Swimmers (and their parents) frequently wonder how their times compare to those of other swimmers. A variety of time standards have been developed for comparison and classification purposes, all of which can be found below in the Time Standards section below. The most often set of standards that is used is referred to as the Top 16 Motivational Time Standards.
These standards are based on the sixteenth fastest time ever swum in that age group in USA Swimming competition. The standards in order of increasingly fast times are: C, B, BB, A, AA, AAA, AAAA. Most swimmers starting out in an age group will have times in the C to B range. As they gain experience, their times will frequently fall into the B-A range. Exceptionally fast swimmers have times that fall in the AA-AAAA range.
Many meets have time entry requirements that are based on the Top 16 Motivational Time Standards. Qualifying standards for three typical meets would be:
B/C: generally a meet for novice swimmers
A/BB: swimmers at these meets are faster than novice swimmers, but are not fast enough to compete at the top levels of competition
A+: these meets involve an extremely fast level of competition
While just about everyone is curious to know how well they swim relative to the competition, it is important to remember that the best indicator of success for the vast majority of swimmers is swimming a personal best time. Remember, not everyone can be a AAAA swimmer by definition, but equally important, everyone can improve on their own times with hard work and dedication!