2 weeks after Claire Curzan swam times faster than the 15-16 National Age Group Records in 3 events, USA Swimming has decided to ratify those times.
Clarifying that the existing policy of not allowing times to qualify for national-level meets from the month of July remains in-tact, USA Swimming decided that the policy didn’t specifically extend to National Age Group Records, though some around the organization were initially under the impression that the two policies were one-in-the-same.
This means that Curzan has 3 new National Age Group Records to her name:
- She swam a 21.51 in the 50 yard free, breaking her own record of 21.77 set last year.
- She swam a 50.03 in the 100 yard fly, which breaks her own National Age Group Record of 50.35 that was set in February.
- She swam a 47.23 in the 100 yard free, which broke Gretchen Walsh‘s 47.49 from 2019.
The approval of the records by USA Swimming actually answers two questions. The first, more recently, is about whether times swum in July of 2020 would count. This came up recently as a result of USA Swimming’s policy for the first meets back after the height of the coronavirus quarantine, and by Saturday is a matter that will expire – times are back to normal in all regards in August (presuming all of the usual applicable rules are met).
The other question is one that has lingered for a while, but that has never been forced to be addressed. USA Swimming rules (and FINA rules) don’t allow for records to be set on relay leadoff legs, primarily because of the potential benefits of drafting if a female swimmer is racing head-to-head against a male swimmer. This came up most infamously at the 2007 Duel in the Pool, when Libby Lenton swam a 52.99 relay leadoff leg in a 100 free. That made her the first woman ever under 53 seconds in that race, but because she was swimming against Michael Phelps, FINA disallowed that swim.
The intrasquad meet for the TAC Titans, like many meets since the restart, threw swimmers of all genders into the same heats, so Curzan was racing boys in all 3 swims (though in one of those cases, she actually won her heat regardless).
A literal and esoteric reading of the USA Swimming rules, however, are very specific in disallowing leadoff legs in mixed relays from counting for National Records.
Lead-off legs/initial distances of mixed gender relays shall not count for American or U.S. Open records.
There is another rule in place that swimmers must win their heat to set a record, which Curzan only did in 1 of her 3 record-clearing swims. There is, however, an exception to that rule when the record being broken is “When age or representation is a condition for setting LSC or Age Group records.”
In this case, because it was a National Age Group Record, that loophole is filled. In the case that she broke an all-ages American Record, this loophole would have cleared her too, but if she had broken a U.S. Open Record, this specific rule would not have cleared her – so that hypothetical situation (it’s never happened) has not been answered by this approval.
USA Swimming confirmed that the meet had electronic timing and manual timers in place for each lane, information that helped them to ratify the records.
Curzan now holds 12 active National Age Group Records: 10 in short course and 2 in long course. Having just turned 16 a few weeks ago, she has almost a full year to continue going after the 15-16 record books.