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Frosty
February 23rd, 2002, 01:05 AM
I’d like to start a general discussion about the “Separate but equal” rule (104.5.5C) that defines whether multiple courses used at a National championships can be considered “equal”.

Background: We typically run our SC Nationals in two courses. One of the ways in which we save a great deal of time is by having heats of the same event run concurrently in both courses if the courses are considered competitively equivalent. (Otherwise, we have a “women’s” course and a “men’s” course.)

It seems to me that in the recent past, we have considered courses “equal” even though there may have been some differences between them. (e.g. different heights for the starting blocks) The rule, as currently written, doesn’t give any specifications on how insignificant these differences need to be. The rule also allows the Championship Committee to ignore these differences if the meet timeline would run long by having separate-sex courses.

Many forum contributors have recently expressed strong feelings for having tight control and uniformity regarding competitive conditions. So, I’d like to hear what you think about this issue, particularly if you have and/or will attend Nationals.

(Note: I’m not trying to make any stand about the particular case with the upcoming Hawaii meet…I’m just wondering if we need to do something to the existing rule in the future – either by enforcing it differently or tightening it.)

Starting with the items specifically listed in rule 104.5.5C…

BULKHEAD TURNS – If one pool has a bulkhead turn, must the other pool(s) have a bulkhead turn to be considered “equal”?

TYPE OF GUTTER / BLOCKS – Do all the starting blocks in all courses have to be the same height, size, and make/model? If not, how similar can they be?

VISIBILITY OF TIMING DISPLAY – Do the scoreboards have to be the same size/make/model and do they need to be in the same relative position? If not, how similar can they be?

DEPTH OF WATER – Does the depth of the courses have to be symmetrical? (equal uniform depth or depth that is uneven but similar) Does the depth have to be similar at each turn?

…and are these other factors (not listed in the present rule) considered significant enough to render courses “unequal”?…

LANE WIDTH – Is a pool with wider lanes “unequal” to the other?

LANE LINES & FLAGS – Do the lane lines have to be the same size/diameter/number? Do the backstroke flags have to be the same size/number/height above water?

TIMING SYSTEM – Do the timing systems have to be the same model from the same manufacturer and be equally calibrated? Do the touchpads have to be the same model/size?

TEMPERATURE – If the pools are in separate basins, can they be of different temperatures? (Note: pools must be between 78-80F)

OUTDOOR ORIENTATION – If the pools are outdoors, must they be oriented in the same direction and start from the same end? (Or can we do backstroke events only when it's night or overcast?)

OPEN WATER ON SIDES – How much different can the distance/width be between the outermost lanes and the sidewalls for the courses to be “unequal”?

…finally…

THE COST OF TIME – What is an acceptable cost for ensuring that the meet is conducted on “equal playing fields”? If the meet would stretch beyond _____PM, would you relax your definition of “equal” pools in order to have an earlier finish?

Matt S
February 23rd, 2002, 06:22 PM
Dan,

I respect you, but this post is heading in a truly asinine direction. Do we really need to start finding reasons to disqualify pools from use in USMS certified competitions?

Yes, there are differences in pools, and maybe some of them could make a miniscule difference in time. I appreciate that there are some swimmers who have detailed mental visualization techniques, and may change strategies depending upon pool conditions. (Really, I do, with only minimal eye-rolling...) In deference to the folks who want absolutely equal conditions for competition, I can accept the idea of every heat of a given event being swum in the same pool. (So for example in a zoo like SC Nationals, we would use pool A for the womens' 100 free, and running at the same time in pool B would be the mens' 100 free. It may be the men and women switch pools after each day, or even after each event, and there are real differences in the pool. So what? Every one of your competitors had to deal with those same conditions.) This is similar to the NCAA Basketball tournament, where some teams play on Thur & Sat, and some on Fri & Sun, but all teams play on the same days as their opponents for that week.

At some point we need to reach the Jerry McGuire principal of "Just shut up and play the game." Or, we risk ending up like figure skating. This sport is supposed to be for fun, and fitness, and camaraderie. If someone is obsessing about 1/100th of a second because "that guy's lane is 2 feet deeper than mine," he has already started to lose perspective.

