New Time Standards

New Time Standards

Post by Michael Barn » Fri, 05 Apr 1996 04:00:00


I was just reading my most recent issue of Splash and was wondering what,
if anything, anyone felt about the transition to the new percentile time
standards that USS is implementing.  I'm still digesting all of the
information and have a few thoughts on the subject.  But I'm going to wait
and see what kind of other responses this generates before I post my own
opinion about them.

lator
    mike

--
Michael Lee Barnes - also know as - the original Iridescent Mouse

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by Wolf » Fri, 05 Apr 1996 04:00:00


Quote:

>I was just reading my most recent issue of Splash and was wondering what,
>if anything, anyone felt about the transition to the new percentile time
>standards that USS is implementing.  I'm still digesting all of the
>information and have a few thoughts on the subject.  But I'm going to
wait
>and see what kind of other responses this generates before I post my own
>opinion about them.

>lator
>    mike

I haven't had time to fully sit down and think this out, but my first
impressions are that I don't like the change.  I do think it was a good
thing when USS added the BB time standard, thus making the B time standard
slower.  Speaking as a coach, if I can't get every swimmer to at least a B
time, I'm just no where near doing my job.  I think any swimmer in a year
round program should (sooner or later) make the B time standards.  I think
that *any* swimmer, if they work hard, can get an A time standard.
Getting the A isn't easy, some swimmers have to work their tails off to do
it, but I think that with my coaching, and their work it can be done for
every swimmer.  I think that eliminating the A/B/C time standards so that
more swimmers can reach and obtain a standard is unnecessary.  Sure,
currently not every swimmer can reach even the B time standard.  But I
don't think that is any reason to eliminate them.  There should be goals
for every swimmer, and I think that the standards are now reasonable.

James Wolfle
Head Age Group Coach
Valley Area Swim Team
Harrisonburg, VA

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by YDolphi » Sat, 06 Apr 1996 04:00:00

I think that it's good to have more divisions.  Moving from one standard
to another really gives the swimmer a mental boost, and having the next
standard within reach keeps them striving.  That said, I HATE the new %
classifications.  They are complicated and can easily be misunderstood.
IMHO, USS would have been better off adding C and CC or something along
those lines.  I would hate to say "congratulations, you made 25%" and have
the swimmer or parent think that means bottom quarter of all swimmers,
when it means 25% of the fastest time.  The two are very different.  Did I
understand the article correctly or am I shooting my mouth off?  Help to
clarify this, please.

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by Adam Brid » Sat, 06 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> I haven't had time to fully sit down and think this out, but my first
> impressions are that I don't like the change.  I do think it was a good
> thing when USS added the BB time standard, thus making the B time standard
> slower.  Speaking as a coach, if I can't get every swimmer to at least a B
> time, I'm just no where near doing my job.  I think any swimmer in a year
> round program should (sooner or later) make the B time standards.  I think
> that *any* swimmer, if they work hard, can get an A time standard.
> Getting the A isn't easy, some swimmers have to work their tails off to do
> it, but I think that with my coaching, and their work it can be done for
> every swimmer.  I think that eliminating the A/B/C time standards so that
> more swimmers can reach and obtain a standard is unnecessary.  Sure,
> currently not every swimmer can reach even the B time standard.  But I
> don't think that is any reason to eliminate them.  There should be goals
> for every swimmer, and I think that the standards are now reasonable.

Pacific and Sierra Nevada LSCs have discarded the USS time standards
because they ARE too fast in most cases.  There ARE motivational time
standards -- if they don't motivate they aren't useful in that task.  The
current standards ARE useful for elite swimmers -- but there are more
non-elite age group swimmers than there are elite (sort of by definition
:-) )

The A time IS difficult to reach for many swimmers.  Yes, it is possible.
But there is nothing wrong with adding some rungs to the ladder to make
climbing a little less discouraging.

So I like this system.  It might be even more advantageous to take the
data set, determine an "average" swim, and mark the times by taking
standard deviations.  I have NO idea what such a system would show but it
would definately tell the elite swimmers how freakishly good their
performance is -- many standard deviations from the norm.

Okay, it's not a great thought....

Adam Bridge

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by Valerie Mage » Sun, 07 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> I think that it's good to have more divisions.  Moving from one standard
> to another really gives the swimmer a mental boost, and having the next
> standard within reach keeps them striving.  That said, I HATE the new %
> classifications.  They are complicated and can easily be misunderstood.
> IMHO, USS would have been better off adding C and CC or something along
> those lines.  I would hate to say "congratulations, you made 25%" and have
> the swimmer or parent think that means bottom quarter of all swimmers,
> when it means 25% of the fastest time.  The two are very different.  Did I
> understand the article correctly or am I shooting my mouth off?  Help to
> clarify this, please.

 You have made a good case against the new standards.  They are either
complicated or very poorly described because 25% means bottom 25% of all swim
times achieved.  But you have to read and reread the explanation to "understand"
it.  To quote their example:

"For example, if there are 1000 splashes (times) in the data base for an event
then the 97.5 percentile would be the 25th fastest swim, the 85 percentile would
be the 150th fastest swim, etc."

97.5% of 1000 is 975, thus you are the 25th fastest (975+25=1000).
85% of 1000 is 850, thus you are the 150th fastest (850+150+1000).

So, the higher you are the better.  This strategy for "standards" (and they are
no longer standards, but statistical distributions) is like the height and weight
standards you hear about when your child is very young.  You know, 95% percentile
on weight or height.

That said (I am NOT with USS, but I did major in math!), I don't like the new
standards at all.  They are simply a measure of where you time lies statistically
versus all the swims in the database (I won't begin to comment on that, but
collecting times from clubs who happen to keep them is not going to necessarily
yield a statistically significant result).  So each swim moves you along a
continuum really (from 30% to 32.5% is not much different than 30% to 30.1%).  
This is really not very different from trying to better you time each time you
swim.  It is also probably harmful for the "developmental" swimmer to KNOW the
percentages.  Letter (or named) classifications do not carry the same
implications.  A new 11 year old would be really thrilled to know that his
mid-year accomplishment puts him in the bottom 8% wouldn't he?

All that is needed is a few more letter breakdowns (such as C, CC, CCC, CCCC).  I
would not go below C, because D's have a bad connotation (in school).  B can be
broken down further as well (BBB and BBBB).  The classification should be based
on standards and a certain % off of today's 16th best is as good as any.

For what it's worth, that's my opinion.

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by hirschm.. » Sun, 07 Apr 1996 04:00:00

I am monitoring this thread and sharing the postings with a member of the
USS age-group committee who is considering this proposal -- so keep your
comments coming.
 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by bird.. » Sun, 07 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> I am monitoring this thread and sharing the postings with a member of the
> USS age-group committee who is considering this proposal -- so keep your
> comments coming.

Since you are asking for input,

I cannot think of one good thing to say about it.  With the current
system, making a new standard -- like a first A time -- is a big deal.
We give our kids a T-shirt with the date, event, and time on it.  
Under the percentile scheme, the value of moving up will be no better
than a lifetime best swim and the current system already allows that.

Birdman

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by Wolf » Sun, 07 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

>I cannot think of one good thing to say about it.  With the current
>system, making a new standard -- like a first A time -- is a big deal.
>We give our kids a T-shirt with the date, event, and time on it.  
>Under the percentile scheme, the value of moving up will be no better
>than a lifetime best swim and the current system already allows that.

I agree with this whole heartedly.  We also have incentives for A times,
and I know that when the kids have to work really hard to reach this (or
even the B time standard) they learn a lot more.  Right now 75% of my team
has a least one B time in their age group, and of the group that doesn't,
over half of them are less than two seconds off.  I think any team can
have this same percentage, and just don't see the need to change.  This
sounds a little like the SAT test scores.  The scores were getting too low
so ETS created a new scale that was 20 (or 30 or whatever) points higher
so the students taking the test could feel better about themselves.   The
percentile groupings, I think, are along these same lines, simplyl
devalueing the time standards to try to make swimmers who don't work hard
feel better.  

James

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by Steve Nei » Mon, 08 Apr 1996 05:00:00

I do not necessarily disagree with changing the mechanism for deciding
what time warrants moving to a new time standard.  There are some
advantages to doing it the new way.  It allows some understanding of the
relative position of a swimmer in the world of US Swimming.

