What are "Qualifying Times"?
You may hear swimmers talking about try to make a BB time, or an A time. This refers to the Age Group Motivational Times used as a guide for swimmers. The first big goal most swimmers in SPA try for is a BB time. Getting a BB time USUALLY qualifies them to swim in the state short course or long-course meet. However, while state meets have in the past used BB times to set qualifying times each state has the ability to set their own qualifying times. Arkansas has lowered the times below a BB time for some races in order to keep the size of the meet reasonable. Once a swimmer has reached a BB time, they can then start working toward an A, AA, AAA, etc. time.
Long Course Meters vs Short Course Yards: During the fall and spring season, SPA swimmers compete in Short Course - Yards. Therefore, when reviewing the Age Group Motivational Standards be sure to refer to that section. In the summer, they swim Long Course - Meters. These time standards are different than the ones for short course. Long course standards are slower because the races are swam in a 50 meter pool instead of a 15 yard pool. This requires less turns, and turns are one place a swimmer can make up time. Less turns usually means slower times.
Age Groups: As a swimmer moves through the different age groups, the time standards change. Some jumps are bigger than others, so be sure to remind your swimmer to be patient. The key is that the swimmer is performing consistently and dropping time. When a swimmer changes age groups, it may take well into the season or even a full year before he or she makes a qualifying time. As swimmers progress through the different practice groups, many start achieving qualifying times more consistently.
Best Times: Be sure to remember to celebrate BEST TIMES as well as qualifying times. Even if they don't reach their overall goal at a swim meet, achieving a best time is an accomplishment that should be recognized.