What are Junior Olympics (JOs)?
By Reach for the Wall Staff Writers.
You went to the Olympics?
Ask any swimmer what the best part of Junior Olympics (JOs) is, and they inevitably will tell you that it’s getting to skip school on Friday. And the T-shirts, which they wear (dirty) to school on Monday to show off to all their friends. They spend most of Monday yawning and answering their favorite questions – “Did you win?” and “Are you going to the Olympics?” Kids don’t really understand JOs. That’s ok, neither do most adults, including the ones that were at JOs.
To explain JOs, a little background helps. USA Swimming, the governing body for the sport of swimming in the U.S., divides the country into 59 regional governing bodies called Local Swimming Committee (LSCs). Each LSC governs competitive swimming in its respective area and is required to hold a championship “invitational” meet twice a year (at the end of winter and summer) for both age group (younger) and senior (older) swimmers. That is, at the end of the winter season, each LSC holds an age group championship meet and a senior championship meet, and at the end of the summer season, holds another age group championship meet and senior championship meet. The winter season, which typically runs October-March, is swum in a short course (25 yard) pool, and the summer season, which typically runs April-July, is swum in a long course (50 meter) pool. LSCs call the age group championship meets by different names (e.g., “JOs”, “Age Group Champs”, “States”, etc.).
Most of these championship meets have a time standard (cut). Only swimmers that swim faster than that “cut” are invited to swim in the meet. How these times are set vary; some are the national standards set by USA Swimming (i.e., A, AA, AAA) and others are times that change year to year – most hover around the AA cuts. Almost all of these championship meets have trials and finals, but this arrangement also can vary by LSC.
This past weekend, Potomac Valley Swimming (PVS), the LSC that governs the Washington D.C. metro area, hosted JOs at the University of Maryland as its age group championship meet for the winter, short-course season. (PVS held its senior championship meet a week before JOs this year, but in other years, the senior championship meet may occur a week after JOs.) The PVS JOs do not use National Time Standards; instead, they set their own times and adjust them incrementally each year. JOs is a four day meet that includes trials and finals for age groups 10 & under, 11-12 and 13-14. The kids compete in individual events and relays. They also compete as a team and the meet is scored, but to keep things fair, PVS presents team awards to small, medium and large sized teams.
For the last piece of the JOs puzzle, does this mean the next step is the Olympics? No. That’s not entirely true though. The Olympics are what dreams are made of. PVS swimmers will go to bed with dreams of flip turns and hopes of being a future Olympian. And they will wake up with homework that still needs to be done and a note to the school for the absence. Which brings up an interesting question. Do you tell your kids’ school where they are or skirt the issue (appointment). Is it an excused absence? Please comment below, we would love to know.
Stay tuned, we plan to talk about the format of all meets, from the Mini’s all the way up to the Olympics.
11 thoughts on “What are Junior Olympics (JOs)?”
Always say you’re at a swim meet, and let the teachers and school know it’s a big deal. The life of a swimmer is interesting, diverse, full of life experiences and provides an abundance of ideas for projects related to school. Science, English, History, PE and Math are just a few examples of subjects you can learn as a swimmer. I might fudge on the ‘appointment’ if I’m taking her out for a special treat but always tell them you’re taking them swimming.
Pretty sure the absence is not excused if you fess up and tell the truth, which we did because we were super proud of her and she had been talking about it all week anyways. Cameron missed the 2nd 1/2 of MSAs and the proctor made it known that she wasn’t happy about it, but that’s what make up Monday is for! 🙂
We always say they will be absent for a “family event.” And, it is! Most of the teachers know where the kids are going, but this is what we put in writing for the office.
I always tell them that the kids are sick only to avoid the lecture from the Attendance Secretary — that it is an unexcused absence and it is important that they are present for all school days. Although since all their classmates know as well as their teachers, I probably should just take the Unexcused Absence in the future!
Competitive Swimming is a positive activity which develops physical stamina, mental acuity, and emotional stability through training, practice, and healthy life habits. It is just as important, perhaps more important, than many of the so called academic subjects taught in the classrooms of today. The overly bureaucratic teachers and school administrators need to appreciate positive achieving young people, and congratulate those student athletes for their accomplishments. If they must administer some “punishment” for the absence, I suggest that the student be required to attend a “Make-Up Day”, perhaps Saturday, July 2, 2016 (Independence Day Weekend), and the Teacher, the School Administrators, and the “Attendance Secretary” presence be required at the school for all of the “Make-Up Day”. Just one Parent/Grandparent’s opinion.
Great idea! Most teachers are ok with the kids missing. The attendance office has guidelines as to what is excused and what isn’t. Swim meet = no. College visit for a 9 year old, sure.
I couldn’t agree more. There are many activities outside of the classroom that are equally or more educational for kids. Competitive sports builds character, sportsmanship, goal-setting, determination, perseverance, improved physical and mental health habits, and camaraderie, just to list a few positive effects. The schools need to go with the flow on this.
I love your comment. It’s a great way to see how much they Really learning beside swimming. Also I believe they are an example to look up for their friends.
It should be an excuse absence, this competition are the fundations for their future, and it is as important as regular curriculum. You need discipline to learn, and for sure those kids have a lot of discipline.
Discipline will always win intelligence.
Just be honest…share the swim excitement with everyone from teachers to friends and administrators!! I am proud of my son and how he balances rigorous daily swim practices with his academics!! It all equals to a well balanced and confident young man!!
I would absolutely tell them the truth. Wouldn’t care if it was Considered an excused absence or not. Sports and physical activity are just as important if not more in my eyes then sitting in a classroom for 8 hours a day.
At the age of 11 I was told I once beatbroke beat a JO Freestyle record at an AAU meet in Knoxville, TN in 1962. I have no record of it. How would I learn what my time would have been?