A Professional Swimming League
Gary Hall Jr and Sr have recently proposed a
plan for professional swimming, in which teams
would compete against each other. One
suggestion was for a Team USA to compete in
round robin meets against teams from Asia,
Europe, etc. Another suggestion was for
corporations to sponsor teams, analogous to
professional cycling (Team Mazda, Team
An equally important question is the FORMAT
of the competition. What are the most spectator
I would like to toss out one proposal. Features
are as follows:
1. General audiences have a short attention
span. The entire competition cannot take more
than 3 hours in a single afternoon or evening.
2. Repetitive events are boring. There should
not be, for example, 4 different ***stroke
3. An ideal duration of a race is 2 minutes. This
is about the length of a thoroughbred horse race,
which is much more interesting from a spectator
point of view than a quarter horse race lasting
much less than a minute. 200s are more
interesting than 100s. In 100s, the person that
takes it out first more often than not ends up
being the winner. The audience cant really
focus on anyone beside the leader. In 200s,
there are commonly lead changes, late charges,
and ample opportunity to survey the goings on
in all lanes, while the event is not so long to
cause ones attention to drift.
4. The most interesting of all races are the IMs,
because of the variety and often dramatic nature
of the lead changes. It is the one individual
event where a 400 holds a spectator's attention
for the entire race.
5. 3 meter and platform diving are terrific,
spectator-friendly events. The competition
should be broken in the middle with either a 3 or
10 meter diving competition. But more than 30
minutes of diving gets to be repetitive and
boring, so the diving competition should be
limited to 5 dives, in a single 30 minute session.
6. Short track skate racing is exciting, in part
because of the contact. A terrific event would
be an open water 800 freestyle swim, where
up to 16 competitors would swim at once, IN
THE POOL. This would NOT be swum in
lanes, but all of the competitors would start at
one end of the pool, in the water (not a dive
start), treading water. When the gun went off,
they would swim down to the other end of the
pool and round a set of pylons, come back and
round pylons, and so forth, for a total of 16
lengths (8 laps).
Contact would be part of the race. Incidental
contact would result in no penalties. Flagrant
fouls would result in DQ. Minor fouls
(swimming over someones back), would result
in time penalties ... administered to each
swimmer on the team which commits the
foul...where referees would stop the swimmers
for various times in a penalty box (depending
on the nature of the foul), before letting them
resume the race.
This type of format would turn the most boring
races (the distance races) into the most exciting.
It would actually look like a race (instead of a
confusing mixture of people going back and
forth, without a clear picture of who was in the
lead). It would have team strategy..drafting, etc.
It would be a way of bringing open water
distance swimming (where contact and finding
clear water is often an integral part of the race)
indoors. It would certainly create an
opportunity for distance swimmers.
7. The only places that matter are gold,
silver, and bronze, so there should be points
only for the first three finishers.
8. Relays are exciting. There should be a 400
medley relay and a 400 free relay, which would
give 100 meter stroke and free specialists a
chance to do their thing.
9. Team scoring ought to be only combined
mens and womens. This is a great opportunity
to draw in women and men to cheer for the co-
So heres my suggested meet format.
1. 4 x 100 Free Relay (W and M)
2. 200 IM
3. 200 Free
4. 200 ***
5. 200 Back
7. 400 IM
8. 50 Freestyle
9. 200 Fly
10. 800 Open Water freestyle
11. 4 x 100 Medley Relay
With one heat for both men and women and
with 30 minutes for diving and time for
introductions, public address system
commentary and the like, I calculate that the
whole thing could be completed in well under 3
Comments and/or alternative suggestions?