MCSL Rule Change Proposals

Two rule changes have been proposed for the 2017 MCSL season.  The first proposed rule change was submitted by an MCSL team to the league for consideration at the MCSL Reps meeting on June 9, 2016.  The second proposed rule change was submitted by a separate MCSL team at the MCSL Reps meeting on July 14, 2016.  Team Reps will vote on these proposed rule changes at the MCSL Reps meeting on March 9, 2017.

Reach for the Wall has copied the two proposals below verbatim.  The first person “we” and “I” voice that each team uses in their respective proposal reflects the author’s perspective and does not reflect the position of Reach for the Wall.   We welcome your comments on these proposals.


We would like MCSL to consider a rule change to reduce the 15-18 year old events to 50 meters with a possible exception for freestyle.

Rationale: Swimming 50s would be more fun, it could potentially keep more swimmers interested in summer swimming, and it would decrease the competitive advantage of year round swimmers.

I think it would be worth a thoughtful discussion among the board as well as among all the team reps as to if this potential change would better support the “purpose of the league” keeping in mind the “words of wisdom” from the MCSL Meet Management Handbook that “This is for the kids. If they are having fun, it is all worth it in the end.”

The potential advantage is that possibly more swimmers will hang around summer swimming instead of just the year round swimmers. It would make swimming as a 15-18 more fun (which is part of the goal) and decrease the competitive advantage for year round swimmers. Swimming 3 100s at a quick summer meet is a lot for the non-year round swimmers.

Additional rationale from the drafter:

  •  The neighboring summer leagues (not that MCSL needs to be like them) have 50s for the 15- 18 (NVSL has all 50s and Prince Mont has all 50s except for freestyle, which is a 100).
  • It would likely keep swimmers on the team during the 15-18 years instead of having kids drop off the team. Swimming 100s definitely favors year round swimmers, whose training makes it much easier for them to swim this distance. If the league went to all 50s, it would be MUCH easier for kids to swim these events. In the current system, a swimmer could swim 350 yards in 4 races in one meet (over less than 2 hours). This would be reduced to 200 yards – something much more manageable for a non-year round swimmer.
  • It would help advance the goals of the league – The goals of the program include helping young people establish a love for the sport of swimming, advanced aquatic skills, teamwork, and the principles of good sportsmanship. Maybe you would keep summer swimmers around and interested enough so they would make swimming more of a life-long sport (e.g. club swimming in college, masters swimming, etc.) MCSL has reached a very competitive level – I personally am not sure this is good for the league or the community. If you look at the goals of the league – fast swimming and setting records isn’t one of the goals. Just make it more fun!!!!
  • It would shorten meets – no harm in that!!!

There are some negatives about changing the rule…

  • Some do winter swimming with a goal of doing well during the summer. (I would argue that by the time kids are 15-18, this is probably much less true.)
  • This sets MCSL apart from other local leagues…. and it’s how it has always been.


We propose the following changes in swim events for the summer swim season 2017:

13-14s – change 50 free to 100 free
15-18s – change 100 free to 200 free
15-18s – change 50 Fly to 100 Fly
15-18s – change 100 IM to 200 IM

The overall rationale for increasing these event lengths is that as summer swimmers become more skilled as they become older, just like other sports, they are challenged more by increased distances. Particularly for the 15-18s, these lengths are more in line with what is required to swim at a high school swim meet.

At the current length, 9 year olds are required to swim a 50 free. By the time swimmers are 13, they have been swimming a 50 free for 4 years; their skill level should have increased such that they would be able to swim a 100 free. By the age of 15 (in high school), their endurance and skill level would be such that they can swim a 200 free. Some may argue that this is too long for some non-year round swimmers. However, as I have observed at our high school team which has few year-round swimmers, nearly every swimmer is required to swim the 500 free and to date all of them have completed it successfully. As anyone with a high school swimmer can attest, there are more opportunities to practice at a MCSL pool than for high school swim teams. High school teams only practice 2 times per week whereas summer league pools have practice 5 timers per week.

