NVSL – A to Z

We recently published A Look at the NVSL talking about the heritage and spirit of the Northern Virginia Swimming League.  We know that people who have been around the summer leagues for a while understand the inner working of the leagues.  This is just a small population of swimmers that participate in summer swim so we thought we would dig a little deeper into how the season is run.  If you are interested in how NVSL compares to MCSL make sure to check out the similar article: MCSL spotlight we published for the Montgomery County Swim League.

NVSL Divisions

The NVSL has over 17,000 swimmers on 102 teams and is the largest summer swim league in the United States. Obviously, with this many teams, there has to be some division of teams. During the offseason, the NVSL ranks each team from 1 to 102 based primarily on swimmers times, and then divides the teams, based on these rankings, into 17 Divisions of six teams. This means that the fastest teams are in the lower numbered Divisions and each Division is competitive within itself.

Team Equipment

The equipment for swimming can get quite fancy, but for summer swim it is really pretty easy.  Swimmers will need a suit, cap and goggles.   Swimmers generally aren’t even obligated to purchase the team suit, although wearing the same suit does provide a feeling of team unity and pride.  Team caps are also available, again not required.  (You won’t be permitted to wear your club team cap at meets in the NVSL).

Time Trials

The week before the first meets of the season, each team will conduct time trials.  The purpose of time trials is to determine a swimmer’s time in each stroke so that the team can field their fastest swimmers at the first Dual “A” Meet. Swimmers are encouraged to get times for all four strokes. As the season progresses, faster times swum at “A” and “B” meets will re-establish each swimmer’s personal best.

Saturday NVSL “A” Meets

Each team in each division swim the other five teams, one at a time, on five consecutive Saturdays, in a series of Dual Meets, so called because there are two teams competing. Based upon the results of these five meets, a division champion will be named. These meets are to see who can score the most points, so generally the fastest swimmers of each age group are asked to swim. However, three swimmers can be entered in each individual event and no swimmer can swim more than two individual events.

How does the coach determine who swims on Saturday?

Teams are only allowed to enter three swimmers in each event at A meets (including relays), but each swimmer may swim no more than two individual events. The coaches try to place the three fastest swimmers in each event, but sometimes changes are made because some of the fastest swimmers are out of town or already swimming two other individual events.

How are “A” Meets scored?

In the individual events, a first place finish earns 5 points for the team, a second place 3 points and a third place finish 1 point. Relays are scored as 5 points for the winner and 0 points for the loser. There are 420 points up for grabs in a Saturday meet. Unless there are one or more places not awarded in an event due to DQs or lack of swimmers, you need 211 points to win.

How do unofficial or “B” Meets work?

Unofficial “B” meets, held on Monday nights, are for all swimmers on the team and are coordinated with pools in the local area.. Developmental (or “B”) meets are not NVSL sanctioned events.

Monday meets are basically the same as Saturday meets except the primary objective is to provide a competitive swim opportunity to everyone on the team. Times are recorded to track improvement through the season and to determine the most competitive swimmers for the team competitions. There are usually multiple heats of each event for younger swimmers

Relay Carnival

Another NVSL event is the Division Relay Carnival, which takes place on the Wednesday between the third and fourth weeks of the season. All six teams in each division converge at one pool for an evening of relay races. These include both Freestyle relays (each swimmer swims the Freestyle) and Medley relays (each swimmer swims a different stroke). The next night, all the Division Coordinators meet, and relay teams are selected to swim at the All-Star Relay Carnival the following week.  Substitutions may occur at any time up to the team reporting to the clerk of course.  In Relay Carnivals, teams are not seeded. Each team’s lane assignment for the first event is based upon luck of the draw and the teams then rotate one lane to the left after each event. The meet sheet lists only the team swimming in each lane in each event.

The sole criteria for selection to the All-Star Relay Carnival are to have one of the eighteen fastest times in events swum in the Division Relay Carnivals.  A team that qualifies for the All-Star Relay Meet may have one substitution under certain circumstances. That is, three of the four swimmers who qualified must remain on the relay team.

 This article was written with the assistance of  parents and representatives from the NVSL.  We are looking for guest contributors for all of the swim leagues this summer.  Please email us at: contact@reachforthewall.org if you would like to contribute a similar article for your league or have any fun stories for us to run!

3 thoughts on “NVSL – A to Z

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Slightly outdated info. They added 8 and under Fly so the total number of points is 420. Nitpicking a bit, I know.

    • Jun 21, 2016 at 2:03 am

      Almost there. 420 divided in half is 210, meaning a team needs 211 points to win. Technically 220 would get you the win though, as its greater than 211. 210 would lead to a tie.

      • Jun 21, 2016 at 2:22 am

        Now fixed. Thanks for fact checking.


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