USA Swimming Alters Scholastic All-America Requirements

USA Swimming, who each year selects a Scholastic All-America team based on GPA and swimming performances, has announced they will be altering the requirements for the 2020 team, which is traditionally announced in the fall. USA Swimming has chosen to alter the GPA requirement, changing it from the entire academic year to only the fall semester due to the impact of COVID-19.

In the past, athletes were required to have both achieved a 3.5 GPA during the current academic year as well as having swum a Winter Junior Nationals qualifying time within the year-long qualification window.

Under the USA Swimming GPA calculation process, advanced classes are rewarded an extra half-point GPA boost, while non-academic courses, such as are, band, choir, orchestra, driver’s ed, physical education, and other similar classes are not factored into the calculation.

Previously, the academic requirements were based upon an athletes GPA during the entire academic year, meaning that this year it would be based on 2019-2020. With the new requirements, the GPA criteria is based on “the first reportable semester (term)”. With this new selection criteria, the selection process is based solely on the fall term, instead of taking into account the spring term which was altered by the coronavirus. Some schools went to pass/fail grading, and almost every school had its learning environment disrupted.

This change will potentially cause a fluctuation in the numbers of qualifying high school athletes. Athletes who may have potentially raised their GPA to meet the requirements or lowered their GPA below the 3.5 that is required during the spring semester will instead only be judged based on their first term.

2019-2020 Selection Criteria

Academic Requirements

  • Grade completion requirement – applicant must have completed 9th, 10th 11th or 12th grade
  • GPA Requirement – minimum 3.5 GPA for the current academic year
    • A=4, B=3, C=2. If numerical grades are used, the following scale will be used unless the school’s letter grade conversion is given on the transcript: A=90-100; B=80-89; C=70-79. In calculating the GPA no rounding will be used – one decimal place only.
    • Honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and dual credit college-level academic courses will earn one half (.5) extra Grade Point. Grades for academic subjects only are calculated – history/social studies, English, mathematics, sciences, foreign languages, computer sciences, visual and performing arts if indicated as academicA grade lower than a C in an academic subject will mean automatic rejection of the applicant. Grades for non-academic courses will NOT be calculated – art, band, orchestra, choir, home economics, health, driver education, physical education, shop, etc. and any other class marked as non-academic will not be included in the GPA calculation (unless transcript indicates ‘academic’ or AP or IB).
    • There will be no special status designation for a 4.0 GPA other than for a national champion who also has a 4.0 GPA.

Pool Requirements

  • Applicants must have swum an individual pool time equal to a 2019 Winter Junior qualifying time in any individual event during the SAA qualifying period (August 16, 2019 – August 16, 2020) with qualifying times in SWIMS – list of times are posted on the USA Swimming website. A qualifying time will be available for selection from the SWIMS database during the application process. Only ONE time is necessary and only ONE application is necessary.
  • Disability/Para or Open Water Requirements (for athletes without pool requirements)
    • Applicants must have competed in one of the following meets:
    • 2019 USA Paralympic Swimming Nationals – December 6-8, 2019, Lewisville TX
    • 2020 World Para World Series:
      • February 14-16, 2020, Melbourne, Australia
      • 2020 Jimi Flowers Classic, Jan 18-19, 2020, Colorado Springs


(Open Water Juniors is NOT a qualifying meet for SAA)


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Dan Solomon

I believe the article posts the prior year selection criteria. The time standard is based on 2019 Winter Junior National Standards unless I am missing a new change not yet on the USA Swimming website. The alteration in qualifications is the Fall GPA of 3.5 rather than whole year 3.5 minimum GPA. Time standards remain the most current Winter Junior Nationals.


USA Swimming should make the criteria that students could earn the distinction by either first semester grades only, OR by both semesters.  This would be fair. Changing the rules after the first semester was completed is not fair.   My rising senior son misses out this year because USA Swimming changed the rules in the middle of the game. He was counting on having that second semester to bring his grades up, and he did just that, the same way he did the past two years.  He worked extremely hard during the second semester to earn this distinction. I am reminded of the position that USA Swimming officials take, “BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT GOES TO THE SWIMMER” (their caps, not mine). … Read more »


I’d definitely appeal to the SAA coordinator in your zone by providing your son’s 2nd semester transcript.


I did that, thanks.


I don’t mean to drag your son, but since you brought it up, I have 2 questions: 1) Did your son’s grades improve dramatically 2nd semester because his classes went to pass/fail? I’ve seen a lot of colleges brag about how their teams set RECORD GPAs, but it’s because they’re counting “passes” as a 4.0. 2) Did your son’s grades improve dramatically 2nd semester because his parents may have helped him with more of his school work? I understand if the above questions are offensive to you in some way; however, you’ve asked us to share your outrage over this decision, and if you want me to share that outrage, I’m going to need more info. How much did your… Read more »


1. His grades did not go to pass/fail. He went from a 3.4 to a 3.9, similar to both previous years, because he usually takes a harder first semester and he’s that kid that buckles down when he needs to. I am sure he will now realize that’s not a great strategy but I still feel changing the rules halfway through the game shouldn’t lead to student athletes being excluded from this honor.
2. He is vey motivated to earn the SAA status. Being out of the pool, he did have more time to devote to schoolwork. Laughing at the idea of his parents helping him, he’s not interested in that, nor could we do it!


Very nice improvement from 3.4 to 3.9. Where these his semester GPA’s or the ACADEMIC semester GPA’s?


I might be reading it wrong, but the way I understand it is that you are required to submit first semester grades that show a 3.5GPA along with the time standard requirement. That is sufficient to be eligible this year. I would imagine if you submit the final transcript that also shows a 3.5GPA for the entire year, you would also be eligible. Please someone correct me if I am wrong, but I believe changing the requirement was to help out the kids who are at a school who went to a pass/fail grading system at the end of the year. Also, I’ve never seen a Final transcript that reports anything except for final Grades…


I thought that would be the case, too, when reading the changed criteria, but it turns out not to be true. USA Swimming responded to me that he is not going to be awarded SAA and they “consider the matter closed”. Very disappointed that they would take yet another thing away from a hardworking kid who met their original criteria, and who’s already lost so much this year.


Was he awarded SAA before the rules were changed? If so, it would be wrong for them to take it away from him. I’m trying to figure out when they changed the criteria but I cannot find it on the USA swimming website.

Inclusive Parent

Unfortunately, many school districts took the tact of simply giving A’s to every single student who completed a minimal amount of work. Others gave students the option of “earning up” a grade, but no drops from 1st Semester. I would imagine that if you can show that your child’s grades were earned, not just gifted, an appeal would be in order. But so many school districts nationwide just made the second semester a gimme for all, that USAS had to come up with a standard.


I’m surprised they didn’t change the swimming qualifying window as well. Lots of high school swimmers didn’t get a spring or summer taper meet, and we didn’t have an OW Nationals this year.

Socal Swimmer

This is worst for socal High School swimmers cause they also missed their League, CIF and state championships meets due to COVID 19 lockdown. Most other states already completed their HS meets.

Swim mom

Agree, It would of been fair to swimmers to extend qualifying period to include 6 months of 2018-19 season, so kids get full 12 months of competition and both SCY and LCM season. There are swimmers who got cuts last year but not this year due to lack of SCY championships and LCM season all together. Current qualifying period doesn’t include LCM season at all since even meets that do happen this summer are SCY.
In current situation, USA Swimming should do everything to be most inclusive as possible, and not make it effectively harder than any other year.