Again the same reasoning that a swimmer has been swimming a 50 fly for 4 years since they were 11, a 15 year old should be swimming a 100 fly. The physical development between an 11 year old and a 15 year old is significant. Again, high school swimmers swim a 100 fly. We suggest an increase in the IM from 100 to 200 for 15-18 year-olds for similar reasons. It is not unusual for kids much younger than 12 to be swimming a 100 IM. For example, a swim meet we had this year had a 6 year old successfully swim a 100 IM. While he was slow, he finished it legally. Also in high school swimming, the length is 200 IM (yards).

With these changes, the timeline for a regular dual meet would only be increased by about 10 minutes. The timeline for Divisionals would only increase by about 20 minutes. If these changes are approved it would also not greatly increase the time of Coaches’ Long Course since there is only one heat of each event.

As a reminder, these  potential rule changes will be voted on at the MCSL Rep meeting on March 9, 2017, but we would love to hear the thoughts of swimmers and parents on these proposals.

Please use the comments below to sound off.

13 thoughts on “MCSL Rule Change Proposals

  • Sep 20, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    Not a huge fan of proposal 1. I’m not in favor of reducing the lengths for high schoolers at all. Those distances might work for relay legs but not for individual events.

    I’m definitely in favor of #2. 13-14 kids have been swimming 50 free since age 9 so why not? I realize that 13 year olds who do not swim year round will be at a huge disadvantage which is why I actually favor having both 50 and 100 free for 13-14.

    I also favor the other proposed changes for 15-18. Put simply, it’s more in line with what the high schools swim anyway. There’s little reason a 15 year old should swim the same IM an 8 year old swims.

  • Sep 20, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    I thought it was a great idea for the 15-18 year olds to do 100’s. Asked my two 15-18s who swim year round what they thought – they both said they would quit summer swim. Reason being? They like that there is no pressure and it is fun. They both would prefer to swim 50’s. Who knew? Glad I asked them.

  • Sep 20, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Team reps across Montgomery County are groaning at the idea of having to spend thousands of bucks to get new record boards to account for new and retired events, if either of these is approved.

    But seriously, not sure why MCSL needs to launch an assault on year-round swimmers. The current set-up was designed at a time when far, far fewer swimmers swam year-round, and has worked fine. Kids start swimming 50 free at age 9, and 50s in the other events at age 11. By the time they’re 15, they’re typically a lot bigger and stronger. MCSL used to have 11-12s do some 25-yard events, until the league agreed those were ridiculously short races for kids that big. Multiply that by several times if 15-18s do all 50s. If Prop 1 is approved, the best male swimmers would spend what, less than 3 minutes in the water over 5 events (including the medley relay) in each meet?

  • Sep 20, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Removing ALL challenging races is a big mistake. With so many year round swimmers in Montgomery County, it’s a risky move that might alienate them. They are the steady stream of swimmers that MCSL depends on.

    I think you run the risk of losing year round swimmers if you make all the races easy enough for a 9 year old. Don’t you think teenage swimmer get bored after so many years doing the same race?

    Year round teams require swimmers to practice throughout the summer and getting up early on a Saturday to drive an hour to swim a 50 meter anything (even doing it for three strokes along with a 100 IM) is BORING for a teenager.

    Doing the same event for four summers is bad enough but only doing a 50 free for EIGHT years is downright painful! Year round swimmers are doing a 200 free by the time they are 9 or 10 years old but asking other swimmers to do 100 free at 18 is too much?

    We have to challenge our kids rather than making everything easier for them. If there is a decision to lower the back, breast and fly to 50’s (a mistake), I think the free has to stay at 100 and maybe the 200 IM should replace or be added to the 100 IM.

    Unfortunately our pool is likely one of the few who sadly do not bother to keep track of records or bother with a scoreboard anyway so I don’t think adding new races or changing it matters.

  • Sep 21, 2016 at 12:21 am

    #2 goes against the purpose of MCSL which is to foster friendly competitions between community pools and allow swimmers to develop an appreciation for swimming as a life long sport. Swimmers who would like more strenuous competition via increased event length are able to find that on a PVS team.

