PDA

View Full Version : Swimming competitions?



dancing-drama
07-22-2011, 12:54 AM
Hi everybody.

I hope some of you can provide information for me, since all I know about swimming competitions comes from an episode of Cold Case. Yeah... that's not very much, I know.

Basically I have a (female) character who gets more or less involved with swimming competitions, and I don't have a clue about them.

I know that it's a race of some sort but if you could dump all your information on me, I'd be very grateful. Oh, and insider knowledge (special terms? what's happening backstage?) is very welcome!

Thank you!

Lebby
07-22-2011, 02:48 AM
I did them as a child, and they were called meets. Then the races were called heats, like in track. And there was a lot of waiting around until yours came up. Is there something more specific you need?

PrincessofPersia
07-22-2011, 03:29 AM
Same. Did them in college though. Lots and lots and lots of waiting around.

When you get in, you have to register/sign in. They sometimes give you a copy of the schedule, sometimes a badge, sometimes nothing. A lot of times, nothing. Then you go find the approximate time of your heats for each event (a heat is your specific race).

A few minutes before your heat, you need to go over to the pool behind the blocks (the blocks are the starting platforms that you dive off of). Some meets want you to check in before your heat, but most of them expect you to just show up at the blocks. If you're missing, they may wait and call you, but they may just go ahead without you, as there are often many, many heats.

When it's your heat, you climb up on the blocks and get ready. They will call "Set" and then a buzzer will sound after a random amount of time (usually around a second) signaling the start of the race. You dive in and go.

The winner of the heat is the one who finishes first, obviously. However, the placing is taken from all heats for that event, and the placing is ordered by fastest time according to age group (for masters/kids). Some types of races, like some collegiate and some masters meets have finals, etc. Others are just based on single heats.

Often, you get medals or ribbons for placing in the top 3. For masters meets, there is often a dinner or a meet and greet before or after. But most masters meets are just as much about the social aspect as the competition, and men and women swim in the same heats but are placed separately.

As for special terms, you'd hear things like:

- blocks: the starting platforms
- heat: the specific races, like in track (as said above)
- fly/breast/back/free: the different strokes, fly is butterfly, breast is breaststroke, back is backstroke, free is freestyle
- 50/100/200/500/1500/1650: these are the different distances, measured in yards or meters (the 1500 is strictly meter pools, while the 1650 is strictly yard pools)
- short course or long course: short course pools are 25 yards or meters long, and long course pools are 50 meters long; typically, your average time will be shorter in a 25-yard pool than a 25-meter pool or a 50-meter pool.

If I think of anything else, I'll add it.

dancing-drama
07-22-2011, 01:42 PM
Thank you both! That was really, really helpful!
Thanks for all that information PrincessofPersia, I think that's almost all I need for my WIP.

I think the only information I'm missing is:
If you're doing swimming in a small town, and you'd be really good at it, would there be a chance for you to take part in a meet in a big city?

lcwrite
07-22-2011, 06:19 PM
Dancing: it's been 40 years for me but as a kid I was on a swim team in a suburb of Washington, DC, and we competed with other teams all around the DC area.

I recently moved from a small town (Granbury, TX) and there is one team there and they compete in the D/FW area so they do compete against bigger cities. Granbury even is the home of at least one Olympic swimmer (Dana Volmer).

While Princess of Persia gave a lot of good info I think if I were working on your WIP I'd go to a few meets to get a sense of the pace, the volume of noise before/during a heat, the smell (very noticeable indoors), etc.

What level swimming team is your WIP? Young kids, high school, or maybe college competition?

dancing-drama
07-22-2011, 06:35 PM
Thanks for answering :)
I don't really have a good chance of going to a competition as I live in Germany and swimming is anything but popular here. All I could go to would be the swimming sessions for the kids <7 y.o.
As the character would compete in High School meets I don't think I'd gain much information from watching a little kid learn how to swim...

I'm moving to the UK though next month. I hope I'll find an opportunity to watch there. :)

PrincessofPersia
07-22-2011, 10:50 PM
Thank you both! That was really, really helpful!
Thanks for all that information PrincessofPersia, I think that's almost all I need for my WIP.

I think the only information I'm missing is:
If you're doing swimming in a small town, and you'd be really good at it, would there be a chance for you to take part in a meet in a big city?

I lived in a medium-sized town, and our swim team went all over the place, including the city. No one met the qualifications for the national team, but you can qualify for that from anywhere. It's completely feasible that if a small town has a swim team, that a swimmer could participate in a city meet.



While Princess of Persia gave a lot of good info I think if I were working on your WIP I'd go to a few meets to get a sense of the pace, the volume of noise before/during a heat, the smell (very noticeable indoors), etc.


lcwrite said what I should have. The best thing you can do is to go to a meet. You'll find a ton of opportunities in the UK. But there is a pretty large Masters scene in Germany. Masters meets are very similar to high school meets. The people are just older (18 and up usually).

Duncan J Macdonald
07-22-2011, 11:24 PM
I can add some other details -- I worked my daughter's swim meets from grade-school up through high school.

There is a lot of sitting around and waiting. A standard meet has several Events - the Back, Breast, Fly, and Free for men and women, plus Individual Medley and Relay for men and women. Each event is held at different lengths, and, depending on the numbers of registered swimmers, there can be many heats of each event.

The Summer recreational meets that she did had 67 events when you added in all the age groups, and a meet would last for six to seven hours. Each swimmer though had a maximum number of events that they would compete in - generally three individual and two relay events. So you had five events out of 67 spread out over that much time. Plenty of room for error.

High School meets were generally held at night, and were smaller -- only four hours.

Some of the backstage info:

Most meets are pre-seeded, meaning that heats are designed ahead of time. Generally, you want to run swimmers of the same general seed time in the same heat -- faster times in the center lanes, slower to the sides. One way to cheat is to put a faster swimmer in with slower ones. A swimmer paces themselves partially by guaging the other swimmers in their heat. Putting that fast swimmer in with a slower group can actually make them swim slower.

Timing -- High School meets used a timing pad with stopwatches as a backup. If you have to time with stopwatches, you use three per lane and average the times, throwing out times that fall outside a specified range of the others -- like .5 second high or low.

Judging -- you've got a referee, a starter, lane judges, and stroke-and-turn judges. Any of them can disqualify a swimmer for just about anything -- unlike major events (like the olympics) there is no video replay and the referee's decision is final.


Me -- I ran the database. If you really want to muck about with the results, find the person keeping the data. I could make anyone win/lose any heat. (This is another place where the numbers are verified by at least three other people, drawn from all competing teams, just to keep everyone honest)

Getting the swimmers to their heats was a major chore - requiring announcements for all entrants to report to the Clerk of the Course where they would be sat in heat order. The Clerk had a complete list of who was swimming where and had a whole host of runners to go and try to find the kids before their heat swam.

Gah, the memories.

Evice
07-24-2011, 01:02 AM
I used to be a member of the swimming association and belonged to a small town swimming club. I never did compete via my school, only via my town swimming club.

Our club used to compete against other towns large or small and I did a fair bit of travelling for it.
A competition would come up and our trainer would tell us where and what time to be there.

I came to find that some pools in some towns are more up to date than others, for instance some had the pads fitted at the end of the pool which you hit to stop the timer when you race, and other pools didn’t have them but had a judge stood timing you.

During training lessons we would warm up with a mile (64 lengths) before we started anything else and would get told off if we stopped for any reason, if I got out of breath I would keep going as long as I could and try and put a foot down quickly when the trainer wasn’t looking if I needed a few extra breaths.

After warm up we would have lessons in technique, the better your technique the faster and further you could go without becoming exhausted and a lot centred around this. When we trained males and females swam and trained together but for races women only raced against women and men against men.

For racing, most pools had the large white starter blocks to dive off and so learning how to do a racing dive was important. We would spend time learning how to do this in lessons and I personally would be nervous about getting the dive right in my early days of racing as on my first ever race I dived too deeply and lost too much time to gain back.

When a race came up it was very important to turn up once you had agreed to do it and I remember standing waiting at the end of a pool for my race with a rotten cold, wishing I didn’t have to be there hehe.

Hope this helps a bit, most others already wrote about these things but thought I would add my experience.

dancing-drama
07-24-2011, 02:51 AM
Wow, guys! You really are better than hours and hours of using google like a maniac :)
Thanks so much! I think I have all I need...