Just my preemptive rant-du-jour.

Matt

michaelmoore
February 24th, 2002, 11:10 PM
Dan, you raise some interesting issues, but I dont think that there is a good way to quantify separate but equal. The only thing that is consistent is that the slowest heat of the oldest age group is in Course A. If competitors put down the right seedtime, then the best swimmers of any age group are in the same heat (yes, I know there are some sandbaggers and that even a swimmer in a heat from the other course can out place swimmers in the fastest heat of the age group).

If you remember in 1999, not one club bid for the 2001 SCY Championships. Santa Clara was asked to bid for the championships. The Championship committee walks a line in trying to get the venues for the National and the best swimming conditions for the swimmers. If the we had everyone compete on one course - conditions would be equal but the time line for the men’s course would drag out maybe another hour and since relays are run at the end of the day, there would be a lot of swimmers waiting for the men’s events to end.

The championship committee is always interesting in improving the national championships. Not everything has to be in the rulebook, so send your ideas to Barry Fasbender, the Championship Committee Chair. Just remember everything has a price.



michael

Bert Petersen
February 25th, 2002, 01:13 AM
Dan; I understand your compassionate position regarding equality. However, remember the old Biblical quote, " the road to no Championships at all is paved with good intentions. " In our haste and desire to create playing fields of absolute fairness we can easily legislate ourselves right out of venues. Bert

Philip Arcuni
February 25th, 2002, 02:19 PM
I agree with most posts on this thread - there is little need to tighten up the requirements for identical courses. The two pools in Hawaii look to be fine and it should be a good and fair meet. Any differences in time resulting from pool differences will almost certainly be insignificant. The issues I brought up in another thread were to get information, both about the pool and about standard practice for two-pool National meets (Santa Clara has been my only National meet to date.) I think the answers were quite satisfactory.

Matt S. - You really shouldn't roll your eyes, even a little. It is important that the visualization take place in the 'environment' of the race - it helps reduce mistakes and helps to insure top performance. Any sport psychologist will agree with that, and it has nothing to do with 'strategy.' You should try it, especially in the sprint events.

But if the rest of you did not get Dan's polite and mild reference, I will restate it strongly and controversially -

there is a hypocritical double standard which allows differences between pools used in the *same* meet, and *same* event, to exist, while at the same time prohibits equally (or less) significant differences between pools used in different meets, different climates, different . . .

Some of the same arguments to not make tighter requirements for national meets were also used to allow the results of the NW meet. Emmett was particularly strong on the loss of competition pools issue.

I'm surprised that no one has asked how similar the length of the two pools are. It won't be me, I have already said that I don't think it is particularly important. (but they could differ by how much and still be 'identical?' :rolleyes: )

Frosty
February 25th, 2002, 09:57 PM
Ladies & Gentlemen, y'all have succeeded in Two-Blocking* my brain.

"I understand your compassionate position regarding equality." WHAT?!? I didn't know that I had (or ever expressed) such an opinion.

Ditto to those thinking that I'm trying to "legislate ourselves right out of venues." Where did that idea come from?!?

What really has me two-blocked is that which was eloquently stated my Mr. Arcuni. I'm hearing the same set of people saying two different things. Philip is RIGHT ON for pointing this out.

Y'all can't have it both ways...Don't tell me your "compassionate position" regarding pool length and then say that you don't care if the starting blocks are 12 inches different in height...so what'll it be?

*"Two-Block" is a Navy slang term. The cable that arrests a plane landing on the aircraft carrier is connected at each end by a large block weight designed to resist the momentum of the plane. If the plane comes in too fast, the two blocks can possibly ram into each other and lock together.

michaelmoore
February 26th, 2002, 12:55 AM
"there is a hypocritical double standard which allows differences between pools used in the *same* meet, and *same* event, to exist, while at the same time prohibits equally (or less) significant differences between pools used in different meets, different climates, different . . . "

Hypocritical? Double standard? Strong words Phil, where are you going with that?

Maybe they are using the same standard. It could be that people want the results to count and will overlook many things, but there are somethings that are so basic to a time and distance event that they are not willing to overlook.

