A group of YMCA teams from across the country are assembling a virtual YMCA festival to give swimmers a chance to compete at a high level this spring after the YMCA National Championship meet was canceled. The event will be held in short course yards.
The YMCA of the USA has emphasized to SwimSwam that they don’t consider this to be an official national championship event, and the event is “not sponsored, organized, or conducted by the YMCA of the USA.”
From the meet documentation:
In the absence of YMCA of the USA’s annual national championship, which was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s convening restrictions and safety considerations for athletes, a collective of coaches and volunteers from local YMCAs is organizing a spring competitive opportunity for YMCA swimmers who have achieved 2020 Short Course YMCA National Championship time standards. This competition is organized and conducted entirely by local YMCAs and is not sponsored, organized, or conducted by the YMCA of the USA.
Competitions may be held locally or regionally based on existing CDC or state health and safety regulations. Results will be compiled for national rankings and awards through SwimCloud. All competition to be completed by April 11, 2021.
Much in the vein of USA Swimming’s 18 & Under Championships, one hosted in December and another planned to start this week, the results of the Y Swimming Festival will be compiled from different meets around the country to make a nationwide ranking.
To be considered, competitions must be completed by April 11, 2021. While there will be some aggregated sites with lots of teams participating, local regulations mean that other teams will be competing in intrasquads.
While any YMCA sanctioned meet can be included in the rankings, there is a caveat to meet eligibility: to receive a YMCA sanction, all participants must be YMCA members. That means swimmers from YMCA teams who race at the Pro Swim Series meet in San Antonio this weekend, for example, won’t be allowed to enter those times – though they can swim another Y sanctioned meet outside of those events.
Events at YMCA meets, however, will be allowed for USA Swimming’s Virtual 18 & Under Spring Championships, presuming they otherwise meet the standard of USA Swimming sanctioned, approved, or observed events (they usually do).
Athletes may be ranked in up to 4 individual events (no 1000 free is included). Athletes are eligible for participation if they have a time standard for the designated meet between November 2019 and the first day of the meet, with time standards set by the meet host. Some sites are 2020 Nationals times, while others have set standards at 2% above the 2020 Nationals times.
Athletes must be aged 12-20 to participate, similarly to the rules for a YMCA National Championship meet, but crucially can not have represented a college team in competition.
The event was spearheaded by a group of YMCA coaches, including Jamie Bloom of the YMCA of the Triangle Area in North Carolina; Dave Anderson from the Schroeder YMCA in Wisconsin; and Mike Leonard from the Powell Crosley YMCA in Ohio.
Bloom, YOTA’s head senior coach, says that among other things, this will offer YMCA coaches to do better than they did when the 2020 meets were canceled in one specific area: athlete recognition.
Bloom says that the big mistake they made in 2020 when Y Nationals were canceled in the wake of the onrushing coronavirus pandemic was that they failed to do anything to recognize the qualifiers. Senior recognition at Y Nationals, for example, is a big part of the allure of that meet.
This year, though all competitors won’t be in a single location, Bloom says that the goal is to get lots of videos, recordings, and photographs from across the country and use those to recognize competitors.
The meets will conclude with a “virtual celebration” that will include a senior recognition ceremony. The date for that celebration will be announced at a later time.
Below are 5 of the biggerr, championship-style events that are being planned:
- Greensboro, North Carolina – March 31-April 3
- Oxford, Ohio – March 31-April 3
- Brown Deer, Wisconsin – April 8-11
- Vorhees, New Jersey – April 8-11
- York, Pennsylvania – April 8-11
Different meets will allow athletes to come from different radiuses to compete depending on local regulations. The theme of this year’s meet, which directs the costuming worn by athletes as they parade for finals, is “superheroes.”