COMPUTERISED SWIM MEETS
Meet Data Entry
Recording of Times
Printing Event Results
Final Meet Results
Due to the falling prices on computer hardware, all clubs run their meets on
a computer. Most clubs have at least one parent that owns and feels comfortable
with a computer. All that the club requires for a swim meet is the proper
software. Consider the following basics when shopping for meet management
software. Most swimming software programs developed in the USA fulfill the
fundamental requirements of USA Swimming and should also fulfill the fundamental
requirements of the BSF. Nevertheless, checking with someone already using a
particular brand of swimming software before buying it to ensure compatibility
with BSF meet requirements is wise. Some programs offer advanced features such
as automatic data entry, multiple pools/sites, time trial options, etc. Buyers
should decide whether the meets they plan to hold require these advanced
One feature to consider before buying is the Standard Data Interchange Format (SDIF). The software should already have the SDIF section built into it. This
Data Interchange Format allows computer operators to transfer the meet results
to the BSF for record keeping and, in the future, should allow for automated
meet entries. If they have not included this feature, buyers should obtain
written confirmation from the program developer that it will be forthcoming in
Computerized meets are so common now that some clubs require that all splits
and relay names appear in the final meet results. If the club plans to run this
type of meet with the software program, they should check on its ability to
automatically receive all splits and final times from the timing system via a
wire. The meet software must store these times in either the computer or the
timing system for later retrieval. The Computer Operator requests the heat that
he or she is processing, and all times will appear next to the names. The
Computer Operator would never finish if he or she tried to manually enter all
splits into each heat.
Another feature the buyer should look for is the software's ability to
display each heat, as it appears in the heat sheet, while the computer is
processing. This increases the speed and accuracy of comparing the automatically
recorded electronic times against the official watch times determined by the
Timers. If there is any discrepancy due to changed lane assignments or timing
equipment malfunctions, they easily make corrections.
While waiting for meet entries to start coming in, the Computer Operator
could set-up the meet (e.g..: enter each event by number/sex/age
group/distance/stroke, the length of the course, the name, date(s) and venue of
the meet, session start times, time between heats, individual session
information, scoring, entry limitations, etc.), enter any qualifying times (for
higher meets) and records. Some software programs monitor these qualifying times
and records and highlight a swimmer who achieves a time in the printed results.
The process of entering the teams, swimmers, events and entry times takes the
most time of all. For a team-entry meet, the "Entries Committee" could
prepare an entry chart that totals each event by club; for individual-entry
meets, they can tabulate the number of swimmers in each event. Either of these
methods gives the Computer Operator a final check number against the psych
sheets or entry recap to ensure that all entries were processed.
Depending on the software's capabilities, the club can use more than one
computer for the entries of a very large meet. If this is done, the software
must also merge the data from the multiple computer systems. The program must
alert the operator of an entry time that is either too fast or too slow, and of
entering a swimmer in events in the wrong age group. If the software does not
automatically check this during the entry process, a member of the "Entries
Committee" must carefully scan the psych sheets for these time and age
errors. For computerized meets, this should be done before printing the final
seeded heat sheets or meet programme; for deck-seeded meets, it could be done
before printing multiple copies of the heat sheets.
BSF Rules stipulate that points earned outside a swimmer's age group do not
count toward their individual high point score in that age group (CR188.8.131.52).
The software should allow an age group swimmer to compete in an event or events
not offered in that swimmer's age group without any points being added to the
swimmers' age group totals. Two alternatives to this situation are: (i) insert
an "X" (for "eXhibition" swimmer) in front of the swimmer's
finish time on the computer screen; or (ii) create a second swimmer with the
same name and an identifying mark (such as an asterisk) to distinguish it from
the age group swimmer of the same name. (For example: "Jim Smith, FAST,
11" and "Jim Smith*, FAST, 11". The software should treat these
as two separate swimmers from the same team. Team scores might not total
properly, but individual scores will stay separate).
If the software generates a meet identification, or reference, number for
each swimmer, the Computer Operator can generate a roster of these numbers for
each team. The relay entry and scratch processes at the meet will go much faster
if the Meet Director asks coaches to enter the meet identification, or
reference, numbers along with swimmer names, event, heat and lane numbers on the
relay forms or scratch forms.
If the software program supports two printer ports, the Computer Operator
should use a date switch box and a second printer for seeding and/or awards
labels. Switching to and from form printing to label printing on one printer is
inconvenient. Many software programs allow simultaneous printing of event
results on paper and the corresponding awards on labels, thus speeding up event
After determining the hardware required for the meet, the Meet Director and
Computer Operator should choose the computer/printer location(s) with care. Take
account of available facilities, climatic conditions, and coordination with
other meet personnel. At some meets, this will be a location right on the pool
deck with the timing system, while at others this may be in a climate controlled
room, protected from the elements and meet traffic. If the computer is not a
laptop, the Computer Operator should plug it into a standby battery power
supply. Commercial power might fail at the worst possible time and result in a
crucial loss of data.
If the software supports automatic data entry from the timing system, the
Computer Operator should check the maximum length of cable available. The type
of system that plugs into the scoreboard port is usually 100 feet long. Systems
that use a multiconductor serial cable may be limited to 100 feet unless a
special line extender is available. These lengths should be kept in mind when
selecting the location.
As the meet is using an automatic timing system, the Meet Director must
ensure close coordination between the Electronic Timing Operator(s), the Chief
Timer and the Computer Operator(s). This is particularly important where there
is a direct feed from the timing equipment to the computer. If the Electronic
Timing Operator, the Chief Timer and the Computer Operator are not within the
same work area, the Meet Director must provide some form of communication
(headset, intercom, walkie-talkies, etc.). These officials should also confer
with the Referee before the meet to ensure that there is immediate notification
to the Computer Operator and Announcer of any disqualifications, heat
combinations, or on-deck changes in lane assignments.
The Computer Operator should check to ensure that the software is seeding
timed final and preliminary/finals events according to the BSF Competition Rules
and any special procedures published in the Meet Invitation.
The meet programme serves as notification to the swimmers and coaches of the
swimmers heat and lane assignments in each event. The Meet Director can use
traditional time cards for recording times. At BSF club meets,
computer-generated "lane timer slips" for each lane for each event are
often used as a substitute for time cards, heat sheets or meet programmes. These
"lane timer slips" list the swimmers in each heat for that event and
lane, and the Clerk of Course distributes them to the swimmers before each heat.
A runner collects these slips at the end of each heat and delivers them to the
Timing Equipment Operator.
It is the responsibility of the Electronic Timing Operator, the Chief Timer
and the Computer Operator to ensure that each swimmer receives a fair and
accurate time for each swim. The old computer rule of "Garbage In/Garbage
Out" is very applicable here. The Timing System Operator must pay attention
to each heat, visually observing each turn and finish, making sure each touch
registers accurately and that the timing system arms each lane for the finish.
The Electronic Timing Operator should report missed touches, missed backup
button pushes, and defective touch pads and buttons immediately to the Referee.
The Referee determines the official time for each lane and, in turn, must notify
the Computer Operator of any disqualifications or if the Computer Operator must
adjust any of the automatically registered times. The Computer Operator should
try to stay not more than one or two heats behind the heat in the water. When
the Referee has verified all times in an event and declared official, the
Computer Operator can print the event results.
When using dot-matrix printers, printing event results on multi-part computer
paper is most convenient, with three or four copies. When using inkjet or laser jet
printers, the Computer Operator must print three or four sets of each
event's results on copy paper. During a preliminaries/finals meet, the results
should show all finalists, the two alternates, and any ties requiring a
The Computer Operator should give the copies of the event results to a
runner, one for posting and two for distribution to the Announcer and to Awards.
He or she should report any required swim-offs immediately to the Session
Referee. The Computer Operator should bundle together the timing system
printouts or tapes, lane timer cards or slips, DQ slips, and any other pertinent
information, by event, and staple them to the event results for filing by the
Administrative Desk Personnel.
Usually, the Computer Operator will also generate the award labels and do the
scoring operations. Then, the awards labels should be stapled to the copy of the
event results for the Awards personnel. The Computer Operator should make one or
two backups of the meet on floppy disks, then shut down the computer for each
session or day.
It is usually desirable to delay printing any point totals until they have
announced and posted all events. If there are any errors, someone is sure to
complain and the Computer Operator makes the correction before announcing the
point totals. For meets over several days and sessions, team and the Meet
Director should post individual points at the end of each session.
The software program should include an "un-score" option and the
ability to score a block of events or just a session. If someone discovers an
error, the Referee could revoke all points awarded thus far and the meet
re-scored from the beginning.
The software program should be capable of printing final meet results by age
group, sex and stroke order (i.e.: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly,
individual medley, free relay and medley relay). The Computer Operator should
include all splits and relay names in the final results, if the software program
allows. Some programs print splits in the lap (subtracted) or cumulative mode.
The Computer Operator should be sure to include team and high point scoring
totals in the final results along with any other items required by the host or a
participating team. To reduce paper, the Computer Operator can print results in
a condensed font, but the Computer Operator must ensure that the print is large
enough and clear enough for accurate reading of the swimmers' times.
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