When I first came to T2 Aquatics in December of 2010 not many swimmers knew what an A time was. Or B. Much less AAAA…. Many areas of the country use the USA Motivational Time Standards as meet qualifying times (A&Faster Meet, BB&Under Meet), but in South Florida, that just doesn’t happen. Many of the T2 swimmers were rookies and trying to find their way through the sport. Motivating a team of rookies to keep reaching for higher performance was a big challenge! The only meet to qualify for was our LSC Championship Meet. Most kids either had qualifying times for that and were not looking past it or they didn't have the times and didn't ever see themselves getting to that level.
The USA Time Standards are great for ranking and rating swims. It has been around for a long time and it is an easy system for swimmers to understand. There is always another step for them to reach. (Unless you get to the AAAA level, but once you are there you can think about being ranked in the Top 10 Nationally.)
In order to generate some excitement for performance and improvement we started awarding swimmers with Bag Tags when they reach a new level. This season we will award 10&U swimmers when they reach the BB, A, AA, AAA, and AAAA levels for that stroke. We will award 11-14 year olds in our age group program when they reach the A, AA, AAA, and AAAA levels for that stroke. It has really helped the swimmers feel some pride in their accomplishments and they can wear their tags on their bags to show them off! They look like this:
Shortly after the Bag Tag idea took off we started a similar program with our 8&Unders because they wanted some tags as well! We “made up” some standards for 8&Under swimmers. We have B, BB, and A levels. This gives even our youngest athletes something to shoot for. They were designed so that the A level would be right about a 10&Under B time. We award Bag Tags to 8&U swimmers who have achieved the BB and A levels for that stroke. When we race in practice we can try to motivate the younger ones by saying "who thinks they can get an A time in this 25 Freestyle?". The hands shoot up and they really go for it!
If you are interested in looking, they are posted here: T2 Aquatics 8&Under Time Standards
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Follow me @t2aquatics