Understanding XLR8

One of the more confusing elements of swimming in New Zealand is the XLR8 programme which is a motivational programme developed by Swimming NZ.  Swimmers under the age of 14 score points across a combination of events and are ranked nationally on their performances.  The programme recognizes versatility and all-round ability, rewarding correct application of the processes necessary for long term athlete development.


The thinking behind XLR8 is to maximise long term athlete development, it is better to reward swimmers aged 14 and under by their versatility and all round ability, rather than performance in a single event.  Once swimmers turn 15, FINA points are used for scoring rather than XLR8.


In addition to the personal benefits of training and racing a variety of strokes and distances Swimming New Zealand use XLR8 point rankings to select swimmers for the three annual Regional Age Group Development Camps (13 and 14 year olds) and Regional Junior Development Camps (11 and 12 year olds). Also, every two months Swimming New Zealand award the top male and female swimmer of each age group (10 and under, 11, 12, 13, 14) with an XLR8 swimming cap.  Swim Canterbury West Coast also use XLR8 to select the top 12 male and female swimmers for Bronze Squad. 


How it works

Racing a range of events is recommended as the XLR8 programme chooses your best 4 scoring races automatically and gives you the maximum point combination possible. 

The four event combination is made up from:

1. One DISTANCE freestyle event – the distance varies with age.

2. One INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY event – the distance varies with age.

3. One 200m FORM event – 200m Backstroke, Breaststroke or Butterfly.

4. One OTHER event – the next best event, not used in events 1, 2 or 3.



Similar to improving your PB time, your XLR8 score increases with a quicker time you swim.  Your total XLR8 score is calculated by combining your four event combination. 




XLR8 programme is in partnership with the website Take Your Marks, which provides a simply easy to view and compare your points totals with other swimmers in the region and New Zealand.  Remember these points are used as a selection base for both SNZ and SCWC junior camps and teams so it is vital you understand it.  If you have any questions about XLR8 or what races swimmers should focus on to gain their best score, feel free to ask your coach. 


Take me to Take Your Marks!