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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Guy
3 years ago

Total swims isn’t important. What were the total number of participants?

Guy
Reply to  Andrew Mering
3 years ago

Average swim per swimmer varies greatly with meets with tough time statdards as this one is. I just figured you receive a copy of the meet summary report at the end of the meet. Pretty simple to ask for. And it matters Bc people are talking about economic impact for the city and that is the important number. When did swimswam writers get so defensive? I didn’t mean to offend you. Yikes.

Swimcoach
3 years ago

after jumping thru all the hoops to get the meet, was it really worth it, financially, for the meet host/city? Doubt it!

Guy
Reply to  Swimcoach
3 years ago

I believe it was for the city. You can fill out your own economic impact report from USA swimming and see for yourself. I don’t believe most people hear realize how much money is brought in by tourism for a meet of this size with people traveling in to town.

Wondering
3 years ago

Well, have you ever been to Tennessee? And no one is going to Iowa….

yoyoyo
3 years ago

What I’m curious about is your take on the D2 rankings in the swimulator

Admin
3 years ago

The host cities made the winning bids and really want these events. They have buy-in and passion to host them. That matters. It may not be reflected this first year, but as time goes on and the PSS develops, I think we will see results in meet presentation, attendance, purse dollars, etc. I remember when Olympic Trials went from SoCal (Long Beach) to Omaha. I wasn’t sold on Omaha, but now I can’t imagine Trials anywhere else. So, stay tuned. I think the PSS will improve over time.

BaldingEagle
3 years ago

Isn’t it an issue of a whole city trying to get its ducks in a row to propose a bid? That sounds really dysfunctional. So not only does there have to be the collective will to put one of these on, but that collective will has to be in a city with a decent pool, or, more helpfully, a great championship setting, and a nice city to visit. So Knoxville, Richmond, and Iowa put in bids, where as before, it might have been a club that is used to having a big meet running the show. Literally, the host team rents the pool, uses their boiler-plate Meet Info book, and runs a meet, and everyone knows where to stay, where… Read more »

Admin
Reply to  BaldingEagle
3 years ago

Yes, it does take that kind of collective will…but most cities of this size or bigger, especially those with big colleges, have lots of experience in submitting these kind of bids for big sporting events. I don’t think they’re rebuilding the package every time – they have a tourism board that uses 95% of the same documentation and just drops in a few new pages specific to the venue/event.

spectatorn
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

I don’t know how a colleague pool recruit volunteers to run the meet… for a non-University pool, the volunteers are parents where their kids swim at the pool/club. Regardless how the city got award the meet, organizing volunteers to prep and run the meet is a lot of effort. Having done it before may help the club to know how much time needed to get started, but the actual amount of work still the same.

KDSwim
Reply to  spectatorn
3 years ago

TNAQ, Tennessee Aquatics, is the club team you describe who put on the meet and trains in the college pool and others.

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.

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.