FINA has launched their official Shanghai 2011 landing page, which is full with all kind of useful information, like which meets count as qualifiers and how FINA travel subsidies are doled out. While most of the information on the site thus far is technical details aimed towards officials, coaches, and competitors, I was able to mine a few pieces of information that will be interesting to swim fans, as well.
1. There are several allusions made towards the potential for running the meet 10 lanes wide. The 8 lane system has long been a staple of high-level swimming, however more and more meets are beginning to experiment with different 10-lane formats. Could FINA give 10-lane meets some credibility by employing one at the World Championships? I wouldn’t hold my breath on it, but the FINA site at least hints that they are strongly considering it.
What would the implications of swimming with 10 lanes? The biggest impact would probably be on the 50-meter sprints, where a championship favorite can get knocked out of the A-final by a bad swim. Also, the top of the heap, especially swimmers like Lochte and Phelps who will have big schedules, might feel a little more comfortable with not going full bore in prelims.
2. FINA will roll out a new team-scoring format which continues a new focus that FINA has put on team scoring. Most of the world still isn’t trained to care about these team scores, but as more and more big meets use them, and as the rest of the world catches up to the depth of the USA, they will get more and more attention, perhaps even giving rise to more international-friendly type of dual meets like the Duel in the Pool. Scoring will be as follows:
Individuals: A final-18,16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, B final- 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points
Relays: A final- 36, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20 points
Individuals: A final- 22,20,19,18,17,16,15,14, B-final- 13,12,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
Relays: A final- 40,36,34,32,30,28,26,24,22,20
The biggest thing that jumps out at me is the relatively small bonus for winning A or B finals, compared to what we’re used to in NCAA team scoring formats. The other disciplines (open water swimming, diving, synchro) will also use team scoring and give out trophies to the nations scoring the most points.
3. FINA will be trying out an open water, 3-person team format in Shanghai. The event will be done in a time trial format and will be run similarly to the team speed-skating event that any other Winter Olympics fans might have seen. The official rules:
6.2.1 – Team Event (BL 18.104.22.168.2)
5 km Team Event as Time Trial
- A team shall consist of three (3) swimmers, either one (1) man and two (2) women or two (2) men and one (1) woman.
- Every team shall start with all swimmers together sixty (60) seconds after the preceding team.
- The allocation of starting positions shall be taken from automatic random draw. The ranking shall be decided by the individual time achieved by the third swimmer of the team. Only one team per NF is allowed.
Basically, three swimmers from a nation will all swim a 5k together, and the team’s time is taken by their slowest swimmer. This gives true credence to the team being only as good as its weakest link. It will be interesting to see how this affects drafting techniques as compared to most open water races where another swimmer is more likely to give you an elbow to the nose than a good draft. This is an intriguing event and I will be interested to see how it works out.
Hopefully, these little nuggets are getting everybody as pumped up for 2011 as I am. For more, check out our breakdown of the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center that will host the meet.