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For the Record: Making Sure Your Top 10 Time Sticks

So you’re going to a Masters meet that is not run by USMS. How can you get your times to count for USMS Top 10 and Records?

“They asked me for my USMS number, so that must mean it’s ok, right?”

 Not necessarily! First of all, the meet must be “Recognized” by USMS.

There are two kinds of meets that are allowed for Top 10 and Records – Sanctioned meets and Recognized meets. Sanctioned meets require that all participants be members of USMS. The LMSC Top 10 Recorder will know about this meet and will see that the times achieved in it are submitted for consideration for inclusion in Top 10.

Recognized meets mean that besides allowing USMS members, they also allow non-members. Sometimes Recognized meets are not run by USMS folks and can include Senior Games, Senior Olympics, State Games, Y meets, etc. and also USA Swimming meets.

“So how do I know if a non-sanctioned meet is Recognized by USMS?”

Both Sanctioned meets and USMS Recognized meets are required to have a Sanction number or Recognition number in their meet information, which changes from meet to meet and from year to year. That is the first clue. If in doubt, the safest way to tell is to check with the host LMSC Sanctions person to see if they issued a Sanction or Recognition number. If not, you’re out of luck: the meet is not recognized by USMS and the times are not eligible for records or inclusion in the Top 10.

USA Swimming meets are automatically Recognized by USMS, however you must register for those meets as a USA Swimming member. You must also be a USMS member at the time of the meet in order for your times to count.

What if the USA meet has a sanction number, but doesn’t require swimmers to be USA Swimming members? Then it is probably one of two things.

  1. It is dual sanctioned – that is, sanctioned by both USA-S and also by USMS. The entry form should list the sanction statements for both USMS (i.e. sanctioned by [name] LMSC for USMS Inc.) and USAS (sanctioned by [name] LSC for USA-S Inc). Then your times will count as long as you swim under your USMS membership and file a “Declaration of Intent to swim Dual Sanction meets as a Masters swimmer” form with the meet director prior to the meet and also with the LMSC top ten recorder.
  2. It is USA approved, meaning they will allow non-USA membership. In this case, the meet director would need to get USMS Recognition for that meet prior to the meet date, in order for your times to count.

FINA-sanctioned international meets are also automatically Recognized by USMS.

“If the meet is Recognized by USMS, what else is needed?”

The pool must have a valid measurement.

First check with your LMSC top ten recorder to see if there is already a valid measurement on file certifying that the pool is the proper length, in which the length of all lanes has been measured with the specified accuracy. If there isn’t, be prepared to measure it or get someone to do it. Often the aquatics facility personnel will be equipped to do this, but you should contact them ahead of time to see if that is true.

“So once the pool has been measured, it never needs to be measured again, right?”

Not necessarily. There are two types of pools: “fixed” pools that have non-movable walls at the end, and pools that use movable bulkheads at one or both ends of the competition pool. Fixed pools only need to be re-measured when there is some structural change to the pool.

But pools with movable bulkheads need to be re-measured after each session of the meet. Only the two end lanes and one of the middle lanes needs to be measured. At the beginning of the meet, it is strongly recommended that the proper placement of the bulkhead is verified by doing these measurements.

The form and procedure are on the USMS website.

“Okay, I have the measurements. What next?”

Notify your LMSC Top 10 recorder about your swims, by the end of the season. Even if the meet is held in another LMSC, your own recorder will be the one to submit your results.

Because Recognized meets are often run by non-USMS folks, there is no guarantee that your LMSC Top 10 recorder will receive the results. A list of the LMSC Top 10 recorders can be found on the USMS website, or you may contact your local (LMSC) officers. The procedure and deadlines can be found in the “Guide to Operations” on the USMS website.

“I’m pretty fast. What if I set a record? Does it count?”

Maybe. National USMS records can be set at Recognized meets, but World (FINA) records cannot.

Be prepared to take the record application form with you to be filled out and submit it. You’ll almost certainly need the assistance of the meet referee; record applications must be accompanied by the electronic timing system printout or the recorded times from three stopwatches, either one signed by the meet referee, along with a copy of the meet heat sheet showing which swimmer swam in which lane.

“That’s a lot of work!”

It can be. In Recognized meets, the swimmer assumes responsibilities that are normally carried out by USMS volunteers. But with a little bit of planning it isn’t too bad. It is strongly recommended that you contact your LMSC Top 10 recorder WELL BEFORE you attend the meet. Depending on your situation, you might also want to contact the meet referee and the aquatics facility personnel.

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