Altitude Adjustment?


As a Mile High City (5,280 feet) dweller, I’m adapted to Denver’s altitude, so I’m not affected by it while going about my daily activities, including swimming. I can feel an “extra oomph” at sea level though, especially in the pool (but I’m also usually tapered for a big meet).

Altitude makes Colorado an unlikely host for Nationals* or Worlds. And, it vexes me to see how altitude probably makes a difference in my ranking for some national events, such as the annual USMS 5K postal. (Case in point: One year the difference between fourth and third place for me was .100 – yet I swam at altitude.)

On the other hand, it’s understandable why event results are not adjusted for altitude—they’re results, you need standards and norms, especially when records are on the line.

It’s interesting to note that some QTs allow for altitude adjustment however. For example, the NCAA allowance for the 1650 (2016 quals), for Tier 2 (4,251-6,000 feet) is 20 seconds flat.

USA Swimming also allows for altitude adjustment when entering USA-sanctioned events, including Nationals. Their rules allow for 23 seconds per 1650/1500.

What’s puzzling is why USMS doesn’t follow suit (pun intended!). There can’t be so many altitude swimmers that they’d create a huge, unmanageable influx at Nationals and Worlds. And the ability to adjust entry times could encourage more adults to enter that otherwise wouldn’t participate—and isn’t inclusiveness, fun, and fitness a big part of the USMS credo?

*The one exception I can think of in recent years is the 2006 USMS National Open Water 10K held in Horsetooth Reservoir near Fort Collins, CO.

Next Week: Valuing Consistency Right Now


Next Week: Valuing Consistency Right Now

Altitude Adjustment?

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