Michigan, Eastern Michigan to Shoot For Unusual Records in 20-Yard Dual

Mike Bottom has never shied away from trying for some creativity. When his Michigan Wolverines take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Friday at the Canham Natatorium, the pool might feel a little short. That’s because it, in fact, will be a little short. The course will be set up at 20 yards long.

Check out the event schedule for Friday (which will roll into a more traditional 25-yard meet against Purdue on Saturday).


Friday, Jan. 11
160-yard Medley Relay
500-yard Freestyle
40-yard Freestyle
100-yard Breaststroke
200-yard Backstroke
100-yard Butterfly
100-yard Freestyle
200-yard Breaststroke
40-yard Backstroke
200-yard Butterfly
200-yard Individual Medley
200-yard Freestyle
40-yard Breaststroke
100-yard Backstroke
40-yard Butterfly
160-yard Freestyle Relay

After some research, the Michigan staff rolled all the way back to the 1967 AAU Record Books, the last to show 20-yard records (which they had confirmed with the International Swimming Hall of Fame). One would imagine that most, if not all, of those records will be crushed.

1967 certainly wasn’t the last time races were swum in a 20 yard pool, however. During summer league meets in Suburban Chicago, there was one team in the league that still used the shorter distance that was once more standard, leading to some interesting conversion factors. If anyone has swum in this length of a pool before and has times (that they can prove), leave them in the comments and we will see how those stack up to what the Wolverines do tomorrow.

Bottom has confirmed that they will be enforcing the same 15-meter underwater rule as we see in a normal college meet. The last time there was any meets of any serious competition in a 20-yard pool, this rule wasn’t in place. Expect about two strokes per length in many of the races.

Expect even the races that come out to the same distance (for example, a 100 yard free) to be much faster over 20 yards because of the extra turn (5 lengths instead of 4). This meet could be a lot of fun to watch for those who are fans of the dolphin kick.


  1. swmdoc says:

    Great idea Mike! Brings back memories of 1960′s YMCA swimming! I would love to have those 20 yd. records published !

  2. Ellenk says:

    That sounds fun. If I recall correctly, the University of Chicago used to have a 20-yard pool (late 90s). I swam in the same conference and our meets there weren’t held at the university.

    • CB says:

      Oh yeah, the U of C (my alma mater) had a 20-yard pool up until 2003, when we finally got a lovely 50-meter pool, just in time for my senior year there. I had just moved from Florida, where big outdoor pools are a dime a dozen, and suddenly I was confronted with this basement 20-yard, two-lane pool. It was depressing.

      • Balding Eagle says:

        Hmmm, I must know you. I was the coach at UC the year Ratner Center opened. I never saw Bartlett or Ida with water in them.

      • Ellen says:

        Two lanes? Depresssing, indeed. The new pool looks awesome, though. Glad you at least got one year in it!

        Where were the meets held prior to the new pool? I am trying to remember and coming up blank.

        • CB says:

          The new pool is amazing. The wall full of windows lets in a lot of sunlight and makes it feel a little bit like an outdoor pool. Just a little bit. I lived a block away from it my last year and got in a lot of pool time.

          I never swam on the team, but one of my best friends who did says they just never had home meets.

  3. Peter says:

    A few thousand years ago (early 70′s) our high school pool was 4 lanes, 20 yards. We swam 60′s instead of 40s, but 160 on the relay and IM. There was no sprint relay back then. Just the 400 Free relay at the end. Can’t say I remember what the pool records were back then, though.

  4. Peter says:

    I do remember that there were 83 points on offer in a four lane high school meet. (diving was included). We won a number of meets 42-41 because our coach could always find that one more third place swim that nobody expected.

  5. Coach GB says:

    Go one step further with a 220 and 440 free which was also swum in 25 yd pool with a flag finish until touch pads required going to the wall and then came 500. Used to be 220 of strokes at Nat.s with flag finish. Close equivalent of meters SC. There were WR in them.

    • Steve Schaffer says:

      Yep. The old UCLA Men’s Gym pool (before any of the facelifts that came in the 80s and later) was a 33 1/3 yard pool and had plates on the deck indicating the “finish lines” for the 220 and 440 events.

  6. Bill says:

    #1 team vs #25 according to the latest polls on collegeswimming.com!

    • peeterdeeter aka mr incredulous says:

      #1 team what? Certainly you don’t mean swim team. Ha. Haha. Maybe their snow fight team could be #1

  7. WIWI says:

    are they making their own custom 20y lane lines?
    are there correct markings on the bottom of the pool?

    • Kyle says:

      Custom lane lines? No. You can adjust lane lines to whatever length you want (although it’s a boooring process). Wouldn’t be surprised if Bottom kept some shorter lines around for turns practices anyway. Lord knows there are enough spools of lane lines tucked away at Canham.

  8. Ashley Wozny says:

    DANGIT. I was so close to going to this meet…

  9. Nice style sticks (pictured) ;)

  10. I was at Cal for three years when Mike was coaching there. Some of our favorite days involved moving the bulkhead to 15 meters to practice starts and turns.

