SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.
Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers what element is most important in making a great race:
Question: What is most important to you in creating a great race?
- Records/fast times – 34.6%
- High stakes/big meet – 25.3%
- A close finish – 24.7%
- Multiple lead changes – 10.1%
- Something else – 5.4%
A little more than a third of voters said a record or a fast time was the most important element in creating a great race, with the rest of the votes mostly split between a major meet and a close finish.
The results are a little surprising, at least from a general sports perspective. Competitions that are considered most entertaining in sports like football, baseball or basketball usually have more to do with the closeness of competition: lead changes, a close game, a major momentum swing. Consider, for example, the NFL playoffs, in which a close game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles (complete with a Saints comeback and failed Eagles comeback) was the most-viewed and a blowout New England Patriots win over the Los Angeles Chargers drew the least television viewers, per The Hollywood Reporter.
Swimming fans though – at least, in our unscientific poll – tended to favor historic swims with records or fast times: swims that, more often than not, are not close races between an even field.
That also has some bearing on one of the biggest news stories in swimming right now: the International Swimming League’s vision for a competitive, spectator-focused swimming series. The ISL has made clear that it feels the focus of its series should be on placing – not necessarily on times. This was the ISL’s position even before FINA’s recent announcement that it wouldn’t sanction athletes for competing in ISL meets, but that times (and world or world junior records) from those meets would not be recognized or verified.
About a quarter of voters did choose “high stakes/big meet” as the most important element, meaning they would value swims in a venue like the Olympics or World Championships higher than swims at a regular, in-season meet without prestige or competition. A little less than a quarter said a close finish was the most important element, while only 10% said multiple lead changes were most vital to creating a great race.
Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks voters whether high school coaches should allow their swimmers to train with a swim club while still competing with the high school team at meets:
The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner