One of the unique things about masters swimming is that the athletes themselves get to make the rules. Considering changes to our competitive rules is an annual process. Ultimately any change to the rules of competition must be approved by the USMS House of Delegates which meets at our annual convention in September. After months of work by the Rules Committee, the proposed 2016 changes are now ready for review by convention delegates.
The USMS Rules Committee collects, studies, recommends proposed changes to the membership of USMS. Our goal is to ensure that the rules are fair, equitable, clear, and reflect the objectives and values of our membership. The Rules Committee is responsible for the glossary and part one of the USMS rule book, which governs all sanctioned and recognized pool meets. (The Long Distance and Legislation Committees have similar processes for other sections of the rule book.)
You can now see all of the proposed changes on the convention information page.
Sometimes we identify an issue that needs extensive study and a subset of the committee will work on these issues throughout the year to bring forward proposed changes by late Spring. This year, a task force studied proposed changes to the rules that involve timing system corrections for official times, USMS records, and top 10 times. The process of determining official times for different types of timing systems can get pretty complicated. (See our blog post from December 28, 2015 for an explanation of current rules.) However, the current rules are no longer consistent with FINA rules. That is a potential problem for recognition of world records and FINA world top 10 times. After several years of extensive study, USA Swimming modified their rules for timing system adjustments in 2016 and other organizations have followed suit. We took another year to study the changes and think through all of the procedures necessary to recognize official times and records. The proposed changes attempt to balance the sometimes competing goals of protecting swimmers from timing system failures, ensuring the accuracy of official times reported at meets, and ensuring that requirements placed on our meet officials are reasonable.
Sometimes our proposed changes might arise from frequent questions about a rule, which might signal that we need greater clarity. We might propose a change based on ideas and questions from coaches, officials, meet directors, and LMSC officers. Over the years, we have received many questions regarding meet formats, time trials, acceptance of times from recognized meets. So, several proposed changes attempt to make these provisions clearer for coaches, officials, and swimmers.
Sometimes, it is a matter of bringing the rules up to date with new technology or better practices for conducting meets. Over the years, we have dealt with rule changes involving electronic timing systems, online entries, backstroke ledges, overhead cameras, and other new innovations. This year, proposed changes to update the rules for automatic splits, eliminating written applications for USMS records at National Championships, and eliminating the written publication of USMS records in the rule book are a reflection of technologies that make it easier to run meets, tabulate the results, and publish results using electronic systems.
Additional changes can be proposed by any USMS standing committee, any Local Masters Swim Committee (LMSC), the USMS Board of Directors, or the USMS Executive Committee. These proposals can range from simple grammatical corrections to innovative ideas to make the sport more exciting and attract new members. Several changes to rules governing national championships and USMS records are being proposed this year.
Prior to consideration by the House of Delegates, the Rules Committee considers each proposal and may make amendments before voting whether to recommend the change to the House of Delegates. The House may also amend any proposal before voting and may adopt any change recommended favorably by the committee with a majority vote. The House may still adopt a proposed change not recommended by the committee with a 2/3 majority vote. So, the final set of changes that appear in the 2017 rule book may be different than what you see in the convention package.
While the deadline for proposing changes to the rules has passed for this year, you can still voice your opinion by contacting the delegates from your LMSC before the September convention.
Several questions have been asked recently about dual-sanctioned meets with USA-Swimming. The dual-sanction option is a great tool to provide additional opportunities for masters swimming to compete, while sharing pool space, expenses, officials, and other volunteers.
Appendix B in the USMS describes the possible formats that may be used for dual-sanctioned meets. The agreement between USMS and USA-Swimming describes three types of formats that may be used.
Parallel meets describe a format where two meets are essentially swum in parallel at the same time. In each event offered, the meet host might designate some lanes for USA-Swimming athletes and some for USMS athletes and the swimmers would compete together in the same heats. However, each organization's rules would apply to their members, so separate stroke and turn officials are recommended. The makeup of USMS heats may be adjusted so the seed times are approximately the same at the USA-Swimming athletes in each heat.
Interwoven meets describe a format where USA-Swimming and USMS athletes compete in separate heats. The meet host might decide to run separate sessions for each organization's athletes, alternate events, or alternate heats. Each organization's rules apply to their members, so stroke and turn officials would judge each heat according the rules of the sanctioning organization.
