Knoxville Pro Swim Series Participation Less Than Half of 2018 PSS Average

by Andrew Mering 37

January 14th, 2019 National, News, Pro Swim Series

This season for the first time the locations of Pro Swim Series stops was determined by a bidding process. This weekend’s Knoxville Pro Swim Series stop was the first of the meets selected to host by this bidding process.

The meet went smoothly. Plenty of pro swimmers put up fast times, but overall participation was down. Knoxville saw an average of 28.3 prelims swimmers per event. Last year’s PSS, held at more traditional sites, saw an average of 65.2 swimmers per prelims event, more than double this year’s average. The smallest meet last year was Mesa with 43.2 per event.

The Austin meet last year was at a similar time on the schedule and had 53.2 swimmers per prelim event.

Knoxville had D finals which meant that 32 swimmers in each event qualified for a night swim. With an average of only 28.3 swimmers in prelims in each event, many events gave every single swimmer entered a second swim.

It’s impossible to say if this reduced entries trend will continue at the future stops on the new look Pro Swim Series. Maybe reduced prelims session times were one of USA Swimming’s goals with this change – the faster qualifying standards would support this theory. If so, mission accomplished. However, more entries means more parents in the stands buying tickets/concessions and more awareness of the PSS from participating clubs and swimmers.

The next PSS stop is in Des Moines, Iowa. The Des Moines meet falls at the same time in the calendar as the Atlanta meet from last year. That meet had 52.3 swimmers per event, a similar number to Austin. It will be interesting to see if the reduced entries trend continues.

Knoxville vs 2018 Pro Swim Series

Total Swims Finals Prelims Individual Events Prelims Swims Per Event
Santa Clara 2646 1084 1562 28 55.8
Indianapolis 3211 786 2425 28 86.6
Mesa 2362 894 1468 34 43.2
Atlanta 2222 757 1465 28 52.3
Austin 2371 563 1808 34 53.2
Columbus 3602 790 2812 28 100.4
Knoxville 1743 781 962 34 28.3

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Samuel Huntington
3 years ago

Not surprised. And I predict similar low numbers in Des Moines.

Swimmer
Reply to  Samuel Huntington
3 years ago

Probably even lower.

Coach ryan
3 years ago

Of course pros were there in force, national teamers are required to attend a certain amount of pro swim series meets. I bet it will be even lower in Iowa.

Chris Abrams
Reply to  Coach ryan
3 years ago

Why? Is it just weather or a lack of interest?

Coach ryan
Reply to  Chris Abrams
3 years ago

I think weather/travel is a factor, not sure how much. The previous March meet was in Atlanta and is a much easier city to travel too, plus it has a lot more swimmers locally that can attend.

gator
3 years ago

Ever been to Knoxville in January?

Swimming4silver
Reply to  gator
3 years ago

Des Moines in March ? Summer in Fresno…

dmswim
Reply to  Swimming4silver
3 years ago

Richmond in April is actually lovely!

Speed Racer
3 years ago

The low March numbers are not helped with NCAAs. Crowds were minimal at best in Knoxville. Sponsored hotels had plenty of rooms. I understand USA Swimming was trying to get away from the pay a place to host model but the charging a place to host model might have been a little too pie in the sky. I would love to see the “economic bump” numbers USA Swimming told hosts they would see. As far as I could tell Knoxville would see the same “economic bump” numbers with a Chris Stapleton concert at Thompson-Boling Arena and the PSS in no way can even compare to “economic bump” numbers on a game day at Neyland. USA Swimming got greedy and it… Read more »

Guy
Reply to  Speed Racer
3 years ago

Well they can still host Chris Stapleton and they didn’t have to cancel any football games so what’s it matter what those other events would bring in. Why do you think they are “competing” w those events? That doesn’t make any sense. When talking about economic impact reports beds in heads and how many nights are what matters and they fact is that if 300 people came to Knoxville for the meet that’s 300 more that would have been there staying in hotels and eating 3 meals a day for 5 or so days. That’s a lot of money. And if they didn’t host the meet, none of that would have happened.

Sean S
3 years ago

Shocking that not as many people wanted to go to Knoxville as Austin. Whoever chose the locations this year really messed up.

