Over the last week I’ve been asked by a few people (on the Community page) why the 1500m has been taken out of the British Masters Championships in June and so I wanted to make sure everyone understood this very difficult decision, writes Masters Officer Sharon Lock.
This meet is getting more popular each year which is fantastic. It shows Masters want to participate in this type of event.
Unfortunately the downside of this is that all of the events cannot be fitted into a three-day programme in an eight lane pool without the quality of the event being affected.
Last year there were complaints about the length of the evening sessions and officials were on the poolside far longer than they should have been.
Therefore a compromise needed to be made and this falls to the British Masters Technical Committee to decide. This is a voluntary group made up of Masters Representatives from England, Wales and Scotland who meet specifically to look after all of the issues that affect British Masters.
Lots of options were discussed with various pros and cons drawn out:
Options for 1500m
1500m for men / 800m for women
Pros: Matches Olympic Programme, reduces pool time.
Cons: Both men and women will be affected, all events should be available.
Two swimmers per lane for 1500m and 800m
Pros: Reduces amount of time taken for each event but all events covered, no restrictions.
Cons: Going back to 'old' standards of competitions, would not be acceptable in a non-Masters meet, increases risk of mistakes and injury to swimmers.
Have a qualifying time for 1500m and 800m
Pros: Controls amount of entries to some degree.
Cons: Where is cut off time? Times need to be strictly adhered to, how do we ask for proof of time? Some people will be disappointed, may still have too many entries.
Have qualifying times for all events
Pros: Fair to all, will limit entries to manageable level, matches FINA, LEN international meets, matches non-Masters entry criteria.
Cons: Far too discriminatory - Masters is open to all, does not discriminate against anyone, our aim is to encourage not discourage people from entering, we are not elite swimmers.
Have 1500m and 800m as first come, first served
Pros: Strictly controls the numbers of entries. The time taken for event can be controlled.
Cons: Relies on people knowing this, isn’t fair for some swimmers who cannot commit early, swimmers will not know if they get in and have trained all year.
Have all the events as first come, first served
Pros: As above but fair to everyone.
Cons: as above.
Take out the 1500m and/or 800m and hold as separate event
Pros: Strictly controls time taken for event, these two events take the most time, separate 1500m may encourage more people to enter as will not affect other swims, allows more time for increase in other events, event would be basic and keep costs to a minimum.
Cons: Some swimmers only enter this as it’s with other events, additional cost of another event.
Extend the meet by another day
Pros: Allows all events to easily fit into the Championships.
Cons: Another day would incur 1/3 more of current costs, swimmers may struggle to have another day off work (especially those with children), may be a solution in future.
As you can see, every option was going to cause difficulties and there did not appear to be a solution that would please everyone.
Therefore, in the interests of fairness to all, trying to maintain the quality of the meet and finding the most cost effective option, it was decided to take the 1500m out of the event and hold it separately.
It was hoped this would allow more people the opportunity to enter as it would have no impact on their others swims.
Unfortunately, in the current economic climate, it hasn’t been possible to secure the additional funding needed to guarantee this happening in 2015.
However, we have been lucky enough to add the 1500m into the ASA Open Water Masters for 2015 and will be looking at the situation carefully in future.
The British Masters Technical Committees recommendation for 2016 and beyond is that this competition can no longer be held in an eight lane pool.
This will have consequences in future as there are only 10 50m x 10 lane pools in Britain and not all have the facilities needed to host this type of event.