There are many great things about the sport of swimming. One of them is the objective nature of the results.  Once you touch the wall, there it is in black and white: the time it took you to cover the distance of the race!

The Aquatic Club of Elkhorn is a member club of the National Governing Body, USA Swimming. USA Swimming publishes “Motivational Times” by event and by age group to encourage swimmers to step their swimming up to the next level. These time standards guide a swimmer from just starting out in his/her age group to reaching his/her highest potential.  The standards change every 4 years based on how many swimmers in that age group achieve the standards. The standards usually get faster every update.  Ideally our swimmers use these times to help set short and long term personal goals and track their progress.  What we hope they all learn is that the more they practice and work hard, the closer they get to their goals.

Time standards are broken down into age group and level. Age groups are divided into 10&U, 11/12, 13/14, 15/16, and 17/18 year old categories. Eight and under swimmers do not have standards as this is an introductory age and the focus is on teaching strokes and having fun.   Each category has a B, BB, A, AA, AAA, and AAAA level.  Swimmers can begin at a B level and work their way up each level. 

When swimmers move up an age group bracket, the times they achieved to date still count toward a standard.  Standards for older age brackets get more challenging as swimmers age up a level. These more challenging standards help encourage swimmers to move into the next level of swimming.

Every year the Midwestern Swimming Championships are held in March (short course – 25yd) and July (long course – 50m).  These are the state championship meets for our 15/ Older, 13/14, 11/12, and 10 and under athletes that qualify. To qualify for these meets, the time standards are typically somewhere between an “BB” and a “A” time.  

Beyond the LSC Championships, there are regional and national level competitions with their own time standards:

Central Zones meet and Sectionals meets: To understand Zones and Sectionals, know that USA Swimming divides the 59 LSCs into four zones: Eastern, Central, Southern and Western.  (It’s sort of like the NHL, where all of the hockey teams are divided into four separate divisions).  Like each LSC, each zone holds championship invitational meets at the end of the winter and summer seasons for select age group and senior swimmers for LSCs within that zone.  

“Zones” are the zonal championship meets for age group swimmers, and “Sectionals” are the zonal championship meets for senior swimmers.  At Zones, each LSC compiles a team of its fastest age group swimmers (must have AAA qualifying times) to compete against other LSCs in the same zone, and these swimmers compete under the name of their LSC (not their clubs).  At Sectionals, however, swimmers generally compete under their own club’s name.

Although each zone generally holds only one Zones meet for age group swimmers at the end of the summer season, each zone may host several Sectionals meets throughout the zone region at the end of each season in order to control the size of these meets or to offer swimmers the option of racing in short or long course pools.  

USA Swimming Futures: This is the USA Swimming sponsored Futures meet.  Qualifying times are faster than those for the Speedo Sectionals.  This meet is held in August using a long course meter (50m) format.  This meet provides athletes with the opportunity to swim against the nation’s best 18 and under athletes as well as the opportunity to swim in front of many college coaches. 

USA Swimming Junior Nationals: This is the USA Swimming sponsored Junior Nationals meet.  Qualifying times are faster than Speedo Futures.  This meet is held in winter (December) using a short course yards (25 yd) format and in summer (August) using a long course meter (50m) format.  This meet provides athletes with the opportunity to swim against the nation’s best 18 and under athletes as well as the opportunity to swim in front of many college coaches. 

USA Swimming National Championship:  This is our country’s National meet.  This meet has time standards second only to Olympic Trials and allows athletes to compete against the country’s best swimmers. 

US Olympic Trials:  This is the meet in which athletes compete for an opportunity to represent our nation on the Olympic Team. Simply qualifying for this meet is in an honor; it gives athletes a chance to earn a position on the USA Olympic team.  The time standards to compete at this meet are slightly faster than US Nationals.  In order to make an Olympic team an athlete must be top 2 in non-relay events (every event except the 100m Free and 200m Free) or top 6 in relay events (100m Free, 200m Free). 

For those of you new to the sport, you can see there is a progression of achievement based on time standards within the sport of swimming.  Our goal at ACE is to help each athlete get to whatever level he or she sets for him/herself by providing the resources and coaching.  

The athlete (and frequently the parents as well), however, must provide the most important ingredients to achieve his/her goals – commitment and dedication, hard work, and sacrifice!