Outrage No Mas
by, November 21st, 2011 at 12:53 PM (7552 Views)
Enough dragging things out.
I want and need to move on, so I shall try to finish this Triptych of Outrage as quickly as possible. So here’s what happened:
1. After the Clarion University snafu/cluster**** last spring, I was determined to never again make the mistake of counting on a local meet to be sanctioned, recognized, or whatever else is required to have times count for Top Ten consideration.
2. Last summer, knowing I had no chance of affording to travel to Auburn, knowing furthermore that I’d be taking my son to college the same weekend as the annual U. MD meet where I usually swim my one USMS LCM meet per summer, I opted to go instead to another annual meet up in Cleveland.
3. This is in a very nice pool and used to be run by Jack Groselle and O*H*I*O masters. The one time I had swum it before, all my times counted.
4. The drawback, in the past, had been that it was a 1-day meet, which makes it hard to try for the free style quinella (50, 100, 200, 400, and 800).
5. But this year, to my delight, I found the meet was being turned into a 2-day meet, name changed to the SynergyFest Inaugural Swim Meet. It was officially sanctioned by the Lake Erie LMSC. Sanction number 18-072923111-LCM.
6. So I signed up, booked the absolutely cheapest hotel room I could find within driving distance, and signed up for the 5 offered freestyles (I will paste in my results at the bottom of this.)
7. The meet, unfortunately, was not terribly well attended, probably because they also scheduled a 2-mile open water swim in Lake Erie at the same time as the pool swim, forcing devotees of both to pick one or the other.
8. According to the meet’s predicted timeline (and I may be a few minutes off here, plus or minus), warm ups started at 9 a.m., the first event of the day would start at 10 a.m., and all the day’s events would be done by approximately 6 p.m.
9. Unfortunately, the actual timeline was more like this: warm ups 9 a.m., first even 10 a.m., meet over 10:45 a.m. It was absurd! The starter tried to drag things out a little bit, but with only one or two heats for most of the events, the amount of rest between swims was minimal.
10. On the second day (and again, please forgive me if the details here are a little off), I swam the 800, had about 40 minutes of rest, swam the 50, got out of the water, and was told the 200 would be starting in approximately 4 minutes! I saw on the event sheet that there was going to be a 200 backstroke/OPEN later on, and this would provide me with about 15-20 minutes rest before what is usually my best event. So I asked the meet judge if it would be okay to swim my 200 free then instead. I explained that I was really hoping to make a Top 10 time, and I thought having more than 4 minutes rest after my 50 (and earlier 800) would optimize my chances.
11. The judge okayed it. Again, I told him I was really trying to make a top 10 time, and I asked him if switching to the 200 OPEN would screw this up. He said no.
12. So I swam the 200, did reasonably well for me, and drove back to Pittsburgh, confident that this time, at least, I had given myself a fighting chance of picking up a few Top 10 times that would absolutely, 100 percent, no-snafu possibilities anywhere on the horizon, count—provided, that is, my times were good enough to count.
13. I will now paste in my meet results and the Top Ten results that were just certified a few weeks ago.
14. Please glance at these and then return for a final word or two about what happened.
The keen observer will note that my name doesn’t appear in the 200 in the TT list even though my time of 2:18.10 would have just squeaked me ahead of the legendary Larry Wood.
The keen observer will also notice that my name does appear in the 400, though this is very unlikely to last.
When a forum poster pointed out that the preliminary LCM listings were up, I immediately checked to see if I had made any TT times. The area of the website read as follows:
2011 USMS Top Ten LCM for Men 55-59
This is a preliminary top ten listing for proofreading purposes only. Report any errors to Mary Beth Windrath.
Noting that my 200 wasn’t listed, I immediately emailed Mary Beth, who is an unflappably kind person with what seems like a thankless job—collating TT times and making sure they all comply with rules that people like me, evidently, have never heard of.
When I wrote Mary Beth, I was as confident of 100 percent vindication as I was when I told Mr. Glarow that I had, in fact, written down the correct answer of 5 on my math test, only to learn that he thought I had written an S.
Here is our email exchange:
Hi, Mary Beth,
Can you check the LCM 200 free in men 55-59? I swam a 2:18.10 something at the Synergy meet in Cleveland (which is where my other TT times came from in the 100, 400, and 800), but for some reason, the 200 was left out of the preliminary list.
