Swim and dive committee recommends unlimited entrants from schools in individual events

5A state boys swimming

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AURORA — The swimming and diving committee on Tuesday recommended that schools be allowed an unlimited number of entries into individual events at the state meets.

Currently, schools are only allowed four entrants per event, even if more hit the qualifying time. That limit is based on an NFHS rule. However, a recent interpretation allows states to form their own adoptions on the rule — which opened the door for the swimming committee's recommendation on Tuesday.

This change will need to be approved by the Board of Directors, and at the Legislative Council in April.

"The focus of this is on high school and participants," said Bethany Brookens, CHSAA assistant commissioner in charge of swimming and diving.

Rule 3.1.1 of the swimming rules specifically states that "each team be permitted a maximum of four entries in an individual event and one team in a relay event." However, that rule also includes the language "unless a conference or league determines otherwise" — which has been interpreted to expand to states, as well.

If approved in April, swim teams will be allowed an unlimited number of entries into individual events — provided those swimmers meet the qualifying time, of course. Teams would still be limited to one team entry in relays.

Additionally, a team would only be permitted to advance four swimmers or divers to the finals of a given individual event. Because of that, team scoring would be unaffected.

Also unchanged is the individual limit on swimmers. They will still only be allowed to swim in two individual events and two relays at the state meet.

An independent group examined data from the 2014-15 Class 5A season and determined that roughly 20 swimmers and divers would have been added to the state meet due to the change. A total of 550 swimmers and divers participated in the 5A meet two weeks ago. It is expected that an even smaller number of athletes would be added in 4A.

One concern is that the qualification times — which are set based upon the expected number of entrants and heats per event — would be negatively affected and create a more "elite" meet. However, the committee decided that qualifying times would only be set based upon the top four finishers from a team.

The committee initially talked about the change in 2014, then revisited it with another in-depth conversation on Tuesday.

If approved, the change would go into effect during the 2015-16 season for both boys and girls.

The swimming committee also recommended that swimmers and divers compete in a minimum of four meets — exclusive of league and/or conference meets — during the regular season in order to be eligible for the state meet. That, too, needs to be approved by the Legislative Council.