Saturday, November 17, 2012

Central Region Championship Qualifying Times

Even though I was informed on September 26th that the Central Region Qualifying Standards were going to be set as "D" standards - using the new Swim Ontario Age Group Standards - there was some debate from coaches whether this was a good idea. 

2 seasons ago, the Region held a meeting with coaches, where we decided the purpose of the meet and the standards. Since then, coaches voices seem to have taken a back seat to Central Region Board members, meet managers and Ontario Officials (after all, what do we know? We're just the paid professionals). Coaches wanted a higher quality meet and a true "championship" .  The people running the meet decided that there would be too much "unused pool time"and that the meet should be opened up to more athletes in order to generate more revenue and use more pool time. Coaches (led by former Olympian, Oakville's Laura Nicholls) pointed out that the drop to a "D" standard would create much longer sessions and worse swimming (waiting 3-5 hours to race a 400 or 1500, for example). 

A meeting was held this past Thursday (unfortunately, I was unable to attend personally). The final decision was that the Central Region Championships Qualifying Times would be set at a "C" standard + 2.5%. What does this mean?? Allow me to explain:

All of Ontario Age Group Championship standards are set using a formula. "B-E" times are set by adding 5% to the previous standard. IE: "B" time is the Age Group Standard + 5%. "C" Time is the "B" standard + 5% and so on. Adding 2.5% to the C standard puts the new qualifying times about halfway between a "C' time and a "D" time. Distance events (400 and longer) are set at "C" times to control the length of sessions.

Although it is unfortunate that many athletes figured that the times were going to be "D" times, the qualifying standards are still significantly slower than last season's times; which will result in many more athletes qualifying (I think, anyway). I'm not sure if these changes will have the desired effects, but thats a "wait and see" sort of thing. In the mean time, an explanation of what was happening is the best I can do - as far as I'm aware, no publicity has gone out about this decision. A little understanding and communication goes a long way*.

I still think that having this info available prior to many athletes doing their goal setting would have been more beneficial. I also think that if SNC can release their new standards before our Region can, there is something wrong. 

A PDF file of the Central Region Qualifying Times can be found HERE. Thank you Laura Nicholls for all your help!

*Irony - the big mark in swimming right now is "customer satisfaction" but SNC (for example) wouldn't communicate new standards until they were ready, even though they were well after the season started and later than they told coaches that they would be released - complete silence for a week and a bit. Lack of communication usually turns off customers quicker and more effectively than not giving them what they want. Conversely, Swim Ontario did a great job notifying membership of coming changes well in advance; members, coaches and parents had ample time to ask questions and get up to speed on all changes - regardless of how they felt about the changes.