Osprey Aquatics FAQ

Questions About Swimming

There is more to swimming on a team than learning the basic strokes.


What is a Medley Relay? And what strokes are on what side?

The medley Relay is a type of relay the other being a free relay. All four strokes being swum each by a different swimmer. The strokes are swum Back, Breast, Fly, Free in that order. If it is a 100 yard medley in a yard pool , or a 200 yard medley in a meter pool, there is a need to have the 1st and 3rd swimmer on one side and the 2nd and 4th swimmer on the other.

What is a 'long course' vs. a 'short course'?

As the names imply the 'long course' is longer, but in addition to that, long courses are also measured in meters instead of yards. Long Course pools are 50 METERS in length while short course pools are 25 YARDS in length. With roughly 39 inches to a meter the 50 meter pool long course pool is a little over twice the length of the 25 yard short course pool. In a short course pool a 100 yard freestyle is 4 lengths of the pool with three turns. Short course meets are held throughout the year. In a long course pool a 100 meter freestyle is 2 lengths of the pool with one turn. Long course event are usually held during the spring and summer.

How do I convert times to and from meters and yards?

First, it may not be necessary for you to convert from one to the other. Instead, you can simply consult our web site. We have reports that list top times in a converted format. In other words our swim software will automatically take into account the need to convert times to determine a swimmers fastest time for use on meet entry cards and seeding the meets. So if you simply need a swimmers fastest time regardless of which length of pool you can consult the reports in the members only section of our site. One report shows all of a swimmers fastest times in short course (yards) times and the other shows the swimmers fastest times in long course (meters). These reports are referred to as the "Top Times" reports and our found in the members only section of our site - www.ospreyaquatics.com

The conversions are both a function of the differing lengths of the pools, but also the number of turns. When a swimmer turns and pushes off the wall they are able to accelerate quickly which results in lower times. Long course pools result in less turns which all other things being equal results in a slower time. Pac swim uses a specific conversion methodology to convert from long course to short course, but there is no single absolute way to account for the difference, only rough approximations.

There is also information on the Pac swim web site - www.Pacswim.org as well as other sites. The Osprey web site actually shows links to Pac swim and other sites that provide information on doing time conversions.

Do I have to convert times?

Yes! Most meets require that a swimmer enter their best time, (including those converted from the other course). Failure to do the conversion may mean that your swimmer’s entry is rejected. At very least, your swimmer will be seeded into the wrong heat. Read the Meet Sheet! Fortunately Osprey Aquatics has probably already done this for you. Your child’s best times, (converted to both short an long course) are available on the Stats page of the Osprey web page. If you need to perform the conversion yourself, there is a calculator available here that performs the conversion automatically, or you can do it yourself using the formulae on the Pac Swim page. (Reminder: the time 1:02.75 means 62.75 seconds not 102.75 seconds)

NOTE: Swimmers must enter times that maintain the class for which they are qualified. The conversions are not exact. Sometimes, an "A" time short course does not convert to an "A" time long course. In this case, the swimmer should be entered using the slowest qualifying time for the class the swimmer has achieved (in this example, the slowest "A" time).

Why do we track different times for meters and yards?

Because the conversion methodology is not an absolute and is not consistently applied from one swim organization to another, it is necessary to track both long and short course times. Osprey tracks differing sets of team records for both long (meters) and short (yards) courses as do other teams and organizations. For most of the meets we attend during the year a converted time is suitable for use as an entry time. However, for some meets you must have actually swum the qualifying or entry time in the same type of pool you will be competing in and this also necessitates tracking two sets of times.

What does a PRT, Q, AA, A, B etc. time mean?*

* Note: the information contained in this answer is taken directly from the Pac Swim web site.

Pacific has established age group time standards for the following age groups: 8/under, 10/under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18. The time standards are described below roughly from slowest to fastest, as in effect as of Jan. 1, 2005.

C, B, A, AA, and AAA: age group swimming is where virtually all swimmers begin, and the B, A, and AA standards are the basic developmental time standards in Pacific's age group program. B is the entry level standard (a C time is any time slower than the B time standard), and an A time is everyone's first big goal. AA and AAA times are higher-level motivational standards (Note: there are no AA or AAA times for 8/unders.)

JO meet standard: The JO meet standard is the qualifying time standard for the Junior Olympic meets that are offered in Pacific in March, July, and December. (Again, there are no separate JO times for 8/unders -- they must qualify for JO meets at the 10/under standard.)

Far Western meet standard: The Far Western meet standard, also known as the Q time standard, is the qualifying time standard for the two Far Western Championship meets that Pacific hosts each year. (Again, there are no separate Far Western meet standards for 8/unders -- they must qualify for these meets at the 10/under standard.) The Far Western meet standard is also used for compiling Pacific's top 10 age group times each year. The Far Western meet standard is currently the fastest time standard in Pacific used for meet entry purposes.

PRT (Pacific Recognition Time): For 8/unders, PRTs are the time standard used for compiling Pacific's top 10 age group times each year. For the other age groups, PRTs are a recognition time standard between Q and National Reportable Times.

WZCT (Western Zone Consideration Time): a long course time standard established by Pacific Swimming which is used in the selection process for the team that represents Pacific Swimming at the annual Western Zone Championships in August.

NRT (National Reportable Time): the national age group time standard established by USA Swimming to compile the top 16 USA Swimming age group times each season.

Who determines these letter designations?

Times of WZCT and slower are determined by Pacific Swimming. NRT and Olympic designations and qualifying times are determined by US Swimming and the National Olympic Committee.

What does it mean to 'age up'?

