Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Does Brendan Hansen Play By Different Rules?

There is one interesting conversation still worth having from this past weekends Santa Clara Grand Prix. Lost amid all the great swims (can you believe I didn't mention Ariana Kukors? me neither) was the fact that Brendan Hansen was allowed to seed himself with three year old times to enter the meet. If you go to the meet information for the Grand Prix, it states pretty clearly that swimmers must have met the time standards during the qualification period, which starts January 1st. So what gives?

Well, somebody in charge made an executive decision that if you are an Olympic gold medalist, former world record holder, you can go ahead and seed with three year old times. I'm of the opinion that it was a good decision. I come from it as a fan- would you rather get to see Brendan Hansen swim at the big meet or not? Still, the implications of the decision don't reflect well on USA Swimming. The organization is already battling image problems on many fronts, several of which are at play here. USA Swimming seems to have invented rules to fit it's own interest here, while also valuing a big start over your age grouper.

The other reason it shouldn't matter too much is that Hansen obliterated the time standards he would have had to achieve. In that way, he was treated very much in the same way that many age groupers are treated. A lot of meets, even those with qualifying standards, take seed times at face value. Given the volume of times, its a good idea. Only if the swimmer comes up short of the cut do they investigate whether the time was legit and enforce penalties. Hansen, unlike your average age grouper, doesn't have the benefit of concealing that he hasn't been swimming for the last couple years.

In the end, I think the meet information for these types of competition should be changed. If Matt Biondi wanted to drop by and swim the 50, I think he should be able to, even if his last race was almost 20 years ago. Why? Because people want to see him swim, and swimming as a sport in general doesn't do enough fan service. I know it has to do with drug testing, but its annoying to read about Ed Moses, Janet Evans, and Ian Thorpe comeback and then not see them compete outside of masters.

What are you thinking, oh wise readers? Do you think that Hansen should have been allowed to race or not? Sound off any opinion you have on the above. Don't worry I'm a big boy and I can take it.


  1. I think that they oughta run it like golf. Offer "sponsor exemptions" and exemptions from all entry time-standards for these meets for those who have won an Olympic medal for 10 years, a World Champs medal for 5 years, Olympic qualifiers for two years, etc.

    Sure, it would create an air of favoritism for elite swimmers. But as I've said for a long time, there are a lot of problems with having ordinary agegroupers competing with some favoritism needs to be shown sometimes.

  2. Now just hold on....I'm still processing that Matt Biondi's last race was almost 20 years ago......

  3. I have been to meets where you can be entered with old times, but if you fail to meet the standards then you would have to deal with the consequences and pay a fine. (there's a fundraiser for you, USA Swimming)

    As far as some throwback swims, I would love to see them but in light of the rules already in place, they would be better suited for a special exhibition type swim, or if they have been training etc, enter the meet with old times and mentioned previously.

    Personally, I am loving all the comebacks and will be cheering wholeheartedly for another Hansen-Kitajima showdown in London.

  4. I don't know, I think a Kitajima Hansen showdown would be too painful. KItajima would win.

  5. People who organize swim meets should be able to give "wild cards", like in tennis or other sports. It's a legit way to allow someone like Hansen to compete without breaking rules.

    "A wild card is a special admission (or a player who gets one) into a tournament draw despite lacking the standard qualifications. Most often, a wild card is a rising star, local favorite, or former champion whose current ranking wouldn't merit entry."

  6. Viking nailed it. If they HADN'T let him swim, it would have been worse. Then you get into this ugly cycle where he ends up having to swim at basically a BB meet to get cuts, because those are the only meets he's eligible for. What a mess that would be!

    I like that they overruled the letter of the law for the sake of its intent, something that doesn't seem to happen enough anymore...

  7. The organization is funded on the back of the kids and their parents. The lesson learned - do as I say and not as I do.

    Do entry times really matter, regardless of if they are old times or falsified times?

    Does anybody EVER get disciplined for using invalid times or is the meet information just a scare tactic.

    If the only fine is a few dollar penalty, I'll pay the fine upfront!

  8. You cannot do this kind of thing at Juniors Nats, for example, so there are some meets that do exact and warrant this type of enforcement.

    Ultimately it is up to the meet host to enforce this. I think everyone is better off that SCSC did not do a time recon report on all the 1000+ athletes for this meet, especially SCSC who would have had to do all that work. That's why the fines/penalties are in place, to avoid that kind of leg work (with the added bonus for us fans to get BH in the meet).

  9. My kid couldn't enter the 1650 at an age group meet because she missed the cutoff by 2 seconds.

    She couldn't swim the 500 at an age group meet because she missed the cutoff by 1 second.

    She couldn't enter the 200 breast at a senior meet because she missed the cutoff by less than 1 second.

    She couldn't enter the Junior Olympics in the 1650 because her college times didn't count.

    Others were swimming some of the same events with falsified times.

    Protests were filed and a hearing was held. The three person hearing panel (including a national team athlete) said there was insufficient evidence of falsifying times.

    Kind of like there is insufficient evidence that Brendan Hansens times are three years old.

    I've actually asked the question, "What would happen to my kids if we falsified their times?" Nobody will answer.

  10. Do it like Masters Nationals, where the seeds are on your honor, but if you miss the cut big time when you actually swim it at the meet, the announcer mocks you. This is balanced by the announcer also taking shots at those people who seed themselves too slow and then blow away their heat. Definitely makes a 12 hour timed final session more enjoyable.

  11. Our parent board even voted on whether or not to continue falsifying times.
    A. Should the team falsify times or not
    B. If the board votes on falsifying times, should it be done for all swimmers or should it be the coach's choice.

  12. The funniest part is that the Head Age Group coach (the data administrator) told the review board that the erroneous times are basically floating around in the SWIMS database and she can't guarantee that false times won't appear in the future.

    Times were even altered for JO Swimmers so they could swim the JO max meet. Really sad that these swimmers with altered times took the medals away from kids who would have medaled.

  13. Swim Torrance, Southern California Swimming, has a 15 year old male on the Olympic Trials Start List. He is credited with a time of 51.10 for the 100 meter free, because of a switch on a relay.

    SWIMS was corrected when the offense was reported (not by Swim Torrance). The correction didn't come in time. He is listed as #1 in splash magazine and #1 on the top 10 list 2009-2010.

    Boys LCM Relay 15-18 (2009-2010) shows Swim Torrance ranked #3 in the 400 meter freestyle relay. The problem - this was a short course yards meet where the time was achieved.

    The 16 year old was credited with swimming a 48.06 for the lead off leg (100 meters). The time was corrected in SWIMS but the relay remains on the top-10 list.

    These offenses have directly affected other swimmers and clubs who have been knocked off of the lists and knocked out of the magazine.

  14. Los Angeles City CIF Semi-Finals. USA Swimming/Southern California Swimming affiliated meet management altered a swimmers 100 breaststroke time by 3 seconds, which kept her 5th place in her heat but guaranteed her a spot in the finals which, in turn, knocked out another swimmer.

    This girls club coach is a swim official. On two previous occassions officials made the call in her favor.

    We were thrilled that the CIF meet was going to have the touch pads. We thought nobody could cheat this way - BOY WERE WE WRONG!!!

    This was an unbelievable shocking experience. We have undeniable proof of the altered time.

    Southern California Swimming said they had no jurisdiction because it is a CIF meet. After spending the past year learning how these organizations work, I figured out that since the altered time was loaded into SWIMS SCS and USA Swimming do have jurisdiction.

    I'm tired of the games, tired of everyone covering for their friends. A lot of the offenses are so blatant and everybody walks around with their heads in the sand. (I kept it clean).

  15. Upon check-in at a meet in Southern California Swimming, my daughter was told to go see the meet administrator. Bettie Williams (Swim Torrance Officer, SCS Review Board, meet administrator) told my daughter she was not qualified to swim the 1650 (even though she was). There were 7 swimmers entered, for a six lane course.

    My daughters coach argued for an hour with no luck. Finally, at the end of day two, she was seeded and allowed to swim. Maybe because only a few others checked in to swim the 1650 and there were available lanes.

    This coach resigned a few weeks later because he was disgusted at the way some of the kids were being treated. Had this coach not been at this meet, my daughter would not have been allowed to swim the event. Nobody else would have challenged Bettie.

  16. In Southern California Swimming, the rules are not followed because there are "too many swimmers". I've been told this on a couple of occassions by board members of SCS.

    Although a swimmer may be eligible according to the rulebook, they are denied entry because there are "too many swimmers in Southern California". (Yet swimmers from other LSC's are allowed to compete).

  17. Swim Torrance doesn't have to follow the 120 day rule either. Last weekend at the JAG meet, they had a 13 year old swim attached and swim on a relay who had recently joined from another local team.