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How many events can I swim?

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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).

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