Monday, August 10, 2009

What are the high schools gonna do?

I received a very strange email (while I was on my way-too-short vacation,) from our local coach rep on the Missouri high school swimming advisory committee. It was a forward from the MSHSAA swimming office:

I hope to get confirmation from the NFHS this afternoon regarding the action of the Swimming Rules Committee today, along with final rule wording, if they indeed pass a change. If a change takes place, I will be forwarding you the new rule wording along with any decision options that Missouri needs to make. The NFHS will allow some flexibility in the implementation of this new change, if passed, that we may or may not desire. That is what we’ll need to discuss. I know I’m being vague right now, and I apologize, but this is an extremely long story and if they make no change today, this is all moot anyway, at least for another year. So…. I’ll shoot you some information as SOON as I get it, although I’m not sure when that will be. My guess is that you’ll hear from me again on Monday, probably by email, and I’ll call you as needed.

Stacy at MSHSAA does an amazing job, but I feel for her in this situation. She is obviously doing the best she can with what she has been given. I was hoping for a little more info.

The email went on to ask for input from coaches in our area. Now that I am back from my trip and plugged into the plasmapheresis machine, I have had time to look up some swimming news. According to Amy Shipley at reachforthewall here and here, it seems that the NFHS is considering allowing suits to ankles so long as they meet the FINA definition of textile.

Now, I understand that the high school federation wants to steer their own ship. I get that they don’t want to just blindly follow USA Swimming and all of their rules changes. I also understand that there are several things that need to be different organizationally and in spirit… but in the water, to push against the current has great potential to hurt kids. This is one of those times that the NFHS could cause a gigantic problem if they don’t play along.

Here are my guesses:
1) They might be considering a middle-of-the-road date to phase out tech, which is a problem because each state competes at different seasons during the year. The states who swim in the fall would get to keep long suits while other states would be SOL. I doubt that will happen, but January 1st would be a disaster for high school swimming.
2) When they say that there may be some flexibility, I imagine that it means that they will set a minimum standard that is less restrictive than FINA’s guidelines, and that each state might have the freedom to vote to make their own rules more restrictive. .. but that wouldn’t really solve anything. They would be trying to make both sides happy, and that would really make no one happy unless they only suit they own is the FS1 legskin.

Even if Missouri were to choose to follow USA Swimming’s lead and swim in textile with proper length restrictions so that they could maintain their USA meet sanction for approved swims, at the national level the all-america list would still be a mess, and recruiting will be crazy. The NFHS needs to follow the other major swimming organizations and set their restrictions from the top, and start them right now. The middle is too muddy, and waiting around makes it harder to clean up. I would rather see them completely buck the tide and embrace tech than see them try to compromise and end up drawing flak from both ends.

Oh yeah… and then they have to decide if they are going to move into the realm of asterisks. Good luck with that one!

I will be patiently waiting for my next vague email.


  1. We are definitely in the same situation here in Illinois and would love some sort of ruling ASAP

  2. For all the reasons, FINA, the NCAA and USA Swimming have decided to regulate the suits and to ban the tech suits, NFHS is morally obligated to do the same and they should act immediately before any of the high school seasons start competition. The two greatest of the problems are the terrific expense of these suits and the fact that that certain physical body builds benefit to a much greater extent than others. As it is, generally, the younger swimmers are at more of a physical disadvantage because of their stage of maturity. The tech suits make it a greater handicap because the more mature muscular build gets more of a drop in their times. This artificial greater boost in speed for some is very unfair.