Development Committee Proposes Overhaul of USA Swimming ‘Sectional’ Meets

by SwimSwam Staff 31

July 10th, 2013 Club, National, News

The USA Swimming Senior Development Committee has proposed significant changes to Sectional Championships, including meet size restrictions, universal qualifying times (sort of), and requiring one 18-and-under heat per event final.  These changes are largely due to the rapidly expanding 13-and-over athlete base; the Sectionals Task Force found there has been a 40% increase in the number of 13-and-over USA Swimming members since the inception of Sectionals meets in 2000.

While some Sectional meets are well-run and highly effective for swimmers, others are bloated and overcrowded, highlighted by jammed warmup pools and five-hour preliminary sessions (pretty much all of us have been through one of these before).  In an effort to equalize these meets and provide a more natural progression from to Junior Nationals and senior-level meets, the Senior Development Committee has proposed a number of countrywide changes.

A summary of the most important proposals:

  • No Sectional meets will be longer than 3.5 days.
  • The Summer Sectionals should conclude within an 8-22 day window prior to Senior Nationals/U.S. Open or Junior Nationals (whichever comes first).
  • Spring and Summer Sectional meets must have one 18-and-under final heat.  This a meet strategy USA Swimming has progressively utilized over the last couple of years, including last month at World Championship Trials.
  • “Optimal” Sectional Championship sizes have been set based on whether or not a meet is run on one or two courses.  For one courseoptimal size is 700 athletes, while meets with two courses should not exceed 1000 athletes.  If more than 800 athletes (one course) or 1100 athletes (two courses) are entered, the Zone must tighten the time standards, or split into two meets the following year.
  • Each Sectional meet will have a final reserved for only 18-and-under athletes.
  • Nation-wide time standards will be set yearly by the Senior Development Committee.  To ensure enough participation in less populous zones, individual Sections can choose to have slower qualifying times (but not faster).

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7 years ago

Why limit the length of the meet? 3.5 days is shorter than Juniors & Nationals.

Reply to  ZouTiger
7 years ago

ZouTiger – the talking points that the senior committee sent out today feels that Sectionals should be shifted in focus from a end-of-season, taper meet to a qualifier for Junior Nationals, and they feel as though a 3.5 day meet is appropriate for that.

There was also discussion of a “Junior Grand Prix” circuit.

Reply to  Braden Keith
7 years ago

The direction that Speedo Sectionals is potentially heading is exciting. I agree with most points, especially uniform time standards (and hopefully faster, if only slightly, time standards). At the same time, I also like the ability for less populous zones to be able to have slower qualifying times. The differences between some of the standards makes for an interesting read. For example, to get into the Eastern Zone Sectional meet, a male athlete needs to be 2.83% faster in the 1500/1650 Freestyle than his Central Zone Section 1 counterpart ( I don’t know if I agree with a Junior Grand Prix Circuit. Perhaps an overhaul of the current circuit is in order (with a little more attention paid to junior/junior… Read more »

Reply to  @HCousinIII
7 years ago

Worth noting is that the EZ Super Sectional qualifying time for the 1500 got dramatically faster this year compared to 2012. While still faster than 2013 Central Zone, the 2012 EZ SS qualifying times were 17.23.89 LCM and 16:49.09 SCY In 2012 as compared to the 17.11.99 and 16:25.09. The EZ SCY time was 14 seconds faster than Central, and then dropped by a whopping 24 seconds!

To be fair EZ did have 90 swimmers at a single site, whereas CZ had 110 spread over 3.

Reply to  Braden Keith
7 years ago

Interesting point. Think about the gap then from sectional level swimmers and junior national swimmers. Some swimmers will swim at that level of swimming for a couple seasons sometimes. I believe at the sectional level you’re able to develop and practice things you’ll use later at those bigger meets. By taking away the meets importance I think you’ll find a lot of swimmers struggling to bridge that gap.

7 years ago

Interesting… I have no confidence in the committee to generate time standards for the sectional meet… Just look at what happened to the Grand Prix meets… The short course sectional meet is primarily 18 and under athletes already (probably 90 percent 18U)… The summer meets have more 19 and overs…. but they are not well attended in all areas of the country.

Reply to  WHOKNOWS
7 years ago

The Sr Development committee had nothing to do with the Grand Prix. That all came from Colorado Springs. The committee is made up primarily of 18 and under coaches, and they were not consulted.

7 years ago

I hate the shortening of the meet…
I’ve seen kids try to do some intense doubles at Juniors and their second event suffers.
Should kids be made to specialize at 16? I hope not.