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.
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.
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.
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.