In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the aquatic community, USA Swimming is pushing a different model of competition for events sanctioned by the governing body for swimming in the United States – USA Swimming Virtual Meets.
The idea is not new, and was used for years under the guise of “postal meets,” but with the need to socially distance and limit the size of crowds, these meets are coming back into focus. Postal meets are still held in some places, including for some US Masters Swimming National Championship events, but are not as common as they once were.
Virtual meets allow club teams to swim locally, but to compete against other teams within their own Local Swimming Committee (LSC).
The guidelines also include instructions for how to set up virtual meets in the Meet Manager software that is used to run most swim meets in the United States.
Although these meets will be held “virtually,” they must meet some requirements.
While these meets can extend through various sessions, they must all be held as a single event. Different swim teams can partake in the meet while essentially swimming as intrasquad meets with results being combined to score meets, similar to the old postal meet system (though, more commonly now this won’t be done through the actual postal service).
USA Swimming has suggested that a host team be determined, with responsibilities extending from developing meet announcements, establishing an order of events, or merging the results from different intrasquad or smaller site meets for scoring purposes.
The new project would also allow for different LSCs to virtually swim against each other. A team would still host the event and be responsible for duties such as results management.
We reported that after it extended its moratorium on sanctioned events through April 30 last month, USA Swimming is now saying it will not sanction any events until at least May 31 and revoke any existing sanctions through that date in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While USA Swimming has limited powers to forbid meets from happening, they can refuse to approve, sanction, or accept the times from such meets.
The new trial, if proven to be successful, could change the landscape of both high school and collegiate swimming for this forthcoming 2020-2021 season.
According to the website worldometers.info, the United States stands first in the world in terms of total cases associated with COVID-19 as they have reported a total of 987,100 infections and 55,412 deaths. Another 118,779 have reportedly recovered from the virus.