Michigan, Eastern Michigan to Shoot For Unusual Records in 20-Yard Dual

Mike Bottom has never shied away from trying for some creativity. When his Michigan Wolverines take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Friday at the Canham Natatorium, the pool might feel a little short. That’s because it, in fact, will be a little short. The course will be set up at 20 yards long.

Check out the event schedule for Friday (which will roll into a more traditional 25-yard meet against Purdue on Saturday).


Friday, Jan. 11
160-yard Medley Relay
500-yard Freestyle
40-yard Freestyle
100-yard Breaststroke
200-yard Backstroke
100-yard Butterfly
100-yard Freestyle
200-yard Breaststroke
40-yard Backstroke
200-yard Butterfly
200-yard Individual Medley
200-yard Freestyle
40-yard Breaststroke
100-yard Backstroke
40-yard Butterfly
160-yard Freestyle Relay

After some research, the Michigan staff rolled all the way back to the 1967 AAU Record Books, the last to show 20-yard records (which they had confirmed with the International Swimming Hall of Fame). One would imagine that most, if not all, of those records will be crushed.

1967 certainly wasn’t the last time races were swum in a 20 yard pool, however. During summer league meets in Suburban Chicago, there was one team in the league that still used the shorter distance that was once more standard, leading to some interesting conversion factors. If anyone has swum in this length of a pool before and has times (that they can prove), leave them in the comments and we will see how those stack up to what the Wolverines do tomorrow.

Bottom has confirmed that they will be enforcing the same 15-meter underwater rule as we see in a normal college meet. The last time there was any meets of any serious competition in a 20-yard pool, this rule wasn’t in place. Expect about two strokes per length in many of the races.

Expect even the races that come out to the same distance (for example, a 100 yard free) to be much faster over 20 yards because of the extra turn (5 lengths instead of 4). This meet could be a lot of fun to watch for those who are fans of the dolphin kick.

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Great idea Mike! Brings back memories of 1960’s YMCA swimming! I would love to have those 20 yd. records published !


That sounds fun. If I recall correctly, the University of Chicago used to have a 20-yard pool (late 90s). I swam in the same conference and our meets there weren’t held at the university.


Oh yeah, the U of C (my alma mater) had a 20-yard pool up until 2003, when we finally got a lovely 50-meter pool, just in time for my senior year there. I had just moved from Florida, where big outdoor pools are a dime a dozen, and suddenly I was confronted with this basement 20-yard, two-lane pool. It was depressing.

Balding Eagle

Hmmm, I must know you. I was the coach at UC the year Ratner Center opened. I never saw Bartlett or Ida with water in them.


Are you George? I never swam on the team (I was a bit burned out from high school, and I was never fast anyway), but I took your lifeguard training class my senior year.

Balding Eagle



Two lanes? Depresssing, indeed. The new pool looks awesome, though. Glad you at least got one year in it!

Where were the meets held prior to the new pool? I am trying to remember and coming up blank.


The new pool is amazing. The wall full of windows lets in a lot of sunlight and makes it feel a little bit like an outdoor pool. Just a little bit. I lived a block away from it my last year and got in a lot of pool time.

I never swam on the team, but one of my best friends who did says they just never had home meets.


A few thousand years ago (early 70’s) our high school pool was 4 lanes, 20 yards. We swam 60’s instead of 40s, but 160 on the relay and IM. There was no sprint relay back then. Just the 400 Free relay at the end. Can’t say I remember what the pool records were back then, though.

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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