Sanctioning and recognizing events is a crucial function of the LMSC. Care must be taken to ensure the event hosts follow the requirements of article 202 in the USMS rule book. Each LMSC should have a sanctions chair responsible for all phases of the process, including early scheduling to avoid conflicts or overlaps, and follow-up with the Top 10 Recorder to ensure meet results are submitted in a timely manner. There must be good two-way communication.
USMS, through the LMSC, has an obligation to its swimmers to ensure a well-run and properly reported competition. The sanctions chair should be aware of the past performance of meet hosts and call particular attention to any prior deficiencies. An LMSC may use performance bonds as a means to encourage well-run events. Further sanctions and recognitions may be denied to an organization failing to live up to its obligation to conduct such events in accordance with applicable USMS swimming rules and administrative regulations or as stated on the entry form.
Applications for sanction or recognition must be made to the LMSC within which the event is to be held, or in the case of open water sanctions, to the LMSC where the event originates (article 202.1.1). Sanction and recognition applications must be submitted online. If the LMSC has established a sanction or recognition fee, it is the responsibility of the LMSC sanctions chair to arrange for collection of that fee from the event director.
Sanctions or recognitions issued to one organization cannot be transferred to another. Any sanctions or recognitions so transferred shall be void for all purposes, and the LMSC may deny further sanctions to any organization violating this provision (article 202.1.1).
No sanction or recognition may be issued to any organization whose interest in sports and games is purely commercial, or where the event is to be promoted solely for the profit or the advertising value to be derived therefrom. Any income derived from sanctioned or recognized events must be used for the general welfare of the promoting organization as a whole (article 202.1.1).
No sanction of any event shall be granted with the word “Olympic” or any derivative thereof used in any manner in connection with said event unless consent is obtained from the USOC (article 202.1.1).
Numbering System for Sanctions and Recognitions
Sanctioned and recognized events are assigned consistent, identifying numbers. The numbering system is XXY-Z000, where XX is the LMSC numerical code, Y is the last digit of the current year, Z denotes the type of sanction, and 000 the consecutive numbering:
564-W001 would be assigned to the first open water event sanctioned in the Alaska LMSC during 2014
174-S005 would be assigned to the fifth sanctioned pool meet in the Ohio LMSC during 2014
393-R002 would be assigned to the second recognized pool meet in the Hawaii LMSC during 2013
USMS Rule Book
A copy of the current USMS rule book is required to be available at the event. Hard copies of the rule book may be purchased from the National Office. An electronic version of the rule book is available online at http://www.usms.org/rules/.
Sanctioned, Recognized, and Dual-Sanctioned Events
ALL competitors in sanctioned events must be USMS members or a member of a FINA-recognized national governing body for Masters swimming (article 202.1).
Because all participants are USMS members, they are covered by liability and excess personal accident insurance during the event. For additional information on insurance coverage, refer to the Insurance section of the online USMS Guide to Operations.
Times achieved at sanctioned events, conducted in strict compliance with all mandatory swimming rules of the USMS rule book, as defined in Part 1, shall be considered for USMS national records, USMS Top 10 times, and FINA Top 10 and world records (SCM and LCM courses)(article 202.1).
In recognized events, participants are not required to be USMS members. Only the times of currently-registered USMS members can be counted for USMS records and Top 10 (article 202.2).
Recognized events and their participants are not covered by liability and excess personal accident insurance.
The conduct of a recognized event shall conform to relevant USMS swimming rules and administrative regulations. See article 202.2.1 for a list of relevant rules.
Times achieved at recognized events may be considered for USMS national records and Top 10 times if a designated USMS observer is present and verifies in writing that the conduct of the competition conforms to the relevant USMS swimming rules and administrative regulations. Times achieved at recognized events are not eligible for FINA Top 10 or world records (article 202.2).
- Sanctions chairs are not allowed to issue recognitions for USA Swimming meets. If a USA Swimming meet wishes to allow adult participants who are NOT members of USA Swimming, but are members of USMS, the meet must apply for a SANCTION with USMS (not a recognition). This is because USMS only provides insurance coverage to sanctioned meets (not recognized meets). In a dual-sanctioned USA Swimming/USMS meet, the participants who are competing as members of USA Swimming are covered by USA Swimming's insurance, and the participants who are competing as members of USMS are covered by USMS's insurance.
USA Swimming meets, both sanctioned and approved, are automatically considered to be recognized and they do not need to apply for USMS recognition. All relevant rules, including those for pool measurement, must be met for times to count for a USMS member who participates in a USA Swimming meet under his USA Swimming membership number. It is the responsibility of the swimmer to submit times obtained in these meets, along with complete documentation, to the LMSC Top 10 Recorder (article 202.2).
