How To Tell If You Qualify For a Meet

Qual time.jpg

This question comes up all the time from swimmers and parents. How do I know if I (or my child) has qualified for a meet or a race?  And in my never-ending quest to have people figure out stuff without asking me, I’m providing this primer.

I understand that swimmers and parents can feel helpless in the face of confusing qualifying times (and dequalifying times), or even vague qualifying designations. Here’s an example for one of our upcoming meets:

  • Swimmers must adhere to qualifying times. Qualifying period starts 1 Dec 2015.
  • Qualifying times are “E” 2017 Ontario Provincial/Festival Standards (SCM).
  • 14 & U uses Festival Standards and 15 & O uses Ontario Provincial Standards.
  • De-qualifying times are “C” 2017 Ontario Provincial/Festival Standards (SCM).
  • 14 & U use Festival Standards, 15 & O use Ontario Provincial Standards.
  • Any swimmer who qualifies to enter this meet may swim any leg of a relay.

If you spends years in the system, this makes perfect sense. But for swimmers and parents this probably reads like Advanced Klingon. So here we go.


The first step should be easy:

1)  Know Your Personal Bests!

There really isn’t any excuse for a competitive swimmer to not know their PBs. Write them down and keep track of your progress. In fact, you should probably know your splits on your PBs as well.

You need this for practice as well. Many times I put up a set, and then say something like Goal Time for each repeat is PB + 6 seconds. And suddenly all my swimmers are asking me what their PBs are.  And if they don’t know, I tell them I’m making up a time that’s usually a few seconds faster than their actual PB.

If you haven’t been keeping track of your PBs, here’s a link that will help swimmers anywhere in the world.

This site keeps track of all times from all registered meets for all registered swimmers. For the whole world. It’s amazing.

Now that you know all of your PBs we can go on to the next step.


2)  Find The Qualifying Times.

In most cases the meet package will specifically list the qualifying times (you have to be faster than this time) and some meets also have dequalifying times (you have to be slower than this time).

But where is the meet package?  Hopefully your club provides the meet package as it lists these times, as well as session warmup times, nearby hotels, costs per race, rules for scratching, etc.  All valuable information for parents.

If not provided, here’s how you can find meet packages in Canada.

Go to , select the province, month and competition year. That will give you a list of meets. Click on the desired meet and it leads to a new page where you can find a link for the meet package.

If you go through the meet package it will either explicitly provide the Q times, or will provide a link to them.

For my non-Canadian friends, your national swimming organization will have similar methods for finding meets. Although I couldn’t easily find them for some countries.


2 thoughts on “How To Tell If You Qualify For a Meet

  1. Interesting how “we” take so much for granted in terms of what everyone should know. Parents coming into the sport are often overwhelmed by our culture. This is a very helpful article which I intend to steal for next September. Thanks Rick

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