Frequently Asked Questions
Our FAQ covers these two topics that cause the most confusion:
What is the difference between, YMCA swim meets and USA/Illinois meets?
YMCA meets (with the exception of Thanksgiving Classic, YMCA Districts, YMCA Area, and YMCA Nationals) do not require entry fees. The majority of the YMCA meets TOPS participates in are single session dual meets with another local YMCA team, and results from these meets are only sanctioned for YMCA championship meets. YMCA meets are required for all swimmers wishing to participate in YMCA Districts, YMCA Area, and YMCA Nationals.
USA/Illinois swim meets are multiple session/day meets sanctioned by Illinois swimming. They require all swimmers to be members of USA/Illinois swimming and require entry fees. Times from these meets can qualify a swimmer for YMCA or USA championship meets. BUT, Only times swum at sanctioned Illinois swim meets can be used to qualify for Regional Championships, Senior/Age Group Championships, and Junior/Senior Nationals.
How do I qualify for YMCA Districts?
All swimmers that have participated in two or more YMCA swim meets during the Fall/Winter season, are current YMCA members, are eligible to swim at the YMCA District Championships. We will keep an updated list, organized by swimmer and YMCA meet participation on the website for viewing.
How do I qualify for Regional Championships and Senior/Age Group States?
Each swimmer must be an active Illinois/USA swimming member and must meet the designated qualifying time, at a Illinois sanctioned meet. Time standards are posted on the Illinois Swimming web site.
What do I need to bring to a meet/when should I arrive/what is positive check-in, etc.?
All this information can be found in our Swim Meet Survival Guide! It covers all the basic parts of a swim meet, and will answer the most common questions about swim meets.
What are the rules used at swim meets?
All of the meets we swim in use the USA Swimming rules. These are available on the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations web page. If you are just getting your first look at the rules, you probably want to start with the Mini-Rulebook.
How do I pay for my entry fee?
We ask every swimmer to pay the required meet escrow fee at the beginning of each season. Entry fees will be charged to each escrow account after every meet. Outstanding balances will be billed at the conclusion of the season to bring all accounts to $0.00.
What is "meet escrow"?
Meet Escrow is a fee that TOPS collects at the beginning of each season and uses during a season to pay for meet entry fees.
Meet fees vary from meet to meet but can be found in each meet packet. They are usually a $2 athlete surcharge that goes to ISI, and then a $3-5 per event fee we are also charged for relays which are divided between the swimmers on that relay. YMCA dual meets have no fees.
If you asked to be entered in a meet and then cannot make it you will still be charges for the meet fees, unless you inform the coaching staff before the entry deadline found in each meet packet, usually one month prior. After that point TOPS is required to pay the fees of the swimmers entered and thus passes the fees onto the swimmers.
What if my swimmer uses more of their Escrow in the season?
We will bill your YMCA account at the conclusion of each season with a charge to return your balance to $0. You will also be provided, email or post, with a invoice of the charges for the season. You can settle your YMCA account via the online registration process and the My Balances link or via a check made payable to TOPS and sent to the office or given to a coach. Please settle all escrow account before registering for the next season.
Do I get charged for YMCA Dual meets?
No, these are the only meets TOPS participates in that do not require entry fees.
Do I need to pay the $72 USA/Illinois registration fee?
TOPS is both a YMCA swimming and USA swimming team. We participate in both types of meets. While YMCA swimming requires every swimmer be a YMCA member, USA/Illinois swimming requires the same. We ask all swimmers to register for USA/Illinois swimming. TOPS charges a $72.00 registration fee at the beginning of the Fall/Winter season to register your swimmer for USA/Illinois swimming.
If I signed up for a meet, but do not attend, will my account be charged?
Yes. TOPS pays the host team for the entries, several weeks before the actual competition. We do not receive a reimbursement from the host team for missed races and/or swimmers who do not show.