The ACC coaches have voted to use alternate lanes for relay events at this week’s ACC Championship meet in Atlanta, Georgia. The vote came on Monday as part of the pre-championship coaches’ meeting.
The NCAA has granted a waiver for the second straight season allowing championship meets to use open lanes between relays as part of COVID-19 safety protocols to reduce interactions between teams.
One ACC coach told SwimSwam that Duke head coach Dan Colella proposed the idea, promoting it as a way to swim faster and help teams qualify for the NCAA Championships rather than as a COVID-19 safety measure.
The NCAA Championships used empty lanes last year, but will not this at this year’s championship meets.
NC State, Virginia, and Louisville, the top three teams in the conference in recent seasons, all voted against the idea, while all other teams voted in favor of it.
The idea is that ‘clean water,’ or less turbulence from other relays, will lead to faster swims. Other coaches objected on the principle that having relays side-by-side leads to more excitement and fun, especially when teams are locked in competitive team battles.
The SEC Championships this week in Knoxville, Tennessee will also use alternating lanes for relays.
Both meets begin on Tuesday evening. This year will feature a new five-day format for the ACC, plus men and women in the same meet for the first time since the 1990s.