NCAA Confirms Dramatic Changes to D1 Swimming & Diving Championships for 2021

The NCAA has released its COVID-19 Meet Operations Guidelines for the 2020-2021 Division I Swimming & Diving Championships.

The biggest news is that the relay events will be swum as timed finals with one empty lane between each relay in an attempt to mitigate the number of swimmers crowded behind the blocks for each race.

While it’s possible that the challenges prevented by COVID-19 will reduce the number of relays at the NCAA Championships, there are typically between 20 and 24 qualified relays per event at the NCAA Championships, which means 5 or 6 heats of competition.

Since the proposal was initially reported by SwimSwam here, many college coaches have spoken up in favor of the plan as it reduces the load on top swimmers, who historically have had as many as 14 swims over 7 sessions of competition.

The change will also even the field against the top teams that have enough depth to put relays into the A final without using all of their best swimmers.

The 800 free relay is traditionally raced as a timed final on the meet’s first day, with other races being swum as prelims-finals events.

The NCAA in making the announcement of changes also confirmed that all sessions, including prelims, will be streamed on ESPN3.

Other big changes due to COVID:

  • There will be no spectator seating due to the mass gathering restrictions in place in North Carolina. That includes parents and family members.
  • All participants will be seated in the large 2,000-seat grandstand at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, with no participant seating on deck. The top 15 teams from the 2019 NCAA Championship meet will get the first crack at seating selection for the 2021 championship meet.
  • Alternates will only be accepted into the meet if they’re to replace a withdrawal within the first 24 hours after the public selection announcement. Historically, we’ve seen alternates called up as much as a week or two after announcements when late issues with injury or motivation arise. This is significant as there’s an expectation that COVID exposures will lead to a higher-than-normal number of absences from the meet.
  • Uninvited relay participants must swim in at least one relay during the meet, and they may not fill an alternate slot if a scratch occurs. Alternates may not travel to the meet in hopes of a late scratch either. If an uninvited relay participant does not participate, the team’s last relay will be disqualified.
  • There will be no relay exchange judges on the pool deck to limit the number of individuals in close contact with the student-athletes. Instead, there will be a High-Speed Video System used to review all potential relay exchange infractions.
  • Teams will receive designated practice times for participants in the current session, and a designated 1:45-3:45 practice time for individuals not participating in the session. No other practice times will be available in the GAC.
  • Athletes will be expected to exit the building when that individual finishes competing and cooling down. When all individuals from a team are finished competing and cooling down, the full travel party should leave the building.
  • Each team will be given 2 deck passes for its swimming coaches and 1 deck pass for its diving coach (if they have divers participating). Coaches will only be allowed on deck when they have swimmers competing in the competition pool, and must leave deck as soon as their swimmers are done competing.
  • No showering, shaving, or lingering is allowed in locker rooms. There will be no hot or cold tubs provided and no stretching mats will be provided. Individuals may bring their own yoga mats.
  • There is a 10PM curfew currently in effect for Greensboro and Guilford County. This means all individuals must be in their hotels by 10PM. Restaurants close by 10PM as well, meaning teams will have to plan ahead.

The 2021 NCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Championships at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. The women’s meet is scheduled from March 17-20, while the men’s meet is scheduled a week later from March 24-27.

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Un-Squash the Beef
12 days ago

Last change: Swimmers in any event in which Ross Dant is entered will be given a 5-second head start to encourage greater competition.

Swim2
Reply to  Un-Squash the Beef
12 days ago

5 seconds? That’s nothing for the mile

NCSwimFan
Reply to  Un-Squash the Beef
12 days ago

This is a humorous comment but there is a non-zero chance this happens given the competition is right near his hometown.

Swim parent
12 days ago

At this point should NCAAs even happen???

Swimmer
Reply to  Swim parent
12 days ago

Yes they should something is better then nothing

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Swim parent
12 days ago

The answer is both it should be canceled – in the abstract, basically nothing should be happening in the US right now, given a snapshot look at cases and hospitalizations and all that. But also, it should still go on, because we’ve basically just decided that we’re cool with that – hey, things are better than they were in January! – so I can’t really make a good case to specifically not have this championship meet while *gestures at everything* all this other stuff is still going on.

Holding something like this, with tons of groups traveling from all corners of the country to one place, will absolutely “worsen” the pandemic and lead to new cases and all that.… Read more »

Hswimmer
Reply to  Steve Nolan
12 days ago

It should not be cancelled

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Hswimmer
12 days ago

That’s what I said.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Steve Nolan
12 days ago

Hahaha, you said that and you also spent most of the time saying what a bad idea it was and that we should cancel it. I see politics in your future if you are not already there.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Irish Ringer
12 days ago

The question was whether we “should” cancel this one specific meet. That answer is no.

We should cancel pretty much everything – this meet included – for idk, 6 weeks, but we won’t. So we shouldn’t cancel this meet.

Fred
Reply to  Hswimmer
12 days ago

Really? Did you forget about COVID? Why they canceled div 2 and 3 then?

swimfan3
Reply to  Braden Keith
12 days ago

It’s a shame for D3. Regardless of teams not participating, give the kids who are participating a shot and figure it out for all swimmers in the country who worked hard through covid.

Texas Swim Dad
Reply to  Braden Keith
12 days ago

I was told by a college coach last
Week that D3 has some rule that if 60% of the schools were not participating in the sport , the no national champs. Apparently it was around 40%. Plus the top
Schools were not
Swimming

swimfan3
Reply to  Braden Keith
12 days ago

I get it, I do. Thanks for sharing that. Just wish more schools worked to figure out a way to safely have their athletes compete. It has been proven that it can be done. I just feel for those swimmers, that’s all.

Hswimmer
Reply to  Fred
12 days ago

You can still have meets during covid honey

SwimFani
Reply to  Steve Nolan
12 days ago

You are fear mongering and reacting to some false information.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  SwimFani
12 days ago

Would you like to be more specific?

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Steve Nolan
12 days ago

I can help…fear is arises with the threat of harm while mongering is something unpleasant. If you put them together it’s the action of deliberately arousing pubic fear or alarm about a particular issue. 🙂

Texas Swim Dad
Reply to  Steve Nolan
12 days ago

It would cost more mental health not to hold
the meet. Covid does not live in chlorine and it’s a low risk group. We can’t let
Sports bend to the Lefts narrative to extend the “crisis”

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Texas Swim Dad
12 days ago

I agree – canceling NCAAs for swimming while still holding everything else would be ridiculous. It’s not something we should ask of athletes when we’re not asking it of basically anything else.

Also, not locking down hard absolutely extended the pandemic. We’ve got the longest sustained “crisis” in the world. We picked the worst of both worlds – haphazard closings and mixed messaging that just pissed everyone off, while not actually closing enough to stop community spread. It’s a failure all around.

Nola Stevens
Reply to  Steve Nolan
12 days ago

@Steve Nolan:

All right, this is how I feel about whiskey:

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in… Read more »

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Nola Stevens
12 days ago

hmmm….I thought Nola Stevens was Steve Nolan

Swimmer
Reply to  Steve Nolan
12 days ago

There has been absolutely zero evidence that meets, indoor or outdoor, have contributed to the spread.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Swimmer
12 days ago

I don’t think we have enough contact tracing data to say that conclusively one way or the other, do we?

gatorchomp
Reply to  Steve Nolan
12 days ago

We don’t.

JBS
Reply to  Swimmer
12 days ago

How many new cases among participants following last weekend’s GLVCs?

MIKE IN DALLAS
Reply to  Steve Nolan
12 days ago

Simply put: if you don’t want to particIpate [for whatever reason] STAY HOME!

Last edited 12 days ago by MIKE IN DALLAS
Steve Nolan
Reply to  MIKE IN DALLAS
11 days ago

That’s very much not how this works.

MIKE IN DALLAS
Reply to  Steve Nolan
11 days ago

please do enlighten me how ‘this works’?

Wahooswimfan
Reply to  Swim parent
12 days ago

Yes, ACC Women’s Championships went very well at the same facility last weekend. Video coverage was clear and very good, the relays with empty lanes between them also seemed to go very well. From the perspective of watching on TV, all swimmers, coaches, officials appeared to adhere to mask rules at all times except when swimming.
The ACC does regular Covid testing, so will be interesting to see if anything develops over the next week or so – if it does, that could have an impact, otherwise full speed ahead.

William Egan
Reply to  Wahooswimfan
11 days ago

The video was only good if your cable company provided ACCNX to its subscribers. Xfinity in South Florida does not. Otherwise only choice was divemeets.com which does a good job. I can only hope SECN carries the zone meets for their subscribers.

Coach Macgyver
Reply to  Swim parent
11 days ago

The more you run from your problems, the stronger they get

Juan Gupta
12 days ago

so ridiculous

PVSFree
Reply to  Juan Gupta
12 days ago

Which changes do you think are ridiculous? I think the relay changes are great and could produce some really quick times throughout the meet as the top swimmers get some rest/open water on the relays

Ghost
Reply to  Juan Gupta
12 days ago

Makes life for the teams stud sprinter easier

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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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