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CZ2019L

In this post, we analyze the qualifying times for the upcoming 2019 Central Zone Long Course Age Group Championships (CZ2019L).  We’ll show that the qualifying times for this meet are unique among zone-level age group championships in that they provide essentially equal opportunities for both boys and girls to be recognized for their athletic accomplishments.  


To analyze the difficulty of making a cut, we’ll use our historical database of 23 million USA-S age group swims to calculate athlete acceptance likelihoods.  The acceptance likelihood for an event is the number of USA-S athletes in the event’s age range that swam at least as fast the the event’s qualifying time, divided by the total number of USA-S athletes in the age range.  For technical background, please review “The Fairness of Qualifying Times”.  For analysis of the 2018 Zone Age Group Championship qualifying times, see “Zone Championships are Unfair”.

Overview.

Our analysis begins with an overview of the CZ2019L qualifying times by age group.  This chart plots the average number of events that an athlete will qualify for in CZ2019L by age group.  It shows that on average 10/Unders qualify for 0.16 events each, 11-12 year olds qualify for 0.38 events each, and 13-14 year olds qualify for 0.57 events each.



To show the age group disparity more clearly, we plot the ratio of the 13-14 expected acceptances to the other age groups.  On average, a 13-14 year old is expected to qualify for 3.6 times as many events as a 6-10 year old and 1.5 as many events as a 11-12 year old.


Breaking down the age group expected acceptances by gender reveals that boys and girls are expected to qualify for similar numbers of events in every age group.


To show this gender parity more clearly, we first plot the ratio of the boy’s expected acceptances to the girl’s.  This plot shows that a boy in the 10/Under age group is expected to qualify for 1.16 times as many events as a girl.



Next we plot the ratio of the girl’s expected acceptances to the boy’s.  This plot shows that a girl is expected to qualify for 1.03 times as many events as a boy in the 11-12 and 13-14 age groups.  We’ll consider any ratio greater than 1.1 to be a material advantage, so in this case only the 10/Under boys have a material advantage under these qualifying times.


The next plot breaks the expected acceptances down by athlete age in years.  It shows that 8/Unders have a negligible chance to qualify for any events in the meet, and that it’s more difficult for athletes at the bottom of their age groups to make these cuts.  That’s the nature of age groups, which are not inherently unfair when evaluated over an athlete's lifetime.


The remainder of this post analyzes the individual events in each age group.  We’ll learn that for some events it’s easier for boys to qualify, and for others it’s easier for girls.  These disparities balance out at the end to create the most fair Zone age group championship by far.

10/Under Events.

The easiest 10/Under event for boys to qualify is the 100m freestyle; the most difficult is the 50m breaststroke.  For girls, the easiest event to qualify for is the 200m freestyle and the most difficult is the 400m freestyle.


To quantify the gender disparity in the 10/Under qualifying times, we first plot the ratio of the boy’s acceptance likelihood to the girl’s.  Seven of the eleven 10/Under events are favorable to boys. The event least favorable to girls is the 50m backstroke, where a boy has 1.5 times the likelihood of qualifying than a girl.


Next we plot the ratio of the girl’s acceptance likelihood to the boy’s.  Two of the eleven 10/Under events are slightly favorable to girls. The event least favorable to boys is the 50m breaststroke, where a girl has 1.1 times the likelihood of qualifying than a boy.



11-12 Events.

Turning now to the 11-12 events, we see it’s easiest for both boys and girls to qualify in the shorter freestyle events.  The most difficult events to qualify in are the distance freestyle events.


To quantify the gender disparity in the 11-12 qualifying times, we first plot the ratio of the boy’s acceptance likelihood to the girl’s.  This plot shows that five of the seventeen 11-12 events are favorable to boys. The event least favorable to girls is the 200m butterfly, where a boy has 1.3 times the likelihood of qualifying than a girl.



Next we plot the ratio of the girl’s acceptance likelihood to the boy’s.  Five of the seventeen 11-12 events are favorable to girls. The event least favorable to boys is the 200m breaststroke, where a girl has 1.3 times the likelihood of qualifying than a boy.

13-14 Events.

Looking next at the 13-14 events, we can see that it’s easiest for both boys and girls to qualify in the shorter freestyle events, followed by the IM events.


To quantify the gender disparity in the 13-14 qualifying times, we first plot the ratio of the boy’s acceptance likelihood to the girl’s.  This plot shows that two of the fourteen 13-14 events are favorable to boys. The event least favorable to girls is the 1500m freestyle, where a boy has 1.4 times the likelihood of qualifying than a girl.


Next we plot the ratio of the girl’s acceptance likelihood to the boy’s.  Three of the seventeen 11-12 events are favorable to girls. The event least favorable to boys is the 200m breaststroke, where a girl has 1.3 times the likelihood of qualifying than a boy.


Conclusion.

We’ve seen that the qualifying times for the 2019 Central Zone Long Course Age Group Championship provide essentially equal opportunities to boys and girls, making it the most fair age group championship among all four USA-S zones.  This is a strong recommendation for using “AAA” USA-S age group motivational times, which appear to be gender-fair overall.  The motivational times are also the most transparent qualifying times, whose calculation by Jim Patterson of the Central California LSC is fully documented and entirely reproducible.


Although the “AAA” motivational times are fair overall, they are not always fair for individual events.  The event least favorable to girls is the 10/Under 50m backstroke, where a boy has 1.5 times the likelihood of qualifying than a girl.  The event least favorable to boys is the is the 11-12 200m breaststroke, where a girl has 1.3 times the likelihood of qualifying than a boy.  We therefore recommend that the next iteration of the motivational times address these minor inequities and strive to achieve gender parity for all events across all age groups.