.

To Mike Heather who measures the SPMA pools and would not compete in a pool that was one Angstrom short. "You da man." I once made a telescope lens where the lens was configured to a 1/10 wavelength of light or somewhere around 500 angstroms (as I recall). I know what it took to get the right interference pattern to be that close, but to get it an even smaller distance, I doff my hat. :-)


Michael Heather
February 26th, 2002, 10:06 AM
To Michael Moore,

Thanks for holding me up as a pillar of righteousness, but I didn't say I would not compete in a short pool. I'll compete anywhere, almost. But if it (the course) is not a legal length, I would not think of submitting any times for official recognition.

When I was in high school, there were two schools in the conference that were 100 feet long, and our times for a 50 (really 66 2/3 yds) were dismal. So were the 100 and 200 IM times. And they were all recorded as official, as far as I know. Ugh.

I yam what I yam

jim thornton
February 26th, 2002, 01:41 PM
Most of what I learned in math class in yesteryear has become Edgar Allen Poe-esque "forgotten lore" but I do remember that the shape of hanging lines is the so-called catenary curve. This is different from parabolas, but how it varies, I have no idea. Anyhow, someone who understands the mathematics of catenary curves should be able to compute the fudge factor inherent in any degree of sagging, I would think.

Rob Copeland
February 26th, 2002, 05:26 PM
To Jim
mea culpa!!

I sent the calculation of the parabola to the Rules folks only as an example of how little the sag would effect the total calculation for measuring a pool. I should have invoked the catenary curve calculation instead. However, without knowing the weight of the tape and the tension at the end points, I did not know how best to calculate the exact sag, so I sort of winged it and used the next best calculation.

And in case anyone is interested in knowing the difference between a parabola and a catenary curve (yea right) there is a good explanation at:

In , our next lesson we will discuss the differences between electrical currents and ocean currents, and which one a wet swimmer should stay away from.

February 26th, 2002, 06:50 PM
To Mike Heather:

You Said:

"When I was in high school, there were two schools in the conference that were 100 feet long"

Either the schools were really wide or they didn't have a very large student body. By the way, how long were the pools? :)


February 26th, 2002, 07:59 PM
I honestly mean no offense to anyone, but this business about
steel tape sag vs fiberglass sag is pretty anal.

Just lay the tape on the side of the pool edge (or both sides
and divide by two) and that would be plenty close for me.
No sag if the tape is supported by concrete.

February 27th, 2002, 02:02 AM
Fascinating thread here!

Just to pick up on something Wayne mentioned, how does the depth of a pool have an effect? I have wondered about this.

At my old swim club in Austin, the 4 foot deep pool got a couple of inches more shallow in the center, and I would often scrape my hands on the bottom which was no fun, but otherwise I am clueless what effect pool depth has.


Philip Arcuni
February 27th, 2002, 02:20 PM
In shallow pools waves (turbulence) reflects from the bottom of the pool and slows swimmers down. It is generally understood that the deeper the pool the better (as in faster), but at some depth making the pool any deeper will not make any significant difference. That is why I, personally, am not particularly troubled by the difference in depth between the two Hawaii pools as far as speed is concerned. Also, racing starts into a shallow pool is a hazard that people are more aware of (concerned about?) then they were 40 years ago.

If you read a blurb for a meet that says "fast pool" they usually mean "deep." (and not "short" :) )

There is always a conflict in pool design between those that want to make the best competitive pool (usually deeper than 2 meters, at least) and those that want a flexible design that can accomodate swim lessons, water aerobics, rehabilitation, and other things that are best in water that can be stood in.

Philip Arcuni
February 27th, 2002, 02:50 PM
As said by Fisch:

"I honestly mean no offense to anyone, but this business about
steel tape sag vs fiberglass sag is pretty anal.

"Just lay the tape on the side of the pool edge (or both sides
and divide by two) and that would be plenty close for me.
No sag if the tape is supported by concrete.

Can we all agree that trying to get the measurement accurate to 2 mm (or 1 Angstrom) is anal?

Michael Heather
February 27th, 2002, 08:07 PM
As long as the pools are long enough, there is no issue. Anal references are not only uncalled for, but misplaced as to the recipient(s).

Adolph Hitler had no problem making a pool to satisfy most needs way back in the 1930's. The solution was to make a moveable bottom. This was a multi purpose training pool for military cadets, and I suppose it was used for competition also.

The pool still exists today in Berlin as part of what used to be the Andrews barracks (U S Army). The bottom is moved by a combination of mechaical and hydraulic gizmos that can raise or lower the bottom of one end of the pool from 2 1/2 meters deep to about 1 meter. And, I suppose, anything in between. When I swam in it, it was kept at a lovely 21-22C (73-77F degrees).

I yam what I yam (ach du lieber!)

Philip Arcuni
February 27th, 2002, 09:26 PM
Sorry Michael, I did not mean anything personal about it. It is a reference to the Freudian concept that people have remnants of the psychological development stage of that name. Most people have some aspect of it, *too much* is a problem. For example, It is likely I may be, and my wife claims so, when I insist on hospital-cornering my bed every night. Totally unnecessary and a waste of time, but I am compelled, and I wouldn't legislate it. I take no offense if someone calls me anal, it is a statement of fact. The term does have unfortunate implications, to some, in this society, however.

Besides, *I* was the one that brought the 'sag' subject up, so the original reference, and my reference, was to me. At least so I interpreted it.

That is very interesting about the Berlin pool. I wonder how often it breaks down and how expensive it would be make now? Did you see it in operation, or at two different depths? I have seen much smaller platforms that move up and down in deep pools, but they took up wall and deck space. They are designed for people with certain handicaps, I think.

Michael Heather
February 27th, 2002, 10:44 PM
I did not see the pool at two different depths, but I believe it was still capable of moving when I swam there in 1986. I was intrigued by the joints in the bottom and what they might do during the transition,but did not get a detailed explanation of the operation. It was a spacious 50 meter pool, in a great large enclosure with flag standards all about the walls (no flags anymore), and grandstand seating on one side (maybe both, it has been a long time). Anyone else been to this pool?

February 28th, 2002, 09:15 AM
I haven't been to the Berlin pool, but the pool at the University of Kentucky, where I swim, has a moveable floor. It's usually kept at 4 feet, and the Wellness Program has water aerobics classes at this depth. But for a meet, the floor is dropped to 6 feet. In theory, they can raise the floor up to deck level, so that a person in a wheelchair can get into the pool that way, but that's so time-consuming that I think they just use the "sling" (for lack of a better word) to accommodate these people.

Meg Smath

old dog
May 21st, 2004, 04:46 PM
More stuff for the pool length measurers' guild.;)

May 21st, 2004, 11:09 PM
I saw at picture of the Berlin pool in Kiefer. He swam in it during the 1936 olympics. It look as modern as some of the pools I swam in as a kid.

March 16th, 2012, 01:37 AM
In , our next lesson we will discuss the differences between electrical currents and ocean currents, and which one a wet swimmer should stay away from.
I know this one, has to do with DC wiring.

If you pour half a glass of drinking water into the ocean (ground) and drink the rest AND AT THE SAME TIME piss into the ocean you don't damage anything. You connect to the ground (ocean) with parallel streams.
If you piss first into your glass, THEN pour half in the ocean and drink the rest it gets disgusting. But that's exactly what you are doing if you share the same connection (glass, groundstrap) to ground (ocean) between high current and low current signals.