USA Swimming Motivational Time Standards Explained
Age group motivational time standards are established on a four-year basis. For instance, as of now, the latest standards cover the period from September 1, 2020, to August 31, 2024. These standards play a crucial role in swimming and serve multiple purposes. They are used to set goals, control the size of swim meets, and provide a means of comparison among swimmers. USA Swimming publishes a set of time standards known as the Top-16 Based Time Standards, categorized as B, BB, A, AA, AAA, and AAAA (refer to the second page for short course yards).
One of the key reasons behind these standards is their utility in setting goals for swimmers. Additionally, they help regulate the size of swim meets by having fewer swimmers at higher/faster levels of the standards. This means that as the standards become faster, fewer swimmers can achieve them. It's worth noting that nearly all swimming federations worldwide employ some form of stepped standards within their systems.
These standards also offer swimmers a general idea of how they compare to others in their age group and even between different age groups. However, when comparing swimmers, raw times work better within age groups. It's important to understand that just because a swimmer achieves "AAA" times as a 10 & Under, it doesn't guarantee the same performance as a 13-14. Several factors contribute to this variation, such as different maturation rates, changing interests, and even injuries.
So, how are age group motivational standards determined? They are established based on percentiles. Here are the percentiles associated with each standard:
AAAA: 98% - This standard means your swimmer is ranked in the top 2% of swimmers in their age group, of the same sex, in that specific stroke and distance.
AAA: 94% - This standard means your swimmer is ranked in the top 6% of swimmers in their age group, of the same sex, in that stroke and distance.
AA: 92% - This standard means your swimmer is ranked in the top 8% of swimmers in their age group, of the same sex, in that stroke and distance.
A: 85% - This standard means your swimmer is ranked in the top 15% of swimmers in their age group, of the same sex, in that stroke and distance.
BB: 65% - This standard means your swimmer is ranked in the top 35% of swimmers in their age group, of the same sex, in that stroke and distance.
B: 45% - This standard means your swimmer is ranked in the top 55% of swimmers in their age group, of the same sex, in that stroke and distance.
C: This standard is for all swimmers with times below the "B" standard. Any time from 0.00 up to the "B" standard is considered a "C" time.
It is noteworthy that:
- USA Swimming age group start at 10&U, so all 10&U use the same time standards
- Only Recommend Events have time standards, for example, 13-14 age group don't have time standard for 50Fly, because it's not a recommended event for age 13&above.
- At SwimStandards.com, if the time standard is less than B, or not available, we use N/A for simplification purposes.
- Normally we use age group motivational time, but here is the one available for single age.
It is common for swimmers to have different time standards for different strokes. They may even have different standards for the same stroke but different distances. As swimmers mature, their best stroke and preferred distances may change. It is recommended that swimmers avoid specializing until they have completed physical maturation. Swimming all the strokes and distances can improve both their physical and mental development throughout their career.
To sum it up, time standards are valuable for setting goals and motivating swimmers. However, improvement should not be solely focused on meeting these standards. It is important to be patient and let swimmers progress at their own pace. Remember, each swimmer is an individual with unique abilities, and their development will occur at their own rate. Comparing their success to that of others is not productive or fair. Time standards should be used as a tool for personal growth and self-motivation. Let your swimmers enjoy the journey, and as they continue to swim all strokes and distances, they will enhance their physical and mental development throughout their swimming career.