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  1. Question: How many official splts are possible?

    by , March 31st, 2019 at 01:16 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    Question:

    When swimming the 1500-meter Freestyle, how many official splits may a swimmer obtain?

    Answer:

    When swimming a 1500-meter freestyle event (or any distance/stroke event), you may request any splits that correspond to a conforming event listed in article 102.5.2.

    For the 1500-meter Freestyle, that would include the 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 meter freestyle events if you choose. Unless automatic splits are in place for the meet, you must request the split(s) in writing to the meet referee prior to the end of the meet for freestyle events.

    Note that for individual backstroke events and relay events, the split request must be submitted to the referee in writing prior to swimming the event.

    Charles Cockrell
    USMS Rules Committee Chair
  2. 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 donít 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
  3. Question: Dual Sanctioned Meets

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

    A team wishes to have a dual sanctioned meet. For the longer events they want to run as combined. For all other events they want to run either as parallel or interwoven. Is this permissible?

    Answer:

    It appears that meet host would like to run some events where the swimmers are separated by events/heats and other events where swimmers swim together in the same heats.

    That is perfectly fine as long as the meet information clearly states the entry procedures for each set of events. Also, swimmers may only swim for USA Swimming or USMS in the meet, not both. So, swimmers with registration in both organizations must select only one organization to represent for the entire meet.

    For additional information, all of the guidelines for running dual-sanctioned meets can be found in Appendix B of the USMS Rule Book:

    https://www.usms.org/rules/appb.pdf

    Charles Cockrell
    USMS Rules Committee Chair
  4. What's My Time?

    by , December 28th, 2015 at 03:55 PM (Rules Committee Blog)
    What's My Time? It is the question that every swimmer wants to know as soon as the race is over. But, with different types of timing systems, the possibility of malfunctions, and the requirements for records to be established, the answer can be more complicated that many swimmers realize. Determining official time is one of the key jobs for officials and one that we all take seriously since every swimmer is entitled to the most accurate time that we can determine for each race. Much of the work to determine official times and get the results published takes place behind the scenes at a meet.


    USMS rules define different types of timing systems and levels of timing systems that can be used for different official purposes (103.17.1, 103.17.2, and 103.18.4). A "fully automatic" system is one which uses an automatic start (activated by the starter when the starting signal is given) and a touchpad finish. The term "fully automatic" means that the timing system does all of the work and no human action (like pressing a button) is required. A fully automatic system is considered the most accurate type of timing system and is therefore the highest level of timing possible. Times obtained from a fully automatic system are good for any purpose, including world records, USMS records, LMSC records, and USMS top ten rankings (103.18.4). If everything is working correctly, the time recorded by the touchpad at the end of your race becomes your official time (103.17.8-A). With modern electronic scoreboards, swimmers often have the luxury of seeing the official time as soon as the race is completed - for better or worse!

    But, the scoreboard times are not official times until reviewed by an official (103.7.2-C). Sometimes swimmers are surprised when their posted time in the results does not match the scoreboard. Why would that be the case? Sometimes touchpads can malfunction, either by failing to record a touch, recording a late touch, or (rarely) an errant early touch. More often, swimmers fail to touch the pad with enough force to record a touch at the finish or touch some other part of the wall. If you finish your race and look up at the scoreboard only to see the clock still running, that is a pretty good indication of a malfunction! The officials will use both observations and comparisons of primary and backup times to identify malfunctions.

    Because automatic timing systems can malfunction, the rules require backup systems (103.17.2-B). Most commonly, timers stationed at the finish end use buttons (which are also connected to the electronic timing system) to record a backup time. A timing system that uses an automatic start and a human-recorded finish is known as a "semi-automatic" system (103.17.1-B). Because human reaction times are involved (and buttons can also malfunction), we usually need more than one button time to ensure accuracy. Volunteers are hard to find, so many times it depends on how many timers are available.

    If the pad time is invalid, do we just use the button times to determine your official time? Not necessarily. Remember that button times are not as accurate because there is human reaction time involved. So, the rules define several different methods to correct for this inaccuracy (10317.3-C through G). The referee may determine that a consistent average difference could be added to (or subtracted from) all of the button times at a single meet. Some timing systems already apply a standard correction factor and others do not, so it may depend on what brand of timing system is being used. The referee may also determine that a specific correction factor is needed for an individual lane malfunction. This is typically done by calculating the difference between all of the good pad times and the button times for every other lane in the same heat. The average difference is then used as the correction factor. Even more accurate would be to calculate the average pad-button difference for several heats on the same lane before and after the race in question. If the buttons fail, watch times can still be used for this purpose, but more often watch times are simply used for comparison to help identify malfunctions.

    A recent innovation in elite meets is the use of stationary overhead cameras, which may be used instead of backup buttons provided they are fully integrated with the primary timing system. (103.17.2-B)

    Why do we go to all of this trouble? Because the rules say that any corrected time (using any of these methods) is just as good a fully-automatic (pad) time, whether one, two, or three buttons are used as backup system. Corrected times can used for any official purpose, including records and Top Ten. (103.18.7)

    If touchpads are not available, a semi-automatic system can still be used as the primary timing system for the meet. But, for records to count, you must have three buttons (which means three timers) for each lane. USMS top ten rankings can still be achieved with a semi-automatic system using two timers per lane. And, if no electronic timing system is available, hand-held watches can still be used, but three watches are necessary for records and two watches for top ten rankings.

    One rule every swimmer will be glad to know exists is 103.18.6. "No swimmer shall be required to re-swim a race due to equipment failure that results in unrecorded or inaccurate time or place." That is another reason for multiple backup systems and procedures to ensure that every swimmer receives a fair and accurate time.

    In response to changes in USA Swimming rules, USMS will have a task force studying the rules for official time determination in 2016 that could result in some changes, but any changes would not occur until 2017.