Short Course Meters Records From Virginia State Meet To Be Thrown Out

VIRGINIA BEACH, Vir., July 6. TEN national high school swimming records (25M) which were set at the Virginia state championship meet in February will not stand after post-competition measurements showed the Virginia Beach pool that hosted the event is short of 25 meters by less than one-half inch. Why were there so many records broken at one state meet? Because most high school state championships are held in 25 yard pools, and very few high school taper meets are held in 25 meter pools.

The NISCA (National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association), which certifies U.S. high school records, notified the state meet director that it had obtained measurements of the pool that differed with the length reported when times were submitted for consideration this spring. The meet director, Virginia Beach Public Schools coordinator of student activities Mike McGee, had the pool measured again and also found it short, and did not re-submit the times.

Among the disqualified marks was the 500-meter freestyle time set by Meghan Thiel of Yorktown High School in Arlington, which was more than three seconds faster the record set in January and 10 seconds better than the mark that had stood since 1989. In the girls' 400-meter freestyle relay, five teams had apparent all-American times, four of which were faster than the previous national record time.
"I can understand why our record wouldn't count," said E.B. Kuhn, a rising sophomore and member of the winning 400 relay team from Jefferson High of Fairfax County. "I don't think it's fair that you should be swimming in a pool that doesn't mean anything. They wouldn't do this to any other sport. They'd make sure the football championship was played on a field that is 100 yards, not 102. Or that a track is 400 yards, not 500."

McGee said he was not aware that the pool was short until March, when contacted by the NISCA. After his measurements of the pool came up short, he notified the VHSL, which announced on its Web site this week that the records would not stand.

The VHSL had no reason to believe the pool was short because the state championships were held at the site in 1998, McGee said. He added that the VHSL does not normally inspect a site prior to approving it as a location for the state championships.

"We certainly believed it to be acceptable based on our previous experience," he said. "Any time kids put the kind of effort that these student-athletes did, you want them to get the full amount of recognition possible. Anything less than that is a disappointment."

Several swimmers and coaches criticized the VHSL for not measuring the pool before the meet. "My disappointment lies in the state," Yorktown Coach Laura Viena said. "No one will take [Thiel's] time away from her. We know how fast it is. It's a disappointment that it was set up that way."
Jefferson's Emily Verdin, who beat the 200-meter individual medley record time by nearly three seconds, said she was shocked to learn about the problem.

"I was like, 'Are you serious?' " said Verdin, who will be a senior in the fall. "I had heard rumors that the pool was a half-inch short. I heard that the Potomac Valley Swimming Association wasn't going to recognize the times. But I didn't think that the times would be thrown out."

Jefferson's girls and Robinson's boys won the state team titles at the meet. "It's not a complete waste of a swim because we were thrilled with how we did," Verdin said. "There's nothing we can do about it now. Everybody still keeps their places. You just don't have the record in the record books anymore."

The VHSL will not consider using the Princess Anne site for future championships "unless all discrepancies have been cleared up," McGee said.

Complete meet results can be found at:
www.vhsl.org/swim.htm

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