How to Interpret Times


Some Ways to Follow Your Swimmer’s Times

By Carla Grider

From time to time I run into parents of younger or newer swimmers who are confused about qualifying for particular meets and how to know which meets their swimmer has qualified for.  Hopefully I can make sense of it here because it is kind of confusing. 

I like to think of the time standards in groups and layers.  To understand the groups and layers you need to understand a few things.  Our team is within the Missouri Valley LSC.  Missouri Valley is within the Central Zone and is also within Region VIII.


          Group 1

          Layer 1 Missouri Valley District Cuts

          Layer 2 Missouri Valley Champs Cuts

Layer 3 Region VIII Sectional Cuts

Layer 4 Extra: All Star Meet qualifications

Group 2

Layer 1 USA Swimming Motivational Times (B, BB, A, AA, AAA, AAAA)

Layer 2 Cuts for 14&unders: Central Zone meet cuts, NCSA Age Group National Cuts

Layer 3 Cuts for seniors (15&up): NCSA Junior Nationals, USA Swimming Junior Nationals, USA Swimming Nationals




Missouri Valley District Cuts are the easiest first cuts.  These cuts qualify your swimmer for those events at the MV District meets at the end of short course and long course season.  You can usually add a certain number of bonus events.  The number of bonus events you can add typically depends on the number of qualifying times you have.  There are usually 3 district meets in short course and we are assigned by Missouri Valley to the location they put us at.  There is usually 1 district meet in long course.  At districts, typically the swimmers who take 1st or 2nd in an event get an automatic qualification for MV Championships the following weekend.  Also, if you get the Champs cut then you are in for that event the next weekend. 

Missouri Valley Championships also occur at the end of both short and long course seasons.  This is held at only one location per season.  Depending on the number of Champs cuts your swimmer has, your swimmer would be eligible for bonus events if they have the bonus even cut.  So, there are two sets of cuts for this:  champs cuts and bonus cuts.

Region VIII Sectionals occurs at the end of each season also. 

Sometimes Missouri Valley attends the Mid-States All Star meet in January.  This is a Missouri Valley team which is made up of swimmers from individual teams.  This team has its own set of designated coaches which are club coaches that have signed up for this job.  In order to get on this team, historically you have had to be one of the top 4 swimmers in Missouri Valley in that event of the ones who have applied to go.  So, if you are within the top 4, you are guaranteed.  If you are #6 and 2 people decide not to apply you are good.  So, if you are top 10 you should probably apply if interested.  Sometimes it is a team travel meet and sometimes it is a family travel meet.

USA Swimming Motivational Times are designated as B, BB, A, AA, AAA, AAAA in order from slowest to fastest. There are, from time to time, meets that designate that in order to swim in the meet you must have A times or something.  There are single age group USA times and combined age group USA times.  Most meets are looking at combined but the meet information will tell you.  For example, the Winter Classic in December has the following rules:

*Qualifying Standards for the Winter Classic are the USA Swimming 2017-2020 National Age Group Motivational Standards as listed below:

 • 10 & Under will use the 10 & Under “BB” Age Group Time Standard 

• 11-12 will use the 11 Single Age Group “A” Time Standard • 13-14 will use the 13 Single Age Group “A” Time Standard

• Senior (15 & Over) will use the 15 Single Age Group “A” Time Standard

• 11 & Over will use the Single “A” Age Group Time Standard for their Age Group (11-12 swimmers using an 11 Single Age Group “A”, 13-14 swimmers using 13 Single Age Group “A”, and 15 & Over swimmers using a 15 Single Age Group “A”) to enter into the 200 Butterfly, 200 Breaststroke, 200 Backstroke, 1000 Freestyle and 1650 Freestyle.


Central Zone Meet is a 14&under meet that you must have a AAA time to qualify for.  It is similar to the All-Star Meet in that each LSC has it’s own team.  So, rather than attending as a KCSA swimmer, the swimmers are all a part of the Missouri Valley team and club coaches volunteer to be MV coaches for that meet.  It is a team travel meet historically.  These MV team travel meets are a fun way to meet new friends on other teams and get to know coaches from other teams. 

NCSA Age Group Nationals, NCSA Junior Nationals, USA Swimming Junior Nationals and USA Swimming Nationals have their own cuts and they are found in a chart in the meet information for each meet.  There are other meets all over the US that have their own cuts to get into the meet.  Our team has attended the Oklahoma Elite Meet that has this and the Phillips 66 Meet of Champions that has this.  Usually you only need 1 cut to get in and then you get bonus events.  Sometimes those bonus events have bonus cuts to be eligible for those also.

Many parents and swimmers keep some type of track of their times and cuts so they know what they are close in as they get to last chance meets and things like that.  There are multiple ways to do this but I will share my daughter’s 13/14 Short Course. She had just turned 13 at the time of this. She no longer tracks District cuts because she already has all of them.  She just began looking at Sectionals times.  She was considering attending the Oklahoma Elite Meet so those cuts are on the far right.  She is also hoping for some Nationals cuts so those are on there also.  She and I are very much numbers and charts type people so we both like seeing it laid out like this.  When she was little, I did this for her.  Now she has a much bigger hand in it and knows all of her times and has goals she is going for.  To see a list of their times you can go to the SWIMS database on USA Swimming.  To get there go to then to Times then to Times search.  Or, you can get to it from the KCSA site at the Athlete Info tab.  You can look up any swimmer’s times there. 

Here is a link to the time standards.  All can be found on our KCSA homepage under the Athlete Info tab.  They can also be found on the Missouri Valley Swimming site under the Times tab and click on Time Standards.

MV Swimming page: