Times from Junior National Cup Called Into Question

At least 5 National Age Group Records have been broken this week at the TYR Junior National Cup, and those times have been called into question as a result of a timing discrepancy. SwimSwam has heard from several independent people who have hand-timed videos of the swims, and all of those people independently drew a similar conclusion: that the times on their watches were showing as 4-tenths of a second slower than the official results are showing.

We have hand-timed a number of the videos ourselves, and likewise have consistently come up with times slower than the official results. Videos of many races from the meet can be seen on James Foster’s YouTube channel here.

We have notified USA Swimming of the discrepancy, and they said that they are going to look into it. We have also reached out to Daktronics, the company responsible for the new video display at the Liberty University Natatorium, for more information on what could cause a delay of this size. A review of the backup times could help trend any patterns over the large number of races swum at a meet of this size and establish better evidence than any race can individually.

One commenter who previously says they had an issue with a Daktronics system showing delayed results says that he received the following advice from Daktronics. Ironically, the time difference in that scenario, .39 seconds, is almost exactly the result that hand-times are getting. We have reached out to Liberty to verify which timing system/timing box combination they are using, and which port that the timing system is connected with.

The same natatorium recently hosted an NCAA last chance qualifying meet, where 4 women earned their qualifying standards for the NCAA Championships (along with 2 men, though those times from East Carolina were later invalidated for unrelated reasons, with the NCAA deciding that they weren’t in ‘bona fide’ competition).

See that below.

Daktronics Start boxes provide 2 sockets for connection to the various AOE Timing systems available. It is imperative the correct socket is used depending upon the type of timing system being used. “Daktronics would like to state; when connecting the HS200 horn start, there are two options, normally Open and Normally Closed, labeled Daktronics and Other. It is imperative the start cable is connected to Daktronics – normally open [when connected to Daktonics equipment] However if the system were to be connected to other – normally closed, Daktronics would agree it would reasonable to expect a time quicker of approx -0.39 seconds. We would like to define this as: Normally Closed – when the Starter depresses the microphone the ‘contact’ is opened, this will sound the ‘beep’ of the horn and alert the swimmers. However the timer will not start until the signal pulse is then closed. A normal tone (long tone) pulse is 0.396 seconds, therefore resulting in times consistently 0.39 seconds quicker.

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Kirk Nelson

“the times on their watches were showing as 4-tenths of a second faster than the official results are showing” Don’t you mean the watch times are 4 tenths slower?

Swim Dude

SwimSwam, I can’t tell what the problem is here. Your story says the times on handheld watches are faster and slower than the official times. Which is it?


This is actually a big deal and it’s been noted at a couple of brand new facilities in the midwest, all of which use Daktronics. I know of one girl who annihilated a 50 free state record in her brand new home pool on a dak system, only to be .45 seconds slower at the state champ meet a week later.


Not surprising to go .45 slower at a State Meet. Some of these kids get so hyped for Sectional HS meets that States can often be a let down. Not saying the timing was correct, but just saying .45 isn’t necessarily because of the clock.

Steve Nolan

I mean, I’m no electrical engineer – just a biomedical one, a chachacha – but a design that allows the whole system to still work, but be off by a pretty large margin only by swapping a single connection seems…suboptimal.


yeah lol…whose mans came up with this?


Totally agree and .4 seconds is almost the perfect amount to be quite significant yet also hard to notice.

David D

Achachacha! Lol. I was considering a career in Biomedical Engineering but I settled on a career as an Electrical Controls and Automation Engineer , It sounds to me that the configurations are dependent upon the Starting system. Unfortunately, it looks like the starting system can be specified independently, which makes it complicated. It sounds like the starting system supplies the contact (either a normally open or normally closed switch) to the Daktronic timing system to indicate when the timing system should start. I would argue that, unfortunately, the timing system is flexible and the burden is on the technician that sets it up to ensure it is set up correctly for the application.

Kirk Nelson

Not that it solves the problem with all the systems out there now, but the most obvious solution to this problem would be to make the sockets different between the two start systems so that it’s impossible to plug the one type of start system into the connection for the other type.

David D

It turned out that the problem was a manufacturing error with the switches in the starter mics… The wires were wired to the wrong contacts which means that if you connected it correctly, then you connected it wrong! The worst part about the whole issue is that the meet administrators didn’t catch (or ignored) the problem until the coaches threatened to walk out.

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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