MEET DIRECTOR #5
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COMPUTERISED SWIM MEETS

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COMPUTERISED SWIM MEETS
    Software
    Meet Data Entry
    Pre-Meet Organisation
    Seeding
    Recording of Times
    Printing Event Results
    Scoring Points
    Final Meet Results

Software:

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 features.

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 future editions.

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.

Meet Data Entry:

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 (CR2.3.1.4). 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.

Pre-Meet Organization:

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 turnover.

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.

Seeding:

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.

Recording of Times:

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.

Printing 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 swim-off.

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.

Scoring Points:

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.

Final Meet Results:

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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