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Automatic Timing, Judging and Integration of Times[]

source, August 2010, preseason bulletin for swimming from PIAA [1]

When officiating meets where automatic timing is utilized, it is easy to fall into the “trap” of letting the machine pick the finish or sort the places out. Officials should always try to be in position to judge race finishes in case the timing system malfunctions, a touch pad fails to activate or does not cover the entire lane and/or becomes dislodged during the race. A premeet check of the timing system, the touch pads in all lanes, the starting device and scoreboard should be standard part of an official’s pre-meet duties. It is also critical that officials look at the scoreboard to ensure that it is functioning once a race starts or to instruct the timing equipment operator to report a malfunction immediately. Good protocol calls for the starter to verify with the timing equipment operator that the system is set for the designated distance or race prior to the start of each event. Rule 6-4-1 discusses the integration of backup times and provides tables as to how these times can be calculated when there is a malfunction for a heat or a malfunction for a lane. If places can be determined but qualifying times are needed to advance to the next level of competition, and backup times are not available, the referee could authorize the event to be re-swum. Section 5 of Rule 6 explains how the ballot system is to be implemented as a backup judging system for failure of an automatic or semi-automatic timing system, and as the primary system when only hand held watches are utilized.

Again, it cannot be stressed enough that it is the primary role of an official to be in position to judge a finish, determine legal strokes and turns. Recently developed Swimming and Diving Officials Guidelines Manuals have been published by the National Federation to improve the consistency of officiating high school swimming and diving. These manuals, which will be available July 1, 2010 at www.nfhs.org, are not meant to be another rules book. Rather they have been designed to help all officials better understand their roles in conducting competition as well as to enhance their meet organizational skills along with their mechanics of officiating.

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