General Information

            Swim meets are a great way to measure a swimmer’s progress.  Swim meets are offered throughout the year and allow swimmers the opportunity to compete against other swimmers of the same age, gender, and ability.  USA swim meets usually follow a 2-day format where half of the competitive events are swum on Saturday and the other half of the events are swum on Sunday.  Children 12 years of age and younger typically swim in the morning and swimmers 13 years of age and older typically swim in the afternoons.  Swimmers are usually eligible to swim in up to four individual events per day and one relay. Occasionally, 1-day Invitational meets will also be offered in which a limited number of events will be available to choose from.  Typically swimmers of all ages compete in the same session of an Invitational meet. 

             The calendar year is divided into two different seasons–a short course season and a long course season.  During the short course season (September-March), swimmers compete in 25-yard pools and during the long course season (April-July) swimmers compete in 50-meter pools (Olympic size) and occasionally 25-yard pools as well.  

            At each swim meet, swimmers compete in the following age categories with those of the same gender:  8 and under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18.  Minnesota Swimming Inc. sets time standards for each event to further divide swimmers into ability-based levels.  The different ability categories (slowest to fastest) are “C,” “B,” “A,” “Champ,” and “Zone.”  Please see the time standards on the GCA website for a listing of times needed in each event to fall into the different categories.  Within each meet, a swimmer with a “C” time for example would swim against other swimmers with a “C” time and a swimmer with a “B” time would swim against other swimmers with a “B” time.  There are different kinds of meets that are offered throughout the year.  They usually include variations of the following:  A, A/B, B/C, and A/B/C.  A swimmer for example must have at least a “B” time to compete in a A/B swim meet and at least a “C” time to compete in a B/C meet.  Swimmers that earn a “Champ” time are eligible to swim in the State meet at the end of the short course and long course seasons.

Swim Meet Sign-ups 

            Swimmers and parents will be notified of sign-up information approximately 5-6 weeks prior to the meet.  Swimmers will have the opportunity to decide which events they wish to swim and sign-up for the meet online.  Coaches are always more than happy to recommend and help pick-out events.  It generally costs between $4-5 per event, so the cost of the meet is highly dependent on the number of events the swimmer chooses to swim.

What to Expect and Bring to the Swim Meet

            Swim meets are typically held at schools during the short course season (September-March) and at both indoor and outdoors pools during the long course season (April-July).  Sessions (morning and afternoon) can last anywhere between 2-4 hours each.  We strongly suggest swimmers bring lots of warm clothes (sweatshirt, sweatpants, shorts, t-shirt, etc.) and a couple of extra towels, as the pool deck can be cold.  We also recommend swimmers bring lots of snacks and drinks to the meet.  Most meets offer concessions where swimmers and spectators can purchase a wide-variety of snack and drink items.

            At each meet, the host club will sell event programs.  Event programs typically cost between 5-10 dollars and are helpful in following along with the meet.

            During swim meets, parents are not allowed to go onto the pool deck.   If a parent needs to talk to the coach during the meet, we suggest they wait until a break or until after the meet, as we don’t want the coach to miss another athlete’s event.


            At any meet, during any given event, a swimmer may be disqualified (DQ’d) for an illegal stroke, turn, or false start.  A DQ is something that happens to every swimmer and is nothing to get upset about.


            Official results will be posted somewhere outside of the pool area shortly after all of the swimmers complete the event.  At this time, swimmers will be able to see how they placed.  At each swim meet, awards are handed out to the top 8 or 6 swimmers in each category–Zone/Champ/A, B, and C.  Swimmers are usually able to pick up their awards 30 minutes after the results are posted.  Awards not picked up by athletes will be picked up by the coach and will be available to the swimmers to pick up at practice.

Finals Meets

            At the end of each season (both short course and long course seasons), swimmers will have the opportunity to swim in finals meets (MN Achievement Championship, MN Regional Championship, and the State Championship).  Finals meets are extra opportunities available to swimmers to try and qualify for the next level.  For example, if a swimmer has a C time, he or she can attend the MN Achievement Championship and try and qualify for the MN Regional Championship.  If a swimmer has an A or B time, he or she can attend the MN Regional Championship and try and qualify for the State meet.  A Champ time is needed to qualify for the State meet.

