Swiss Timing Makes Debut at USA Swimming’s Open Water Nationals (VIDEO)

Photo Courtesy: Greg Eggert

At the 2019 Open Water Nationals in Miami, Florida, USA Swimming teamed with Swiss Timing to use Omega’s state of the art timing system for the first time at the Nationals. In year’s past USA Swimming has just used a banner at the finish line that swimmers would touch. In 2019, the swimmers touched a legitimate Omega touch pad, similar to the technology that is used at the Olympics and World Championships.

For comparison, you can see the differences in the finish at the 2017 Open Water Nationals compared to the 2019 Nationals.

Swiss Timing’s Matt Murphy talked to Swimming World on the final day of the Open Water Nationals to discuss the introduction of the electronic timing system at the meet.

“So this year, for the first time for USA Swimming at Open Water Nationals, we are using the Omega/Swiss Timing high speed video camera system that records at 100 frames per second which gives us four angles on the finish and allows us to really get in there and make sure that the order of finish is correct and accurate for the athletes.

“We had a lot of bang bang finishes yesterday in the junior (5K) as well in the 10K. When we record at 100 frames per second, which is to the accuracy that all timing is done in swimming, we are really able to make sure that that order of finish is exactly accurate.”

The electronic timing comes in handy when determining the order of finish. Even if the swimmers start to spread out over the course of the race, the order of finish is sill crucial. Especially since this year’s Nationals served as a qualification for the 2019 World Championships.

The top two finishers in the 10K at the Nationals would qualify for the Worlds, and the top ten finishers in the 10K at Worlds would qualify for the Olympic Games in 2020. There was a lot riding on the 10K at Nationals so it was important that the order of finish was correct. Especially since the second and third place finishers in the 5K were separated by 0.32 seconds. In a couple of other instances, the high speed cameras were able to determine the exact order of finish that could not be determined by the naked eye.

It is a process to ensure the correct order of finish for all of the swimmers in the race after everyone has come through, but it is imperative to have at an event as big as the Open Water Nationals. The Swiss Timing truck was able to determine the order of finish for the top ten swimmers about 15 minutes after the the first competitor of the race finished to do the award ceremony.

It is Swiss Timing’s first year working with USA Swimming and the event was able to benefit with the same technology that is used at the Olympics and World Championships as a part of a new partnership between the two. It is a part of Swiss Timing’s commitment to help USA Swimming put on the best competitions at the highest level for the athletes.

Usually Omega provides the timing equipment for five USA Swimming events during the year, the Summer and Junior Nationals, the Winter Nationals, and two Pro Swim Series meets. That left the rest of the meets’ timing systems up to the host, leading to some inconsistencies in the equipment that the athletes would be using at each event.

This year, Swiss Timing is filling in those gaps and providing their equipment to the other events that Omega wasn’t originally covering. They are doing all the rest of the Pro Swim Series meets as well as the Open Water Nationals.

By using the same timing equipment at every USA Swimming event, the athletes can consistently use the kind of equipment that will be used at the World Championships, the Olympics, or any other international meet they will attend. This will allow everyone to get used to the timing equipment so they know what to expect at the next international level.


  1. Matt Murphy

    Thanks for the article! We had a blast working the event !!!

    • avatar
      Andy Ross

      You’re the man, Matt!