Swimming4silver
Reply to  Sean S
3 years ago

i assume they go back to the regular schedule cities by 2020… specially in a Olympic year.

jimbo2
3 years ago

To be fair the cut times are quite a bit harder than the 2018 series. This year they are all nationals cuts which would explain part of it

dmswim
3 years ago

I think the cuts are to blame for this. There are plenty of clubs within driving distance of Knoxville that might have brought swimmers had cuts been slower. While I understand the need to keep prelims sessions shorter for the pros, USA Swimming is missing a great opportunity to allow for younger swimmers to compete at the same meet as their idols. When I was in high school, going to Grand Prix meets was a highlight for me because I got to swim “against” Olympians. I had Junior cuts but no National cuts so this was my opportunity to do so. There has to be some middle ground here that gets the ideal meet size.

Taa
Reply to  dmswim
3 years ago

I agree they need to work on optimizing the number of entries and allow more local swimmers to enter and this is something they can fix immediately this year for the other locations.

They might want to tweak their bid evaluation criteria to get more desirable locations based on factors other than high bid. I think the date was also a contributing factor….everyone coming of Xmas training. High schools just back in session and winter travel is no fun I dont think a lot of coaches would even consider this meet at this time.

Taa
Reply to  Andrew Mering
3 years ago

In that case it’s either the location or the time standards. But I would think both meets probably suffered a little from the January date.

Speed Racer
Reply to  Taa
3 years ago

The standards may have had an impact but the Austin field was loaded with Team Canada and Team Japan swimmers last year. The lack of a major airport is just something you can’t get past. Swimmers are still able to catch flights home, albeit late, but still able to catch a flight, avoiding an additional night of hotel costs and car rental fees out of major cities. But being able to get out of town and spend less on rooms and food goes directly against the new model that USA is pitching to clubs and cities–the hosting a PSS is an economic benefit (through hotels, hotel taxes, food, etc) to you so we are no longer offering financial incentives to… Read more »

Swimmer
Reply to  Taa
3 years ago

Strongly disagree on the local club part, some of us don’t live close to a facility that could host a PSS event, so those swimmers would automatically miss out on that benefit. Location choice and cut times definitely need to be evaluated. These meets should be an opportunity for up and coming talent to mix with pros – where else are they going to get it? And we don’t have enough pros to make a purely pro meet this many times a year.

kdswim
Reply to  dmswim
3 years ago

I did a quick check on the 200fr for cuts not making it with tighter standard.
Women Austin 121-36 =85 versus 51 in Knoxville.
Men Austin 103-36 = 67 versus 38 in Knoxville.
So about 1/2 of drop due to harder cuts.

dmswim
Reply to  kdswim
3 years ago

But how many teams would have participated had they been able to bring bigger squads? Taking your head coach away from your senior group (and paying for his/her trip with club funds) for 4 days to go to a meet with one or two swimmers doesn’t sit well with many parents. If the coach could bring 5-10 swimmers, it might be a more worthwhile venture.

kdswim
Reply to  dmswim
3 years ago

Not disagreeing that could be an additional factor. In the past, on a small team with only one or two going to a big meet we would sometimes make arrangements for them to be “sponsored” by another coach while on deck. Usually a parent was going anyway. I think travel to smaller cities, especially if you are from another small city and have to make a stop, might be a factor too.

spectatorn
Reply to  dmswim
3 years ago

good point – I assume for most coaches /clubs that will bring kids to non-local meets, it make sense to pick an event that can accommodate more kids (slower cuts) and easier to get to (cost and time needed for traveling). I would assume if a club or coach need to pick between bringing 4 top swimmers to PSS or bringing those 4 top swimmers plus another 10 – 15 good swimmers to a non-PSS meet, the choice would be the later. In the current state, H/S and college swimmers have to forfeit prize money so there is almost no good reason to spend more (travel, entry fee) to go to PSS event.

Taa
3 years ago

One thought I have is to have B cuts for swimmers on gold,silver or bronze level club teams. Maybe the coach will travel if they can bring a little bigger squad with them. It’s also a free perk they can offer as part of the annual award.