by, December 23rd, 2008 at 04:43 PM (1185 Views)
I have sent my letter appealing the denial of the request to recognize my 50 fly time trial to the USMS Rules Committee Chairperson. I appreciate all the input I got from forum folks very much. I realize some might not agree with exactly how I've made the arguments, but I've done the best I could in the short time I had. Now, I'm ready to move on to the holidays and completely forget about it!
For those of you interested, I am reproducing the letter here:
Dear Ms. Casey,
Ed Tsuzuki, the NJ LMSC Chair, forwarded me the email that you had sent him regarding my 50 fly time trial at the Colonies Zones meet held at Rutgers University on Dec 6-7. As you can imagine, I was disheartened to learn that my 50 fly time from that meet will not count for USMS Top Ten or FINA Top Ten purposes. This is contrary to what I was told at the time trial. At this point, I understand the meet director, referee and Mr. Tsuzuki all agree that the time should be recognized. Only the Rules Committee disagrees. While I do not want to trespass on your time, I would be grateful if the USMS Rules Committee would reconsider its initial decision to deny my time official status.
At no point did I attempt to gain an unfair advantage on my competitors. I only swam Sunday at Rutgers because I had a conflict on Saturday and could not attend the meet or swim the open 50 fly that day. At the meet on Sunday, during which I also swam the 50 free and 100 IM, I asked both the meet director and referee for a recognized time trial in the 50 fly. They both granted the request and asked for all my pertinent information so that the time would “count.” It took place immediately following the relays on Sunday. The time trial was done in accordance with all the rules, with timers, officials, etc. all in place. I have a video of the race where you can see the stroke and turn judge officiating.
Concern over my time came to my attention only after I noticed that my time, after first being included in the USMS event rankings database, had been deleted without explanation or notice. I emailed Ed to inquire what had happened to my time. At the time, I had no idea how the official status of the time trial even became an issue.
I understand that Ed wrote you about procuring an event or meet recognition at this juncture and that you advised him that there is “no provision for securing a sanction after the fact.” Perhaps so, but it is also true that nothing in the rules expressly prohibits procuring an event recognition at this juncture. Nor should it.
First, none of the rules cited or referenced by the Rules Committee refer to or explicitly regulate time trials. Indeed the term “time trial” never appears in the rules and does not appear in Article 5, which concerns Top Ten recognition. If there is any uncertainty regarding application of USMS’ rules, as there is here, they should be read in favor of the affected swimmer. This seems particularly true where a narrow or strained reading of the rules would limit the ability of masters swimmers to obtain official times.
Second, Rule 103.13.1 enumerates the ways in which Official times “may” be achieved. The rule uses the word “may” not “must” and hence does not exclude time trials. Indeed, many masters swimmers obtain times in this fashion. In fact, time trials were swum in other USMS sanctioned SCM meets in November and December.
Third, Rule 202.2.1 provides that recognition of events “shall be issued” upon application to and approval from the LMSC. The time trial was run in accordance with all rules as required by Rule 202.2.E. It was authorized by meet officials, whose expertise I was relying on in good faith. And, importantly, a verbal recognition was requested and acknowledged at the meet. Since that time, the meet director, referee and Ed all agreed that seeking a Rule 202.2 recognition at this time was appropriate and also consistent with a pro-swimmer interpretation of the rules. This rule itself does not prohibit this procedure. If it is not prohibited, it should be deemed permissible.
Fourth, the Rules Committee suggested, in part, that the referee’s discretion with respect to permitting and recognizing the time trial was somehow negated by Rule 102.5, which states, among other things, that events “must be offered for all groups and both genders.” But this rule, by its express language, has no application here. The rule pertains to “planning a meet” and lists potential events at a meet, and expressly does not apply to time trials. Nor does the rule say anything about the necessity of making an “announcement” of a time trial at a meet.
The rule appears intended to address possible unfairness during meet planning. To the extent it could even possibly apply here, there were no swimmers who were disadvantaged. The meet director and referee did not deny anyone an opportunity to swim a time trial. I was just the only one who asked. Had another swimmer requested a time trial, I have no doubt the meet director and referee would have readily agreed. Had somebody asked to swim with me, the request would have been granted. Such flexibility naturally benefits masters swimmers by giving them more opportunities to achieve times, just as split requests do. At bottom, there is no difference between a referee being open to requests for time trials and a referee making an announcement. In either case, there is no discrimination and, more importantly, the rule is silent on both situations.
In sum, because Rule 102.5 does not apply to time trials and/or its application is ambiguous at best, the referee’s discretion to “decide all questions relating the actual conduct of the meet” should be honored in this instance.
Fifth, under Rule 102.16.5, protests “arising from the competition itself shall be made within 30 minutes after the alleged infraction took place.” To my knowledge, none were timely lodged. The issue with my time arose several days after the meet had concluded. Thus, the complaint should be disallowed as untimely and the time trial should stand on this basis as well.
Finally, I understand that you were concerned that I would bump someone out of a Top Ten spot, but this is not so. My previous time from the IGLA meet last June will make USMS Top Ten. Prior to swimming at Zones, I had understood that this time would not count for FINA purposes because FINA had refused to recognize the IGLA meet. (I have recently learned that it has reversed this decision.) Thus, when I swam the 50 fly, I was not trying to bump someone or move up in the rankings. I was simply attempting to establish a time that would actually count for FINA ranking purposes.
In any event, however, the purpose of the Top Ten rankings is to foster competition, not to suppress it. Thus, even if my time had theoretically “bumped someone off the list” – which it did not – that should not be a reason to knock my own time off the USMS and FINA rankings. New and faster times are constantly swum, and rankings change frequently. That is the very nature of competitive swimming.
Thus, for the above reasons, I believe recognition of my time trial pursuant to Rule 202.2 is appropriate.
I appreciate your consideration. Thank you.