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BillS
August 15th, 2007, 01:01 PM
I have been thinking about an issue Jeff Commings brought up after the SCY Nationals. Jeff pointed out that he might have gone faster if he had been seeded by time rather than by age. I though the same thing as I watched others, including Dennis Baker, Gary Marshall, Rich Abraham, and others decimate their age group competition. How cool would it have been to see heats of the best of the best go head to head? And the competition would likely lead to faster times, at least for those swimmers who like to be pushed as opposed to swimming in clear water.

But for most of us mid-pack folks, it's a whole lot more exciting racing against our competition than a random assortment of folks who happened to have the same seed time. And often those seed times are wildly inaccurate anyway.

I have a couple of thoughts, neither of which are probably workable, but which might be food for thought. One method might involve culling out the top 24 (or some other number) men and top 24 women seeds from each event and swimming them in separate heats. To prevent gaming the seeds, the race staff would compare seeds to actual times within the past year. The remaining swimmers would swim seeded by age. This would be extra work for the race committee, but probably would not increase the length of the meet a whole bunch, if at all, because these folks would be swimming anyway.

Another suggestion might be a prelim/final format, with the top 24 times from each event swimming it again later. There are rest issues and length of meet issues with this one, but how fun would that be? The rock stars would have to figure out just how hard to go in their age group heat to advance, and the finals would be an all-out blast.

Just thinking out loud . . .

JimRude
August 15th, 2007, 02:19 PM
Having just started masters swimming and not having competed in a nationals yet, I am amazed to learn that competitors are seeded by age rather than time... If the objective is to swim your fastest, wouldn't you benefit from being in a heat with others of roughly similar speed?!

Peter Cruise
August 15th, 2007, 03:33 PM
Bill- this stuff is always worth looking at, but I for one would not wish to be rewarded for top 24 with a chance to swim later. Could they not substitute a nice bottle of red instead?

knelson
August 15th, 2007, 05:39 PM
This would be extra work for the race committee, but probably would not increase the length of the meet a whole bunch, if at all, because these folks would be swimming anyway.

If anything it should decrease the length slightly. The total time is dictated by the slowest swimmer in the heat, not the fastest. The final three heats of each event should be shorter than they otherwise would be with this approach.

Jeff Commings
August 17th, 2007, 01:32 PM
Bill, thanks for your thoughts. Sometimes I wonder if I'm alone in proposing this situation.

I also thought a prelims/finals format would be great, but considering the length of an average day at nationals, it would be detrimental to those who swim finals.

pakman044
August 17th, 2007, 11:37 PM
I also thought a prelims/finals format would be great, but considering the length of an average day at nationals, it would be detrimental to those who swim finals.

That would require a rule change, as nationals must be run timed finals (USMS 102.10.1A). FINA rules require all meter competition to be timed finals as well (FINA MSW 3.4, USMS 102.10.1A). Not to mention the extreme issues with length of time given the number of age groups requiring seperate finals.

Has any masters meet ever been run prelims/finals? Given the number of age groups and required depth per age group (you'd need 2 heats full in every age group for every sex for every event just to make it worthwhile, otherwise you'd run the events timed finals), and the fact that the rule book is missing certain rules you'd want to run a prelims/finals meet (for example, there's nothing on circle seeding, which you need to seed a preliminary event), it just doesn't seem like anyone's ever tried it.

Patrick King

BillS
August 21st, 2007, 08:16 PM
I was curious about how the age groups would fare in a seed by time format, so I chose an event from Federal Way and pulled out the top 24 times. I chose the event, the men's 200 free, at random, and used actual results rather than seeds, but it should correlate.

I got the following by age in the top 24:

18 - 24 (3)
25 - 29 (7)
30 - 34 (3)
35 - 39 (6)
40 - 44 (4)
45 - 49 (1)

So if seeding by time is desirable, maybe the seeding should be the top 8, or top 16, from 18 - 34; then top 8 or 16 from 35 - 49, etc. to give the older guys and gals a shot at swimming by time, too.