  11. Sandusky Swimming says:

    Our Sandusky, Ohio Jackson Junior High pool was built in early 1920. It is a 6 lane 20 yard pool. The High School team competed there from 1921-1956, and the Junior High teams competed there until 1999. The pool still has records posted and is still in operation today, although no competitions are held.

  12. Joe Hutchinson says:

    Wichita Kansas still has a few 20 yard pools at their high school. We just had a meet in one tonight, in fact. Be careful on those longer races. The turns come at you do fast it seems easy to get dizzy!

  13. Moosefish says:

    How does the 200 yard IM work? Shouldn’t it be a 160 yard IM?

  14. Jeremy Cohen says:

    My high school had (and still has) a 20 yard pool. In 1966, I set a pool record for the 100 free of 50.6. I have photographic evidence of the record board which used to be on the wall of the pool. The record board was taken down when the school was renamed and as far as I know, my record has been tied, but never broken.

    I’m sure that there were other high school swimmers nationally who would have gone faster, but they didn’t live in my home state of Rhode Island.

  15. Jeremy Cohen says:

    p.s. we swam the 60 yard free as well the 100, 200 and 400.
    fly back and breast only swam 100′s.
    The IM was of course a 160 and the relays were 160 medley and the beginning of the meet and 400 free at the end.

    For a while, I held pool records in the 60 and 100 at my school and also at another school. A third school had a 20 meter pool and I held pool records there in the 60 and 100 meter frees.

    Somewhere I have newspaper clippings with all this info, if anyone wants to see them.

  16. jeantuehl says:

    I’m just glad I went to IU and don’t have to deal with this ridiculous MIchigan stuff. Go IU!!

  17. cynthiacurran says:

    Yorba Linda California and Tustin California had 20 yard pools. Yorba Linda was not that old at the time built in 1969. I think I read the high school now has 25 yards by 30 meters. The Tustin pool is no longer in use since it had a novice team Tustin Meadows and a swim school that if out of business.

  18. cynthiacurran says:

    The 1960′s was the era where most of the swim pools in Orange County California were built since this was before Prop 13 and you could built a pool at every campus and this was the most student population growth since a lot of folks moved from the Midwest and so forth. A lot of 25 yard pools at the high school campus and 50 meter pools at two of the community colleges Cypress which use to have an age group team as well and Golden West which has had a college and age group team for many years.

  19. EMUSwim says:

    GO EAGLES! Don’t be surprised if it’s not only U of M swimmers breaking records at this dual meet.

  20. Larry Day says:

    Go MEEEEEECHIGAN!!! Go Coach Bottom!!!!

    Go Blue!!!!

    Larry Day
    U of M Flyer ’73

  21. In New Zealand, I have seen a 50m pool with bulkheads that have tunnels that exist for the lane lines. This set up allows for the 50-meter lane lines to stay in place at all time even when moving the bulkheads.

    Well, these lines must be longer than 50 meters as they go wall to wall and the blocks reside on the bulkheads. So a 50 meter course has its bulkheads to the ends.

    So, a 20 yard course would be a snap to set up without any lane line issues.

    Plus, another gem from New Zealand, was the national time standards for 25m, 33.3m and 50m pools. That ended a few years ago however, if memory serves me right.

    Finally, Baylor University had a 33 1/3 yard pool close in early 1983.

  22. Balding Eagle says:

    Though I got there after it was torn down and never saw it myself, the old Texas A&M pool was 100 feet long, so I hear. They had a bulkhead that was installed to make it 75 feet (25y), and on the other side, the remaining area was used for a few warm-up lanes. My summer pool in the Washington, DC, area was 100 feet long, as well.

    If memory serves, SMU’s pool had brass markers on the deck where the 220y and 440y races were marked.

    UGa’s former pool was 55y, though it was replaced by Gabrielson. Pitt’s current pool is a renovated 55 yard pool. 55y is 11 inches longer than 50m, so they had to install some fiberglass wall extensions in the lanes to make it 50m.

    There is one college that I know of that has a 20 yard course. The College of Notre Dame of MD in Baltimore is a 20y, 5 lane pool. I coached a meet there back in ’95 or ’96. Check those results: those may be the women’s American 20y records. I think the NCAA still has a rule allowing competition in a 20y pool, though times achieved in that course may not be used for NCAA qualification (while 25m and 50m times may).

  23. Oh Yeah – Twenty Yards!
    My breakout meet as a 10 & Under was in the famous 20-yard pool in Tarboro, North Carolina at the 1967 East Carolina Swimming Association Championships … the same pool that hosted AAU Nationals maybe 40 years before that and also the home to many great swimmers of the day (including Coach Brooks Teale) …. and it was a fateful summer for the Kinston Swim Club to finally overcome our rivals who were hosting that day and win our first of many coveted ECSA Championship Meets! Ten and unders swam 60′s (instead of 40′s) that year and I am sure that worked to this distance kids advantage ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About Braden Keith

Braden HC Profile Image

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is “when does he sleep?” That’s because Braden has, in two years... Read More »