Combined meets mean that all swimmers swim together in the same heats without any specific designation of lanes. In this case, all athletes would compete under USA Swimming rules.
The phrase “competing according to USA-Swimming rules” is interpreted to mean that USMS articles 101, 102, 103, 107, and 108 are replaced by the corresponding articles of the current USA Swimming Rules and Regulations, except that the following USMS articles shall apply in all circumstances: 102.1 (eligibility), 102.2 (age determining date), 102.3 (age groups), 102.5 (events), 102.6 (event limit), 102.7 (entries), 102.9 (relays), 102.11 (change of program and postponement), and 102.14 (protests).
During combined meets, the application of USMS rule 102.4, which requires a continuous warm-up area at USMS sanctioned meets, can be adjusted depending on the availability of warm-space at the venue by agreement between the host clubs. If a continuous warm-up/warm-down lane or area is not available, the entry information must clearly state the availability of warm-up for USMS athletes. Once the entry information is published, changes which further restrict the availability of continuous warm-up/warm-down space are not permitted.
The requirements for USMS records and Top 10 times in 105.1 and requirements for USMS record applications in 105.3.8 must be followed at dual-sanctioned meets per the agreement. A liability release (204.1) is also required for all USMS members in USMS sanctioned events, including dual-sanctioned meets.
For dual-sanctioned meets that follow a parallel (specific lanes allocated to each organization) or an interwoven (separate heats for each organization) format, the agreement specifies that each organization’s rules must apply to their members. In these cases, all articles of USMS part one apply to the USMS competition without exception. So, continuous warm-up space is required for USMS athletes in these meets in pools of five lanes or more.
In a dual-sanctioned meet, swimmers must compete as a member of one organization or the other for the entire meet. While there are many athletes who are members of both organizations, this arrangement does not permit swimmers to represent both in a single meet. If a USMS member competes as a USA-Swimming athlete, automatic recognition of the USA-Swimming portion of the meet still applies, and USMS members may submit times that they swim in USA-Swimming meets for USMS records and top 10 recognition.
Please note that the 2016 USA-Swimming rule book contains an older version of the guidelines! We have made that correction, but not all LSC Officials may have the correct version. Appendix B of the USMS rule book is the most up-to-date version of the guidelines. Under the current guidelines, there is no need to provide separate warm-up space for USMS and USA-Swimming athletes, but host organizations may still do so as local option.
From time to time, we get asked if "time trials" are allowed at USMS sanctioned meets.
Most people would consider a "time trial" to be something like an independent swim conducted at a meet or independent from a meet based upon an individual swimmer's request. Using this definition, the answer is no. Such independent attempts to establish official times are not permitted at USMS sanctioned meets. However, one of the difficulties in answering this question clearly is that we do not define the term "time trial" in the USMS rule book and people may have different ideas of what constitutes a time trial.
The term "event" is defined in the USMS rule book, so we can talk about types of events, order of events, restrictions on entry limitations, and meet format. That will answer most of the questions regarding types of events that may be offered at USMS sanctioned meets. Many people may be surprised to discover that the rules actually provide a lot of flexibility to offer different and creative meet formats to serve the needs of masters swimmers, clubs, and LMSCs across the country.
That rules say that….
You must have a published order of events in the entry information.Events must be offered to all ages and both genders at any meet in which they are offered. A swimmer may swim the same individual event only one time during a meet. Individual swimmers are subject to the entry limitations stated in the entry information and USMS rules.You cannot change the order of events or add additional events after publishing the entry information unless certain conditions are met. Closed competition is permitted, so a sanctioned meet does not have to be open to all members of USMS.Not all events defined in article 102 must be offered. (These are the "conforming" events for which we compile Top 10 rankings and keep USMS records.) A meet host may offer a subset of those events and may even offer nonconforming events subject to approval of the sanctioning LMSC.
So, what about the following hypothetical situations?
Could a meet host run a sanctioned meet offering only one event and have the meet open to only members of one club? Yes, as long as that one event is offered to both genders and all age groups. There are many examples of meets that only consist of a 1650 Free, for example, but there is no rule that wouldn't allow it to be any other event.
Could a meet host run a sanctioned meet and offer the same event at multiple times (such as morning and afternoon, or Saturday and Sunday)? Yes, but an individual swimmer may only swim the event one time in a single meet and the results from all of the heats from the same event must be integrated and published as a single event in the results. (Compiling the results from all of the timed heats in a single event is the definition of "timed finals".)
Could a meet host run an order of events and then offer to repeat the same order of events for people who want to swim an event later in the session or next day? Yes if that is published in the entry information.
Could a meet host offer various creative event orders such as.....
The first three events will be all of the 200 yard non-freestyle stroke events. Swimmers may select only one event to swim and the events may be seeded together at the discretion of the referee. Yes, this type of order and meet format would be permitted.
The 100 Freestyle will be repeatedly offered between every other event in the meet. You can pick only one slot to swim this event. Yes, there is nothing in the rules to prohibit this type of format.
A "50 Choice" will be offered at the end of the meet for anyone who wants to swim another 50-yard event. No, because "choice" is not a defined stroke and distance in the USMS rules. But, you could say that all 50-yard stroke events will be offered again at the end of the meet for anyone that would like to swim another event. The restriction is that swimmers may not repeat an event that has already been swum.
Any of the above situations might look like a "time trial" to some people because they provide flexibility for swimmers to choose when they want to swim a specific event and could maybe even be constructed to accommodate specific swimmers who want a chance to swim a specific event at a time of their choosing.
The rules cover each of the above situations, but not necessarily as "time trials". The justification is the definition of an event and the rules that require publishing the order of events, conduct of events as "timed finals", and restrictions on how many times you can swim an event within a meet. As long as the sanctioning LMSC approves the meet format and entry information, these types of creative formats are permitted.
Could the host run a meet with a random order of events? Just show up, tell us what you want to swim, and we will run it for you? No, because you don't have a published order of events and the same events might not be offered to both genders and all age groups.
Can the host repeat random events at the end of the meet/session at the request of individual swimmers, maybe offering this option to swimmers who didn't want to swim back-to-back events or showed up late? No, because events cannot be added after the order of events has been published.
Can a swimmer ask to repeat an individual event in which he or she seeks a better time or wants to establish a record? No, because additional events may not be added and a swimmer may not repeat an event.
The preceding three situations may also look like "time trials" but they don't conform to the other rules regarding order of events and entry limitations, so that is why they are not permitted.
But, the rules actually allow for even more flexibility in short course yards (SCY) meets.
In USMS rules 102.6 and 102.10.1, we use the term "trials/finals" to describe meet formats that be used other than "timed finals". The term "trials/finals" is always used together, so this language should not be interpreted as meaning "time trials".
The language in 102.6 and 102.10.1 dates back several years and is intended to cover different ways of contesting individual events, which is permitted only in short course yards (SCY) meets. Normally, masters events are conducted as timed finals, but another common format (used in USA-Swimming championship meets) is to conduct preliminary heats and finals. The top swimmers from the preliminary heats advance to the finals and places are then determined from times swum in the finals. (Back in the day, the word "trial" was often used as a substitute for preliminaries or "prelims".)
If a meet is conducted with preliminary heats and finals, why doesn't it violate the restriction on repeating an event if a swimmer swims the same stroke and distance in the preliminaries and then again in the finals? And, why can't this alternate format be used to justify including time trials in SCY meets?
Because when preliminary heats are used, that process is considered part of the overall process of determining the results for a single event. Swimming the same stroke and distance in a preliminary heat and then in a final heat does not constitute repeating the same event. It is just a different way (contrasted to timed finals) of determining the overall places for a single event. This is not the same as a time trial, which is an independent attempt to establish another official time.
So, now to test your thinking, what about the following creative hypothetical formats for a SCY meet?
The entry information says: "After the conclusion of all of the events listed in the program, each swimmer will be provided an opportunity to re-swim any event. Events will be repeated in the same order, but may be combined at the discretion of the referee. The faster of the two times swum will be used to determine the final places for each event".
OK, that must be illegal, right? Because you cannot add events and a swimmer cannot repeat an event. But, in this hypothetical scenario, the repeat swim is actually part of the same event. It is not a time trial and it is not another added event. The format defines it as another way of contesting the event and that is allowed. And, just like the scenario of swimming the same stroke and distance in the preliminaries and finals, both swims may be used for official purposes.
