USA Swimming - National Age Group Motivational Time Standards 

Understanding the times standards in USA Swimming is important, especially if you are new to the sport.

Within USA Swimming there are Motivational Times Standards. These times standards start at “B” and go all the way to “AAAA” for each age group. The USA Swimming Motivational Time Standards use these age groups:  10 & under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18.  It is sometimes extra challenging (but not impossible) for 8 & under swimmers to get to the first level of the 10 & under age group – but it is still something that they can strive for!

For USA Swimming, the time standards are a tool meant to serve these purposes:

  • First is to rate and rank times. Setting a universal time standard is helpful in encouraging athletes to improve upon their times and achieve higher measured goals.

  • Second, the time standards can be used to designate which athletes may participate in certain meets.

  • Third, time standards enable meet hosts to control the size of meets by only inviting swimmers with times over or under certain standards.

In general, about 50% of swimmers across the country will reach “B” level times for their age group. Only about 30% will have “A” level times for faster. So for our team, time standards are one way to help measure how well a swimmer is doing but it is by far not our only tool.

Because we often attend meets with hundreds of swimmers in each age group, it is unrealistic to expect that many of our kids will place in their events (awards are typically given for top eight swimmers). Therefore, time standards can be a good way to give swimmers an idea of how they match up with other swimmers in their age group.

The level of difficultly in the time standards dramatically increases with higher age levels. It is important to keep in mind that just because a swimmer has "B" times or better as a 9-10 year old, it does not mean that same swimmer will get "B" or better times as they age up to 11-12, 13-14, etc.  There are several reasons for this, including differing maturation rates (physical, emotional and social), changing interests, and even injuries. This does not mean a swimmer is not improving or getting worse.

Bottom line - Time standards are a great tool for goal setting but are not the only factor in determining the long term success of a swimmer. If you have any questions about time standards, please talk to one of our coaches for additional information.