  • Sep 21, 2016 at 12:31 am

    If MCSL approves #2 you can kiss goodbye your 15-18 swimmers who do not swim competitively year round. It’s hard enough to keep the older kids engaged when other activities/sports/jobs beckon. It would be a shame to lose those mentors who demonstrate teamwork, sportsmanship, spirit and more…just to make summer swim league more rigorous. Leave it be.

  • Sep 21, 2016 at 2:08 am

    Personally I more agree with Mr. Ken Barrett proposal; however, there are several others opposite opinions as well.

    It would be fair, if the MCSL address these questions to all MSCL team’s representative. The representative should make a brief team survey about these two options, and the results from each team should be reported back to the MCSL. The MCSL decision should be based on the MCSL teams responses. It will be very easy and fair approach in this situation!

  • Sep 21, 2016 at 3:03 am

    Really, I think Proposal #2 is just a counter-punch to Proposal #1, intended to lead the MCSL to maintain the status quo. I don’t know of anyone who thinks Proposal #2 would really happen. And nearly all of the swim parents I know would be opposed to #1 as well. Some folks at our pool see Proposal #1 as typical of a “Snowflake Generation” and their helicopter parents. Challenging kids who are 15-18 to do 100s isn’t a bad thing. In our experience, the vast majority of 15-18s who stop swimming on summer teams do so not because of the 100s, it’s because they simply want to do other things or the team itself isn’t particularly spirited.

  • Sep 22, 2016 at 12:48 am

    50s are for pansies
    no one complains about 100s, not even the summer only swimmers
    suck it up or find a new sport
    if winning was easy, losers would do it

  • Sep 22, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Most year-round swimmers have a blast swimming the 50’s and 100 IM in the other area Summer leagues. That’s the time when they can swim with their friends just for the fun of it and recharge their batteries for a winter of Open Meet drudgery. I’m not sure why the 50 free is good enough for the NCAA Champs and the Olympics but too wimpy for a Summer league. I know for a fact that the MCSL year-round swimmers would love to be able to compare times directly with the other leagues. As a neighborhood/community activity, swim teams should be more inclusive, not less.

  • Sep 26, 2016 at 11:23 am

    doing a very quick and rudimentary analysis through the stats provided on this site:, I checked the top 25 swims for each division for the Boys 15-18 100 freestyle. The smallest spread was 6 seconds (division A) and largest 19 (Division M & O), with the average spread ~13 seconds. With that in mind, the spreads for the other strokes is likely a wider margin. Could each meet be a bit more competitive by reducing the length of the event? I’m inclined to say Yes! Does this equate to more participation and ‘fun’? We won’t know unless it is tried for a few seasons. If I had a vote, I’d go for the change!

  • Nov 6, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    I’ve actually had a hard time keeping my younger year-round swimmer engaged with the summer swim team because he is not a sprinter. 50s aren’t necessarily more fun for everyone — in fact, they’ve been lessons in “not being good enough” for several years now. From the age of 8, he started asking why the “older” kids don’t swim 100 in the fly like in the other events. I hear the people saying that summer only swimmers will drop out, but my summer-only high schooler will stay regardless of the race lengths because he wants to be with his friends. Summer swim is just as much about being social at that age as anything else. I’m all for adding some longer races and letting the non-sprinters get some time to shine in a fun, spirited setting — which winter swim is not.

  • Jan 13, 2017 at 3:37 am

    As a 15-18 who isn’t a year round swimmer, I know that I would quit if the second proposal is enacted, and I have many friends who would quit also. I understand that many year round swimmers are more than capable of doing longer events, but for those of us who don’t swim heat round, summer swimming is just a fun thing to do with your friends, and I know that 50s would make it even more enjoyable. I’ve been swimming since I was 6, and I used to be a year round swimmer. I would really hate to quit swimming just because of this proposal, but I would feel obligated to, as it just wouldn’t be fun anymore.


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