Or not.

Allen Stark
August 23rd, 2007, 08:43 PM
I REALLY don't like the idea. World Masters Games in Edmonton was run that way. I was swimming against people I had never met,many of whom were no where near their seed times,some faster some slower. My main competition was in different heats.And there was situations like my friend Dave Radcliff swimming in an outside lane against 30 year olds and setting a World Record in the 70-74 age group.One could speculate that this helped pace him,but he finished 3rd in his heat with again faster seeds swimming slower and the top 2 guys going way under their seed time. The idea may have some validity for the lower age groups,but the fast older swimmers may be in outside lanes swimming with much younger swimmers who don't have as much experience and are likely to be less accurate with their seed times. Also I like to know if I won,I won,If I finished second I finished second,etc.

jim clemmons
August 24th, 2007, 05:37 PM
I'm kind of with Allen on this except that I feel anything 400m/500y or longer should be seeded by time.

I'm neutral on swimming it mixed sex although it does tend to add additional pressure.

Glenn
August 24th, 2007, 09:29 PM
How about a choice? I know Jim would like to swim by time because he, like Rich Abrahams and Jim McConica are so far ahead of the rest of the field that it makes sense for them to swim by time. I for one really like swimming against my age group - and would prefer to swim the 500 and 1000 against my age group as well.

If we were given a choice, Jim and Jim and Rich could swim by time and others could swim by age.

Donna
August 25th, 2007, 12:46 PM
I am for swimming by time, but then I also swim long distance events most of the time. This year was the first time I had a real race in the 1500 with Jackie Marr and we both pushed eachother to great times. We are both looking forward to swimming in the same heat next year too.

Swimming by time also makes the meet go faster which at a national event is a good thing.

Jeff Commings
August 30th, 2007, 02:55 PM
I REALLY don't like the idea. World Masters Games in Edmonton was run that way. I was swimming against people I had never met,many of whom were no where near their seed times,some faster some slower. My main competition was in different heats.And there was situations like my friend Dave Radcliff swimming in an outside lane against 30 year olds and setting a World Record in the 70-74 age group.One could speculate that this helped pace him,but he finished 3rd in his heat with again faster seeds swimming slower and the top 2 guys going way under their seed time. The idea may have some validity for the lower age groups,but the fast older swimmers may be in outside lanes swimming with much younger swimmers who don't have as much experience and are likely to be less accurate with their seed times. Also I like to know if I won,I won,If I finished second I finished second,etc.

At Federal Way, I noticed lots of people going way faster or way slower than their seed times in races. I'm sure that still threw off competitors, so Allen, that argument doesn't compel me to agree with your argument for seeding by age group. If you're seeded seventh in your age group in an event, having the outside lane, and the top six guys all swim way faster than their seed times, it's still going to throw you off. And if your "main competition" was in another heat, he probably wasn't going to be your competition, if his seed time was faster than yours (assuming he swam a time close to his seed).

As for David Radcliffe setting the world record: Do you think he would have done it racing against others in his age group? I don't know the results, but I bet the second place time in his age group did not come close to his. Thus, David would have been racing the clock, which does not historically produce faster results than man-to-man racing. Being in a heat with people of equal times pushed him harder, and he broke the record. He might have broken it racing alone, but I bet he wouldn't have gone as fast.

For those concerned about knowing their place in a particular age group, that's what the printed results are for. If you can't wait, find the heat sheet, circle the names of your competition in heats other than yours and look for them.

Using David as an example, I think seeding by age benefits every age group.

Blackbeard's Peg
August 31st, 2007, 11:39 PM
I think it would be a pretty cool bonus to have... but the methodolody at this point seems to be the big question. The top 24 breakout of the 200 free had no-one over 50 - they'll sue for inclusion ;)
<P>
but truthfully, if people truly want to swim against their very closest time-wise competitors in a trials/finals format, thats what the uber-competitive USAS is for.

Tom Boak
September 3rd, 2007, 10:38 AM
I love all the ideas expressed. However, if one wanted to seed only a few heats of each event by time, it should be the 3 fastest heats of the the 50 and older age groups, not the (or not only the) 3 fastest heats overall. If one looks at results, it is generally the older winners who swim without as much competition.
There is a rule right now that allows events 400 yards or longer to be deck-seeded by a combination of some heats by age group and some by time only. If any of you are serious about such an idea for shorter events, go to your LMSC before July of next year (it is too late for this year, unless one gets a committee to push the idea) and ask the LMSC to propose a rule change (Even years are when Rules can be changed by a 50% vote of the House of Delegates). One would change Rule 104.5.5 A (4) by removing the words "Events 400 yards/meters and longer shall be deck-seeded" and instead say "Any event may be preseeded or deck-seeded" and use the rest of the language in the present rule.
It would seem wise to ask Tom Taylor of Hy-tek about the feasibility of such combination seeding before going to the trouble of writing a rule.

This email says it is from Tom Boak, but this is actually Carolyn Boak

BillS
September 4th, 2007, 11:31 AM
I'm having trouble envisioning a formula that works across the board for all age groups. I'm reminded of Potter Stewart's classic definition of pornography -- "I know it when I see it" (which of course inspired countless artists to immediately challenge that definition through art, ultimately proving that "definition" worthless. But I digress).

Anyway, we all know or at least think we know the folks who might benefit from the seeded by time formula. They generally are the breakout leaders of their respective age groups, winning by seconds per 50 over the next nearest competitor. Identifying swimmers by their Top 10 placements comes to mind, but some age groups are competitive as is, and I think we all like knowing that if you outswim the guy or gal next to you, you have beaten one of your competitors.

If time seeding is desirable, maybe voluntary inclusion is the best -- or only -- way to go.

That Guy
October 6th, 2007, 08:44 PM
I think we all like knowing that if you outswim the guy or gal next to you, you have beaten one of your competitors.

If you're in the pool with me then you're my competitor. I don't care if you're 18 or 118, opposite sex, physically challenged, whatever... let's race. I'll shake your hand afterward. Seeding us by time increases the chances that there'll be a close race. Maybe I'm seeded with an unshaven time or you underestimated how fast you can go. That's part of the fun. :applaud:

Karen Duggan
November 1st, 2007, 03:06 PM
Ah, the smell of another can of USMS worms being opened up...

If you are going to compete in all events without age group distinctions then you should place awards without age group distinctions. The one and only reason is: If you are going to receive an award in a particular age group, then you should be allowed to compete DIRECTLY (as in the same heat) as those in your age group. Otherwise, like it was mentioned, you've got a USAS meet.

Example:
I know my hubby lost a 400 IM once by less than a second when the guy who beat him was in a different heat. I know, given my hubby's lack of willingness to lose!, that had he been next to that guy, my hubby would have beat him.
:violin:

Rob Copeland
November 1st, 2007, 03:44 PM
So, do we also need to go to prelims and finals, to make sure some sandbagger from a slower heat in the same age group doesn’t pull a similar trick on your hubby?

Also in some of the USA Swimming meets I work we combine age groups to swim and break out results by age group. Sometimes we run 10 and under events and provide awards 8&under and 9&10. Or we will have “Open” events and score 13&14, 15-17, and Senior.

swim4life
November 1st, 2007, 04:40 PM
We swim all year being seeded by time only, even at Regionals. I think it's a nice change to be seeded by age groups for once and actually be in the pool racing the people you are competing against for medals.

Additionally, the age group seeding works for the vast majority of swimmers. While I respect the fact that Jeff would have liked to have swum next to Gary in the 100 IM, there is a pool full of other swimmers competing for 2nd-8th who all want to swim next to each other. Gary's race is the perfect example - although Gary won by over 2 seconds, less than 2 seconds seperated 2nd-10th place in that event. Plus, It's just not the same when you swim a race and think "I need to beat lane 1 and lane 5." (Yes, of course we are all trying to beat every lane.)

Also, If you breakout the top 24 seeds to swim together, given the example above using the 200 free, you would leave the 4th seeded man in the 30-34 age group swimming against 5th-11th seeds. That doesn't seem right to me. I'd be pissed if I were him - in fact, I'd probably make my entry time faster to ensure inclusion in the "fast" heats. I think this would become a problem and then you'd really see people not making their seed times...slippery slope!!

There's always prelims/finals but it appears that involves a lot of legistive tape, in addition to (1) making the meet longer, and (2) forcing people to swim an event twice. I swim all the 200's, and let me tell you, I was tired by my 6th event at Nationals (and it showed). I couldn't imagine swimming 10 or 12 events - I don't have the stamina of Michael Phelps! And, I'm guessing people in the more "experienced" age groups would hate swimming that many events even more than I would.

Bottom line: I'm fine with the way it is.

jim clemmons
November 1st, 2007, 05:08 PM
Also, If you breakout the top 24 seeds to swim together, given the example above using the 200 free, you would leave the 4th seeded man in the 30-34 age group swimming against 5th-11th seeds. That doesn't seem right to me. I'd be pissed if I were him - in fact, I'd probably make my entry time faster to ensure inclusion in the "fast" heats. I think this would become a problem and then you'd really see people not making their seed times...slippery slope!!

I don't think the top 24 seeds in three heats would be appropriate just for these reasons unless we seeded the entire event by time only.

Jeff Commings
November 1st, 2007, 05:21 PM
Jim has reiterated my point. The entire meet would be seeded by time, not just the top 24. This is not a plot to benefit only the fastest swimmers.

Update: I suppose I'm wondering why no one makes a fuss about not swimming with your competition in the distance events. The situation would be the same.

If you're in the 500 free and you are in a heat preceding your rival, generally you get out and watch his or her swim to find out if he or she went faster. Or your coach will have written down the times of the people in your age group.

Am I missing something, or would the situation be different for the shorter races? Doesn't seem so.

Karen Duggan
November 1st, 2007, 05:29 PM
USMS should contract with Costco to have cans of worms by the case! :agree:

(The guy didn't sandbag. The seeding just put them in different heats, and actually, Pat was seeded first but swam before the guy because one half of the pool was running slower than the other...)

I, for one, would love to see trials and finals, and I'd love to swim up to 10 events (personally). If I could I'd enter all back, breast, IM, and a distance event, totalling 10 events, but alas I must choose yearly. I'd also be for adding a day to Nationals, and having stricter time standards. But my understanding is that we are trying to INCLUDE...

swim4life
November 1st, 2007, 05:34 PM
This is true for the seeding of longer races Jeff. The difference is that there is a MUCH wider range of times the longer an event is and race strategy comes into play. When I'm swimming a mile it is nice to know that SOMEONE (regardless of age) will be next to me so I'm not swimming it alone.

In a 50 or 100 that's not really the case (except for a few swimmers who blow away their competition even in the short races). And, there's not much race strategy in 50's - or maybe there is and that's why I'm so terrible at them! :)

Karen Duggan
November 1st, 2007, 05:35 PM
Jeff,
It drives me nuts, in the distance events! However, I have been told that seeding the distance events takes hours off the day. I've never seen it, but that's what I'm told.
Even Pat (hubby) doesn't like the 400 IM seeded by time, if it is awarded by age group. He wouldn't mind swimming against other ages, as long as it was awarded that way-straight Top 10.
It would just make sense to pick A FORMAT and stick with it, either by age or by time, just choose! Here at Pacific we're used to the time seeding as you know :smooch:

swim4life
November 1st, 2007, 08:03 PM
Seeding the distance events by time does shorten the meet, although less so at Nationals where there are qualifying times. Essentially, in the 1650, by grouping all the slowest swimmers together, we will only have 1 heat that takes 30 minutes. The next heat would take 25, the next heat 23, and so on. If these events were seeded by age group, then there could potentially be someone in each of the first several heats who would take 30 minutes. So, it's best to put them all in the same heat.