There are more disadvantages than may initially seem obvious, though.  The
first has to do with how the new standards are labeled.  It is silly to be
so flagrant as to label each set of times by the percentage rankings.  At
the very  least, each standard should be labeled with some other label.
And why not allow it to continue to be AAAA, AAA, AA, etc. through
whatever point in the alphabet is a necessary stopping point.
A second problem is that accurate placement of the standards requires a
gigantic database.  And for it to be accurate it requires complete
reporting of the novice swimmer's times, too.  It would be a disaster if
the slow times, for example the novice meet times, did not get reported.
If you are going to label a swim as being in the slowest ten per cent, you
certainly want to be assured that you are accurate.  How discouraging it
would be to be labeled as a slow swimmer because there was full reporting
of the champion swimmers only.
And finally, this could be an extremely jagged nonlinear scale, depending
on the distribution of times.  Does anyone know what the shape of the
curve is for swim times?  Without those data, the predictability of this
as a good developmental tool is limited.
Steve Neish, Colorado

--
Steve Neish
Colorado

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by Doug Gillia » Tue, 09 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

>I am monitoring this thread and sharing the postings with a member of the
>USS age-group committee who is considering this proposal -- so keep your
>comments coming.

We have been having problems with news so I think I missed the beginning of
this discussion.  Are the "New Time Standards" basically a percentile ranking
of the swimmers time compared to other kids in the sample?

If not, could someone describe the "New Time Standards" again?

Thanks,

Doug

Doug Gilliam
AT&T Global Information Solutions

(803) 939-6184

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by Leo Letend » Tue, 09 Apr 1996 04:00:00

Quote:

> I am monitoring this thread and sharing the postings with a member of the
> USS age-group committee who is considering this proposal -- so keep your
> comments coming.

I have also read the article and have the following comments.  The use of
the "actual" percentile values presents a number of problems.  I have a
concern that times will not be reported consistently across the spectrum
with the slower times much more likely to be under reported than the
faster times due to the different nature of meets which produce these
classes of times.  Therefore those that will trying for that first rung of
the latter may be working harder for that 10% time than is actually
necessary.  That is not motivational.  The second problem lies with the
labels as others have expressed.  There is no better way I can think of to
demotivate a kid by telling him/her after the best swim of their life that
they are still 2 seconds away from having a time which only 90% of the
kids in the age group can beat!  I don't know about you but I would
probably bag it right there and go play something else.  Also going all of
the way down to 10% seems pretty punitive and demotivational.

So, borrowing from others, I make the following suggestion.

1)  Do the best job that we can to get as much data as possible to develop
the distributions.  (This is a whole other issue which I won't address.)

2) Calculate the rankings at say 97.5, 95, 92.5, 90, 80, 70, (maybe)60,
50, and 30 percentiles.  This gives you differentiation at the top and a
rung or two at the bottom.

3) Call them something else to hid the true nature of the times. Maybe the
90's are A through AAAA, 80 is BBB, 70 is BB, 60 is B, 50 is CC and 30 is
C.

The other problem with the actual percentile values is, at least here in
St. Louis, we currently designate meet qualifying times using the A, B
and/or C designation of the current system.  Designating a meet as a 95+
percentile meet not only sounds strange but could be much more easily
interpreted as elitist.

--
Leo Letendre                      As usual, I do not speak for my employer

Monsanto Company

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by Ji » Wed, 10 Apr 1996 04:00:00


Quote:

> (snipped)

>We have been having problems with news so I think I missed the
beginning of
>this discussion.  Are the "New Time Standards" basically a percentile
ranking
>of the swimmers time compared to other kids in the sample?

Essentially.

Quote:
>If not, could someone describe the "New Time Standards" again?

Doesn't hurt to look at them again.

From the article by Jim Patterson in the April 96 ( i.e. current) issue
of Splash!:

"The new time standards will be based on actual swimming performances.
The same data that was collected to study the current time standards
will be used to generate the new standards.  Then new time standards
will be generated in percentiles as follows:
97.5%, 95%, 92.5%, 90%, 85%, 80%, 75%, 70%, 65%, 60%, 50%, 40%, 30%,
20%, 10%.  For example, if there are 1,000 splashes (times) in the data
base for an event then the 97.5 percentile would be the 25th fastest
swim, the 85 percentile would be the 150th fastest swim, etc."

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by Ji » Wed, 10 Apr 1996 04:00:00


Quote:

>I was just reading my most recent issue of Splash and was wondering
what,
>if anything, anyone felt about the transition to the new percentile
time
>standards that USS is implementing.  I'm still digesting all of the
>information and have a few thoughts on the subject.  But I'm going to
wait
>and see what kind of other responses this generates before I post my
own
>opinion about them.

>lator
>    mike

I agree with the general discussion that the new percentile standards
aren't good.  This seems to be a classic good-hearted attempt to
correct one problem but creating another along the way - perhaps even a
worse one.  Put yourself in the place of the child.  To be told you are
25, 50 or even 75% can be devistating.  To a child 75% means only one
thing - a C.  He or she has no other point of reference for percentiles
other than their grades.  Why crush their spirit.  After all isn't the
sport for the kids?  Concentrating on personal bests is the way to go.
Even the least talented kid in the pool can be a winner this way.
 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by YDolphi » Sun, 14 Apr 1996 04:00:00

To All,

First of all, let me re-state my opposition to the current % label scheme.
I think the only thing this will motivate children to do is to quit
swimming.

I run a developmental USS program. There are 60 swimmers, ages 5-15, on my
team. Less than half have "B" times. I don't know whether this is a
typical distribution, but I suspect that it is. We do use the USS cuts as
a motivational tool. We give a silver star pin for "B" times, a gold for
"A". We also give them a patch with a Dolphin and the name of the stroke
on it for, guess what, the Dolphin level times that USS published in
"Splash" a little while ago. This is very effective, as most of my kids
can make the Dolphin level in at least one stroke...  From there "B" isn't
far away, and so on.

I suspect that these times were an initial attempt to put some lower rungs
on the ladder.  I was VERY e***d to see them published, then sad to see
it not followed through on.  I think that my team is the only one in Metro
LSC that uses them...  Anyways, they are/were a step in the right
direction.  HOWEVER, the names stink.  I mean come on.  Starfish? The
Dolphin worked out nicely for us because it's the name of my team (and
about 4,000 others....)

An often suggested solution is to lower "C" to about 25% and add "CC",
"CCC", "BBBB" etc. Better, but still not great.  What's the solution? I
don't know for sure, but we need to include and motivate the rest of the
swimmers while acknowledging the considerable acheivements of the elite
swimmers.

MAYBE use the % for what is now "A" and above, and use letters for
everyone else (my guess here is that everyone else is really about 80% or
more of the children involved in competitive swimming)

By this system, the really speedy kids (top 10%?)would get the recognition
and status they deserve. Indeed, top 5% sounds faster and is more accurate
than any letter.

The swimmers who aren't in that elite group would not get discouraged by
being labeled, for example, bottom 25%. (You might as well say "HEY KID,
YOU'RE SLOW! QUIT SWIMMING!")  They would have letters to denote their
ranking. We obviously can't add "D","F",or "E" levels, so this leaves
"C"-"A".

Maybe something like this:

Top%   =   Rank
1/2%       1/2%
1%         1%
2%         2%
5%         5%
10%        10%
15%        AAAA
20%        AAA
25%        AA
30%        A
40%        BB
50%        B
60%        CC
80%        C
Under 80%???

I haven't worked out the actual brackets very well (no hate mail, please)
 I just wanted you to get the basic idea...

By the way, when I say % I mean % of ALL registered USS swimmers in that
age group, not % off a top six*** time! Who the hell came up with that?

Collect a large enough data sample to accurately reflect the speed
distribution with a minimal margin of error. This shouldn't be too hard to
do. (BTW there was a request in SPLASH for times; I'll send mine in)

Times should probably be collected as top times for each swimmer in each
event (personal bests) NOT meet results!  Fast swimmers generally go to
far more meets and compete in more events than slow or developing
swimmers.  Collecting data by meet will inevitably skew the results
towards the top of the curve.

OK, I've said enough.  Let me close by saying that I feel that this is an
extremely important issue for the USS age-group department.  We're not
just putting together an Olympic team here. The more kids we have swimming
the better, and a bottom 25% 12 year old can get just as much from the
sport as a zones or Junior Nat. level swimmer. Enough said.

Michael Ross
Flying Dolphins Swim Team
The 92nd Street Y
New York City

 
 
 

New Time Standards

Post by Michael Barn » Sat, 20 Apr 1996 04:00:00

O.K.  It's been a busy quarter for me so far, but when I started this
thread, I promised to organize my own thoughts on the subject and post
them eventually.  I don't know how organized they'll be but here goes.

