USA Swimming 18 & Under Winter Championships Time Standards and Details

USA Swimming has re-envisioned the 2020 Winter Junior Championships this year amid the challenges presented by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s event, being termed the “18 & Under Winter Championships,” will be extremely flexible, with essentially an unlimited number of meets across the country being used to determine the year’s Winter 18 & Under Champions.

A full video replay of the remote meeting where USA Swimming laid out the designs and intents of the meet is at the end of this page. Because that video is 40 minutes long, we have pulled out the key points and answers to the key questions provided during the call below.

Basic Format

There is, essentially, no mandated format to the meets. They can be prelims/finals, they can be timed finals, they can be large LSC Championships, they can be local intrasquad meets.

In essence, any sanctioned, approved, or observed swims in short course yards (25 yards) held from December 1-13, 2020, done by eligible swimmers, will be included.

The observed caveat means that, for example, if a high school state championship meet is held during those dates, that any swimmers who are otherwise eligible will have their times included for the 18 & Under Winter Championships

Only a swimmer’s 6 highest-placing events will be counted toward the 18 & Under Winter Championships, both for individual event rankings and team scoring. That being said, within the 14-day window, an event can be swum as many times as an athlete wants, at as many different meets as an athlete wants, to improve their standing. This could open up some interesting opportunities for “peak-performance” chasing.

Teams can cross LSCs to attend events.

While USA Swimming emphasized repeatedly that their hope is that LSCs, where possible, use this as an opportunity to assemble the top swimmers for an in-person LSC Championship-style meet, they said that they are absolutely not mandating that, because of the challenges present in organizing large-scale events in many parts of the country. Meets can take on any format.

Qualifying Standards

The qualifying standards, which are essentially Futures Championships standards +1%, are below. While meets that will count toward the Winter 18 & Under Championships may include swimmers who don’t have the time standard (again, any format is acceptable, so long as the meet is sanctioned, approved, or observed), only times from those athletes who have previously hit the qualifying standard will count.

Hosts can set their own qualifying standards for a given meet, but only those swimmers who have the 18 & Under Winter Championships standards will have their times entered into the national leaderboards.

This also answers the question about Bonus Standards – essentially, hosts can set whatever Bonus Standards they want to participate in meets during this period, but because of the nature of the competition, there are no Bonus Standards in terms of consideration for the national 18 & Under Winter Championships standings.

The qualifying period is November 1, 2018 through November 30, 2020.

Athletes who are 18 as of the first day of the “meet period,” which is December 1, 2020, are eligible for the competition. While swims will enter SWIMS based on age up dates for normal competition, a swimmer who turns 19 during the meet period does not age out. So, for example, an 18-year old who turns 19 on December 2, but whose meet doesn’t start until December 10, will still be eligible.

Q&A Details

This section contains details revealed in answers to questions asked during the call

  • Altitude adjustments do apply to qualifying standards; however, results from meets during this time period will not be adjusted by altitude standards when entered into the standings. While some coaches from regions with altitude pushed back on this, USA Swimming says that this is in line with the USA Swimming policy manual, and after some internal debate, they decided to stick with the policy manual.
  • There will be no relays included in the team competition or national leaderboards. With many hosts still precluded from hosting relays at meets, USA Swimming decided it would be most fair to exclude them as well. But, keeping in the theme otherwise, teams can host whatever events they want within a meet, but only those events listed above will count toward individual or team standings.
  • There is no limit on the number of locations with in LSC or the number of times a swimmer can swim an event.
  • A swimmer’s Best Time will be included in the leaderboard, regardless of whether it was a prelims swim, finals swim, timed finals swim, or what meet it was at.
  • No financial assistance is being provided to meet hosts by USA Swimming.
  • Beyond their 6 top swims, other swims will be pulled out and included in a time trials results document
  • Only short course yards swims will be permitted for the national rankings, though meet hosts can have long course time trials associated if they want.
  • No special notification to USA Swimming is necessary. So long as the swimmer is eligible and the times are submitted to SWIMS from a sanctioned, approved, or observed meet, the times will count.
  • The meets will be open to all USA Swimming registered Premium and Outreach members, regardless of citizenship Flex and Seasonal members will not be included in the results, consistent with championship meet restrictions in the rulebook.



