Into the Summer!
Summer may “officially” begin with the summer solstice,
occurring this year on June 21. But swimmers and their parents
know that summer really starts with that first dive into the
outdoor pool, probably sometime around Memorial Day weekend. The PVS
summer schedule includes a number of competitive long course meets,
including several championship meets. We’re looking forward to
seeing you on deck this season!
The Swimsuit Saga Continues
In 2008, 108 world records were broken in the sport of swimming. The
average number of world records set in swimming in all past Olympic
years is about 22. What do nearly all these world record swims have
in common? The record setters wore one of the new generation of superfast,
superexpensive “technical” swimsuits. Speedo’s LZR
($550), Tyr’s Tracer Light ($320), BlueSeventy’s Nero ($395),
and similar suits compress swimmers from the ankles to the shoulder.
They make swimmers more buoyant. They have an ultra-smooth exterior
that glides through the water with measurably less drag than skin. They
allow swimmers to float higher and cut through the water as never before.
On the down side, they tend to fall apart after just a dozen swims,
according to many coaches. Regardless, these suits have caused a frenzy
in a sport that has always seemed largely immune from the influence
To put the effects of these suits into further perspective:
In January 2008, Mike Barrowman’s 200-meter breaststroke time
of 2:10.16 (from 1992) was the 4th best time ever. By January 2009,
it was the only the 22nd best all-time.
FINA, the international governing body for competitive
swimming, recently conducted a series of tests to determine how extensively
the suits enhance performance, and whether this enhancement should be
allowed in competition. Earlier this month, FINA rejected 10 technical
suits and approved
202 others. USA Swimming has not yet taken any action with respect
to the published list of approved suits and will not do so until after
the Rules & Regulations Committee meeting scheduled for May 29-30.
Following that meeting, a formal announcement will be made regarding
how the approved list will affect USA Swimming and its LSCs.
An updated Stroke
Briefing has been posted on the PVS website. Check it out.
You Make the Call
During the 100-meter butterfly the swimmer recovers over the water with
the arms moving simultaneously. As the arms move forward beyond half
way (i.e., less than 90 degrees relative to the body) the swimmer’s
hands and arms re-enter the water, whereupon the swimmer brings them
together and pushes them forward until the arms are fully extended prior
to commencing the next pull. The stroke judge signals a possible disqualification
and explains the violation as an underwater recovery. Is this a correct
See the answer at the bottom of this newsletter.
Did You Know . . .
Esther Williams, the legendary movie star, famous
for her musical films that featured elaborate performances with swimming,
never won an Olympic medal for swimming. In 1940, she was the U.S. national
champion in the 100-meter freestyle and was a favorite to make the U.S.
Olympic team. Unfortunately, she missed her opportunity because that
year’s Olympics were suspended due to the outbreak of World War
II. Esther appeared with another legendary swimmer, Johnny Weismuller
in several features during the ’40s. In her autobiography, she
relates that she regularly had to fend off the amorous attentions of
Weismuller, whom she said acted as if he were Tarzan on and off the
How to Improve as a Swim Official
- Work regularly – There is no substitute for experience.
- Know the rules – Review the rulebook on a regular
basis; listen carefully to the pre-meet briefing, no matter how many
times you’ve heard it previously.
- Have a protective (rather than punitive) attitude –
A DQ is not considered a penalty against a swimmer, but rather a protection
of all the other swimmers who went to the effort to swim properly
in accordance with USA Swimming Rules & Regulations.
- Be consistent – The rules are the same for 6-year
olds and for Olympic medalists.
- Work at a high profile meet – You’ll work with
many experienced, knowledgeable officials in championship conditions.
You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll learn.
- Evaluate your performance after every session – Did
I do my part to provide safe, fair, and equitable conditions of competition?
Officials Education Travel
Did you know that Potomac Valley Swimming will contribute to your travel
expenses for working at national level meets? In March 2007, PVS
instituted the Officials Education Travel Reimbursement program. This
program is intended to encourage PVS officials to further their skills
by participating in national level meets. Complete details can be found
on the PVS
you have a question about officiating or a tip you’d like to share?
Is there a rule that you’d like to have clarified? Do you have
a suggestion for a future item in this newsletter? If so, please send
your questions/comments to the newsletter editor, Jack
Lead/Lag Judging uses four stroke judges, two judges walking each side
of the pool. When there are sufficient judges, this method insures more
consistent observation of all swimmers. How does it work? In a typical
wall-to-wall jurisdiction, the lead judge normally starts at the 15m
mark while the lag judge is positioned between the 15m mark and the
start end. As the heat begins, the lag judge watches the initial strokes
and kicks while the lead judge observes that the swimmers conform to
the 15m rule (except, of course, in breaststroke). Once the swimmers
have all passed the 15m mark, both judges follow them down the course,
observing strokes and kicks. As the swimmers separate, the two judges
likewise separate to maintain balanced observation, typically with lead
judge observing the two lead swimmers in the jurisdiction while the
lag judge observes the two lag swimmers (assuming an eight-lane pool).
As the swimmers approach the turn end of the pool, the lag judge stops
at the turn end 15m mark while the lead judge continues the observation
into the turn and the initial actions of the second leg of the race.
As the swimmers head back toward the start end, the lag judge becomes
lead and the lead judge becomes lag. This coordination continues until
the race finishes.
Resolution to ‘You Make
Under the facts given, this swimmer would be in violation of Rule 101.3.2.
The swimmer only partially recovered over the water and completed the
recovery underwater. The rule contemplates an over the water recovery
into the extended position when the arms and hands reenter the water.
However, good judgment requires that an official should not nitpick
this call as many swimmers extend another inch or two after the arms
and hands reenter. The judgment that must be made is whether the swimmer
is completing a recovery or simply maximizing the water “catch”
before the next powerstroke. The distance the arms and hands travel
underwater to the point of full extension is a critical consideration
in making this judgment.