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Thread: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

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    Very Active Member Swimosaur's Avatar
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    Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Get ready

    All USAS events are automatically recognized by USMS, right? And USAS meets are often held in bulkhead pools, just like USMS meets, right? And USAS does not normally measure their pools before or after each meet, like USMS does, right? Nevertheless, any swim done by a USMS member in a USAS meet, which is automatically recognized by USMS, is eligible to be considered for a USMS Top Ten time. Even if no pool measurements were done, as they are ordinarily not done for USAS meets. So, normally, if you're a USMS member swimming in a USAS meet, you don't need to worry about pool measurements. At the same time, you can forget about getting a FINA World Top Ten time, because FINA insists that all of its Top Ten times are done in meets sanctioned not recognized by a FINA member masters federation, i.e. USMS, not USAS.

    On the other hand, there is a possibility that a meet can be dual-sanctioned, by both USAS, and USMS. In that case, you're good to go on your wannabe FINA World Top Ten time, because the meet actually is sanctioned by USMS. However, unlike in the previous case, where the meet was sanctioned by USAS, and only recognized by USMS, you'd better be sure to measure the pool, because a sanction from USMS means that you agree to all pool measurement rules. This is true even though FINA itself does not require the pool to be measured, only USMS. If somehow you forget to measure the pool (as you ordinarily would in the USAS-sanctioned/USMS-recognized case), then none of the USMS member times done in your meet will be eligible for USMS Top Ten consideration. As for the FINA World Top Ten times, I'm not exactly sure what happens to them if you forget to measure the pool.

    Are you confused yet? No, you got all that straight? Good for you, go to the head of the class.

    Here's what happened.

    We had a dual-sanctioned meet in a bulkhead pool. A sweet little old lady in our LMSC did a USMS Top Ten time, for the first time in her long career. She was so excited!

    However, the meet administration, not being familiar with the subtle differences between dual-sanctioned and USAS-sanctioned/USMS-recognized meets, did NOT measure the pool after the meet. Thus, the little old lady's time was NOT eligible for the USMS Top Ten. This was only discovered during the end-of-season Top Ten audit process.

    Note, her time would have been perfectly acceptable if the meet had been USAS-sanctioned/USMS-recognized. The only reason it was rejected was that the meet was USAS-sanctioned/USMS-sanctioned.

    As Top Ten recorded for our LMSC, I had the unenviable job of trying to explain all this to the understandably upset, sweet little old lady. It made her unhappy with USMS, and it made me unhappy in my role. She did her job. SHE SWAM HER TIME IN THE POOL. She didn't get her Top Ten time because of an administrative failure, not an athletic one.

    Conclusion: We need to simplify our unnecessarily complex, unnecessarily burdensome, unnecessarily labor intensive pool measurement rules. There is no reason they should be this difficult. We need to align them with FINA requirements.


  2. #2
    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Huh. I thought that times from USAS meets (which are indeed recognizable) were only accepted by USMS if the pool was measured or the measurement was on file. That's why people in the past have brought the laser measuring devices to USAS meets?

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    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    105.1.7 Pool Measurement
    ...
    C If a moveable bulkhead is used and the initial pool length certification for all lanes is on file, the length of the course must be confirmed by measuring the two outside lanes and a middle lane prior to the start of the meet and at the conclusion of each session.

    D If a moveable bulkhead is used and the initial pool length certification for all lanes is on file, the measurement rules and policies of FINA shall be the standard for events sanctioned by a FINA Masters member federation other than USMS.

    E If a moveable bulkhead is used and the initial pool length certification for all lanes is on file, the measurement rules and policies of USA Swimming shall be the standard for Top 10 eligibility for events sanctioned or approved by USA-S. A bulkhead placement confirmation measurement is required for a USMS record set at events sanctioned or approved by USA-S. The measurement rules and policies of USMS shall apply for dual sanctioned events.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

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    Very Active Member emmett's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Accepting unmeasured times from another governing body according to that GB's sanction requirements was a relatively recent USMS rule change. It was done in a well-meaning attempt to bridge some of the code gaps between governing bodies that need to coexist and cooperate. It is unfortunate that this person got bit by an unintended consequence of this change (decreased attentiveness/awareness of measurement requirements - particularly with regard to dual sanctioned meets where USMS requirements are more cautious).

    While trying to seamlessly bridge such gaps between GBs is a laudible goal, my thinking is that the bridge needs to be built from the other end. Having seen several situations where bulkhead placements have resulted in short swimming courses for some or all of a meet, my thinnking is that ANY meet done in a bulkhead course should be measured before and after. This should be so universal that built-in automatic laser measurement hardware systems become part of standard bulkhead technology. Bulkhead systems fail. People make mistakes. Facts of life. To my way of thinking, results from ANY meet contested in an insufficiently measured bulkhead course are suspect, regardless of which GB blesses them. Technology can go a long way toward solving this problem.

    I'll bet Olympic swim courses and US Olympic Trials done in bulkhead courses are measured fastidiously.
    Coach Emmett Hines - ASCA Level 5
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    Very Active Member emmett's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Wait...applying an "any publicity is good publicity" mindset, maybe swimming can garner some extra publicity with a short-Olympic-pool version of Deflategate - yeah...that's the ticket!
    Coach Emmett Hines - ASCA Level 5
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    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    Huh. I thought that times from USAS meets (which are indeed recognizable) were only accepted by USMS if the pool was measured or the measurement was on file. That's why people in the past have brought the laser measuring devices to USAS meets?
    That used to be the case, but a couple of years ago the bulkhead verification measurement requirement was eliminated for Top 10 times. It still needs to be done for a USMS record. And the initial pool certification rules need to be on file.

    One reason the rules were relaxed for "automatically recognized" meets sanctioned by either USA-S or another FINA-member NGB is that it got to be too onerous for a swimmer who went to those meets to get the meet host to do something beyond the rules governing their meet. The thought was that these meets are "automatically recognized" for a reason and so the sanctioning body's rules were good enough, at least for Top 10 purposes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimosaur View Post
    Get ready …

    All USAS events are automatically recognized by USMS, right? And USAS meets are often held in bulkhead pools, just like USMS meets, right? And USAS does not normally measure their pools before or after each meet, like USMS does, right? Nevertheless, any swim done by a USMS member in a USAS meet, which is automatically recognized by USMS, is eligible to be considered for a USMS Top Ten time. Even if no pool measurements were done, as they are ordinarily not done for USAS meets. So, normally, if you're a USMS member swimming in a USAS meet, you don't need to worry about pool measurements. At the same time, you can forget about getting a FINA World Top Ten time, because FINA insists that all of its Top Ten times are done in meets sanctioned – not recognized – by a FINA member masters federation, i.e. USMS, not USAS.

    On the other hand, there is a possibility that a meet can be dual-sanctioned, by both USAS, and USMS. In that case, you're good to go on your wannabe FINA World Top Ten time, because the meet actually is sanctioned by USMS. However, unlike in the previous case, where the meet was sanctioned by USAS, and only recognized by USMS, you'd better be sure to measure the pool, because a sanction from USMS means that you agree to all pool measurement rules. This is true even though FINA itself does not require the pool to be measured, only USMS. If somehow you forget to measure the pool (as you ordinarily would in the USAS-sanctioned/USMS-recognized case), then none of the USMS member times done in your meet will be eligible for USMS Top Ten consideration. As for the FINA World Top Ten times, I'm not exactly sure what happens to them if you forget to measure the pool.

    Are you confused yet? No, you got all that straight? Good for you, go to the head of the class.

    Here's what happened.

    We had a dual-sanctioned meet in a bulkhead pool. A sweet little old lady in our LMSC did a USMS Top Ten time, for the first time in her long career. She was so excited!

    However, the meet administration, not being familiar with the subtle differences between dual-sanctioned and USAS-sanctioned/USMS-recognized meets, did NOT measure the pool after the meet. Thus, the little old lady's time was NOT eligible for the USMS Top Ten. This was only discovered during the end-of-season Top Ten audit process.

    Note, her time would have been perfectly acceptable if the meet had been USAS-sanctioned/USMS-recognized. The only reason it was rejected was that the meet was USAS-sanctioned/USMS-sanctioned.

    As Top Ten recorded for our LMSC, I had the unenviable job of trying to explain all this to the understandably upset, sweet little old lady. It made her unhappy with USMS, and it made me unhappy in my role. She did her job. SHE SWAM HER TIME IN THE POOL. She didn't get her Top Ten time because of an administrative failure, not an athletic one.

    Conclusion: We need to simplify our unnecessarily complex, unnecessarily burdensome, unnecessarily labor intensive pool measurement rules. There is no reason they should be this difficult. We need to align them with FINA requirements.

    Forget the "dual" qualifier, dual-sanctioned = sanctioned. The same rules apply. In the sanctioning process, the person seeking the sanction has to acknowledge the need for measurements, the information needs to be listed in the meet information, and the email confirming the grant of sanction also mentions the measurement requirement. If a meet host seeks a USMS sanction then they agree to run it according to USMS rules, including (but not limited to) pool measurements.

    So while I am very sympathetic to the swimmer, I have a hard time being sympathetic with the meet administration "not being familiar" with USMS rules if they applied for a USMS sanction. I imagine their lack of due diligence didn't prevent them from accepting her entry fees.

    As far as our rules go, there are generally two types of complaints: either our measurement rules are too strict (most common) or they are too complicated. But for all the complaints, I have never seen an LMSC propose a rule relaxing/simplifying the standards and putting it before the House of Delegates for a vote. The most recent measurement rule that I can recall that didn't come from Records and Tabulation was actually strengthening of the standards: requiring pre-meet bulkhead measurements, not just after each session.

    Now that I am no longer chair of Records and Tabulation, I don't mind admitting that I think our measurement rules are too strict and I'd love to have the chance for the HOD to revisit them. I think it would be an uphill battle but it would be a conversation worth having.

    This isn't a Rules year but maybe next year have your LMSC propose that we adopt FINA measurement standards.

  7. #7
    Very Active Member emmett's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Just saw Rob's post reinforcing the point that our rules are clear and explicit on the dual sanction point. This was a "people make mistakes" thing. And that means there are consequences. Another fact of life. When an event is dual-sanctioned, it is the responsibility of the person requesting the USMS sanction to make sure all OUR rules are followed. If not, their ability to get future sanctions should be in jeopardy.
    Coach Emmett Hines - ASCA Level 5
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    emmett@usms.org

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    Very Active Member Swimosaur's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    105.1.7.E
    Well, yeah ... IF you're Rob Copeland, past president of USMS, and were there when the rule was drafted & voted on, and maybe even wrote the rule yourself, THEN you can quote rule 105.1.7 section E, and it just rolls off the tongue, and you know immediately and deeply what it means and all its consequences. The rules are clear and explicit. Go to the head of the class.

    On the other hand, IF you are a newbie meet director, trying to run your first few USMS meets, trying to get your head around everything you have to do and everything that's going on, THEN the pool measurement rules are the single most common source of confusion and errors. All lanes sometimes?, some lanes all times?, before and after each "session"?, what's a "session"?, are we supposed to measure lanes 1, 3, 5, and 7 on odd days or what? Some meet directors have sent emails essentially giving up. They measure everything, every time.

    In this particular case, neither the meet director nor the sanctioning official were in any way what you would call "newbies". They are both highly experienced people, with long-term involvement in USMS, and just missed this particular trick. They were personally embarrassed & mortified that the sweet little old lady didn't get her Top Ten time. I'm just fussing up the chain.



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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    I think the LMSC Sanction chair has the responsibility to be sure the meet director knows the rules. The Sanction chair should follow up and assist the meet director in getting the measurements.
    I "heard" that USA Swimming does not require pool measrements because so many meets are in old pools, especially B and C meets. If there is a measurement requirement there might not be many meets. I think this makes sense considering the vast number of swimmers and the large number of meets on any given weekend.

  10. #10
    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimosaur View Post
    IF you're Rob Copeland, past president of USMS, and were there when the rule was drafted & voted on, and maybe even wrote the rule yourself, THEN you can quote rule 105.1.7 section E, and it just rolls off the tongue, and you know immediately and deeply what it means and all its consequences. The rules are clear and explicit.
    As a point of clarification, my copy and paste of the rules was more in response to Leslie’s reply and not your original post.

    Personally, I agree with your original conclusion and with Chris’ statement “I think our measurement rules are too strict and I'd love to have the chance for the HOD to revisit them.” I’m not sure how we balance between our mission “To promote health, wellness, fitness and competition for adults through swimming” and our desire to level the playing field by having very clear and explicit rules of competition. But, I’d like to see us find a solution that maintains the sanctity of our records while keeping our sport fun for all.

