INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, September 12. THE NCAA Division I Swimming Rules Committee has approved a new qualification process for relays beginning this competitive year 2012-13 according to Notre Dame's Matt Tallman, who established an initial proposal earlier this year. The proposal moved on to the overall championship cabinet, which passed the proposal.
Tallman discussed the approved qualifying process at length with Swimming World, outlining a procedure that will trickle down into the qualification process for individual swims. The new system will first fill up the NCAA athlete participation cap for individuals only, up to the 235 men and 281 women that the NCAA will pay for from its championships budget for travel to the meet. This is the standard qualification process of filling all the individual automatic (A) cuts, then adding the provisional (B) cuts up to the point where all 235 and 281 individual are qualified. In a new twist, a team with just an A cut in a relay without an individual making the meet will not be invited.
Relays will then have A and B cuts of their own, and the team will own these cuts. Should a team secure an A cut in a relay and already have been invited to the meet with an athlete making the individual cap, it will be able to fund up to four relay alternates over and above the overall NCAA participation cap, but not to exceed the team-by-team cap of 18 athletes with divers counting at half a person.
For instance, if a team has a miler make it and has an A cut on a relay, that team can then send up to four more athletes on its own dime for a total of five athletes. These relay alternates are not required to swim any events since they no longer will be taking away an NCAA athlete cap spot, thus denying a first alternate the right to swim if the relay alternate doesn't wind up swimming.
This eliminates the relay-must swims, and also allows teams that have an A cut in a relay to also swim their B cuts in relays just like individual swimmers.
The intent of this proposal was to help increase the participation at both the men's and women's championships, without adding extra financial burden to the NCAA in terms of budgeting for its annual athlete cap. It was also built to lessen the administrative burden on teams that continued to forget to swim their relay-must swimmers, thus leaving home a first alternate.