Doing The Splits In The Open Water

Doing The Splits In The Open Water

Powerhouse Timing of New Jersey was the timing company that was contracted for the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships, the 2010 World Open Water Swimming Championships and the 2010 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships 10K race where split timing has been introduced to the highest echelon of the sport.

While split times are easily generated in pool swimming, rowing competitions and running events, split timing is an operational and logistical challenge out in the water. Jason Moody and his colleagues at Powerhouse Timing developed an innovative solution that has proved reliable and reasonable, but that also requires cooperation with the local race directors.

Split timing is enabled when the swimmers are provided by two wrist transponders and the competitors swim under a floating finish structure in a loop course. The courses at the USA national championships, world championships and Pan Pacific Swimming Championships were all loop courses (between 2K and 2.5K in distance) which made this possible. As the swimmers swims under a floating finish structure, their wrist transponders triggers the split times. These split times are automatically uploaded via the Internet and coaches, family and friends can learn the split times and position of each of the athletes.

The finish structure must be wood, aluminum or some types of fiberglass. A steel or metal structure cannot be used as it is not compatible with the chip timing that Powerhouse Timing uses. The finish structure must be elevated enough out of the water so the staff and their equipment will not get wet or submerged with waves or the wake from boats. The structure from the Pan Pacific Swimming Championship event in a rowing basin in Long Beach, California was ideal where waves or boat wakes were not an issue.

During the race, the system needs power (110 AC or 12 VDC) and Internet access so the real-time splits can be taken as the athletes go under the truss system.

Split timing gives athletes, coaches and the media much more information to analyze and report on, giving the sport a bit more flavor and generating a bit more interest.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones