As you sign up for meets, you will often see “qualifying times” or “A meet” or “BB meet”…these all refer to what we call in swimming “Time Standards.” 

Each year, USA Swimming establishes time standards, or "Cuts" for each of its major meets, from BB or age group meets through Olympic Trials; swimmers are always striving to make their next cut. Below, we provide you with a brief description of time standards.  

You can find information online about time standards HERE. 

You will also find posted here the time standards for the short course yards (this is the FALL/WINTER season, when we swim 50 yard, 100 yard, and 200 yard (or more) swims in lengths of 25 yards.

[The following Q&A is taken from theswimmerscircle.com.]

“What’s a “BB” time?”; “So and so is excited because they got an “A” time. Can you explain what that is?”;
“Why do you have to have a certain time standard for certain meets?”

Time standards. It seems as if the swim world revolves around them (at least the age group swimmers’ world that is). Some people don’t care about them, others are obsessed and have them memorized, but I think it’s best to be somewhere in the middle. Let me explain!

Age group swimming time standards are broken down first by course (yards and meters) then by gender and then by age.  Generally, there are 5 age groups; 10 & Under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18.  For each individual age group, the standards (or cuts) are broken down into 6 levels; B, BB, A, AA, AAA, and AAAA.

USA Swimming.org has a section where you can go and find age group time standards that are “Designed to encourage age group swimmers to step their swimming up to the next level.  Starting at Level B and going up to Level AAAA times.”

These time standards are a great tool that kids can use for goal setting. For example, an 11-year-old boy swims his 50 meter free in 37 seconds flat in his first meet. He can then look at the time standards, see that he has a “B” time, and set his goal for a “BB” time of 35.29 by the end of the season. He can keep track of his improvements and work with his coach on reaching his goal.

Time standards can be used to control the size of a swim meet.  Whether used to draw in kids with super-fast times (AAA+) or so that new swimmers can compete against other kids with similar times, time standards are a great way to limit entries so that a swim meet is manageable for those running it and a great experience for those participating.