Swim Meet 101


Swim Meets

Meets are where swimmers get a chance to check their progress.  On average the team attends one meet per month.  Swimmers are strongly encouraged to attend all meets available to them.  There are two types of meets:

  1. Open Meets:  These are open to all swimmers, including those who have no previous times on record (NT).  These events are typically referred to as “C/B/A meets”.
  2. Qualifying Meets:  These meets require swimmers to achieve a standard qualifying time in order to participate. 


C/B/A Meets

C/B/A refers to the categories of times that United States Swimming has set up for motivational purposes and to recognize achievement.  There are time standards for each event starting with one lap swims for those eight and under and moving to mile swims and 400 IM’s as they get older.  Those standards vary for each age group, and for boys and girls.  Age groups are divided up by twos starting with eight and under; nine – ten; eleven – twelve; and so forth.  There will be certain meets in which age groups will be combined, but the swimmers will still only be compared to others in their age group.  A swimmer’s age group determines the events which they can enter and each event’s relative time standard.

When a swimmer swims an event, their time will fall into one of several time standard categories, C being the lowest and PRT being the highest.  As a swimmer becomes more serious about swimming, and attends practice on a regular basis, they should expect to move up in the time standards for their age group.  For example, if a swimmer has a “C” time in the 50 free, she will try to then earn a time fast enough to be a “B” time, and then an “A” time, and so on. 

These times standards can be found at:


Swimmers should use the time standards to set long-term goals.   Swimmers should want to earn Personal Bests (PB’s) each time they swim, and therefore move closer to the next time standard with each meet.  Once they meet a new time standard (“I got my B time!”) they will set the next long term goal of earning the next time standard in that event.

Qualifying Meets

Certain meets require “minimum” times for each event entered.  These meets are meant to present competition above that normally seen at C/B/A meets. 

Meets with Qualifying Time standards include:

  1. Zone 3 (Z3QT)
  2. Junior Olympic (JO)
  3. Far Western (FARW)
  4. Sectional (SECT)
  5. YMCA Nationals
  6. Junior Nationals
  7. Senior Nationals

Signing up for a Swim Meet

Scheduling and Attendance: The schedule of meets for each calendar year is set out in advance. The team attends roughly one meet per month.  Ideally each swimmer will attend all meets for which they are qualified.  Additionally, we would like all swimmers to attend both days of each meet in order to swim more events and therefore have additional chances for great swims.  If a swimmer cannot make a meet, please notify the coaches by email well in advance.

Registration: Once a meet opens for registration you will receive an email from YPAC reminding you to register.  The email announcing the event will have a link taking you directly to the sign-up page for that particular meet.  If you are a member of one of the online swimming services, such as SwimConnection, you can also set up your account to notify you.  Once you have received this notification it is important to sign up for the meet immediately.  Some meets will fill up rapidly and delaying on signing up may cause your swimmer to be closed out of the meet.

Choosing Events: Swimmers are responsible for choosing and paying for their own swim meet events.  Swimmers typically can sign up for up to four events each day of competition.  Swimmers should sign up for the maximum amount of events allowed daily (if you feel there is some reason not to do this, please consult the coach).  Swimmers should always swim different strokes and distances throughout the season because this makes for a well-rounded swimmer. If you have questions about what events to sign your swimmer up for please speak to your child’s coach.  You can register for the meet on-line by going to the ome.swimconnection.com website.  Membership is free for this site, and you don't need to become a member to sign up for meets.  Signing up for the typical eight maximum events for a meet will cost approximately $30 for a two-day swim meet.

Registration Step by Step:

  1. Go to https://ome.swimconnection.com/ome/meets and click on the meet you want to sign up for.
  2. Click on "Online Meet Entry".
  3. Click on "I am not a Registered OME User" and enter your name and email address.  (Or sign up for an OME account which you can use for future meets as well).
  4. Click on the Enter Swimmer button, then enter the USS ID # for your swimmer:  It may take a few seconds to load.
  5. Pick events your swimmer wants to swim, and click the "Best" button next to each of them.  This will fill in his or her Best time or an "NT" for No Time.
  6. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Save at the bottom left.
  7. Click on "Go to Payment Page" on next page.  You should be home free from there.