Blackbeard's Peg
November 6th, 2007, 11:22 PM
I don't mind if the distance events are seeded by time regardless of age. It gives me a chance to try to race my neighbors. I train with a guy, and we're both trying to get under 5:00 in the 500. Head to head races in season are very interesting. We didn't catch that Federal Way seeded by time, and ended up in different heats, but would have loved to get in adjacent lanes to race each other.

I'll watch most of the 500 races where my competition is if they're not in my heat. I'll occasionally do it for the 100/200 too, but in all honesty, the guys after me swim so fast, its more of a watch for tips on race strategery thing.

pwolf66
November 8th, 2007, 01:24 PM
The most beneficial seeding is by time regardless of age. Assuming that there are small variances in seed times within a heat AND that seed times reflect a swimmer's FASTEST swim in the last year. (the accuracy of seed times is ANOTHER discussion and can not be fixed by running it as single seeded event or by age group). Unless you are the number 1 seed in a heat, you will be swimming next to someone who is _supposedly_ faster than you which should motivate you to your best effort possible. And if you and your rival are pretty closely matched you should be in the same heat but as in all things there are no guarantees.

As much as we would like to swim against folks that we know well, why not also look forward to swimming next to someone that you have never met before? Especially at a Nationals event given what should be a much larger field?

Paul

allenhighnote
November 9th, 2007, 02:27 PM
I am for seeding by time for all events at all meets, including nationals. Continue medals by age group. I do want to know how I faired against swimmers in my age group.

I don't want trials and finals. Talk about a long day although you'll only have 3 total competitors in the 200 Fly for the entire meet much less age group. So maybe it will balance out. :joker:

With seeding only by time:

1) The meet will run faster and be more exciting. It will cut down the total heats and it will group multiple slower swimmers in the first heats which will reduce meet length.

2) More swimmers will compete with swimmers of similar speed. When I'm in the water, I could care less how old you are, I want to swim my fastest time and beat you.

At a meet, how many people think well since swimmer "A" on my left is 5 years younger than me and swimmers "B" on my right is my age, I'm only going to race swimmer "B". Most swimmers will race the person they think they can beat that is FASTER not the same age.

Besides, it's also a good way to meet swimmers that you might not get to know otherwise.

3) The only solution to getting all swimmers to enter accurate seed times would require USMS having one single end to end online, integrated meet management system that every meet uses and all national entry times are verified against it. That's not going to happen in the near future. This is Masters not the Olympics.

Allen Stark
November 11th, 2007, 08:15 PM
Getting seed times from prior meets won't work.Many swimmers only taper for Nats so all prior times that year will be slow. Also there are some swimmers(you know who you are) who train really hard in there age up year,so times from the prior year will be slow(or non-existent.)

Blackbeard's Peg
November 12th, 2007, 02:24 PM
Most masters meets are seeded by time regardless of age. Having the short events seeded by age and time at Nationals I think is a cool benefit. For anyone looking not only to beat a time but to medal and/or try to make Top Ten, seeding by age gives you a chance to put those medals and Top Ten stakes up for grabs in the same heat.
My best 500 race was at 2005's nationals in Fort Lauderdale, where they seeded by age. There were three young ringers who broke 5:00 by a longshot. Myself and one other guy, Jose, were next in the seedings. I didn't know him personally, but we'd been battling each other in the Top Ten for the last two years. I knew his times (turns out he knew mine too). This was our chance to race each other in the same pool. Based on our previous times, if the 500s were seeded by time, he'd've been 2-3 heats ahead of me.
It was a great race, and we were finally able to meet in person after that race and exchange congratulations'. We continue to battle it out in the Top Ten, and I look forward to the next chance I get to race him!