Meets sanctioned by a FINA member federation shall be considered for USMS national records and Top 10 times without formal application for recognition if the USMS member(s) register for the meet as USMS members. It is the responsibility of the swimmer to submit times obtained in these meets, along with complete documentation, including pool measurement forms if applicable, to the LMSC Top 10 Recorder (article 202.2).
Summary of Differences Between
USMS-Sanctioned and USMS-Recognized Events
(pool or open water)
|All participants must be currently-registered USMS members||
Participants are not required to be USMS members
|Participants are covered by USMS liability and participant accident insurance||
No insurance coverage from USMS
|Times swum by USMS members are eligible for:
||Times swum by USMS members are eligible for:
Dual-Sanctioned Events (USMS & USA Swimming)
Dual-sanctioned events must obtain sanctions from both USMS and USA Swimming. Both sanctions must be held by the host organization. Participants in the event must be members of one of the two organizations. Those that are members of both must select one organization with which to compete for the entire meet. Dual membership cannot be used to exceed the daily event limits imposed by either organization. Automatic recognition of times achieved by a USMS swimmer competing in the USA-S portion is still available. The host organization cannot be required to accept a participant from either USMS or USA Swimming that would otherwise be barred from participation by their respective organizations.
A dual-sanctioned event must still meet the relevant USMS requirements in order for insurance coverage to be in effect. These requirements include, but are not limited to, all USMS participants being currently-registered USMS members; and all USMS participants signing the USMS liability waiver.
A dual-sanctioned event must still meet the following USMS requirements in order for times to count for USMS records and Top 10:
Pools must meet the USMS pool measurement requirements (even if measurements are not required by USA Swimming)
USMS Record and Top 10 submissions must comply with all USMS documentation requirements.
A more detailed description of the types of dual-sanctioned events may be found in appendix B of the USMS rule book.
Pools and Facilities
Before approving a sanction or recognition request, it is the LMSC sanction chair’s responsibility to determine whether the pool appears in the USMS list of measured pools and whether it meets the minimum length requirements. If the pool does not appear in the list of measured pools, and the LMSC does not have measurements on file, the sanctions chair should mark the sanction or recognition request as not meeting USMS pool measurement requirements. (If measurements are obtained later, the approved online sanction or recognition can be updated to reflect that the pool now meets measurement requirements.)
All pools used in competition must be in strict compliance with mandatory facilities standards, including pool length, in order for times to be accepted for USMS Top 10 and record consideration. A “Pool Length Certification Form” must be on file with USMS or submitted with the application for sanction or recognition.
The USMS list of measured pools can be found in the online Guide to Operations.
Sanctions and recognitions may be issued for events contested in pools that do not meet minimum USMS facilities standards. In these cases, results cannot be considered for USMS Top 10 and records. Meet entry information for contests in such pools must clearly state “The length of the competition course has been measured and is NOT in compliance with USMS articles 105.1.7 and 106.2.1: Times achieved in the meet will NOT be eligible for USMS Top 10 and records.” (see article 202.1.1)
For events swum in a pool using a moveable bulkhead:
Before the meet begins, initial measurements of all lanes must be taken (if not on file with USMS), or of the two outside lanes and a center lane (if a full set of measurements is on file with USMS), and
The pool’s length must be verified for bulkhead placement after each session. “Pool Length Certification Forms” from each session must be submitted, after the meet, to the LMSC Top 10 Recorder. They should also be included with any USMS record applications (article 105.1.7).
The entry forms must contain the language of the liability release as stated in USMS policy. The release can be found in the Insurance section of the USMS online Guide to Operations. All swimmers, before participating, shall have signed the liability release (article 204.1).
The event entry forms and programs must bear the statement “Sanctioned by (LMSC name) for USMS Inc.” in accordance with article 202.1.1.
The meet entry information shall include ONE of the following statements (a through d) per article 202.1.1:
(a) The length of the competition course without a bulkhead is in compliance and on file with USMS in accordance with articles 105.1.7 and 106.2.1.
(b) The length of the competition course has been measured and is NOT in compliance with USMS articles 105.1.7 and 106.2.1: Times achieved in the meet will NOT be eligible for USMS Top 10 and records.
(c) The length of the competition course is not on file with USMS. Eligibility of times achieved in this meet will be contingent upon pool length measurement and approval with USMS; if bulkheads are present, their placement must also be confirmed by measurements at the meet (USMS articles 105.1.7 and 106.2.1).
(d) The length of the competition course is in compliance and on file with USMS in accordance with articles 105.1.7 and 106.2.1, but as a bulkhead course, is subject to length confirmation. Eligibility of times for USMS Top 10 and records will be contingent on verification of bulkhead placement.
