Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bad bulkhead placement - 'A&M pool length could effect records'

Keep in mind that 3 centimeters equals just 1.2 inches. I suspect that could only be a few thousandths of a second. From Sports Day Top Stories: "... In this case, they could prevent some swimmers from records and Olympic and Olympic Trials dreams. And they're causing Texas A&M embarrassment.

The university hosted a Texas Senior Circuit meet at its Student Recreation Center Natatorium last Friday through Sunday, completing five of six sessions before meet organizers determined bulkheads in the pool were incorrectly placed and the course was three centimeters too short – measuring 49.97 meters instead of 50. ..." [Link]

Photo from the official website of Texas A&M athletics: [Link]

14 comments:

JC said...

Let me make the same comment I made on swimnetwork.com: the easy solution is to multiply the Texas A&M times by 1.0006. Obviously neither the swimmers nor the meet organizers plotted to make the pool shorter, so there's no issue of crime and punishment here. And for those swimmers who peaked and shaved for this meet (especiallyl those who qualified for Trials here), it would be grotesquely unfair to disallow their times, since it would be hard to peak again before Trials. So just multiply; I'm guessing those three centimeters won't make or break anyone.

Tony Austin said...

So an inch-and-quarter worked out to be 10,000th-of-a-second? Wow. It I were USA Swimming I would let the qualifying times for Nationals stand but I would put an asterisk after any records.

JC said...

Tony -- Not quite one ten thousandth. If you multiply, say, a time of 2:00.0 by 1.0006 you get 120 x 1.0006 = 2:00.072, so it's around seven one-hundredths per two minutes of time, a little less than a tenth of a second. So, as I said, those three centimeters make very little difference. I think your solution is correct, i.e., let the qualifying times stand (maybe adding the miniscule amount I suggested) but put an asterisk after any records. This little brouhaha makes me wonder how many other meets have had such minor imperfections in pool length which have gone unreported. My guess is, quite a few. Think about it: you're a pool manager, and it turns out your pool is three centimeters (about one inch) short. What is your upside for reporting this? The managers at the A&M meet should be commended for their honesty.

JC said...

Tony -- Not quite one ten thousandth. If you multiply, say, a time of 2:00.0 by 1.0006 you get 120 x 1.0006 = 2:00.072, so it's around seven one-hundredths per two minutes of time, a little less than a tenth of a second. So, as I said, those three centimeters make very little difference. I think your solution is correct, i.e., let the qualifying times stand (maybe adding the miniscule amount I suggested) but put an asterisk after any records. This little brouhaha makes me wonder how many other meets have had such minor imperfections in pool length which have gone unreported. My guess is, quite a few. Think about it: you're a pool manager, and it turns out your pool is three centimeters (about one inch) short. What is your upside for reporting this? The managers at the A&M meet should be commended for their honesty.

Anonymous said...

Hook um

Anonymous said...

"...the managers should be commended for their honest..."

Actually, as I heard it, the short-fall was discovered by some "civilian" (what I was given to believe is that he's a guy who officiates at master's meets) who happened to have a laser measuring device, and happened to point it down the pool. If he hadn't done that, before world records are certified, the pool has to be measured. In the cases of pools with fixed walls (remember the Stanford debacle - they had to drain, sand and re-plaster their pool when it was discovered - after they were host to an apparent world record - that the pool was short by a hair?) the measurements are more standard. But the A&M pool had a bulkhead that had been moved, and set incorrectly ... and that certainly would have been discovered after the fact if it had not been discovered in the middle of the meet...

Tony Austin said...

"Let's see, I got my car keys, my glasses, my wallet. Oops, forgot the laser measuring device!"

Anyway, I am sure this will never happen again.

As for the math, 1.2 inches for a 50 is inconsequential. For a 1500 it would be less than a yard which could be. I hope USA Swimming takes a majority of the swims into this account.

Anonymous said...

"...Oops, forgot the laser measuring device!..."

Exactly. Some people are Aggies through and through ... and apparently some are civil engineers even in the darkest recesses of their souls ... it might appear that he needs a hobby, but I think it's more approrpriate to say he needs to re-think the very definition of a hobby ...

Tony Austin said...

I would like to revisit the math on this. 3 centimeters is 3/5000 of a 50 meter pool since there are 5000 cm in a 50 meter pool. That is just 1.2 inches.

A 50 meter race I am not sure the time differential could be measured. In a 1500 meter race it would be 32 inches, hence, just average it.

I think that anyone who logged a Nationals qualifying time could have it be accepted if it is within a reasonable statistical margin and let them be vetted at Nationals.

They let Jeff Farrell, who came down with a bad appendix in 1960 do a time trial post Nationals and let him do the Olympics. Thus, USAS can/should be flexible. Plus they need some good PR as of late since swimmers like me are becoming quite cross with them.

(BTW, Jeff Farrell is in his 70's and he handed me my ass at a short course meters meet. he is a great athlete now and he was the Michael Phelps of his day back then.)

Anonymous said...

does not sound like much - but do a 200 and it's 5 inches -- 800 is over a 1.5 feet and 3 feet for a mile ... that is too much time

Anonymous said...

a good bulkhead costs ~250K each, and maybe even more in todays economy. those kinds of prices demand 3 cm tolerance. there is no excuse for an error, whether it is a manufacturing problem or the company didnt show the pool manager where to stick the anchors.

Tony Austin said...

Even NASA once crashed a space craft into Mars because some rocket scientists were on the metric system and the some others were on the English.

That is a bigger goof than Texas A&M. A 150-million-dollar mistake to be exact.

mark said...

I was at the meet. There is only one place to anchor the bulkheads. The pool was certified, measured and signed off on 4 years ago. Things shift change over time. This will not be the the only pool not to live up to standards. Since then 3 pools in the gulf one very new and one 50 years old are off. I think a conversion is the best answer. Let the qualifications to meet stand if the make it with the conversion.

Tony Austin said...

Mark, I agree, especially in Southern California where the geology is very sketchy.

What I am pleased about is that USA Swimming is recommending that any qualifying times garnered there will be acceptable at Nationals since said times were well below what was needed.

Still they need to fix that bulkhead and other pools need to stay on top of their measurments.