Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between, YMCA swim meets and USA/Illinois meets?
YMCA meets (with the exception of Thanksgiving Classic, YMCA Districts, YMCA Area, and YMCA Nationals) do not require entry fees. The majority of the YMCA meets TOPS participates in are single session dual meets with another local YMCA team. YMCA meets are required for all swimmers wishing to participate in YMCA Districts, YMCA Area, and YMCA Nationals.
USA/Illinois swim meets are multiple session/day meets sanctioned by Illinois swimming. They require all swimmers to be members of USA/Illinois swimming and require entry fees. Only times swum at sanctioned Illinois swim meets can be used to qualify for Regional Championships, Senior/Age Group Championships, and Junior/Senior Nationals.
- How do I qualify for YMCA Districts?
All swimmers that have participated in three (two for high school athletes) or more YMCA swim meets during the Fall/Winter season, are current YMCA members, are eligible to swim at the YMCA District Championships. We will keep an updated list, organized by swimmer and YMCA meet participation on the website for viewing.
- How do I qualify for Regional Championships and Senior/Age Group States?
Each swimmer must be an active Illinois/USA swimming member and must meet the designated qualifying time, at a Illinois sanctioned meet. Time standards are posted on the Illinois Swimming web site.
- What do I need to bring to a meet?
Bring your TOPS suit, TOPS cap, favorite racing goggles, and a spare pair of goggles. Expect each swim meet session to last four hours. Bring enough food, water, books, games, etc. to last the entire session. Entries are posted online on our website, so write down what events you're swimming the night before.
- Warm-Up time is at 8:00 AM, what time do I need to be at the competition pool?
The posted warm-up time is the time your swimmer should be entering the pool. Plan on arriving 15 minutes early to give your swimmer time to find the team area, coach, and prepare for warm-ups. During meets teams are given designated lanes and warm-up times. Arriving late or missing warm-ups will result in your swimmer being unprepared for their events.
- What is "positive check-in"?
Since not everyone who signs-up for a swim meet attends, the heat and lane assignments for most meets are set right before the meet begins. Positive check-in is the way you let the people running the meet know that you are there and planning to swim.
It is the swimmer's responsibility to make sure they are properly checked-in for all of their events. If you fail to check-in or check-in incorrectly, you can, by rule, be excluded from those events in which you are not checked-in. Many host teams try to find spots for swimmers that miss check-in, but this isn't always possible.
- What are the rules used at swim meets?
All of the meets we swim in use the USA Swimming rules. These are available on the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations web page. If you are just getting your first look at the rules, you probably want to start with the Mini-Rulebook.
- How do I pay for my entry fee?
We ask every swimmer to pay the required meet escrow fee at the beginning of each season. Entry fees will be charged to each escrow account after every meet. Outstanding balances will be billed at the conclusion of the season to bring all accounts to $0.00.
- What is "meet escrow"?
Meet Escrow is a fee that TOPS collects at the beginning of each season and uses during a season to pay for meet entry fees.
Meet fees vary from meet to meet but can be found in each meet packet. They are usually a $2 athlete surcharge that goes to ISI, and then a $3-5 per event fee we are also charged for relays which are divided between the swimmers on that relay. YMCA dual meets have no fees.
If you asked to be entered in a meet and then cannot make it you will still be charges for the meet fees, unless you inform the coaching staff before the entry deadline found in each meet packet, usually one month prior. After that point TOPS is required to pay the fees of the swimmers entered and thus passes the fees onto the swimmers.
- What if my swimmer uses more/less of their Escrow in the season?
We will bill your YMCA account at the conclusion of each season with a credit or a charge to return your balance to $0. You will also be provided, email or post, with a invoice of the charges for the season. You can settle your YMCA account via the online registration process and the My Balances link or via a check made payable to TOPS and sent to the office or given to a coach. Please settle all escrow account before registering for the next season.
- Do I get charged for YMCA Dual meets?
No, these are the only meets TOPS participates in that do not require entry fees.
- Do I need to pay the $60 USA/Illinois registration fee?
TOPS is both a YMCA swimming and USA swimming team. We participate in both types of meets. While YMCA swimming requires every swimmer be a YMCA member, USA/Illinois swimming requires the same. We ask all swimmers to register for USA/Illinois swimming. TOPS charges a $60.00 registration fee at the beginning of the Fall/Winter season to register your swimmer for USA/Illinois swimming.
- If I signed up for a meet, but do not attend, will my account be charged?
Yes. TOPS pays the host team for the entries, several weeks before the actual competition. We do not receive a reimbursement from the host team for missed races and/or swimmers who do not show.