A copy of the member’s registration card, or proof of registration acceptable to the LMSC, must accompany all entries. However, at the discretion of the meet director and exclusive of national championship meets, a swimmer may enter indicating “number pending,” as long as proof of membership is presented prior to the swimmer’s participation in the event (article 202.1).
Online Event Entry
Before approving a sanction for an event that will utilize online entry, the Sanctions Chair should verify the following:
That the online entry system includes the language of the USMS liability release, and an affirmative method for indicating acceptance of the liability waiver (e.g., "I accept" button). The liability release and acceptance should be designed in such a manner that it is clear to the entrant that he or she is accepting the terms of the liability release.
That the online entry system operates such that the entrant may not proceed to completion of the entry without affirmatively clicking acceptance of the liability waiver.
That records that provide evidence of acceptance of the liability release will be maintained by the event director or sanctioning LMSC for at least the period of the personal injury or wrongful death statute of limitations, whichever is longer, for the state in which the event takes place. A minimum of ten years is recommended.
That the online entry system includes a method for determining, within reason, that the entrant is the person accepting the liability release.
That the system, or the event director, will verify that the entrant/participant is a currently-registered USMS member. This may include such methods as electronic verification of the USMS membership number or requiring participants to show their USMS membership cards prior to participating on the day of the event.
Officials: There must be at least two officials (article 103.2.1). The referee must be certified as a stroke and turn judge, starter, or referee by USA Swimming, YMCA, or any other USMS-approved certifying body (see appendix B of the USMS rule book for the complete list of approved certifying bodies).
Events labeled as “Choice” or “Open,” where any stroke is allowed, are not eligible for Top Ten or USMS records and cannot be included in a Top Ten submission. This is true even if the swimmer gets permission from the meet director and has the stroke judge watch the event. For an event to be counted for Top Ten or records, it must be labeled as Free, Back, Breast, Fly or IM. Rule book article 102.5 includes a list of events that are eligible for Top Ten.
If no separate facility is available, provisions for warm-up/warm-down must be made as follows (article 102.4):
In pools of five lanes or more, one lane shall be set aside for continuous warm-up/warm-down during the conduct of the meet.
In pools of fewer than five lanes, swimmers shall be allowed to swim to the other end of the pool at the end of each heat, and a warm-up/warm-down period shall be offered at least once during each half-hour of competition.
While in-person signing of the liability release on the day of the event is not required, sanctions chairs and event directors are free to include this requirement for extra assurance of compliance with the release requirement.
USMS National Championships (both pool and long distance) shall allow entrants to register for the event on paper even if online entry is utilized.
Open water events require a second level of approval. After the LMSC sanctions chair approves the sanction request, it is forwarded to the USMS Open Water Compliance Coordinator. The Coordinator reviews the event safety plan and approves it. The sanction number is then assigned to the event.
Open Water sanction guidelines are found in article 203 and in the Long Distance and Open Water section of the Guide to Operations.
Checklist for Sanctions Chairs
This checklist covers some of the items described in this document that should be reviewed or verified when reviewing a sanction or recognition request.
___ Does the event host understand the difference between sanction vs recognized events and has he chosen the appropriate one?
___ Is the pool measured? (if not, mark request as such and explain rules to requestor)
___ Does course contain a bulkhead? (if so, explain rules to requestor)
___ Does entry form (paper and online) contain liability release (for sanctioned events only)?
___ Does entry form (paper and online) contain "sanctioned by" or “recognized by” statement?
___ Does entry form (paper and online) contain pool measurement statement?
___ Are any events labeled "Choice” or “Open?" (if so, explain rule to requestor)
___ If online entry is used, is meet director aware of electronic data storage requirements?
___ Will provision be made for warm-up space during the meet?
LMSC Information Packet
Each LMSC should develop a sanctions/recognitions packet or document to supply to requesting organizations, which should include guidelines for preparing the entry form and meet results, as well as links to the references listed below:
- USMS Rule Book ordering information
- USMS Rule Book, Part 1: Swimming Rules
- USMS Rule Book, Part 2: Administrative Regulations of Competition
- USMS Rule Book, Appendix B: Information for Meet Directors and Officials
- USMS online sanction or recognition application
- Meet Management section of the USMS Guide to Operations
- Pool Length Form and Measurement Procedures
- List of Measured Pools by State
- Insurance Guidelines for Workouts and Sanctioned Events
- Incident Report Form (Report of Occurrence)
- USMS Participant Waiver and Release
- Guidelines for Warm-Up and Warm-Down
- Application for USMS and/or World Record