Meet Maestro—Flexible, Easy-to-Use Meet Management Software—Helps SAIL Run Virtual Dual Meets
In Greenville, South Carolina, summer swimming is soldiering on for the Swim Association Invitational League (SAIL): their first virtual swim meets took place on June 11. Twenty of SAIL’s teams kicked off the season with ten virtual dual meets, each team swimming against a neighboring team, while swimming separately, in their own pools.
SAIL’s teams used SwimTopia’s intuitive meet management software, Meet Maestro, to run their virtual dual meets. Meet Maestro seeded swimmers into heats and lanes at their own home pool, and results for both teams were merged and scored, just like at live meets. The meets were so quick and easy to run that Jaime Mogle, SAIL Executive Committee member, said her team was asking “Can we just do this forever?!”
Part of the reason that SAIL has been able to have a season is – luck. South Carolina has allowed pools to reopen and gatherings to take place, while such things remain banned in some other states. But let’s not underestimate the amount of work that went into preparing for this swim season. The SAIL board has been meeting every week to assess the risks, monitor public health advisories, and come up with a plan for a summer swim season that’s as safe as possible.
First, the board worked to modify some of the league’s usual traditions, deciding to run their dual meets and Divisionals virtually. Knowing that SwimTopia was updating Meet Maestro to seamlessly handle the transition to virtual meets made that decision a lot easier to make. A more difficult decision was what to do with their Champs and Classics meets—usually a highlight for swimmers at the end of the season. For this year SAIL has decided to cancel Champs and Classics, instead planning a special surprise to recognize the kids that would have qualified for those meets, based on their Divisionals results.
Next, the board worked on drafting regulations and best practices for their teams, while also allowing teams the flexibility to choose how they wanted to run their virtual meets. Teams have been asked to follow SAIL guidelines for judging and disqualifications during meets, and were directed to follow social distancing guidelines when coming up with their plans. But teams have been able to choose how they run their practices and meets autonomously. Unfortunately, five teams are not able to participate in the season at all, and some teams are not able to run all five dual meets due to facility rules.
SAIL Safety Measures for Practices and Meets
Some safety measures teams have chosen to follow for practices include: modifying practice groups so siblings swim together (even if their ages are different), running shorter practices with smaller groups, and starting kids from opposite ends of the pool. Hand sanitizer is plentiful and the cleaning protocols are stringent.
For their swim meets, each team has run things a little differently. Examples of some of the changes employed include:
- Instead of running 3 timers plus a “recorder” to write down times, teams are now running only 2 timers, with one also acting as “recorder.”
- Encouraging families to be timers together on the same lane.
- Limiting or banning spectators from the pool deck.
- Replacing “swimmer cards” with timing sheets. The card system used in the past had kids handing their labeled cards to the timers, and timers would then hand the cards to runners after writing down times. With timing sheets, one timer holds the timing clipboard all meet, and hands one piece of paper to the runner after about 10 swims.
- Organizing ready benches with fewer and more spaced-out benches.
- Calling fewer swimmers to the ready bench at once.
- Leaving empty lanes between swimmers.
- Organizing food trucks to come to the pool, rather than running a concession stand (so volunteers aren’t handling food).
Note: When teams run their virtual meets with Meet Maestro coupled with Colorado Time System’s Dolphin Wireless Stopwatches, the swimmers’ times don’t need to be written down on paper (unless teams would like a backup). With the Dolphin system, times are automatically transferred into Meet Maestro, and the SwimTopia mobile app updates results in real time.
All the Fun, Half the Time
The kids on Jaime’s team, the Poinsettia Pirates, were really pumped up to be having a swim meet. Despite the differences to their traditional meets, the families were feeling happy that they were making the best of a bad situation. But when the meet was over so quickly and efficiently, “they all kinda loved it, and started asking if we could always run meets this way” said Jaime. The Pirates had 60 kids who swam 80 events in an hour and a half, which included a 20 minute break to give the kids some rest. That’s about half the time their meets normally run. Foxcroft, the opposing team, started their meet about 30 minutes before Poinsettia, but once the Pirates caught up with their data entry, families of both teams were able to follow the results between the two teams on the SwimTopia mobile app.
Jaime noted that a happy consequence of limiting spectators on deck was that it’s never been so easy to fill the volunteer spots! And, “while the team did lose a valuable fundraising opportunity by not running our own concessions, we were happy to have food available, and the food trucks were safer, with regulated safety standards for food handling,” said Jaime. All in all, SAIL’s first virtual meets were a great success.
Congratulations to the SAIL Executive Committee, and all the teams, coaches and parents who are pulling off this rather unique swim season. SwimTopia wishes you all the best!