USA Swimming announced in March that Winter Nationals would take place from November 28th to December 1st in Greensboro, North Carolina (2018 Winter). The meet will be swum long course meters instead of short course yards in order to let the maximum amount of swimmers gain a chance to reach a 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials cut. This is very different than most years at Nationals because previously Winter Nationals was not supposed to count towards Olympic Trial qualifications. Winter National is a long course meters’ event twice before, once in 2011 and again in 2015 (2018 Winter). Winter Nationals marks the opening of the qualifying period for Olympic Trials in 2020, the dates are still to be determined but will again take place in Omaha, Nebraska (2018 Winter). This is considered a big meet for any swimmer trying to get a head start on getting a trials cut from ages 15 and over, and a lot comes with this meet such as stress, lack of sleep and pushing their bodies to the limit, it is highly competitive.
When looking at the articles being written about the up and coming swimmers as well as the more well-known swimmers there is a common theme in the articles written. Those who are writing the articles are guilty of confirmation bias as well as availability heuristic, confirmation bias can be defined as the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of ones existing beliefs or theories (Confirmation bias).
Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias and represents an error of inference toward confirmation of the idea being looked at. It actively has the decision maker seek out and assign evidence that confirms their ideas and ignore evidence that could disprove their idea (Confirmation bias). While looking at Winter Nationals the writers of many articles use confirmation bias to speak about swimmers who have been around longer verse the up and coming swimmers; such as, in swimswam.com it speaks about how Katie Ledecky is going to make a splash at Nationals because that’s what they believe but Destin Lasco is portrayed as a questionable racer for the meet (5 Storylines). These beliefs are because people truly believe in Ledecky due to her long lasting career in the swim industry unlike Lasco who only joined a couple years ago. The writer also does not put any rebuttal or questioning when it comes to Ledecky versus Lasco where the tone is very different (5 Storylines).
Availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on the immediate examples of a situation that come to mind when looking at a topic, decision or concept (Cherry, K). The way availability heuristic works is that if something can be recalled then it must be important or at least more important than the alternative solutions or judgments. Under the availability heuristic people tend to heavily weigh their judgments towards more recent information making new opinions biased towards the latest news (Cherry, K). We can see this again when looking at articles written about Winter Nationals, many people are talking about the swimmers who did very well at the last Olympics instead of speaking about swimmers who are up and coming who are very obviously going to demolish the competition. This is because in many people’s minds they only remember the big names like Katie Ledecky, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, when really there are many more talented swimmers competing at this meet (5 Storylines).
Confirmation bias and availability heuristic are very prominent within the swimming industry and many other sports, due to Nationals being this week it has become more prominent on what the effects of these terms really have on how the swimmers will do. Confirmation bias can affect the athlete’s heads and truly change from getting a cut time to losing the race, this is because when confirmation bias occurs an athlete will begin to believe what is being said about them and will do better or worse based on what is said. An example outside of swimming would be giving a math test if you say that girls usually do worse than boys, the girls are actually less likely to do well (Confirmation bias). Availability heuristic works very closely with confirmation bias working against most up and coming swimmers, since these swimmers have no preconceived ideas written about them there is more room to question their abilities verse an Olympic swimmer who has won gold medals. Overall these two terms create a unique situation for the swimmers going to Winter Nationals this year. The question is, will they prove the bias to be right or will they fight against these ideas and do well? We shall see!
2018 Winter Nationals Will Be in Greensboro (in Long Course). (2018, September 25). Retrieved from https://swimswam.com/2018-winter-nationals-will-be-in-greensboro-in-long-course/
5 Storylines To Watch At the 2018 U.S. Winter Nationals. (2018, November 28). Retrieved from https://swimswam.com/5-storylines-to-watch-at-the-2018-u-s-winter-nationals/
Cherry, K. (n.d.). How the Availability Heuristic Affects Your Decision-Making. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/availability-heuristic-2794824
Confirmation bias. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/confirmation_bias.htm