Thanks for taking a look. From Event Rankings:
6 Thornton, James 59 2:18.10 1776 SynergyFest
Inaugural Swim Meet
Event 15 was 200 Open, which is not a valid event for Top Ten, so none of the times from that event can count. That's why you don't see it. Only distances and strokes listed in article 102.5 are considered for top ten and records.
Sorry about that!
Are you kidding me?
It was freestyle! They never said anything about this not counting at the meet.
There were a total of about 35 people at the whole meet, so the events had approximately 5 minutes between them. I asked the guy if I could switch from the 200 free to swimming it in the 200 Open so I could get 15 minutes rest after something else I had just swum.
He said that was fine, never mentioned anything about it not counting. I only went there to try to get some TT times.
This is a case of where the USMS rules are just, in my opinion, utterly mean-spirited to swimmers who don't have the money to travel to big meets.
What is the rationale for this?
PS Sorry for seeming peeved, but I would have been 3rd in the 1000 SCY free, too, last year, but the meet got invalidated because of weird bureaucratic minutiae. I just feel the slogan, "We do it all for the swimmer," which I heard endlessly at the one convention I attended, is a total misrepresentation.
You're not going to like what else I have to tell you, but I wanted to give you a heads up. The 400 Open was also listed as an event in that meet and the swimmers show up in the preliminary top ten, but will be removed for the final top ten. If it's any consolation, the times still are showing up in the event rankings.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Thanks, Mary Beth. You have been very kind about this, and I realize that with situations like this, you have a thankless job. I might write a vlog about this, but I will make sure to state clearly that you were extremely decent about it.
I just think it's an absolutely ridiculous rule and that they should come up with some other way to designate non counting swims--a 400 Fun Swim, for instance, where it's clear to the participants that the race won't count for anything.
My problem is I live in Pittsburgh, there are virtually no USMS meets nearby, so if I ever want to try to make the top ten, I have to drive to Cleveland or DC. This summer, I drove to Cleveland for the two day Synergy meet, which was clearly sanctioned, etc. So few people attended that there was often only one or two heats of each event. I think I swam the 50, then had 5 minutes before the 200, which I really wanted to try to make the Top 10 in. I asked the meet director if I could switch and have it still count, and he said yes.
I think there was a similar rational for the 400 Open vs. the 400 Free--no rest between events. And by no rest, I really do mean minimal rest. With only 35 people at the whole two day meet, it ran awfully fast. Warm ups were at 9:00, and the timeline said each day would end by 6 p.m. But both days the events were over by around 10:30.
All this comes on top of last spring's meet at Clarion, where the pool was measured, there were two certified officials, there was a USMS observer, etc. But someone failed to turn the paperwork in, so my personal all-time top finish in the TT didn't count either.
I just feel the rules are stacked in the favor of regions that have tons of USMS meets and/or swimmers wealthy enough to travel, pay for hotels, etc.
I shouldn't be so petty, but there you have it.
Small meets are always tough for everyone to get enough rest, especially if they really want to do well. For this particular meet, we've since notified the official folks about alternative ways to word the meet information, so that times would be valid for top ten. Let's hope that in the future they change the way it was handled. Unfortunately, sometimes we only really learn things the hard way.
If you have suggestions on how to get the word out about "open" or "Choice"
events not being valid for top ten, please pass them on. Or perhaps you have a suggested rule change.
Good luck at future meets.
Okay, I am more or less spent. I only ask that someone familiar with the rules explain why “Open” events can’t count at least for freestyle. Obviously, you can’t expect a time to count if you are using fins or a pull buoy or an underwater torpedo sled. But are there really meets anywhere that allow such items? Assuming you aren’t using some illegal device, is there anything else that can invalidate freestyle (for example, does the 15 m underwater SDK limit apply to freestyle?)
I propose that in the future, the word OPEN (which many of us grew up thinking simply meant that the event was “open” to any age group) be changed to UNOFFFICIAL. Otherwise, it’s just too confusing to the odd individual like me who does not enjoy curling up with a rule book.
They say that “once stung, twice shy.”
I have now been thrice stung.
They also say, “a nerve struck too many times dies.”
I greatly fear my USMS nerves are dead.