"Around the Deck" masthead

January, 2009

Happy New Year!
As we turn the calendar to 2009, the PVS Officials Committee would like to thank you for your participation and hard work at swim meets throughout 2008. Your role as a volunteer swim official is essential to our sport. You are actively involved in your child’s swimming program; at the same time you are instrumental in strengthening swimming in the United States. 2008 was a remarkable year in American swimming, with extraordinary growth in numbers of swimmers, an unprecedented number of new World and American records, memorable performances by individual swimmers, and an unforgettable display of athleticism and class by our Olympic team. Mark Schubert, U.S. National Team head coach, recently spoke to a gathering of officials and noted that every swim official in the country shares in the notable success of the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. Who knows which swimmer at the next PVS Mini-Meet or Open will appear on a future cover of Sports Illustrated? You play an important role in that swimmer’s accomplishments by serving as a deck official. We are truly grateful for your dedication and generous donation of time in support of our athletes.

We wish you health, prosperity, good fortune, and fast times in the New Year!

Upcoming Meets

January 2009

Date Meet Location Officials Contact
3-4 PVS January Distance Meet Lee District Art Davis
3-4 Speedo Eastern States Senior Circuit Audrey Moore Ted Berner
10-11 14/U Polar Bear Invitational South Run John McKenzie
10-11 MAKO Winter Invitational GMU Tony Fitz
11 RMSC Frosty Pentathlon
Germantown Bill Maneely
11 Snowball Splash Mini Meet American Univ. Art Davis
17-18 PVS January Open MLK Swim Center
PGS&LC - 1
PGS&LC - 2
Donna Considine
Scott Robinson
Brian Johnson
24-25 Snow Dude Mini Invitational Mt. Vernon Brian Johnson

Breaststroke Rule Interpretation

A new interpretation of the breaststroke rule has been issued by the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations Committee. Since 2005, a single downward butterfly kick has been allowed during or at the end of the first arm pull after the start and after each turn in the breaststroke. This new rule interpretation is meant to alleviate confusion regarding what constitutes the beginning of the first arm pull after the start or a turn. It conforms to the interpretation used by FINA, the international governing body for competitive swimming.

“For purposes of Article 101.2.3, as it relates to what constitutes the initiation of the first arm pull and the allowed single downward butterfly kick, the following applies: After the start and after each turn, any lateral or downward movement of the hands or arms is considered to be the initiation of the first arm pull.”

The full text of this new interpretation can be found on the USA Swimming website.


Did You Know . . .
The 1904 Olympics in St. Louis were the only Olympic Games in which the racing distances in the swimming events were measured in yards. Coincidentally, these were also the first Games in which a U.S. swimmer earned Olympic swimming medals.


Spring Championship Meets
It’s not too early to begin planning for Spring Championship meets. PVS Junior Championships will be held March 5-8 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Swim Center in Silver Spring. The following weekend, March 12-15, the PVS Senior Championships will occur at George Mason University. The Germantown Indoor Swim Center in Montgomery County will be the site of the Eastern Zone Southern Sectional meet, March 26-29. This last meet is part of the Speedo Championship Series, and will feature elite swimmers from several states.

All of these meets are “Officials Qualifying Meets,” offering the opportunity for formal evaluation at the N2 level (Juniors, Seniors) and the N2 and N3 levels (Sectionals). You can apply to work and/or be evaluated at the Eastern Zone Southern Sectional meet by completing the application on the Eastern Zone website. Applications to officiate at PVS Juniors and Seniors will be available soon on the PVS website.


When Reporting DQs to the Referee
Be prepared to accurately answer the three questions from the Chief Judge or the Referee — “Where were you?” (Jurisdiction), “What did you see?” (Description), and “What rule was broken?” (Infraction). Take a deep breath and think carefully before answering — try to visualize the swim in your mind, remembering that when you watched the swimmer approach you the swimmer’s right arm was on your left, etc. Use the language of the rulebook when answering. And finally, do not take it as a personal offense if your DQ call is overturned — you did your job and the Referee must do his/her job, too.


You Make the Call
A swimmer in lane 3 of the 100-yard butterfly moves too close to the right lane line. During the recovery portion of an arm stroke the swimmer’s right arm hits the lane line causing the right arm to trail the left arm over and into the water (alternating action). However, the swimmer then pulls both arms back simultaneously during the propulsive portion of the arm stroke. The stroke judge signals a disqualification. Is this a valid DQ?
See the answer at the bottom of this newsletter.


Swimming History
In 1924, American swimmer Sybil Bauer became the first woman to break an existing men’s record, when she won the 200m backstroke at the Paris Olympic Games. From 1921 to 1926, Bauer set twenty-three world records in women’s swimming, mostly in backstroke. Earlier, during a 1922 meet in Bermuda, she had broken the men’s record for the 440 yard backstroke, finishing with a time of 6:24.8 (nearly four seconds better than the old mark). However, that record was declared unofficial, since it took place at an unsanctioned meet. She was engaged to be married to an up-and-coming newspaper columnist (and, decades later, television host), Ed Sullivan, when she died of cancer at the age of 23. Sybil Bauer was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1967.


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.


Life on a National Championship Deck
What’s it like to officiate at a national championship meet? How is it different from working at a PVS championship or an Eastern Zone meet? Allow me to answer those questions by recounting my experiences at the 2008 Short Course National Championships last month in Atlanta.

This was the fifth time I’ve been fortunate enough to be selected to work at a national championship meet, and the first time I’ve served as a Chief Judge. The experience began with a meeting of the Chief Judges – with two courses in use (one for men, one for women), a total of eight CJs were assigned. During this time we discussed duties and protocols for the meet, and then prepared and tested all the equipment. Planning and preparations continued during the meeting of assigned officials (referees, admin referees, starters, CJs) and during the General Meeting with coaches and other personnel.

The first day of competition began with the Officials’ Briefing. More than 50 officials — some of the most respected and experienced swim officials from across the country, along with a number of “first timers” — assembled to serve as stroke judges or turn judges. After greeting one another and renewing old friendships, the stroke briefing was presented by a member of the CJ team. Ever give a briefing to a roomful of referees? The challenge is to make it complete, accurate, and thoroughly entertaining. Then, after a lengthy discussion of protocol and jurisdictions, we headed for the deck.

The Georgia Tech Aquatic Center was the site of the swimming and diving events for the 1996 Olympics. It is a first class venue with generous deck space, abundant locker room and meeting facilities, and ample seating capacity for spectators. The state-of-the-art setting and the level of competition clearly inspired the athletes. >From the start, we knew this would be a fast meet: during the first night’s Finals, one American record and three meet records were shattered.

At a national championship meet, four stroke judges walk the sides (lead/lag on both sides of the pool). Turn judges normally have one single lane to judge; however, since two pools were used for prelims, staffing dictated that each turn judge had jurisdiction for two lanes. The certified judges also serve as timers, handling watches, buttons, and timer sheets. For relays, one judge watches several lanes from the side of the pool, while each lane has a second judge confirming the takeoffs for that one single lane. While USA Swimming assigns an admin referee, the timing and scoring systems are operated by representatives from Omega Timing and Hy-Tek.

USA Swimming was experimenting with instant replay during this meet. DV Sport, the same company that handles instant replay for college football, set-up a number of underwater cameras and a digital replay system that was supervised by two USA-S officials. No calls were initiated by the replay system, but every DQ called on deck was reviewed by the replay officials. The review typically took less than 30 seconds and the judgment was relayed to deck officials as “Confirmed,” “Overturned,” or “Inconclusive” (in which case the call on the deck stands). Interestingly, only one call was overturned by replay during the course of the meet. After further experimentation, USA Swimming hopes to make a recommendation to FINA on the possible use of instant replay for the 2012 Olympics.

The deck officials were constantly busy but not overwhelmed – even during the medley relay in Finals when we had two DQs and an early take-off in the same heat. This was when the team of CJs came together and calmly worked through the situation. Quickly and without calling undue attention, the team handled each violation appropriately, reporting the details, confirming with the replay officials, notifying the athletes, and completing the paperwork.

By the time the final session concluded, all officials were exhausted, but pleased and proud to have worked with such an extraordinarily knowledgeable and professional deck crew. It proved once again that some of the nicest people you’ll meet are swim officials. Yes, the lodging and travel can be expensive – but I highly recommend working at a national championship meet. You’ll undoubtedly broaden your horizons, sharpen your skills, and return home with wonderful memories.


Resolution to ‘You Make the Call’
This was a correct call. In the butterfly both arms must be brought forward over the water and pulled back simultaneously. In this case, the swimmer’s arms were not brought forward over the water simultaneously. The fact that the lane line prevented the swimmer from recovering both arms simultaneously is not germane to the judging of the stroke.