Background Information on Pennsylvania Swimming
As background information, YMCA swimming opportunities in Pennsylvania are extensive and support multiple levels of competition. This write-up is intended to help put the various types of YMCA meets and the progression through the YMCA set of championships into context.
DUAL MEETS: Dual Meets are competitions between two YMCAs. The competition can be coordinated directly by the two team coaches or managed by a volunteer-run swim league. There are several YMCA swim leagues in PA, one of which is our Penn-Del Swim League.
In Penn-Del League, each member YMCA has one or more boys teams and one or more girls teams. For its member YMCAs, the Penn-Del Swim League schedules their league dual meets, trains volunteers, assists in resolving meet issues, and maintains swimmer times and team standings.
Due to the number of swimmers in Penn-Del League (over 3,300 swimmers), Penn-Del organizes competition into divisions. Each YMCA and/or YMCA team is assigned to a division. There are 5 divisions. Each division is assigned a set of girls teams and a set of boys teams. Swimmers compete with other teams in their division during the dual meet season.
INVITATIONALS: In addition to dual meets, YMCAs might also participate in various local YMCA invitationals. These are larger meets where a host team will invite other local YMCAs to join them in competition.
These invitational meets are not managed nor controlled by the Penn-Del Swim League but rather are managed by the host team. Examples include the Reading YMCA Randy Keinard Invitational, Pocono YMCA Gobble-Gobble Invitational, the Upper Main Line YMCA Michelle Deasey Invitational, etc.
LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS: Most swim leagues have one or more end-of-the-season championships. These championships can have qualifying times or they can be open to a subset of league swimmers or all the swimmers in the league depending on the size of the swim league.
At Penn-Del, our championships do not have qualifying times. They are held at the Penn-Del divisional-level with both boys and girls teams from the division attending the championship. Examples are the Madison Division Championship, Jefferson Division Championship, etc. Swimmers compete with other swimmers from YMCAs that are in their Penn-Del Division.
SILVER CHAMPIONSHIPS: To provide a championship experience for those swimmers who were not able to qualify for further progression to the YMCA Pennsylvania-level competition, Silver Championships were established.
There are three Silver Championship in Pennsylvania, one of which is run by the Penn-Del Swim League, the Charlie Hartley Memorial Silver Championship (CHMSC). Although Penn-Del League runs this meet, any YMCA swimmer who meets the championship eligibility criteria can attend (i.e the meet is open to both Penn-Del league YMCAs and non-Penn-Del League YMCAs.
This championship has a set of "Not-To-Exceed" qualifying time standards. This means to qualify for this championship, the swimmer can not have a "best time" that is faster than the qualifying standard for an event. YMCA Silver-level swimmers can attend any one of the three available Silver Championships in Pennsylvania. Silver swimmers compete against other Silver level swimmers within the state for awards and recognition.
YMCA PA COMPETITION: Outside of any specific YMCA or YMCA Swim League are several YMCA state-run championships. These championships provide a progression of swimming opportunities that are controlled through qualifying times and championship place advancements. A committee of volunteers (YMCA Regional Rep, coaches, officials, other volunteers) from across the state manage these championships.
Note: These Championships are not managed nor controlled by the Penn-Del Swim League.
PA DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIPS: The first level of YMCA state-level competition is the set of YMCA PA Districts Championships. These championships have age-group time standards that each athlete must achieve in order to attend.
There are three PA regional District Championships (Eastern PA District, Central PA District, and Western PA District.) All Pennsylvania YMCAs with competitive swimming teams are assigned to a District. Each District Championship has the same qualifying time requirements and generally competes on the same days.
A district YMCA will host each PA District Championship and is select from bids submitted to the Pennsylvania State Swimming Committee. At this District championship, swimmers compete with other YMCA swimmers from their assigned regional District.
YMCA PA STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: The next level of competition is the Pennsylvania State Championship. This Championship unites the set of advancers from each of the three District Championships. Advancers are swimmers who achieved one of the specified places in each event during their District Championship (e.g. swimmers in the first 6 places achieved in each event at their District Championship advance to the State Championship.) At this PA State championship, swimmers compete with other YMCA swimmers from across the state.
YMCA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: The next and final level of YMCA competition is the YMCA National Short Course Championship. This championship has a set of challenging qualifying time requirements. Swimmers compete with other YMCA swimmers from across the country in a 4-1/2 day championship meet. The meet format includes prelims sessions, finals sessions, and multi-day time trials.
SUMMARY: As you can see, Pennsylvania has an extensive set of swimming competition opportunities - dual meets, to league championships, to invitationals, to Silver Championships, to Districts competition, to the State championship, and finally to the YMCA National Championship.
Bottom-line, no matter what ability level an athlete wishes to achieve, Pennsylvania YMCA swimming can help them reach their goals by providing both challenging competition and a supportive community of dedicated people.
Note: Opportunities for YMCA swimmers can also expand to include USA-Swimming meets and championships. Since both the National YMCA and many local YMCAs have collaborative working relationships with USA-Swimming, YMCA swimmers and YMCA competitive swim teams can register as both a YMCA swimmer/team and a USA-Swimming swimmer/team. This way YMCA swimmers can benefit from the advantages of both national competitive swimming organizations.