An arbitrator ruled this week that the 5 Canadian National Age Group records set by Evan White and his teammates last fall will stand, ending a legal battle waged since Swimming Canada chose not to ratify the records in January.
White, a Michigan Wolverines commit, broke the records at the Thunderbolt Junior Invitational (formerly known as the Paul Bergen Invitational) in Oregon last December. Three were individual, and two were on relays with his Oakville Aquatics club teammates. However, the records were not ratified by Swimming Canada, which alleged that the course was not properly certified under USA Swimming rules.
The most basic breakdown of the somewhat complex issue is this:
- USA Swimming requires a pool course to be certified (measured to make sure it’s long enough) under a specific set of procedures in order for swims at a meet to count for US Open and American records, but doesn’t require those same standards for National Age Group record swims.
- Swimming Canada, on the other hand, does require the pool to be certified for National Age Group records to count. The certification must be done by “a surveyor or other qualified official,” according the the Canadian rulebook.
- The Thunderbolt Invitational, held in the US, was for junior athletes, and the meet’s promotional material made clear that the pool was not certified for American and US Open records (but was still certified for US NAG records).
- When White broke his records, Swimming Canada refused to ratify, citing the fact that the pool was not certified under US standards. The times were still accepted as official lifetime-bests in the swimming database, were allowed as seeds for future meets and were accepted for ranking purposes, but would not count as official National Age Group records.
- The pool was measured before the meet by the local club coach, Linck Bergen, and his survey was sent to Swimming Canada alongside the National Age Group record applications, but Swimming Canada didn’t view Bergen as falling under the umbrella of “other qualified official,” a term which isn’t specifically defined in the rulebook.
White and his teammates appealed, represented by Oakville coach Sean Baker, but Swimming Canada’s Appeal Panel.
Ultimately, arbitrator Larry Banack ruled on Tuesday that the Appeal Panel was wrong to deny ratification, ordering that the records stand.
Banack’s major points were these:
- The fact that the pool wasn’t certified for US National records had no bearing on Canadian records, as Swimming Canada is not bound by USA Swimming’s rules.
- Swimming Canada’s decision to not ratify the records was inconsistent with their own actions, because:
- Canada accepted the times as official enough to use in rankings and as personal bests
- Canada had previously accepted National Age Group records broken at this same meet in years past
- Bergen qualifies as a “qualified official” in terms of surveying the pool, and his official certification that the pool was at least 25 meters long is enough to satisfy Swimming Canada’s requirements.
You can find the full arbitration ruling here
The major precedent of the case is that, in the future, Canadian Age Group records set at foreign meets should count, as long as the pool is certified by “qualified official,” regardless of whether the pool is certified by the governing body of the country it is in. Of course, the phrase “qualified official” is still relatively vague – the major point cited in qualifying Bergen is his experience (a USA Swimming representative noted in an e-mail submitted to the court that Bergen had been measuring the pool since 2000).
On a more specific level, it means that White’s 3 individual records and his two relay records alongside Bryce Kwiecien-Delaney, Connor Wilkins, Mackenzie Hamill and Matthew Mac will stand as official Canadian age group records for the 15-17 age group.
The records broken are listed below:
- 100 SCM fly: 53.33 (White)
- 200 SCM fly: 1:56.69 (White)
- 200 SCM breast: 2:10.72 (White)
- 4 x 100 SCM free relay: 3:22.23 (White, Mac, Hamill, Kwiecien-Delaney)
- 4 x 100 SCM medley relay: 3:40.67 (Mac, White, Wilkins, Kwiecien-Delaney)