By now, at least in a perfect world, all our swimmers have been timed so the coaches can do their entries for our first "A" meet this Saturday. It's easy--you just enter the three fastest kids (six for the 12 & under freestyle events) in each event and you're done, right? Not exactly.
One swimmer cannot swim all four strokes, even if he/she has one of the three fastest times in those events. The coach needs to decide which event that swimmer has to come out of. For example, suppose Susie is the fastest 8 & under girl in free, back, and fly, but only third fastest in breast. Easy decision--you take her out of breast. But what if there are no other legal 8 & under breaststrokers and Susie isn't that much faster than the number two freestyler? And maybe the coach has been working on breaststroke this week and thinks Susie is really ready to go faster. Hmm. Not so easy a decision.
And a swimmer can't compete if he or she isn't at the meet. When I was our team rep many years ago, the team was a regular inhabitant of K or L division. I used to tell our coach that the team who would win the first meet was the team that could get more of its swimmers to show up--the team with the fewest empty lanes. Lower division teams aren't in the lower part of the alphabet because they have slow swimmers; they're often there because they don't have many swimmers. And there's often a big time difference between their fastest swimmers and the rest of the age group. In "A" division, if the third fastest 9-10 boy backstroker is away at camp one Saturday, there may be two or three possible substitutes who are only hundredths or tenths of a second slower. In L division, your next backstroker could be many seconds slower--if you even have a next backstroker.
Suffice it to say, doing the meet line up is a science--but it's also an art.