    One more thing, in addition to the meet director and sanction chair being embarrassed and mortified, I’d say you as Top 10 recorder are heartsick at having to reject her times and explain why. I’m sorry you were put in this position.


    Quote Originally Posted by Betsy View Post
    I think the LMSC Sanction chair has the responsibility to be sure the meet director knows the rules. The Sanction chair should follow up and assist the meet director in getting the measurements.
    I "heard" that USA Swimming does not require pool measrements because so many meets are in old pools, especially B and C meets. If there is a measurement requirement there might not be many meets. I think this makes sense considering the vast number of swimmers and the large number of meets on any given weekend.
    The Sanction chair is responsible, the event director is responsible and the referee is responsible. However in most cases these people are volunteers who are giving their free time back to our sport and they have received little or no training from USMS for their service. Yes they are responsible for and often held accountable for knowing all our rules and requirements, but the reality is that even the most conscientious volunteer can miss 1 sentence in a 210 page rule book.

    As for USA Swimming’s pool measurement rules; in part is is because some pools are short, measuring pools and keeping track of these measurements is extra work and USA-S gets where and when measurements are important. I work a lot of USA-S meets and 99.99% of the time it doesn’t really matter if a lane is 75.02 feet or 74.95 feet long. What matters is the opportunity for the kids to swim, compete and have fun.
    Last edited by Rob Copeland; March 3rd, 2015 at 11:00 AM. Reason: added Betsy reply
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

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    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    I think maybe the biggest problem I have with our measurement standards is implementation.

    The general principle is sound: there is a standard pool length and we should ensure that our pools measure up. There have been cases of pools being WAY short due to work done over the years. And bulkheads can indeed move, particularly older ones, if for example the lane lines are over-tightened.

    And I don't think the measurement rules are over-complicated either, they are considerably less complicated then (for example) the differing requirements for primary and backup timing systems for swims to be (a) considered official, (b) be eligible for Top 10 and (c) be eligible for records. (I mean, seriously: have you looked at 103.17 and 103.18 lately? Timing needs THREE tables to help explain the rules! It's a wonder we ever get a time for our swims!)

    Pool measurements are hard to do properly, and you can't just buy a laser device and assume everything will work fine. (Of course many -- maybe most -- people use steel tape anyway.) The problem is that pool measurement is done by people (e.g. a meet director) who (a) often don't know how to do them properly and (b) usually have a significant stake in the results of those measurements. I believe one reason USA-S used to do so few measurements is that the required that they be done by licensed professionals. If we are going to required measurements at the end of EACH SESSION of a bulkhead meet then clearly we can't go that route; even USA-S has loosened their requirements recently. (I can't remember right now but I seem to recall that the required expertise of the measurer was vaguely worded in their rules.)

    Nowadays the reason that times get rejected for measurements are usually that someone forgot to do them, or didn't read the instructions very carefully. For example, a person might say that a pool measured at 25.00 meters in every lane without the touchpad in...but didn't realize that we have to make a correction for touchpads, so the pool was actually too short.

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    Very Active Member Swimosaur's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Copeland View Post
    One more thing, in addition to the meet director and sanction chair being embarrassed and mortified, I’d say you as Top 10 recorder are heartsick at having to reject her times and explain why. I’m sorry you were put in this position.
    Yes, thank you. I didn't volunteer for this position to become an agent for disappointing sweet little old ladies in our LMSC. I didn't see that one coming.

    This thread is for her.

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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    I agree completely with the original poster: "We need to simplify our unnecessarily complex, unnecessarily burdensome, unnecessarily labor intensive pool measurement rules". Measure the pool once. Then measure it again if the pool is modified in some way. Done. End of story. If you absolutely want to insist on forcing us to measure courses that have bulkheads, then ask us to measure ONCE before the meet starts, not 6 times!!! That's just silly, I understand where the original rule-writers were coming from but what percentage of pools running masters meets have ever had a bulkhead move after the meet started?
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    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Quote Originally Posted by 200free View Post
    what percentage of pools running masters meets have ever had a bulkhead move after the meet started?
    I dont know the exact percentage, but I recall at least 2 meet Ive been at were the bulkheads moved after the meet started.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

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    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Let's not kid ourselves that pools are never short or bulkheads never move. Pools are sometimes short, the question is whether it is worth worrying about for USMS given our institutional mission. I wasn't at convention when the current measurement rules were enacted but I imagine some people cared about the issue quite a lot, and convinced a majority in the HOD it was a problem, or the rules wouldn't be what they are.

    But now we have experience with the rules as they are and it may be worth revisiting. Options include keeping the current measurement rules (strict, harder to enforce), adopting the FINA rules (lax, easy to do) or something in between like requiring a single measurement of bulkhead before, during, or after the meet.

    Personally I say let's use FINA's rules. It might be worth considering whether to have a licensed surveyor do the certification measurements, any facility that hosts USA-S meets might want to do that anyway. (I know the manager of a nearby high-end pool who was very nervous about letting me do the bulkhead measurements because he didn't want to get a reputation as a short pool; he definitely paid for a surveyor to do the certification measurements for USA-S and USMS.)

    You can also consider whether pools need to be re-certified every so often (10 years? 15?) in case someone "forgets" to take measurements or let anyone know that there was structural work done on the pool.

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    Very Active Member emmett's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    I too have been at two meets where the bulkhead moved during the meet. In one case it was at UT Jamail Center, one of the most professionally run facilities in the world. The other was at a high school where two of their brand new lane lines were tightened in response to a coach's complaint. The bulkhead was later discovered to have moved when lane lines were again tightened in response to new complaints of loose lane lines. At first the need to re-tighten was chalked up to them being "brand new lane lines". It was later discovered that the flotation mechanism used when moving the bulkhead was not properly releasing air when the bulkhead was re-settled after moving (and the pins that were intended to hold the bulkhead firmly in place had not been placed - and apparently hadn't been used in quite some time) and one end of the bulkhead had been pulled a good 6 inches. Both these situations eventually became clearly visible so they could be dealt with (both physically and clerically) during the meet. But I wonder how many other situations went un-noticed before the age of "measure after every session".
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    Very Active Member Swimosaur's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    Personally I say let's use FINA's rules.
    Personally, I think that's a fine principle. If the pool measurement & other standards in effect at any given meet are good enough to support a FINA World Record application, then they should be good enough to support anything further down the chain, right? What do they do in other major masters swimming countries, like the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil, etc.? Whatever they're doing is good enough for a World Record; it ought to be good enough.

    If it's good enough for a World Record, it's good enough.

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    Very Active Member ALM's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    Most of this discussion has centered around bulkhead courses.

    What about meets held in fixed-wall courses?

    We have many meets that are held in fixed-wall pools and then after the fact it is discovered that USMS does not have measurements on file.

    USA Swimming does not require that pool measurements be on file for their sanctioned meets. In fact, when I have spoken with meet directors to tell them that USMS doesn't have any pool measurements on file for their facility, the first thing they say is, "But we run USA meets here all the time." They assume that the pool has been measured and accepted by USA Swimming, since they host USA meets in the facility, but that usually isn't the case.

    Chris, are you suggesting that a relaxation of our measurement rules would mean that we would follow USA Swimming's rules and not require measurements for fixed-wall courses (unless a record is set)?

    Anna Lea Matysek

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    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    My own personal preference is that USMS follows the same rules as FINA masters, which is that the pool length has to be certified and on file, but that bulkhead verification measurements are not required. They only have this requirement for records but my preference is that we have it for both records and Top 10.

    We would have a problem if we have different requirements for Top 10 and for Records, because sometimes new Records are not discovered until after the fact and it is too late to do measurements.

    We could just say that pool length certification is a requirement for a sanction, and make sure that certification is done by a surveyor. Then all times from all USMS sanctioned meets would count for all purposes: both USMS and FINA Top 10 and Records. Times from automatically-recognized meets (USA-S and FINA NGB) would also count for USMS purposes if the pool has been certified.

    Wouldn't that be a nice world to live in?

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    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Gnashing Teeth in Frustration over This One!

    By the way...I hope everyone reading this who is a Top 10 Recorder is aware of the Peer-2-Peer teleconference call tonight (8:30pm EST) for TTRs? If you don't have the call-in information but would like to attend to find out more about best-practices and other answers to your questions, PM me and I'll give you the info.

    And no, a TTRs job isn't just about measurements... :-)

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