There are different levels of swimming. These levels are divided by age and skill. Age group swimming, senior, and elite are the common levels of swimming.

Age Group Swimming

Young swimmers who are interested in competing get their start by joining a neighborhood swim team, local recreational team, school team, or a USA Swimming club team. Competing against peers gives young swimmers the opportunity to refine their skills and gain experience. Swimmers usually start at local competitions that can have between 150 to 1000 swimmers. These events are designed for swimmers to compete against others of a similar age and skill level. Many of these events are divided into categories: 10 and under, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-18.

Swimmers who do well in local competitions will be invited to Local Swimming Committee (LSC) age group championships. At LSC events, swimmers compete against the best swimmers in their age groups from the same state or from a geographical region. Doing well at LSC events can advance swimmers to Zone Championships. There are 60 LSCs and four Zones, so the Zone Championships is a competition of the best of the LSC events. Each of the four Zones, Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern, has at least one Zone Championship event every year. The Zone Championships are the top age group meets young swimmers can compete in.

Senior Swimming

Swimmers who perform well at LSC events and Zone Championships and want to make a serious commitment to swimming move into the senior level. A swimmer moves into the senior level of swimming usually around 13 or 14, but a swimmer can enter this level sooner if the swimmer is very dedicated and shows a lot of promise. Senior swimmers have made swimming their only athletic focus. At the senior level, new competition events are available. Senior swimmers who are fast enough can compete at many events, including the Speedo Champions Series, USA Swimming Grand Prix meets, the Speedo Junior National Championships, and the ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships.

Elite Swimming

Swimmers who shine at the senior level become elite swimmers. The elite swimming level is for the fastest and most skilled swimmers. This level of swimming is for those who want to make swimming a career, and the sport takes up most of the athlete’s time. Elite swimmers have a training and nutrition regimen focused on making the swimmer the best possible in the sport. Elite swimmers compete on the world stage. They compete at the FINA World Aquatic Championships, National Championships, and the Olympics.

Age group swimming is the level solely based on the swimmer’s age. Senior and elite levels of swimming are based on a swimmer’s skill. If a swimmer loves and excels at swimming, then the swimmer will move to the higher levels of swimming.