Distance Age-Group Q for Aussies

Distance Age-Group Q for Aussies

Post by RunnSw » Wed, 24 Jan 1996 04:00:00

I've got a question for Australians in particular or anyone else in
general.

I proposed to the chairperson of the Southern California LSC (the US
Swimming "governing group" for Southern California) that our club would
sponsor a combined age-group/senior meet called the "Top 16 Distance
Classic."

Events:

7-8 age group: 100 strokes, 200 IM, 400 free
9-10 age group: 200 strokes, 400 IM, 400, 800 free
11-12 age group: 200 strokes, 400 IM, 400, 800, 1500 free
13-14 age group: same as 11-12
15 and up: same as 11-12

Eligibility: 2 months before the meet, swimmers send in entry times
(certified times for older age groups, 3 watch club time trials for
younger age groups - who don't generally swim the longer events in
official meets)

Top 16 submitted times and 2 alternates are accepted for the meet.  Each
event has 2 (A and B) heats.

Last event of the second day is open to the top 8 times in the 400 IM and
identifies the best all-around Southern California Distance Swimmer.  It
is a fun race and would be the 800 IM.

Anyway, just about everyone I have talked to loves the idea, except for
some of the leadership of our local governing body, who are concerned with
overstressing the young kids.  My point is that distance swimmers
virtually never get any recognition: even at big meets like the PAC-10
University Championships, the only people who watch the  distance races
are the timers and the boyfriends/girlfriends and/or parents, because
everyone else has gone home.

Also, some kids are small and never get the chance to "shine" at the
sprints, but can actually do well at longer distances.  In the US, these
kids must wait to age 13 to be able to swim distance races.  If we had
just one meet a year focusing on distances and giving the "slow twitch/big
heart" kids a chance to shine, it might well keep some of them in the
sport until they grew up who would have otherwise dropped out, because
they never got to enjoy success against the early maturing sprinter types.

Anyway, I read that in Australia the young age groupers swim all of the
official distances from the youngest ages.  Is this correct?  How does it
work out for the kids?  Do they suffer a lot of injuries?  What are the
pros and cons?

Does anyone else have an opinion on the merit or drawbacks of a proposal
such as this?  I'd like to collect some facts and opinions and send them
to our local swim officials to try and change (open) their minds.

Thanks for any help.

-Larry Weisenthal