It looks like you are upset with the result hence you use "hypocritical" and "double standard" to tar the people who made the decision.


michael

Philip Arcuni
February 26th, 2002, 01:33 PM
You're right Michael. I said it for retorical effect, yes, I am upset with the result, but I have already said that I respect the motives of everyone on this old issue. So, sorry.:(

For the life of my, however, I can't see what is "so basic to a time and distance event that they can't overlook" in this issue, that overcomes common sense, the rules, and compassion, and pays no attention to logical consequences. This is a case of people who miss the forest for the leaf litter on the ground. We all have to run on it, but watch out for the trees.

But it is a dead horse, and I am tired with it. It is clear that I am a minority on this issue. I remain steadfast in my opinion and will explain it again and again to anyone that asks. I'll even bring a rule book to Hawaii with me. Otherwise, I will try to restrain myself, probably only failing when blatent contradictions (so it seems to me) such as this thread's subject surface.

Steve Ruiter
March 22nd, 2002, 07:44 PM
I assume that a meet run in two courses requires that both courses be "sanctionable".

Frosty seems to want to have us legislate that they either both be equivalent somehow, or run events separately. How about we just require they are run separately.

I am not for defining equivalency of the two courses beyond what already exists for standards for a legal course. We would never agree, and the raising of the bar for nationals venues would be a negative result.

It would seem to get us somewhere useful if we require that all competitors in an event (strictly speaking each sex/age group) compete in the same course. If I were running a Nationals meet where the pools were not generally considered equivalent, I would suggest that, for instance, all men 100 free are in the same course. Making this be a rule seems excessive and/or impossible.

Steve

Frosty, you need a hobby....

beireland
May 21st, 2002, 01:31 PM
After swimming in the Hawaii meet(thank you meet organizers for a great meet), I think there should be some tweaking on the two course concept. I think every age group should have all its competitors on the same course for each event. In other words, for example, the men's 50-54 100 fly would be only odd heats, or only even heats. Still run the meet the same way otherwise, but that way, if there is any course difference, and there was some in Hawaii, the people that are competing against each other directly have as level a playing field as possible. I don't know if it makes any real difference, but it would also be nice to be able to see what your competition is doing before and after your heat in the same event.

matysekj
May 21st, 2002, 05:56 PM
After swimming in the two Hawaii pools last week, I have to agree with Bill's sentiments. With 20/20 hindsight, I believe that we probably should have swum the men in one pool and the women in the other pool for this meet. The major similarities in these pools that led to our alternating odd/even heats were:

- Both pools were a minimum of 7 feet deep, and studies have shown that after 7 feet the effect of reflected waves off the bottom of the pool is negligible.

- Both pools had identical gutter systems.

- Both pools had identical starting blocks (as far as I could tell).

Unfortunately, there were also a number of differences in these two pools:

- They were oriented differently, so the effects from the position of the sun and the wind direction were different from pool to pool.

- One pool had swarms of people warming up on both sides of the pool (beyond a buffer lane), while the other had walls on the sides.

- One pool was much deeper than the other, providing a perceptual difference when swimming.

- The pools used different water supplies / filtration systems. The dive tank was slightly warmer and cloudier than the 50M pool.

Given such differences, in the future I would be inclined to vote against considering such pools "equal" as a member of the Championship Committee. Isn't hindsight wonderful? I don't believe that any rules changes are required here, but do believe that we will be discussing this in more detail in the Championship Committee for future meets. Personally, I don't think the differences in the pools made a whole lot of difference, but there was a difference and I did hear a lot of comments from people during the meet about one pool being "faster" or "slower" than the other.

A venue such as the Indianapolis Natatorium provides two 25Y pools that really are equal in my mind, so alternating odd/even heats at such venues shouldn't be a problem. While I agree with the difficulty in following your age group's results that Bill expressed, I believe that the time savings for the meet achieved by alternating odd/even heats outweighs the convenience of swimming in the same pool for each age group when the pools are truly equal. Seeding the meet such that everyone in the same age group always swims in the same pool while still alternating odd/even heats would also be rather difficult, and may result in a longer meet the same as swimming men/women in different pools does.

There is an additional factor that was hammered home to me last week. I swam breaststroke in all 6 events and was DQ'd in two of them for a bad kick. The same judge got me both times, and I'm convinced she was looking for it the second time after recognizing me on the blocks. Both times I was in lane 8 of the dive tank. I have not been DQ'd in an individual event since I was 8 years old. While I disagree with her interpretation, I know that it was her interpretation and there is nothing I can do about it except to improve my body position and avoid the potential for this in the future. This experience brings up the consideration of unequal judging between the two courses for even/odd events (you were twice as likely to be DQ'd in the dive tank in the breast or IM events last week). However, I do NOT think this is a valid reason for not swimming odd/even heats in separate pools, because the same situation exists for lane 1 and lane 8 in the SAME pool - they are evaluated by different judges.

beireland
May 21st, 2002, 06:55 PM
Setting aside the stroke judge issue, which is interesting, I still think that the two pools are close enough that as long as the individuals who are competing against eachother in the same age group are swimming in the same pool, that the pools were "equal." I don't think re-ordering the heat order within an event would make any difference to the meet--the 50-54 men would be heats 9,11,13 instead of 10,11,12. Having one pool for men and one for women would change the speed and/or length of the meet, and would create different issues of fairness.

I'm also afraid that limiting the numbers of pools that qualify for nationals would be counterproductive to encouraging regions and teams to bid for the meet. Not every facility has an all deep 50 meter pool like Santa Clara.

matysekj
May 21st, 2002, 07:19 PM
I don't think re-ordering the heat order within an event would make any difference to the meet--the 50-54 men would be heats 9,11,13 instead of 10,11,12.
It could increase the length of the meet considering that there are usually one or more heats in an event containing swimmers from a few different age groups. If we enforce that all swimmers in an age group swim in the same pool, we would probably be splitting such a heat into two heats.

Several people have brought up the idea that modifying our separate but equal practice would limit the number of venues that qualify for hosting our nationals. I don't see this as having anything to do with the pool qualifications. The UH pools were fine for our nationals, as evidenced by the times turned in. However, I think a case can be made for swimming meets at the UH complex with men in one pool and women in the other. I don't see any fairness issues when doing this, because men and women don't compete against each other in any way at nationals. When we conduct a meet this way, we usually alternate pools by day so that, for example. the men would have competed in the dive tank on Tuesday and Thursday.

Philip Arcuni
May 21st, 2002, 07:23 PM
interesting posts . . .

Judging in the 50 meter pool was definitely more difficult than judging in the diving well, because of the warmup lanes between the swimmers and the side walls. If the chief judge allowed S&T judges to roam the side of the pool, it would be a definite unfairness, in my opinion, and could easily explain the judging discrepancies. I do not know the judging structure of the meet in Hawaii, but well-stocked meets should have side-of-the-pool judges in addition to end-pool judges, and this would have been a problem at Hawaii because of unfairness.

Furthermore, with the longer walk needed to notify swimmers of DQ's, the 50 meter pool would be judged for a lesser amount of time.

I noticed two things that surprised me about the judging: it was very inconsistent, with some swimmers getting away with clear violations that occured throughout their stroke, and others getting the slip for single and relatively minor errors.

The second surprising thing was just how many violations there were in a field of what should be very experienced swimmers. I don't know if the cause is lax judging in most other meets, or better swimmers pushing the envelope, or what. What I noticed in particular: careless mistakes, such as underwater stroking the butterfly finish, some of the better breastrokers do a lot of dolphin kick with their toes pointing inward, both off the wall and in their regular stroke, and the rules seem to change for the more senior butterflyers.

Paul Smith
May 21st, 2002, 11:02 PM
I personally had no problem with the pool set up, both pools very very fast (for outside courses). I was actually relieved to see the set up after having swam at this pool last year.

My concern was that they would run both courses in the 50m pool, because of the "sloping" design on both ends, the outside lanes for both courses set up in one pool would have been much shallower than 7ft.

