Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Time for me to become very unpopular...

Division 1 Ontario Team Championships

Although we’re just entering Short Course championship season, this is about the time we need to start thinking about Division 1 Ontario Team Championships. It is never easy to select a small group of representatives from such a large and deep group of team contributors and not everyone that we want with us can possibly be picked. As you can see from the chart above, we are up against some of the biggest teams in Ontario. For those of you who do not know how this selection process will work, here is in inside glimpse:

- All Division 1 teams are permitted to bring 40 athletes in total. Each swimmer can swim a maximum of 5 individual events + relays.

- Points are scored by individuals placing in the top 8 and for relays placing in the top 8. Individual points – 9pts for 1st, 7pts for 2nd, 6pts for 3rd, 5pts for 4th, 4pts for 5th, 3pts for 6th, 2pts for 7th and 1pt for 8th. Relay points are doubled (for example: 18pts for 1st, 14pts for 2nd, etc). If we do not score in the top 8, we get 0.

- Swimmers MUST swim in their proper age category (obviously), but we can use a younger athlete for an older age class relay, provided that 2 of the relay participants are of the proper age (for example: we can use a 13 year old to swim on a 15&Over aged relay, but at least 2 of the swimmers on that relay must be 15 or older). There are several cases where this will likely happen to make the most competitive relays possible.

- We are only allowed to enter a maximum 1 relay per age category, regardless of how many people we have in that age category.

- There is no minimum or maximum amount of swimmers that we must take in any age category. The team is primarily picked based on the athletes that have the highest probability to score for HHBF (either in relays or individual events).

- To ensure we have the best possible relays, the first events and times looked at when selecting are the 50s (FLY, BK, BR, FR). We might have 4 people that are around the same time for 50BK. The person that will likely be chosen in that case is the person with the best odds of scoring in an individual event. In the end, we may even opt to swim someone up from a lower age category for a relay and free up more space on the team.

- We also take other factors into consideration when choosing the roster. For example, swimmers with high attendance (both meet and practice), swimmers that are punctual (a BIG factor when traveling such a far distance), swimmers that are reliable (have they performed consistently well at meets), swimmers that we know will show up for finals and cheer their hearts out (even if they’re not swimming) and swimmers with great attitudes (it’s a LONG weekend! Negative attitudes make it intolerable) will also be considered when filling the roster.

- The age groups are broken up as follows for both Girls and Boys: 10&Under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17&Over. Relays are the same except that there is a 15&Over category. Since the age categories span 2 years and there is quite a bit of growth that happens in the 11-12, 13-14 and 15-16 categories, people that made the team last year may not make it this year. This may seem unfair to some, but if an athlete has just aged up into a new age category and they’re at the bottom end of it (for example: just turned 13, so they’re the youngest swimmer in the 13-14 age category) it becomes difficult to contribute, and thus may not make the team (even if they were pretty good in their former age category). Sorry in advance, but that’s the reality of the rules on this meet.

- Traditionally, the weakest age categories are 10& under boys and 11-12 boys. The strongest (and hardest to score in) are 10 & under girls and 11-12 girls. Freestyle is often the deepest event and the hardest to score in, especially if you’re changing age. Breaststroke is typically the least deep.

- This is a comment on alternates right out of the meet package:
In the event that one (1) or more of a team's entered swimmers cannot attend the meet, the coach may designate substitutes from any age group or gender for a full complement of swimmers.
Must be designated immediately at or prior to arrival.
Will not be accepted after the start of the meet.
Will not be seeded according to entry times.
Will be placed into empty lanes when possible.
Since the meet is so far away and substitutes hardly ever get to swim, I figure we’ll handle the alternates in a different fashion. We will not name 2 alternates right off the bat; that often makes no sense. For example, if a 10 year old boy bails on the team, I would like to replace him with another 10 year old boy to round out the relay, but if I name a 10 year old boy as an alternate and a 14 year old boy gets hurt and cannot travel, that 10 year old boy can’t help us on the 13-14 relay. Therefore, I will make decisions in February who to fill declined spots with based on the age and gender of the declining athlete. This will give alternates plenty of time to make travel arrangements and make for the most competitive team possible. We will not travel with alternates.

Here is some indication of how fast last season’s Division 1 meet was: (click on the age category on the left hand side of the screen and then check the events). The 8th place time for girls 10&Under 50FR last season was 34.45. The winning time was 30.01 seconds. Welcome to the big leagues folks! Believe me when I say that difficult decisions need to be made just to stay in this division! Our primary job as coaches and roster selectors is to keep us in this division, not to spare individual feelings (it is impossible to include everyone). We obviously want the meet to be a fun experience for all involved and come back having achieved something that HHBF as a whole will be very proud of. We have to score points in order to survive.

We plan to announce the team in mid February.