Chris Desantis wrote a thought provoking post a couple days ago entitled, “We Should Replace All (Most?) Meets With Dual Meets“, and I couldn’t agree more. 

Summer league, high school, and college swimming are all built on an in-season dual meet system. So why, at the club level, do we muck up the beauty of racing with long drawn out days spent sweating in a chlorine hotbox? 

Being in a “zoo” for three days straight while only competing for a minute or two at a time truly sucks for everyone involved:

  • These types of meets deter kids from enjoying the sport;
  • they dissuade parents from encouraging their children to swim year round;
  • they add strain and stress into a coach’s already unhealthy lifestyle; and,
  • they make swimming more financially restricting.

Hosting more dual meets is easier than people think. Many Saturday morning practices could simply turn into dual meets based on age and event. If you are a distance swimmer, perhaps you don’t attend the Super Sprint Dual Meet but instead enter in the Distance Dual Meet held at another Saturday morning practice venue.

Also, isn’t racing the best example of deliberate practice? It seems to be working for Katinka Hosszu.

Teams could monetarily benefit from having their younger swimmers registered as an AAU swim team who don’t need the perks of attending big fancy meets. To better explain this, let’s look at the cost breakdown of hosting a dual meet as an AAU team vs. hosting a dual meet as a USAS team.

Membership Fees:
AAU Swimming Membership: $14
vs.

USA Swimming Membership: $56 + $14 LSC Fee = $70 

Difference of $56 per participant.

Running a Swim Meet:
AAU Swimming: $50 event license; make up your own entry fees; no rebate fees
vs.
USA Swimming:
Non-Championship Sanctions & Approvals Fee: $20
Swimmer Fee: $2.50 per participant
Individual entries are $4.00. Relay entries are $14.00.
LSC imposes a .35 cents per entry rebate fee (if this is an 8 & Under meet; it’s .65 cents per entry for non-championship meets; $1.25 per entry for championship meets)

Smell what I’m cooking?

Let’s say we have 200 swimmers at a dual meet. They all swim 3 individual events and 1 relay making 600 total individual entries and 50 relay entries.

AAU Swimming:
Membership: 200 swimmers x $14 = $2,800.00
Event License: $50 flat fee
Entry Fee: $20 flat fee x 200 swimmers = $4,000.00
Total Cost to Team/Parents = $6,850.00

USA Swimming:
Membership: 200 swimmers x $70 = $14,000.00
Sanction Fee: $20
Swimmer Fee: 200 swimmers x $2.50 = $500.00
Individual Entry Fees: 600 entries x $4.00 = $2,400.00
Relay Entry Fees: 50 entries x $14.00 = $700.00
Total Cost to Team/Parents: $17,620.00

As noted by a reader, this comparison includes the annual membership. So, it’s only fair to also look at the breakdown without it.

AAU Swimming:
Event License: $50 flat fee
Entry Fee: $20 flat fee x 200 swimmers = $4,000.00
Total Cost to Team = $50.00
Total Cost to Parents = $4,000.00
Total Cost to Team/Parents = $4,050.00

USA Swimming:
Sanction Fee: $20
Swimmer Fee: 200 swimmers x $2.50 = $500.00
Individual Entry Fees: 600 entries x $4.00 = $2,400.00
Relay Entry Fees: 50 entries x $14.00 = $700.00
Rebate Fee: 650 entries x $.65 cents = $422.50

Total Cost to Team: $20 + $422.50 = $462.50
Total Cost to Parents: $500 + $2,400 + $700 = $3,600
Total Cost to Team/Parents = $4,062.50

At the end of the day, swim teams host swim meets largely to make money. AAU allows the flexibility of charging whatever you want while also skipping out on the tollbooth. 

Here are a few dual meet lineups that I think would save time, foster competitiveness, and vigorously uphold swimming’s “funnest sport” image. If you want to add a relay before and after any of these lineups, please feel free. I’d suggest the 4×25 Free and Medley Relays for all age groups.

Super Sprint Dual Meet Lineup
25 Free
50 Free
25 Breast
50 Breast
100 IM
25 Back
50 Back
25 Fly
50 Fly

Sprint Dual Meet Lineup
50 Free
100 Free
50 Breast
100 Breast
100 IM
50 Back
100 Back
50 Fly
100 Fly

Mid-Distance Dual Meet Lineup
100 Free
200 Free
500 Free
100 Breast
200 Breast
200 IM
100 Back
200 Back
100 Fly
200 Fly

Distance Dual Meet Lineup
500 Free
200 Breast
200 Back
400 IM
200 Fly
1000/1650 Free