Lisa mentioned place judges here. I swam during the time place judges were used, but I don't remember them--too bad, as it sounds as if they were quite the amusing spectacle.
If I am understanding the rule correctly, each judge was assigned a place--1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th. They stood on the sides at the finish end and decided which swimmer had come in "their" place. Once a judge made his decision, he would go to that lane. And here's the fun part--they held ping pong paddles or badminton rackets (people have reported both) with the place they were judging displayed. It's a wonder parents didn't start whacking each other when the race was close. One of my informants thought place judging was stopped at least partly because parents couldn't always be impartial when their children were involved.
Mary P. remembers that the place judges trumped the watches' times, so the race winner might have a slower time than the second place finisher. Bill R. remembers in his last all-star (championship meet) at Rockville Municipal Swim Center in 1970, the 50 fly was very close--only 1-2 tenths separated 1st through 4th. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place judges all came to his lane. It was then up to the referee and sweep judge to sort out. He ended up 4th.
Here are a few more of the many changes that have happened over the years:
1. The season used to start later. In 1971, the first meet was held on July 3; divisionals was August 7; and the All Star meets were August 14 and 15.
2. Back when I swam, you had to hang up your goggles--except we didn't have goggles--after you were 17. The 15-17 events weren't changed to 15-18 until 1975.
3. Up until about 1967, kids who swam on winter swim teams were not allowed to swim in the MCSL.
I wonder how things will have changed by the league's 60th season?