Most useful to know the actual improvements of a swim in the results pages. Hackney Aquatics gives this superb overview on results in age group competitions and that is more useful than to know one has won a medal.
It is actually better to get a 15 second PB and second place in the 800 free rather than a gold medal with a time that is not a personal best.
Once a performance swimmer as a teenager, there is an aim to get better times most meets.
We did do a lot of meets though and the more meets one participates in the lower becomes the improvement ratio.
If you only compete 3 times per year than the improvement ratio becomes higher and more impressive.