A Guide to Competitive Swimming
The Swimming Year
The swimming year begins in September each year and finishes with National Competitions in late July to August (for those who qualify).
The following events can be swum at galas dependent upon age and availability at each gala:
- Breaststroke – 50 metres, 100 metres, 200 metres
- Backstroke -50 metres, 100 metres, 200 metres
- Butterfly – 50 metres, 100 metres, 200 metres
- Freestyle – 50 metres, 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres
- Individual Medley – (Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle)
100 metres (25m for each stroke)
200 metres (50m for each stroke)
400 meters (100m for each stroke)
Team events are also available at some galas. A Team Medley is swum in a
different order to an Individual Medley – Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly and Freestyle.
Short Course and Long Course
Short Course events are swum in a 25 metre long pool, (these are the main length of gala we will attend). Long Course events are swum in a 50 metre long pool, (county galas are swum at this length).
You are able to convert times from one format to the other to use to enter competitions (except for the Nationals). You can use a conversion website to do this, like the Pull Buoy Conversion tables at http://www.pullbuoy.co.uk/times.
Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) Ranked Times
When you swim at licensed galas your times are sent to the ASA and are placed on their rankings. You can see your ranked times on the ASA website under the ‘Results and Rankings’ tab and select Rankings.
At most galas we will have a Swimming Coach and/or helper on poolside.
On arrival at a gala you should let the Coach know you have arrived on poolside, and prepare for warm up.
It is important to warm up before you swim at a gala. Details of warm up times are listed for each gala. Some galas will have a warm up/cool down pool, open throughout the gala, and others will not. Ideally you should attend the main warm up session, and then if you have a long gap before your first event, have another warm up, (in water if possible but if not on land).
Immediately after you have swum an event, you should speak to the Coach for feedback and then it is important that you cool down. Where there is a cool down pool, you must make use of this, to minimise the possibility of injury.
Please note that the warm up and cool down facilities are for warming up and cooling down only, and not for any other use. Swimmers must not use these facilities as a play area.
During the gala it is the swimmer’s responsibility to ensure the swimmer reports to the Coach on poolside prior to each event being swum. The swimmer MUST arrive in good time to allow them to speak to the Coach before their event and be sent to marshalling. It is not the Coach’s responsibility to look for swimmers that have not reported to them on poolside in time for an event.
All adults on poolside at a gala must have a poolside pass to indicate they are allowed on poolside. Parent/carers are therefore not allowed to walk onto poolside.
Swimmers should ensure that they pick up all their belongings at the end of a gala, and throw any rubbish away before they leave the poolside once they have finished all their events. They should inform the Coach that they are leaving.
What to do if you can’t attend a gala or need to withdraw from some events.
If you are entered to swim in a gala and are then unable to attend it is important to let the Coach attending that gala know. This allows you to be withdrawn from the specific events, so the gala does not run with empty lanes in the pool.
If you are at a gala, and have to leave unexpectedly, you should inform the Coach so they are aware you will not be competing in any of the remaining events that day. If possible always inform them before the next session, so you can be officially withdrawn from events you are due to swim in.
Types of Gala
The Club enters swimmers in a variety of different competitions
- One-off galas against say 4 or 5 other Clubs, with the winners often being presented with a trophy
- Leagues, a series of galas against a much wider range of Clubs
- County, Regional & National competitions – for which there are Qualifying Times
- Open Meets
Most competitions are “Age on Day”. This is simply the age of the swimmer on the day of the event – though for some competitions that span more than one date (Leagues, County Championships, etc) it will be the age of the swimmer on the last day’s swimming.
At an Open Meet, the swimmer competes as an individual and can choose to compete in whichever events they wish. Open Meets – which are “open” to swimmers from any Club, provide an excellent opportunity for swimmers to compete in a wide range of different events at the same competition .
We will attend several Open Meets each year, these will be detailed on the website, and club notice board. Open Meets are licenced at Levels 1, 2, 3 & 4 by the ASA and are “open” to swimmers from any Club. Level One is the highest, aimed at swimmers looking to achieve National Qualifying Times. Level Two is aimed at Regional Qualifiers and swimmers close to Regional Qualification. Level Three is for Club swimmers who are seeking County Qualifying Times while Level Four is for swimmers just beginning to enter individual open competitions.
Each level usually has different entry criteria including Qualifying Times and Upper Limit Times. These are times set by meet organisers to control the number of entries. A Qualifying Time is the time that a swimmer must have already achieved in order to enter the competition. Most meets have an Upper Limit Time for each event too. This means that swimmers who have previously achieved times faster than the ULT are not eligible to enter that event.
County, Regional & National Championships
To enter into these competitions, you will first need to achieve Qualifying Times.
County times – these are the qualifying times required to swim in the County Championships in February/March each year, your chance to become the county champion! Times vary slightly each year and can be found ASA website. Qualifying Times have to be achieved within the 9 months prior to the closing date for entries, usually early January, but can be achieved in any Club competition, Open Meet.
Regional Times – one step up from County Times and enable the swimmer to swim in the Regional Championships in May/June and November. Again Regional times have to be achieved in the 9 months prior to the closing date for entries – but can only be achieved in licenced meets i.e. not league galas or time trials.
National Times – for the very very few!! If you are at this standard, you probably won’t need to be looking at this guide!
What to take to a gala
- Swimming costumes/trunks
- Goggles x2 (if one snaps or gets lost)
- Flixton hat (plus spare hat if possible)
- Towels (one for poolside and one for getting changed)
- Poolside shoes – necessary if you want to leave poolside (flip flops or crocs for example)
- Club T-shirt – to keep warm on poolside
- Food, snacks and plenty of drinks
Please name everything that you would miss if you lost it.
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