First of all, I think there is a need for a new time standard system of
some sort.  

Based on what I personally use the current motivational times for, I like
the new percentage times for a couple of reasons.  First of all, instead
of just telling the swimmer they achieved a certain predetermined goal, it
gives them some sort of feeling for where they stand in relationship to
the rest of the country.  I think this is going to be a good motivator for
the younger kids who aren't necessarily getting out of state (or LSC)
meets very often.

Secondly, everyone will know how the time standards are established and
they will be flexible and dynamic, always representing the state of age
group swimming in our country as a whole.

I will qualify this support however on two points.  The first is that as
with an statistical process, accuracy and completeness are big concerns.
I trust the USS national staff to be accurate in computing and posting the
percentages.  Completeness however is something over which they will have
little control.  Several people have raised concerns here that the data
may be skewed towards the more advanced swimmers as it is going to be the
more competitive meets that are going to be most likely to be reported.

The second is the coaches ability to understand, interpret, and
communicate the meaning of these standards to their swimmers.  Again, the
point has been raised by several people that these standards have the
potential to be discouraging.  It is going to be up to the coaches to take
responsibility for guiding their swimmers in the proper use and
interpretation of these standards (as with any standards).  This brings us
to the next point that I want to make.

As a general practice, I completely the B and below times now.  With my
better swimmers, I use the A, AA, AAA, etc. times to help motivate them
and assist them in setting goals.  However, if a swimmer is not within
reasonable striking distance of at least an A time, we don't even talk
about motivational times.  The focus with these swimmers in my program is
simply on swimming personal bests as often as possible.  The main reason I
don't use the B and below times for these swimmers is twofold.  First of
all, someone advised against adding D, E, and F times for obvious reasons
of negative conotation.  Personally, I believe that if you use "A's" to
denote the upper levels, anything less than an A has some measure of this
problem.  Secondly, in our LSC, we have three championship meets at the
end of the season (B, A, AA).  Basically a AA time or above gets you into
AA's in that event.  A time between A and AA gets you into A's and
anything less than an A you enter the B championship (even if it is a CC
time).  So you see, in our area, there is very little importance in the
swimmers eyes in a time less than an A.

Now, usually, I try not to criticize something without offering at least a
suggestion of some sort.  My suggestion would be to go with the current
plan for percentage times (if it can be done properly).  In addition to
this I thought it might be useful to implement some kind of national
standard based on personal bests instead of times.  For example, if you
swim four consecutive personal bests in an event then you are a "four star
swimmer."  This can be carried as far as you need it.  If a swimmer is
consistently improving like this, their learning will level out and is is
unlikely that kids will be achieving "25 star staus", etc. so the program
does not get out of hand.  It would then be up to the coach to decide
which motivational program is most appropriate for each of their swimmers.

In this plan, most beginning swimmers, with consistent coaching, show
consistent improvement at the beginnings of their careers and will be
succsful in a program that focuses on personal bests.  When they reach the
level that they are no longer consistenlty dropping time every single time
they swim, hopefully they will be in one of two categories.  First of all,
they will be approaching what are now A, AA times etc. and can move on to
using the percentage standards.  Or secondly, they will be in that small
minority that will just never excel at swimming.  These people shouldn't
be discouraged from participating, but represent a small enough minority
that I feel it is up to individual coaches to decide how to motivate these
special cases, especially since the reasons for not excelling will
probablly vary greatly from instance to instance.

O.K., I'm done.  I started this thread a while ago taling about the
current USS plan.  I think we've all discussed it and now how we each feel
about it.  Now I would like to reccomend that we push this discussion in a
different direction.  I've begun it here.  I challenge each of you coaches
(parents, swimmers and others too) to be creative and post your own ideas
for what a better system would be.

By the way, someone mentioned they were forwarding this info to someone at
USS.  Has there been any response from USS about this discussion and if so
what was it?

In closing, I've noticed in the past that on occasion, when I've posted
long winded responses (what can I say, I like to hear myself type) like
this one threads have tended to die.  This is an important subject for the
future of our sport.  Please don't let that happen here.  Let's hear your
ideas.

lator
   mike

--
Michael Lee Barnes - also know as - the original Iridescent Mouse