By Reach for the Wall staff.
As noted before, the Washington D.C. metro area has become a national hotbed for swimming that continues to produce Olympic gold medalists and a long line of scholarship athletes (see e.g., here and here). One challenge of following the sport in our area, however, is that it includes the following swim “seasons”, which can be confusing given that they overlap in places and are governed by different bodies or leagues.
- The 2 USA Swimming seasons. USA Swimming, the governing body for the sport of swimming in the United States, divides the year into 2 separate seasons: (i) the winter season, when swimmers compete in “short course yard” (SCY) pools (i.e., pools that are 25 yards long); and (ii) the summer season, when swimmers compete in “long course meter” (LCM) pools (i.e., pools that are 50 meters long). USA Swimming sanctions a number of meets within each of these 2 seasons, including:
- The championship meets that each Local Swimming Committees (LSC) hosts at the end of each season for age group (younger) and senior (older) swimmers. For example, Potomac Valley Swimming (PVS), the 13,000 member LSC that governs year-round swimming in the Washington D.C. metro area, hosts an age group championship meet and a senior championship meet at the end of the winter season, and hosts another age group championship meet and senior championship meet at the end of the summer season.
- The championship meets that each of the 4 Zones of USA Swimming host at the end of the winter and summer seasons for select age group and senior swimmers of LSCs within that zone. The “Zones” championship meets are the zonal championship meets for age group swimmers (see e.g., here, here, here and here), and “Sectionals” championship meets are the zonal championship meets for senior swimmers (see e.g., here).
- The “national” championship meets that USA Swimming (and other organizations) host at the end of each season. These meets include the Futures and Junior National meets, the U.S. Open and National Championship meets, and (every four years) the Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games.
- Summer league swimming. 12 summer leagues exist in the Washington D.C. metro area, including the 17,000 member Northern Virginia Swimming League (NVSL), the 14,000 member Montgomery County Swim League (MCSL), the 5,000 member Prince-Mont Swim League (PMSL), and the 4,000 member Colonial Swim League (CSL). These leagues generally run from the beginning of June to the end of July, and meets are generally held in short course meter pools (i.e., 25 meters).
- High school swimming. The public and private high schools in the DMV compete in a variety of swim meets, including championship meets that are:
- Among teams in a given high school system (e.g., Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swimming & Diving League (WMPSSDL) Championships; Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS));
- Among teams in several different school systems (e.g., Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming & Diving Championships (Metros)) or within a certain region (e.g., Virginia 6A North Region Championships); and
- Among teams at a state level (e.g., Maryland 4A3A State Championships; Virginia 6A State Championships).
High school swimming generally starts in November and ends in February, and is swum in short course yard pools (i.e., 25 yards).
For your convenience, here is a graphic of the various Swim Seasons described above, when they occur during the year, and some of the key meets within each of these seasons.