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Rules Committee Blog


Questions about rules? Search the tag cloud to the right to find previous entries that might answer your question. Feel free to post questions via the comments tool in each post, or contact rules@usms.org.

  1. Question: Preliminaries/Finals Formats

    by , March 31st, 2019 at 01:07 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    Question:

    Is it permissible to run a sanctioned or recognized meet with a format that includes preliminaries and finals?

    Answer:

    This is covered in article 102.5.5.

    Formats other than timed finals, including preliminary heats and finals, are permitted under USMS rules only for short course yards meets. National Championship meets may only be conducted in a timed finals format. The only difference is that when an alternate format is used, swimmers may only swim three events per day. We also say that if a format other than timed finals is used, the meet announcement should state the process for seeding since we don’t cover seeding for prelims when finals are scheduled in the rule book.

    For meets held in 25-meter or 50-meter pools, all events must be conducted as timed finals, which means that swimmers only swim the event one time and the results are determined by ranking the official times of all swimmers who compete in the event.

    Charles Cockrell
    USMS Rules Committee Chair
  2. Interpretation of Age Group Rules

    by , February 10th, 2017 at 07:33 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    Recently some questions have been raised concerning the interpretation of rules regarding age groups at USMS sanctioned meets. For several weeks, the rules committee has researched the current rules, rationale, and historical context in order to answer these questions. The rules committee met on January 22, 2017 and voted to approve an official interpretation.

    USMS 202.1.1G(1) says that "The conduct of a sanctioned event shall be in strict compliance with applicable USMS swimming rules and administrative regulations…" USMS Rule 102.5 says that "Any event conducted must be offered for all age groups and both genders". In the context of 102.5, we mean "a series of races in a given stroke and distance". Rule 102.3 defines the age groups for individual events and relays starting at 18-24 for individual events, 72-99 for relays (for meets held in 25-meter or 50-meter pools) and 18+ for relays (for meets held in 25-yard pools). The rules do not provide for any exceptions to tailor or restrict the age groups at sanctioned meets.

    Therefore, all events conducted at USMS sanctioned meets must be offered for all of the age groups listed in 102.3. A format that limits or alters the age groups from those listed in 102.3 is not in compliance with USMS rules. Sponsoring organizations who are unable or unwilling to offer each and every event to all USMS age groups (as listed in 102.3) are not in compliance with part one rules, as required for all USMS sanctioned meets.

    The attached memorandum explains more about the rationale, history, and context behind this interpretation.

    Charles Cockrell
    USMS Rules Committee Chair
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Files
  3. Changes in Meet Programs

    by , September 11th, 2016 at 11:43 AM (Rules Committee Blog)
    Under what circumstances can the events offered, order of events, starting times, or other entry provisions be changed prior to a USMS sanctioned meet?

    Occasionally, meet directors ask if it is acceptable to make a change to one of the entry provisions or details of a meet after the information has been published. Rule 102.11 governs change of program and postponement of events and meets. In 102.11, we say that the order of events, as stated in the meet announcement, shall not be changed. The announced arrangement of heats (for example, the announcement may state that heats will be pre-seed and swum slowest to fastest by time only) shall be changed. The only exception is that heats may be combined at the referee's discretion.

    But, what constitutes publishing the meet announcement? Before the widespread use of websites and electronic entries, this might have meant mailing a newsletter to registered members in an LMSC. Since most swimmers now get their information through electronic mail or other digital media, it might be possible to make small changes and re-publish the information.

    Clearly the intent of the rules is to ensure that swimmers are not surprised by changes to the program after they have made a decision to attend a meet and which events to enter. So, we have to apply some judgement and consider the specific questions involved.

    Consider the following situations:


    • There is an upcoming USMS sanctioned meet in which the meet director wants to add a 1650 Free and an 800 Free Relay in the middle of a meet. Doing so would cause about an hour delay in the projected timeline, so the 200 Freestyle will be deleted from the program. The meet director wants to make this change one week before the meet when most swimmers have already entered and the entry deadline is less than 24 hours away.



    • The is an upcoming USMS sanctioned meet in which the meet director wants to add a mixed 400 medley relay as the last event of the day. The entry information was already published on the website, but the meet is three months away and no swimmers have entered at this point.


    Case #1 is clearly unacceptable. It would cause a major impact to the meet and, had this program been published earlier, many swimmers may have made different choices regarding which events to swim. Since entries are about to close, it would be unfair to make such a change so late in the process, even if all swimmers were notified. Rule 102.11 prohibits this type of change.

    However, in case #2, it might be possible to make this small change and then "publish" the information again if electronic media is the primary means for publishing information. If it is feasible to notify swimmers of the change and they still have time to make plans well before the entry deadline, such a change might still be within the intent of 102.11.

    The best approach would be to contact the national office (since a change might require a re-issuing of the sanction) and the rules committee chair and we can provide guidance on how to proceed.

    Rule 102.11 also governs changes in starting times and other provisions with some further restrictions. Let's take the following two examples:


    • Just prior to the close of entries, the meet host discovers that the projected timeline of the meet is much longer than anticipated. The meet host has negotiated with the facility to end before a specific time due to another event scheduled later in the day and the only way to conduct the entire meet is to start an hour earlier.



    • The pool manager calls the meet director in a panic two days before a scheduled meet and says that there is unexpected maintenance issue and the pool is to be shut down indefinitely. There is another venue a few miles away willing to accommodate the meet, but only if the meet can be moved from Saturday to Sunday.


    Talk about pressure! Obviously, decisions to make significant changes are not taken lightly, but there might sometimes be unavoidable circumstances. Both of these examples might have a significant impact on attendance and the success if the meet.

    Rule 102.11.3 says that "the entry provisions and starting time of any event, meet, or portion thereof shall stand as stated in the meet announcement and may not be changed to an earlier time or date unless written notice if such change is delivered to all affected swimmers and their coaches". Electronic notice must be sent no later than the entry deadline or, if mailed, must be postmarked prior to the entry deadline.

    So, in the first example, the change can be made, but each and every swimmer must be notified prior to the entry deadline.

    What happens if the first case occurs after the entry deadline? 102.11.3 goes on to say that "if lack of time prohibits mail notification, all affected swimmers must voluntarily agree in writing that they have been notified and are in accord with such change. Affected swimmers or coaches may file a written protest with the referee prior to the running of the event or the meet if they do not agree such change in time or date." So, the change could still be made, but all swimmers must be notified and agree to the change. Obviously, if swimmers do not agree, then the meet host is faced with a decision to either proceed and invite protest(s) or find some compromise solution to make the best of the situation.

    In the second example, since the starting time is being changed to a later time, it can still be made, but all swimmers need to be notified of the change. Rule 102.11.4 says that the meet committee can make a decision to postpone or cancel a meet if severe weather or other conditions preclude the possibility of safely or effectively conducting the meet. So, postponement for a valid reason is OK, but what happens if the meet host needs to move the meet from Sunday to Saturday to accommodate the change of venue? In that case, all swimmers must be notified and agree in writing to change. If all swimmers do not agree, then meet director must decide whether to cancel the meet or implement some compromise solution, such as offering a refund of entry fees to swimmers who cannot agree to change.

    In the case of significant circumstances, meet directors may contact us and we will do our best to provide guidance to meet hosts to assist in making decisions.

    And, now we see why meet directors have a lot of gray hair!