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.
USMS Rules Committee Chair
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!
Q: My club wants to get more involved with the local community and host events. What types of community events should our Masters program consider?
A: Being a good citizen in the community can be rewarding for your members and can build goodwill with your swimming facility. Hosting community outreach events at your pool will require varying degrees of logistical planning, depending on the size and scope of the event. It's important to assemble a support team that shares in the planning and execution of the events. Don't try to do everything yourself. Have a goal of giving ownership to many volunteers. It will add to the overall success of the event when many hands are working as one.
Examples of community outreach events requiring pools:
Adult learn-to-swim clinicSpecial OlympicsSenior GamesPolice and Fire GamesWounded Warrior Project, Warrior GamesParalympics
Updated July 11th, 2014 at 05:19 PM by Bill Brenner
Few things are as emotional as watching a swimmer look to the scoreboard after touching the wall in the race of a lifetime. The sheer tonnage of toil spanning years— the missed vacations, the freakishly scheduled adolescence, the pain—all add up to a single moment and, by the looks on their faces, these swimmers would do it all over again. That single moment seems to make all the sacrifices worth it.
These moments of glory are not limited to Olympians—you can see it in swimmers at B meets, developmental meets, high school championships, Masters meets—pretty much anywhere swimmers race. And depending on the circumstances, it may be one of many “races of a lifetime.” After all, the road is long—and advances in training, nutrition and sports science have extended the run for all of us.
But watching the elite athletes in our sport can be an out-of-body experience. Many of us know what it feels like to swim efficiently: We train hard, we compete, we cut back on beer and chocolate during our tapers. But seeing the elites swim (thanks to advances in underwater videography) can be like seeing the strokes for the first time. The words “grace,” “beauty” and “freakin’ fast” seem inadequate at best.
USMS counts a number of Olympians—from all over the world and from different sports—in its current and former membership rolls. (For a list, see usms. org/hist/oly.) And this year, more than a dozen USMS members have made Olympic Trials cuts and are eligible to compete in Omaha.
With more than 1800 swimmers vying for 52 spots, odds of an Olympic berth are long for everyone. As fans and members of the greater swimming community gather to cheer for their favorite swimmers, we're especially thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of those who've been part of the USMS family.
Three days later, some of us will jump into that same water in Omaha and reach for our own “Olympic” moments. Although most of us won’t ever share our moments with millions of television viewers, we get to share them with our teammates and loved ones, which makes all our sacrifices—dietary or otherwise—so worth it.
Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:48 AM by Editor