All in all I thought Janet & Co. ran one of the best meets I've been to in one of my favorite places on the planet.

Only one "beef", the current format for deck seeding (I can already see Phil & Matt rolling their eyes and grabbing their hair!). Being an advocate of deck seeding, I must admit I don't like the way it has been run by USMS meets I've been to.

My suggestion (again) would be to close seeding for the day at the start of warm ups (allow check in the day before) and print a heat sheet for the day so its more spectator friendly (charge a buck or two). Cleveland & AZ take note please!

michaelmoore
May 22nd, 2002, 01:27 AM
Originally posted by matysekj

There is an additional factor that was hammered home to me last week. I swam breaststroke in all 6 events and was DQ'd in two of them for a bad kick. The same judge got me both times, and I'm convinced she was looking for it the second time after recognizing me on the blocks. Both times I was in lane 8 of the dive tank. I have not been DQ'd in an individual event since I was 8 years old. While I disagree with her interpretation, I know that it was her interpretation and there is nothing I can do about it except to improve my body position and avoid the potential for this in the future.

Jim
Sorry about your being deeqed at Nationals, but if you think that the Stroke and Turn judge was incorrect in her interpretation of the rules, you should have gone to the either the head stroke and turn judge or the referee and asked that the dq be overturned.

That official will go to the stoke and turn judge who issued the dq and ask the infamous three questions:
What did you see?
Where were you standing?
What rule was broken?

The head stroke and turn judge may agree with you and overrule the stroke and turn judge. If the head stroke and turn judge /deck ref do not agree with you, appeal to the head ref. You have already been dq'ed so there is nothing to lose.

Of course judge, by what you said, it sounds like you got dq'ed for dolphin kick in the breaststoke kick. It is hard one to overturn, but it could be that you were dragging your legs and not kicking.

While you may think that she recognized you on the block for the second dq, most of the time I dont see individuals,especially if I am at the turn end of the pool. I heard that Hawaii was short of judges and if you are looking at 5 lanes or more, it is very difficult to see individuals, (I see a bunch of swimmers- not individuals). It could have been that your kick was so distintive that it caught her eye.

michael

matysekj
May 22nd, 2002, 01:52 AM
Of course judge, by what you said, it sounds like you got dq'ed for dolphin kick in the breaststoke kick. It is hard one to overturn, but it could be that you were dragging your legs and not kicking.
Yup, that's it exactly. I asked her explicitly if she really saw a downward force of the legs and she said yes. The only way to overturn this would be if the head judge were watching and disagreed with the interpretation of the official who issued the dq. I know that my kick looks marginal, and have been told so by a local judge on my team. I've also viewed underwater side-angle views of my stroke, and from that angle it is clear that there is no dolphin kick involved - the feet are just following through with the body. My feet are often at the surface after a kick and when I start the next pull, the resulting change in body position sometimes causes a splash at the feet. I know that it is all caused somehow by my overall lower body position in the water that I've developed over the past 2 years due to injuries and lack of swimming. The ironic thing is that I got dq'd as a result of a stroke flaw that makes me swim slower!

While you may think that she recognized you on the block for the second dq, most of the time I dont see individuals,especially if I am at the turn end of the pool. I heard that Hawaii was short of judges and if you are looking at 5 lanes or more, it is very difficult to see individuals, (I see a bunch of swimmers- not individuals). It could have been that your kick was so distintive that it caught her eye.
I really think she recognized me this time. She was starting the heat and then walking over to the back of the blocks to serve as stroke & turn judge also (I didn't see any side-of-pool stroke & turn judging in the diving end). I watched her for the 4 or 5 heats before mine in the 50. By the time she got situated behind the blocks, she had missed the entire first length of these heats, and seemed to concentrate on the finishes only for these heats. When my heat stepped on the blocks and I was in the end lane right in front of her, she looked right at me and I swear she recognized me. When she approached me after the swim, she said something like "I believe we've talked before....". Dang. Like I said before, I know that I need to correct my body position to avoid this interpretation again. I don't blame her - she called it as she saw it. I do still *disagree* with her, but that doesn't count for anything.

Nate
May 22nd, 2002, 02:18 AM
Another difference that I noticed between the 2 pools is that the dive pool had good non-skid touch pads - the 50 meter pool did not. It definitely affected my backstroke start.

All in all - I had a great time. The meet was well run. Could have used an extra bus or two at the time the meet was over each day. Thanks for putting up the canopies over the stands.

I saw a few gripes on the discussion forum lamenting that the meet was held in Hawaii. And I know that the census of swimmers was down. As far as I am concerned, if you have it in Hawaii again, I will be here again - notwithstanding that this one just happened to fall on my 25th wedding anniversary and I am still here in Kauai with my wife celebrating! Any excuse to come here is a good one - swim meet or otherwise.

mdhammer
May 23rd, 2002, 08:25 AM
Okay ... this should probably be a separate thread but I want to exuberantly jump on the bandwagon for night-before-check-in and heat sheets for all (yes, charge a buck or two for them by all means). There are never enough posted and the swimmers and spectators never have a clue with who is swimming when and where. It is especially confusing when one pool gets ahead of another in heats.

We are at nationals to swim, but also to cheer on our fellow competitors, teammates, friends ... and to applaud wonderful swims by people we may not even know. The spectators (God love them for sitting through these meets ... thanks mom & dad) are much more inclined to enjoy the meet if they can occupy some time watching the heats, looking at the heat sheets, and know who is swimming when, watch records fall, etc.

Even with deck entry I still noticed a few no shows in Hawaii. I'd gladly give up the occasional empty lane for the ability to know who is swimming!

- Maria

Sally Dillon
May 31st, 2002, 01:49 PM
I would like to respond to the comments made regarding the officiating in Hawaii. During the four day meet I spent a good deal of time stroke and turn judging when I wasn't competing.

Each of the two courses had four S&T judges on duty. All judges "worked" from the ends of the pools, not the side. (I should note that although I learned to S&T using the sides of the pool some 25 years ago, it is no longer the custom to officiate that way in most parts of the country - maybe all.) At the starting end one judge covered lanes 1-4 and another judge covered lanes 5-8. The same situation took place at the turning end. Due to the shortage of available officials, the Starter often covered four lanes at the starting end as soon as the race was underway. Therefore there was no distinct difference in officiating between the two courses.

At least one S&T at each end of the pool had a headset so they could communicate with the deck Referee. Any violations were immediately reported. I worked the diving pool with the headset one day and actually heard a lot more violations being reported in the 50 meter pool than where I was. I, personally, did not disqualify anyone and was actually impressed at how "clean" the strokes and turns were (I was never at the starting end so I didn't judge finishes). I did see a few violations but all were called by the starting end judge because they were actually in their jurisdiction (i.e. 2 strokes underwater at the start of breastsroke).

A S&T judge cannot and should not watch one swimmer exclusively (like a spectator might) so it is possible that a stroke mistake might be made that is missed by the judge. Unfortunately we do not have the number of volunteers that you might see in the Olympics where they have one judge per lane at each end. I believe the standard at USMS nationals is one judge/4 lanes at each end. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm mistaken.

I hope this answers some of the questions that have come up. Sorry that I can't answer to Jim's concern about being DQ'd by the same person - twice. That's a bummer. The only comment I have is that in my long experience as an official I have seen that while we are "enforcing" all the stroke and turn rules, some officials will get focused in on a particular stroke infraction that they are more "sensitive" to. It never hurts to politely discuss the situation with the Referee if you think you are wrongly "accused".

All in all, I thought the meet was great fun and very well run. My sincere thanks to Janet Renner and Amy Patz along with their enthusiastic crew of volunteers.

Sally

Katyjamesswims
July 23rd, 2002, 04:53 PM
there was a major problem with Hawaii for backstrokers... the timing pads in the 50 meter pool for 6 lanes out 8 were so slippery that most of the swimmers in my heat screwed up their starts. 2 lanes had newer pads and were much better and gave the swimmers in them an advantage. And the diving well also had new pads. I swim outside all of the time in AZ so the sun isnt much of a factor but feet slipping in a start sure is. I probably lost a half of a second!