Here's some background on swim meet ribbons and medals and how they are distributed.
Ribbons are given to Aulea coaches at the end of the meet – or often at the following meet. Parent volunteers put each swimmer’s ribbons and medals into their folder in one of two bins stored in the equipment room. The ribbons are distributed informally after practice when they come in – or you can always ask a coach or parent lifeguard to check in the equipment room.
Awarding of ribbons and medals can be a bit confusing. Here are a few things to understand:
It’s possible for a swimmer to compete in a meet and receive a ribbon that appears to indicate a certain time standard has been achieved when actually it has not.
Time standards are set by the Hawaii Swimming LSC and can change from year to year.
Times achieved by ‘8 and Under' swimmers which is discussed in further detail below.
Ribbons and medals are given for meets based on the type of meet ad the hosting team is responsible for labeling the awards. For the purpose of awarding medals and ribbons, the swimmer is usually competing against swimmers of their same level, i.e. HI-C, HI-B, HI-A, and HI-AA (listed in order of faster times). The swimmer is entered into the event based on their prior best time. For example, if the swimmer has attained a HI-B time, the swimmer is entered with that time and they compete for the ribbons against other HI-B swimmers. If the swimmer has not raced the event previously they are placed in the first division of that event. For some events HI-C is the first division, for others it is the HI-A division.
After all heats of the event are raced, the swimmers are ranked by their official finish time within the division they were entered. Because of this ranking per division, you will notice that often the fastest swimmer in the HI-C division of a given event could have placed pretty high in the HI-B or HI-A divisions, but are still awarded their place within the HI-C division. However, the next time that swimmer races, they will be ranked within a new division based on their new best time. For most meets, swimmers usually are awarded ribbons for finishing from first through eighth in their event. Medals are awarded for invitational meets and the state championship meets.
The best way to tell what place the swimmer finished in is to look at the results that are posted at the meet. You can also check the recent meet results at Hawaiian Swimming site.
For longer events HI-C or HI-B time standards are not provided. In this case the events are often ranked as two divisions - an HI-A and below division, and a HI-AA and above division. So in this case the ribbon may indicate that a swimmer competed in the HI-A division but this does not mean that the swimmer achieved an HI-A time. At Invitational and State Championship meets there is only one division. Ranking is simply based on finish time across all heats of the same event.