The various swimming standards (PRT, Q, AA, A, B, etc.) apply at the age group level as discussed above. When a child celebrates a birthday they may cross into a new age group category and if so, he or she is considered to have "aged up". So for instance, if a 10 year old turns 11 during the swim season, at the meet immediately following the child's 11th birthday the child will have "aged up" and he or she would now be swimming against 11 and 12 year old kids instead of 9 and 10 year olds.

Does my child have to start with the lowest letter designation when he or she ages up?

No, not necessarily. It all likelihood they may drop back one or two letter designations because they will be swimming with older kids, but a Q level swimmer will likely still have an A or AA caliber time when they age up to the next higher age group. Times generally get faster and faster up until the 17 and 18 age level. For women, many of the 17 - 18 standards are slightly less stringent than the 15 and 16 year old group so the times for a given letter designation can actually be slower for a swimmer aging up from 16 to 17. This is more a function of the overall number of swimmers swimming in this age group than the caliber of swimmers. Many of the fastest swimmers will be found in the 17/18 age group. However in all other age groups the rule is that the older you get the faster the time necessary to get a particular letter (B, A, AA, Q) designation.

What do I need to do when my child ages up?

In general you should not need to do anything. The swim software as well as the coaching staff will all take this into account and should calculate the child's correct age for the upcoming meet to ensure that time tracking and meet entries are handled properly. However, if you notice issues with your child's age or any other data, please email our web master or team president.

What does "DQ" mean?

"DQ" stands for "disqualified." If you see DQ after a swimmer’s name it means that the swimmer had violated a rule and that no time has been recorded for that swim.

Why did my child get disqualified?

In short, he or she broke a rule. Each stroke has very specific rules for their proper performance. The strokes are technically difficult to perform. Often novice swimmers break these rules and the officials on deck disqualify them. This is not a bad thing. The children benefit from the learning experience. The judges are trained in both the technical rules and how best to deliver a DQ.

What can I do about a disqualification?

Take your child and the disqualification slip to your coach. The coach will explain the rule that was violated and offer encouragement. If the coach feels that the DQ was unjust, he will take the matter up with the referee, (BTW - this rarely happens).

Who are all the people in white shirts?

There is a number of USA Swimming officials on hand to administer a swim meet sanctioned by USA.

The most important official at a swim meet is the Meet Referee. The Meet Referee is responsible for all aspects of the swimming competition. The Meet Referee is the final arbiter in all disputes.

The Meet Referee is assisted by an Administrative Referee. The Administrative Referee deals with all aspects of registration, check-in, closing and seeding events, determining official times, publishing results, etc. The Meet Referee is also assisted by one or more Deck Referees. The Deck Referee stands very near the starting end of the pool is responsible for the orderly operation of the actual competition such as managing heats, handling no-shows, validating disqualification's, etc.

The Starter stands next to the Deck Referee and is responsible for administering a fair start for each race. The Starter, in cooperation with the Deck Referee, determines if a swimmer should be disqualified for a false start. The Starter instructs timers and swimmers in meet procedure and aids the Deck Referee in determining order of finish. Stroke & Turn Judges assure that competitors perform the strokes in accordance with the technical rules of swimming. Judges typically monitor two or three lanes on one end of the pool.

What does the Meet Director do?

Nearly everything. While the Meet Referee is responsible for all aspects of the competition, the Meet Director is responsible for all aspects of the event. This includes getting the meet approved, preparing the venue, handling entries, recruiting and managing volunteers, hospitality, snack bar programs.... This is the person to know in order to find first-aid, lost and found or toilet paper for the ladies bathroom.

What are the technical rules for each stroke?

The four competitive strokes are (1) backstroke, (2) breaststroke, (3) butterfly and (4) freestyle. Events are held in all of the competitive strokes at varying distances depending on the age group of the swimmer. In addition, there is a combination of the strokes swum by one swimmer called the individual medley. Other swimming events include relays, which are a group of four swimmers who either all swim freestyle (freestyle relay) or each swim one of the competitive strokes in the order of backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle (medley relay).

What does "Age Group" mean?

There are seven different age group classifications recognized by United State Swimming: "8 & Under," "10 & Under," "11-12," "13-14," "15-16," "17-18," and "Senior." The "Senior" classification includes any swimmer who has achieved the prescribed qualifying time for the event. Not all age group classifications are offered at every swim meet. The swimmer’s age on the first day of a meet will govern the swimmers age for the entire meet.

What is a "Senior" meet?

Pacific Swimming operates two developmental programs. "Age Group" competition segments competitors by age, (8/Under, 10/Under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18), with time standards set for each. The "Senior" program sets a single time standard for each event. Any swimmer who meets the qualification time, regardless of age, may compete. Often 13 year olds will swim against 18 year olds. Meets are often trials and finals.

What are trials and finals?

Age group meets are often "Timed Finals." In this format, all of the competitors swim, often in many different heats. The times are tabulated and the fastest swimmers win. In "Trials and Finals" meets, competitors swim in preliminary heats to determine who will qualify for finals, (usually later that same day). Preliminary heats are "circle seeded." Only the swimmers selected for finals can score points or get awards. Only the times from finals count in determining the order of finish.

What is "circle seeding"?

In trials and finals meets the trials are "circle seeded." In this format, the fastest swimmer swims in the last heat, the second fastest swimmer swims in the next to last heat, the third fastest swimmer in the second from last heat and so forth. This is an advantage to the fastest swimmers. The offshoot of this format is that sometime your 13 year old AA swimmer will be seeded in a heat with a national record holder.

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