What about this one? "The 100 IM will be open to the first 8 entries and swum in an elimination format. After each race, the slowest swimmer will be eliminated and the remaining swimmers will advance to the next round. The places will be determined by the order of elimination."
OK now, that really must be illegal, right? The winner would end up swimming the same event seven times! Again, because it defines a different way of contesting the event and determining the places, it is actually legal (albeit maybe insane). Swimming the same stroke and distance multiple times is not repeating the event in this scenario because each swim is part of the overall process for determining the rankings in a single event.
So, are time trials allowed? No, not using the most commonly accepted definition. But it is all in the way you define the order of events and the format for determining the results. For SCY meets, there is more flexibility than most people realize!
How many events can I swim?
We must have some very hearty swimmers in our USMS membership ranks. The rules say that a swimmer can swim a maximum of five individual events per day at a USMS sanctioned meet. But, we get a lot of questions asking if there are circumstances where swimmers can swim more than five events in one day. The short answer is "no", but read further for an explanation.
Can swimmers compete in "exhibition" events over the five event limit? Could a swimmer compete in several events and then choose which five to record for official purposes? One meet host asked if it was possible to offer an award for swimmers who were willing to swim every single event on the meet program. Is that possible? What about non-conforming events, such as 25-yard or 25-meter events. Do those count against the event limitation?
Wow. I am tired just thinking about it.
102.6 covers event limits at USMS sanctioned meets. The rules say that "A swimmer may compete in not more than five individual events per day….and shall compete not more than once in each individual event entered. (Read further for an explanation on the "….")
There is no provision in the rules for "exhibition" or "unofficial" events. All events swum at a USMS sanctioned meet count towards this limitation. In the Glossary, we define "event" as a series of races in a given stroke and distance, or meet; including pool, long distance, or open water. "Individual event" refers to one of these races for a given stroke and distance. Because we do not restrict this definition any further, it means that any stroke and distance swum would be considered as an "individual event". We are also careful to define how events are conducted, how they are judged, and how to determine official times and placement for each event. It is simply not possible to swim an event that does not "count" under the rules.
Rules 102.5.1 and 102.5.2 cover that may be offered at USMS sanctioned meets. This section of the rules also refers to 202.1.1-F(3) for nonconforming events. Nonconforming events are defined as events that not listed in part one of the rule book. These could include 25-yard or 25-meter events or any other creative event that the meet host would like to offer. (I am personally lobbying for a 1650-yard breaststroke.) These events may be conducted as long as they are conducted in a safe manner. The term "nonconforming" means that we do not keep records and top 10 rankings. However, because 102.6 does not distinguish between conforming and nonconforming events, any nonconforming events must also count towards the event limit.
Note that the meet host (with approval of the sanctioning LMSC) could impose an event limit less than five events per day. The rules do not require the host to allow swimmers to swim a maximum of five events. The host could also place other event limitations for a meet, such as requiring swimmers to choose only one distance freestyle event. The maximum allowed by rule is five individual events per day.
The entry limitations are different at USMS National Championship meets. Limits for National Championships are addressed in 104.5.3. The limit is three individual events per day and five (or six at the discretion of the USMS Championship Committee) individuals for the entire meet.
The exception to this limitation is covered at the end of 102.6. If an event or events are postponed to a subsequent day of the meet due to circumstances beyond the control of meet officials (for example, due to a thunderstorm), then the postponed events could be swum without being included in the five event limitation on the re-scheduled day.
Now, about the "…" (yada, yada, yada)
USMS meets are normally conducted in a "timed finals" format. That means everyone gets once chance to swim the event. Official times are determined and then places are determined based on ranking all of the official times. While it is rare, the rules also allow meets to be conducted with preliminary heats and finals if the meet is held in a 25-yard pool. If this format is followed, then the entry limitation becomes a maximum of three events per day. This format may not be used at USMS National Championships (102.10.1-A).
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.
taken from http://john-badassrides.blogspot.com...from-here.html
Today was not exactly what I would call a banner day on the road less traveled. That would be the road to being a superhero (or at least the one toward being forever out of load-pile-land). In fact from where I sat at two I would have said "you can't get there from here."
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