Long Course v. Short Course

There are two swimming seasons per year: long course season and short course season.  Short course (SCY) means racing in a 25 yard pool, which is what we have at the Presidio and Stonestown YMCA (the Embarcadero YMCA pool is 25 meters long)..  Long course (LCM) meets take place in a 50 meter pool which is commonly referred to as an Olympic-size pool. 

At the Meet

Punctuality: All swimmers are expected to arrive in the morning in time for the warm up, even those swimmers whose events are not until later in the day.  Swimmers must arrive at the meet by the time that warm up starts unless otherwise specified by the coach.

Getting to your events:  Each event (say the 8 and under 50 free) has more swimmers than there are lanes in the pool.  Therefore the race will be run multiple times (called “heats”). Swimmers are responsible for knowing their events, heats, and lanes and making it to the starting blocks for their events on time.  Meets can be confusing at first and if you are a new swimmer we will make sure that an experienced swimmer is guiding your first experience.  Also always feel free to ask other parents for assistance.  They are happy to help. 

Supervision: All swimmers must be supervised at meets by a parent/guardian at all times.   Please do not leave your swimmer at the meet without supervision.  The coaches, swim team, and YMCA of San Francisco are not responsible for your child/participant during those hours that they are expected to be supervised by parents, including, but not limited to, before and after practice times and during swim meets.

Illness: No sick swimmers at swim meets.   If swimmers are too ill to compete, they should go home and rest.  In addition, we want to protect well swimmers from sickness.

Competition Diet: Swimmers should refrain from eating sugary foods on days prior to or during competition.  Swimmers should refrain from eating sugary foods at a meet until all swimmers have completed competition.

Measuring Your Swimmer’s Progress

Philosophy: The YMCA Pacific Aquatic Club aims to provide youth with opportunities to build leadership skills, have new challenging and enriching experiences, connect and care about their community, and develop positive relationships with adults and peers in a safe environment.  We believe that every young person has the ability to achieve and we are here to support their opportunity to succeed.  Achievement can be measured in a variety of ways including enthusiasm for the sport and the team; dedication to the team and to training; and meeting the swimmer’s own goals in the pool during practices and meets. 

PB’s:  PB stands for PERSONAL BEST and refers to a time that is the swimmer’s best time in a particular event (e.g., a swimmer’s PB for the 50 free might be 30.45).  Earning new PB times is a goal at each swimming competition, as swimmers are always trying to improve (“shave time off of”) a previous time.  A swimmer should memorize all of his/her PB’s so they know what time they are trying to beat.

Times:  Times are one important measure of progress.  Young swimmers and those just starting out may “shave” or “drop” several seconds on a regular basis off event times every time they swim.  This is normal for a young and/or newer swimmer, but becomes harder as swimmers get older and more experienced.  However, a swimmer should not get discouraged as she or he may be making great strides in stroke technique which may take longer to show results in her or his swimming times.

Ribbons/Placing in Events:  While ribbons are great, and swimmers should be proud of their placement in an event, placing is not the only determinant of whether a swimmer had a successful meet or event.  There are infinite factors that go into placing.  For example, a swimmer could get 1st in their event, but be the only swimmer swimming in that age group. Or, a swimmer could get 10th in an event filled with 30+ swimmers in their age group – quite an accomplishment.  Also, competition changes from meet to meet.  Therefore a 4th place against a group of highly competitive teams could mean as much as a 1st place against a less competitive group.  It is important to be proud of ribbons and placement, but to remember that swimming one’s best is really the primary goal.

High School Swimmers:  The team supports our swimmers in their desire to compete for their local High School teams.  These swimmers need to do a good job of communicating with our team coaches.  We would expect that swimmers will look at their training and competition schedule with their high school team, and supplement with practices at the Y as agreed upon by both their coaches.

Additionally, swimmers should train with our team as long as possible before High School season begins, and return to our team as soon as the High School swimming season is completed.