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Karina Davis
2 years ago

Does a swimmer need 3 qualifying times or just 1?

2 years ago

Glad that USA swimming is actively coming up with virtual meet formats. This will be important for months to come.

2 years ago

Braden – Thanks for the summary. Saved me wading thru the USA swimming stuff. Am interested in more reporting from you guys in the coming months on how the various LSCs are sorting reopening.

This process seems very American / Federalist: USA swimming pushing down decision to the states, er , the LSCs , for each to decide how to proceed. It does raise the likelihood of disparities – as another poster complained , but IMO, this represents the better being the enemy of good enough.

Owen Taylor
2 years ago

Seems like USA swimming needs to rethink this all. Kind of messing up a lot of swimmers and making USA swimming a joke

2 years ago

As being a former mid-distance swimmer that swam both club and college at altitude(5000ft). I find it very unfair and disgraceful that USA swimming will not give the athletes the correct altitude time correction they deserve.

The fact that you can use an altitude adjusted time to enter into the meet, but then the results from altitude racing locations not be altitude adjusted just does not make my sense.

I understand that sea level based swimmers could argue frustration, but these altitude time adjustments were made for a reason.

USA swimming needs to realize that they are creating an unfair playing field for many swimmers that have goals to place high and compete well at juniors. 5… Read more »

GA Boy
Reply to  B-Love
2 years ago


Reply to  B-Love
2 years ago

not really much choice I’m afraid… it stinks some will compete at altitude, but we can’t make adjustments for every variable (shallow pools, deep pools, awesome blocks and wedges/ old blocks, indoors vs outdoors), where would it end for results? should backtrokers in an outdoor pool with no backstroke ledge be given a time advantage over those who swam indoors with a ledge? swimmers who train year round at 5,000′ that have adapted better than someone “on the slopes” that trains at 2,500′ then competes at 5,000′?” or for athletes that just got back in a pool a month ago vs those who have been in full-time since may? where does it stop… big can of worms.

grateful for… Read more »

Reply to  KEVINM
2 years ago

Swing and a miss here @kevinm with your can of worms. Altitude is a consideration and listed under 4.6 of the USA Swimming Time Policy Manual (Rev 2019). This standard is written based on competing with the intent and history of having Championship meets at an elevation of less than 3,000 feet altitude.

The USA Swimming Senior Development Committee failed to address this standard to make it equitable for all participants. Kudos to @B-Love for the illustration.

Reply to  Bubbles
2 years ago

That was a staff decision, not a committee decision. The chair of the subcommittee trains and competes at altitude, and he does not like the decision either.

Colorado Swim parent
Reply to  KEVINM
2 years ago

You must not be from a state with high altitude! Swimming (especially long distance) at high altitude does not compare to a “shallow pool.” It is really difficult!

Reply to  B-Love
2 years ago

Altitude adjustments are approximations(educated guess). USA swimming is willing to give that approximation for entries but not for results where .01 makes the difference for places.

Reply to  B-Love
2 years ago

If you feel this strongly about it, you need to contact the Times Recognition committee for USA Swimming. Staff followed the protocol in the Times policy manual. They can’t ignore the rules. You will need to contact the Time Recognition committee to get a rule change.

Reply to  B-Love
2 years ago

I guess those swimmers in Colorado, Utah and other high altitude locations can make this a sprint meet. 50s and 100s don’t get altitude adjusted.

Sean Justice
Reply to  B-Love
2 years ago

People handle altitudes differently and I think that those adjustments are not truly scientifically based. It has always been the rule that an adjusted time can be submitted for entry but would not count as records etc.

For example the US Olympic Festival was held at the Air Force Academy and if you wanted to break a record, you have swim a faster time. The time for the record would not be adjusted.

Colorado Swim parent
Reply to  Sean Justice
2 years ago

Anyone saying that altitude should not be adjusted has never watched someone swim a mile in Colorado versus at sea level. Night and day. Very unfair.

DP Spellman
2 years ago

Seems a bit confusing and kind of patchwork.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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