Time Trials

            At the MN Regional Championship and the State meet, swimmers will have the opportunity to time trial or swim an event a second time to try and meet the next time

standard.  For example, if a swimmer missed the Champ qualifying time by 0.10 in their individual event, they would have an additional opportunity to try and qualify in a time trial.  Time trials are typically held at the end of the morning session and also at the end of the afternoon session both Saturday and Sunday.  Swimmers are charged a fee for the opportunity to time trial.

Final Thoughts

            If you ever have any questions, please do not hesitate to talk with a Granite City Aquatics coach.  We know that the world of competitive swimming can be very overwhelming and confusing to a new family.  Happy swimming!



Meet Progression

Successful training culminates into better racing and better times.  Here is a listing of how swimmers can progress from novice to elite levels and set goals for new and higher levels in competitive swimming. MInnesota Swimming has now renamed the A,B,C levels to Bronze, Silver and Gold. These do NOT correlate to our training levels. They are simply a new name for the old A, B amd C standards. A is Gold, B is SIlver and C is Bronze. THESE DO NOT REFER TO YOUR SWIMMER'S TRAINING GROUP AND WHETHER THEY QUALIFY FOR STATE MEET. SWIMMERS MUST ACHIEVE A STATE CUT TO ATTEND THE MINNESOTA STATE MEET.

Novice, C & Pre C Meets (Novice, Bronze and Pre-Bronze)

These meets are usually hosted by NHCP as an inter squad competition or a neighboring club as a quad competition. Swimmers who have not officially recorded a time and swimmers who have “C”time,  now known as "Bronze" times are allowed to swim in this type of meet.


B/C Meets (Silver/Bronze)

Next on the meet progression, these meets allow the same qualifications as “C” PRE “C” (Bronze and Pre-Bronze) meets and also include athletes with “B” (Silver) times.


ABC Open Meets

This is an all-inclusive meet. There are no time standard restrictions to participate. 


A (GOLD) Meets

These meets are for experienced swimmers who have “A” (Gold) times and faster. Some “A” (Gold) meets are prelims/finals format.



MAC (C or Bronze finals) and MRC (A/B or Silver/Gold finals)

All swimmers must have recorded a Minnesota “C”(Bronze) “B”(Silver) or “A” (Gold) time to participate in this meet. “CH” times and faster are not allowed in this meet. For swimmers who don't have "CH" times, the FINALS meet will be their championship season ending meet. 


MN State Championships

This meet is split into two meets - Age Group (14 & under) where swimmers 11 & older race prelims/finals and swimmers 10 & under race timed finals. Senior - (15 & older) is a prelims/finals format. All swimmers must have “CH” times or faster to participate.


Central Zones for 14 & Under Meets

The ZONES meet is run by Minnesota Swimming and participants race for Minnesota Swimming. Registration is done through the Minnesota ZONES team manager. This meet is held once a year in the summer long course season.


Speedo Champions Series

This level of competition is for swimmers who have already been successful at the MN State meet and are advancing to National level competitions. The Speedo meet is held twice a year, one short course and one long course. The Speedo meet was created by USA Swimming and hosted in a central mid-west location. Click HERE for more information.


USA Swimming Grand Prix Series

This meet is the first stepping stone in the National competition level. America’s fastest swimmers as well as a variety of international swimmers compete in this 7 meet series for medals and professional swimmers compete for the $20,000 grand prize. There is no age limit for this meet. Click HERE for more information.


NCSA Junior National Championships

This meet is held every March in Orlando, Florida, and is run by the National Club Swimming Association. Junior nationals is for athletes 18 & under. Click HERE for more information.


USA Swimming Junior National and National Championships

This meet is held twice a year, one short course and one long course. Junior nationals is for athletes 18 & under and Nationals (also called Senior Nationals) has no age limit. Both meets are considered “Selection” meets for USA Swimming National Junior Teams and USA Swimming National Teams as well as advancement to international competition. Click HERE for more information.


U.S. Open

This meet is held at various times throughout the quadrennial and qualifying times are faster than Junior National and National times. There is no age limit for this meet. Click HERE for more information.


Olympic Trials

This meet is held once every four years in the summer Olympic seasons. The top two finalists in each event are selected for the United States Olympic Team.