77% of Prelims Swims Slower Than Seed Time at Trials on Wednesday

  49 Braden Keith | June 27th, 2012 | National, U.S. Olympic Trials

One of the themes that has been buzzing around the coaching staff at this year’s US Olympic Trials is not just how long the prelims have been, but how slow the morning swims have been. Best times were tough to come by.

We heard some pretty absurd numbers thrown around, and we were curious if they were accurate, so we had swimming superfans Reed Shimberg and Matt Salzberg (D-III swimmers from Tufts, so you know they’re smart) do some stat-tracking during this morning’s session, and the results were tough-to-swallow.

The final verdict: only 23.4% of the swimmers in this morning’s races posted best times. That means on average, in each heat, between two and three swimmers were best times, and if you pull out the men’s races those numbers get even more depressing.

Even if you control for the swimmers in the circle seeded heats, where top swimmers like Elizabeth Beisel and Michael Phelps aren’t gunning for best times, on purpose, the ratio stays nearly identical at 23.4%.

The most likely explanation is the fact that many swimmers have already tapered to hit the qualifying times, but that number still seems unusually low.

DQ’s and scratches were pulled out of the data.

Here’s what even worse, out of the 346 swims this morning, 42% didn’t make an Olympic Trials qualifying time (146 swims). If that’s not the most damning evidence yet that the Trials standards are too slow, I don’t know what is.

Women’s 200 IM
21/113 were best times (18%)
55 missed cuts
48 slower than seed, still made cut.
21 in circle seeded heats were not best times.

Men’s 200 Fly
47/134 were best times (35%)
44 missed cuts
48 slower than seed, still made cut.
21 in circle seeded heats were not best times.

Women’s 200 Free
13/99 were best times (13%)
47 missed cuts
42 slower than seed, still made cut.
24 in circle seeded heats were not best times.

 

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49 Comments on "77% of Prelims Swims Slower Than Seed Time at Trials on Wednesday"

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It also could mean that they are so fast that people are tapering at last-chance meets to try and make them, and then they are over-tapered for trials?

I mean, I don’t think that has anything to do with the cuts being too fast, I think it more has to do with the calibre of athlete that can hit slow qualifying times. Obviously you’ll get more athletes qualifying when cuts are slower, but I wouldn’t assume it’s a linear relationship. Cut times get 5% slower and 10% more athletes qualify, or something. That adds more fringe athletes, more people that’ve already tapered just to get there and then voila, no more PRs in the mornings.

This all made sense in my head, but I’m afraid it won’t to anyone else.

Junker23,

I totally agree with you.

USA swimming MUST make qualifying standards faster, to cut down the numbers of swimmers as well as get quality higher!

SUITS!!
dammit, I wish I could have put that in bold, italics and underline…

you can’t blame this on suits at all. The qualifying period was 8/1/2010 through 6/18/12. aka after the suits had already been banned.
Could we attribute this to a slow pool?
I also agree wholly with Sam^^

Nope,

“The qualifying period is October 1, 2009, through 1:00 p.m. (Central Time) Monday, June 18, 2012”

Suits were banned 10/1/2009.

SUITS!!!

I gotchu.

Bollocks, should’ve made a fake hyperlink.

“Here’s what even worse, out of the 346 swims this morning, 42% didn’t make an Olympic Trials qualifying time (146 swims). If that’s not the most damning evidence yet that the Trials standards are too slow, I don’t know what is.”

I don’t really follow you on that one, Braden. Maybe I’m missing something. The standards may be slow, but how would making the standards faster reduce the percentage of trials swims that don’t hit the standard?

The standards are too slow, and hence you get people who did not need to be serious enough to qualify.

As a result, these “not-so-serious” swimmers cannot replicate their lifetime best swims.

I don’t buy that for a second. After all, you don’t have to be “serious” or Olympic caliber to be motivated to improve your lifetime bests, and if you make the Trials cut you are a pretty serious swimmer anyway. I’ll go with Cup O’ Joe’s explanation below – that seems more compelling.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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