Sunday, April 22, 2012

SFS Swimming: Conspiracy? Part 1

Back in high school (2001-2004), I was a varsity swimmer at Toledo St. Francis de Sales (SFS).  The swim team has quite a history: 4 state titles (1967, '68, '96, '98) and 46 of the past 47 district titles.  In the past 3 years, the SFS swim team has placed 2nd (2010), 2nd (2011) and 3rd (2012).  So what I'm trying to say is that our team is badass.  And because we're badass, people obviously want to see us fail.  You may ask, "How can there be a conspiracy theory against the SFS swim team?"  This post and the follow-up posts will use statistics to prove a referee bias against SFS.

How can referee bias enter swimming?  The easiest way is to disqualify a relay team by way of false start, where an official claims that one of the swimmers leaves the block before the previous swimmer touches the wall.  The state swimming results for the past 11 years are available on the OHSAA website.  There are 3 relays (200 yd Medley and 200 and 400 yd Free).  24 teams swim in prelims and the top 16 come back for finals, with the top 8 swimming in the championship heat and teams 9-16 competing in the consolation heat.  This means that each team can swim 6 relays in a given year at the state meet.  Here is a table of the number and frequency of disqualified relays at the D1 boys' state meet by school over the past 11 years:

Number of DQ's from 2002-2012
School # Disqualifications   # Swims   Percent DQ'ed  
SFS
5
61
8.2%
Solon
3*
39
7.7%
Centerville
2**
58
3.4%
New Albany
2
27
7.4%
15 other teams
1 each
Total
27
1320
2.0%
Total (minus SFS)
22
1259
1.7%

* = DQ'ed twice in 2006
** = DQ'ed twice in 2005

The frequency of DQ's for SFS (8.2%) isn't much more than that of Solon or New Albany, but it is much larger than the total number of DQ's (1.7%) for all non-SFS teams over the past 11 years.  The number of SFS disqualifications looks very fishy (pun intended), especially considering that these 5 DQ's occurred in different years.  Here's the 5 SFS relays that were DQ'ed:

Breakdown of SFS DQ's
Year    Event Prelims/Finals 
2002
200 Medley   
Prelims
2003
200 Free
Finals
2006
200 Free
Finals
2009
200 Medley
Finals
2012
200 Free
Finals

There were 2 common swimmers on the 2002 and 2003 relays that were DQ'ed (neither of which is me, I swear!), but if my memory serves me right, different swimmers were "blamed" for the DQ's (officials need to state which swimmer false started).  So this result cannot be blamed on one bad relay swimmer on all 5 relays. I would also like to point out that SFS won 5 of the 6 relays in 2010-2011 and would have won the 200 Free relay in 2012 by 0.7 seconds (a fairly large margin for the event) had they not been DQ'ed.  So unlike me, these kids know how to swim fast.

Over the past 10 years (I'm missing the final standings for 2002), there have been 5 different schools to finish in the top 3 at the state meet at least 3 times.  Let's call these teams the perennial contenders.  My thinking is that these teams are used to performing well at the state meet, so the more experience should result in fewer DQ's.

List of Perennial Contenders
School Top 3 State Finishes   Relays Won   DQ's   Swims   Frequency  
Cincinnati St. Xavier 
10*
13
0
66
0
Upper Arlington
7
6
1
63
1.6%
Columbus St. Charles   
4**
4
1
64
1.6%
SFS
3
5
5
61
8.2%
HV University School
3***
0
1
37
2.7%
Total
28
28
8
291
2.7%
Total (minus SFS)
25
23
3
230
1.3%

* St. Xavier has won 10 of the last 11 state titles.
** Columbus St. Charles won the state title in 2008.
*** University School dropped to Division 2 in 2009. Results are for Division 1 swims only.

This table confirms my guess that the top teams are DQ'ed less often than "ordinary" relay teams.  This also demonstrates that St. Francis has been DQ'ed 6 times more frequently than all of the other perennial contenders (and more times than the other 4 schools combined).

In this post, I provided the background and data for the analysis.  In the next post, I will show that  this high number of SFS DQ's is statistically significant, implying a referee bias against SFS.