"Around the Deck" masthead

September/October, 2008

Welcome to the New Season!
The kids are back in school, and a new season of swimming is upon us. Hopefully, you’re ready to dive in for another season of officiating. Volunteer officials are the lifeblood of Potomac Valley Swimming. The number of swimmers always spikes the year immediately following the Summer Olympics, and many of those swimmers are looking forward to several early-season meets. Check the schedule below and contact the official-in-charge if you can help. We hope to see you at one of the many PVS Officials’ clinics during the month of October. And we look forward to seeing you on deck throughout the 2008-09 season!


Volunteers Needed Upcoming Meets

October 2008

Date Meet Location Officials Contact
5 All Freestyle Meet PGS&LC Tim Husson
11-12 Harvest Moon Herndon Jim Thompson
11 MSSC Freestyle Meet
Fairland Lynne Gerlach
11-12 Victor 12/Under Invitational
South Run John McKenzie
11-12 Halloween Mini Invitational Cub Run Ben Holly
17-19 RMSC Kickoff Meet
MLK Swim Center Donna Considine
17-19 October Open Lee District
Fairland 1
Fairland 2
Brian Johnson
Art Davis
Dan Young
25-26 Speedo Eastern States Senior Circuit
PGS&LC Tim Husson

Officials’ E-Mail List

If you are reading this newsletter on the PVS website and did not receive it by email, it could be for one of several reasons: 1) the PVS Officials Committee doesn’t have your address, 2) the address we have is incorrect, or 3) your ISP is blocking the newsletter. If it is one of the first two reasons, you can subscribe yourself by sending a blank email to officials-subscribe@potomacvallyeswimming.org. You will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription request. Follow the instructions in that email and you will be subscribed.

If you are no longer a PVS official or you do not want to receive the newsletter and other emails from the PVS Officials Committee, you can op-out by sending a blank email to officials-unsubscribe@potomacvallyeswimming.org. You will receive an email asking you to confirm your unsubscription request. Simply follow the instructions in that email and you will be unsubscribed.


“How Can You DQ a 10 & Under?”
Maybe you’ve heard it before: the official who says “I can’t DQ those cute little 10 & under swimmers.” People who take this position often rationalize it by saying they don’t want to cause “mental trauma” to a youngster. They often go on to say they have no problems “socking it to a 13 & older.” While this may sound good, it is grounded in some clearly erroneous and extraneous beliefs. First, it views the judge’s role as punitive — and that’s completely wrong. Rather, a disqualification should be viewed as protecting the other athletes in the competition, and as educating the athlete who commits the infraction so he/she won’t do it again. Secondly, it assumes that everyone in the identified age group is a beginner while those in the older age groups are experienced and, therefore, should be held to a stricter standard. Yet, this is also often erroneous. Athletes enter the sport at various ages, and some 8 year olds are far more experienced than some teenagers who are just entering the sport. In any event, experience is irrelevant. Finally, the idea that disqualifying a 10 & under will “traumatize the child’s psyche” is ludicrous. It clearly ignores the fact that youngsters are constantly being corrected during their formative years; it’s one of the ways they learn.


Officials’ Clinics
The Fall schedule of PVS Officials’ clinics has been posted on the website. There are clinics in both Maryland and Virginia for Stroke & Turn Judges, Starters, Referees, Timing System Operators, and Hy-Tek Operators during the month of October. Pre-Registration for the clinics is encouraged, but not required. You can just show up on the date and time of the clinic. Article 102.12.2 of USA Swimming rules states: “All officials acting in the capacity of Referee, Starter, or Stroke and/or Turn Judge at a swimming meet shall be certified in such position by their LSC prior to being assigned to officiate in that capacity.” Attendance at a clinic at least once every two years is a requirement for your certification. Be sure to check the website throughout the year for additional clinics.


Advanced Hy-Tek Clinic
For the first time in many years, PVS is offering an Advanced Hy-Tek Clinic on November 1, 2008 at the Olney Swim Center. To attend the clinic, you should be certified in Hy-Tek for at least one year or be a PVS Meet Director. The exact topics to be covered will be determined by the needs of the class, but the primary focus areas will be running Hy-Tek at a trials/finals championship-level meet and setting up a meet database. The instructors will also be available for questions after the session.


How is This Possible?!
It’s a prelims/finals meet. During the preliminary session, a 12 year old swimmer sets a national 11-12 age-group record in the 100 Butterfly. At finals, he is swimming in lane 8 for the championship heat. He is swimming in the correct lane. How is this possible?
See the answer at the bottom of this newsletter.


Swim Trivia
New-age pianist Yanni was a member of the Greek National Swimming Team before he embarked on his music career. At age 14, Yanni broke the Greek national 50m Freestyle record.


