Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Senior Swimming in America - The Progression We Should be Following

In 2001 I attended the Senior Development Committee meeting (at the USAS Convention) that handicapped senior swimming in America.

Prior to that meeting the progression of senior swimming in USA Swimming was as follows:

  • LSC Senior Championship
  • Region Senior Championship
  • Junior Nationals (West/Southeast/Northeast)
  • US Open
  • Nationals
The progression seemed to work well in that the incremental steps from one championship were such that relatively even.  A similar percentage of swimmers would qualify for the next meet in the progression.  If %x of swimmers at the Region level qualified for Jr's, you could expect approximately the same percentage at Jr's to qualify for Nationals.

On 9/11 the Senior Development Committee decided to mothball Jr's and replace it with Sectionals.  Oh they eventually brought Jr's back but they eliminated the West, Southeast, and Northeast versions of the meet and made a super fast single meet.  In doing so, they made the step from Jr's down to the next meet (in this case Sectionals) huge, effectively destroying the progression.

That was not the way it was supposed to be when those of us in the peanut gallery left the meeting on 9/11.  Our understanding on that day was that there would be a Sectional series each spring, but Jr's (the 3 meet format) would remain intact every summer.  Obviously this is not the way things turned out.  It would seem that the members of the committee at the time decided it was too inconvenient, for their big time programs, to have to travel to two separate locations every summer for Jr's and Nationals.  I agree that it may be inconvenient for the larger "powerhouse" teams to travel to two different meets locales.  But for most teams, that is a problem we would love to have to deal with.  

I see that while at least one person from 2001 is still on the committee, there are at least a couple newer committee members who actually work with non-college age swimmers and are people who's values I trust.  Perhaps we could convince the 2011 Senior Development Committee to consider balancing the steps toward elite senior swimming.  Not all of us have built in National teams in our programs...we have to develop ours the old fashioned way.


  1. Gordy from AlbuquerqueJuly 26, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    Cliff, the sectionals aren't even a stepping stone anymore! The meet at Mt. Hood this year was incredibly fast. There were multiple events where a Speedo Junior Cut time in the prelims didn't make the A finals. These meets have expanded to include a D finals heat because the meets are now so fast! That's a good thing, but it does not make this meet a stepping stone that I believe was the original intention.

    Please let me know if I'm way off base in my thinking here!

  2. I'm with you, I love the fast swimming, one of my club Alumni even won the 50 Free..which is great, but it is just not what is best for the majority of us out there. There needs to be something in between Sectionals and the LSC Senior meets...at least for me.

    If I send someone to Sectionals in the spring it will be because the meet will be long course and we are looking for an Olympic Trial cut. Otherwise, I will be looking for something with different time standards that I can take more kids to.