Here's an article someone sent me (not sure what paper) on the Seiko Timing
for the World Swimming champs - they provide timing for a myriad of other
things, including the World Champs for T&F.  I've heard a couple rumors
about problems with the timinng - anyone know any more?

- Ed Parrot

July 28, 2001

Time runs out for Seiko
>From Craig Lord in Fukuoka

Fina, the international governing body, has washed its hands of the
controversial Seiko timing system that was used for the world championships
in Fukuoka by announcing a three-event deal with Swiss Timing.

The deal will cover the world short-course championships in Moscow next year
and the world championships (long-course) in Barcelona in 2003 and Montreal
in 2005. Sam Ramsamy, spokesperson for Fina and a member of the
International OLympic Committee, said: "We've no qualms about the system as
such - it has a fine reputation in international events."

Perhaps no longer, after a spate of incorrect times at the Marine Messe pool
that had to be adjusted by either the back-up timing or by using video
evidence. The issue has never been as controversial, unprecedented as it is
to have the main timing system fail as frequently as it has done in Fukuoka.

If any explanation was forthcoming from Fina, which made its answers on the
issue as evasive as possible yesterday, then it was that swimmers were to
blame. Cornel Marculescu, Director of Fina, said that swimmers "had to hit
it (electronic timing pad) in the right way" because the system was not
geared to register a "soft" touch.

It required a pressure of at least 1.5kg to recognise a swimmer's touch.
That the swimmer must adjust to the electronic timing equipment and not the
equipment to the swimmer is a bizarre situation that no-one can remember
ever happening before, not even in the world of Masters swimming, where
octogenarians compete and are likely to have a very soft touch indeed by the
end of races. "I can't remember it ever having been a problem at that
level," said

Derek Parr, a journalist at the championships in Fukuoka who is also a world
masters butterfly champion in his age group. Ramsamy said that Fina
"genuinely and honestly believe that no swimmer and no team has been
prejudiced by what has happened.

In sports, losers do complain." It was a bizarre answer to a question that
simply will not go away. One news agency was today displaying pictures that
clearly show the video finish of a race telling one result and the
subsequent result showing something quite different. In one case the timing
system had recorded a time 1.1 seconds adrift the time that eventually
appeared on the result sheet.

Fina said that the timing back-up system employed when the pads at the end
of lanes failed to register a result on the scoreboard, or registered an
incorrect result, had worked "in all cases" in Fukuoka. Again, it blamed
sore losers, saying: "In all sports, there are individuals and teams who do
not necessarily agree with the results. Swimming is no exception.

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