Swim Vocabulary: Can You Talk the Talk?!

  • Circle Seeding – The method for seeding swimmers participating in a prelims/finals meet, as per Rule 105.5.1. The fastest swimmer is placed in the final heat, next fastest in the second-from-last heat, the third fastest in the third-from-last heat. The fourth fastest swimmer swims in the final heat, the fifth in the second-from-last heat, the sixth fastest in the third-from-last heat, the seventh fastest in the final heat, etc.
  • Colorado – A brand of automatic timing system.
  • LSC – Local Swim Committee, the local level administrative division of USA Swimming that supervises competitive swimming within certain geographic boundaries. Potomac Valley Swimming is the LSC for the Washington, D.C. area.
  • Negative Split – A swim during which the second half is completed faster than the first half.
  • Non-Conforming Time – A short course time submitted to qualify for a long course meet, or vice versa
  • NTV – National Times Verification, a certificate verifying a national qualifying time for a swimmer.
  • Observed Swim – A swim observed by assigned USA Swimming officials for conformance with USA Swimming rules in a meet conducted under other than USA Swimming rules.
  • Ready Room – A room or area near the pool where the swimmers gather prior to competing in their heat at a championship meet.
  • Recall Rope – A rope suspended across the width of the pool that is dropped for the purpose of stopping swimmers who were not aware of a recalled race.
  • Zones – The country is divided into 4 zones: Eastern, Southern, Central, and Western. Each zone sponsors a championship age-group meet for short course in the Spring and for long course in the Summer, as well as two or more sectional meets for senior swimmers annually.


Questions? Suggestions?
Do 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 Neill.


How Does Drug Testing Work in Swimming?
When you officiate at a major national or international swim meet, you’ll likely notice a door marked “Drug Testing” among the areas off the pool deck. What happens in this room? Who decides which swimmer is to be tested? What is the procedure for testing? After this summer’s controversy surrounding Jessica Hardy’s withdrawal from the U.S. Olympic Team, let’s examine the process.

Long before a particular heat is swum, the testers establish that two swimmers will be tested: the first-place finisher and another randomly chosen place, say the fifth-place finisher. This process is to ensure that tests are objective and are not directed at any specific individual; the athletes are tested based on finishes and are determined prior to the start of the race.

Two observers are dispatched to that race. They wait behind the timers to see which swimmers finish (in our scenario) first and fifth. Once these swimmers are out of the pool, they are notified by their observer that they have been selected for testing. Let’s follow the first-place finisher, even though the exact same process will simultaneously be done with the fifth-place finisher.

Our first-place finisher, once notified that he/she has been selected, must sign a form acknowledging that he/she knows his/her rights. Respect for the athlete’s needs and rights are front and center throughout the process, so the sample does not need to be given immediately. The swimmer may warm down before providing the test.

While the swimmer warms down, the observer follows him/her, never letting the athlete out of sight. After warm down, the swimmer grabs some clothes and personal identification (passport, driver’s license, etc.) and reports to the testing area along with the observer. The testing area is usually set up somewhere with privacy and with close access to the restroom.

Once at the testing area, the observer signs the swimmer in, is assigned to a new race, and begins the process again. Meanwhile the swimmer produces identification and selects which package of testing materials (forms, labels, plastic cup, etc.) he/she would like to use – all are the same other than their serial number. By allowing the athlete to select his/her materials, it adds an extra level of randomness to the process. The swimmer completes the additional forms, which include information about the meet, the race, and other vital information. Usually there are bottles of water and sports drinks available to help a dehydrated or nervous athlete produce some urine.

At this point, a male swimmer would be paired with a male tester, while a female swimmer would have a female tester. When “nature calls,” they head to the restroom where the plastic cup is filled. All the while, the tester is watching to make sure that the urine is really coming from the athlete’s body and not from some other apparatus.

Once there is enough urine in the cup, the swimmer will put a lid on it and then follow the tester out to a table in the testing area. The sample is divided into two glass containers each marked with the same serial number.

This creates what we hear called the “A” and the “B” samples. The “A” is the one that is tested and, in the case of a positive, the “B” is ready for testing as well. After the sample has been split, the swimmer screws air tight tops on the containers, packages them up, seals the package, and signs the final forms. The athlete leaves and the samples head to the laboratory.


Resolution to ‘How is This Possible?!’
Two possible scenarios (Can you think of any others?):

  1. The swimmer is hearing-impaired and was assigned to lane 8 so that he could more readily see the strobe light or the Starter’s arm signals.
  2. The swimmer had tied for eighth place during preliminaries, and set the age-group record during the swim-off.