Open Meet Information Pages

SWIM COMPETITIONS  – Galas, Meets and Championships

WCPSC is involved in a huge range of competitions through the year.
These fall into three groups:

GALAS

These are team competitions. The club will sort the entry, select a team appropriate to the level of gala, and send out invites to selected swimmers.
These galas range from novice galas to various local league galas right up to the National Arena League, for which we currently compete in the very top division!
If you are selected for a gala ( by email ) it is crucial that you confirm your availability promptly so that the coaches know who can / can’t go.
There will be a mix of individual swims and relays at each gala – the coaches will decide who swims in which races, and swimmers will typically not find out what they are swimming until the time of the competition.
Galas are great fun, a chance to improve on sprint PB’s, to meet swimmers from other squads, and to do some exciting relay swimming! They are generally held at reasonably local pools, mostly within an hour or so of Winchester.

Galas Winchester compete in are:
Hants and South Coast Leagues – Rother League, Minor League, Gemini Gala, Junior Cup and Premier League.  Some of these galas are rounds (usually 1-3 rounds) in which the team performances add up over the galas and an overall winner will be determined at the end. Some of the galas are one off trophy galas where the results will be determined by the one gala on the evening. These galas involve swimmers from all squads and ages/abilities, giving the swimmers competitive opportunities as part of a team.
Arena National Swimming League (Arena League): This competition takes place over 3 rounds in October/November/December and is the highest level of team gala the club competes in. This is a National league to which we have retained our position in the PREMIER SOUTH Division since our move up in 2014.

Ages for galas can either be age as 31st December of the year of the competition OR more typically age as of the last date of the competition (where there are several rounds), OR age as of the date of the gala. This information will be known by the coaching team selecting the competition and will be considered when selecting the team.

OPEN MEETS

These are swimming competitions in which individuals (or their parents!) enter themselves through the club open meets team.
There is an entry fee charged per event. This is likely to range from £5 to £8.
Different meets are aimed at different levels of swimmers, and most will have upper and / or lower limit times to ensure they get the right range of swim ability attending.
You can find the list of open meets the club is planning to attend on the competition calendar, along with guidance as to who should be going to each meet, by squad.
Swimmers should always discuss with their lead coach which races/events to enter, PRIOR to submitting their entry form to the club’s open meet team.
The best way to do this is to print off the schedule for the meet – highlight the races/events you have qualified for – and circle/star the races/events you would like to enter. The coach will then discuss and advise. This advice will depend on many factors (time of the season, what your short and long term goals are, what qualifying competitions are coming up, etc), therefore this advice and discussion with the swimmer is not only imperative but also educational for the swimmer.
Entries are submitted by individuals, collated by the open meets team and then submitted to the organising club.
Late and incorrect entries will be generally be rejected so it’s important to make sure your form is filled in properly and on time! (see further notes below).

Open meets may be one of 4 levels:

Level 4: Generally a single-club competition, or an inter-club competition of no more than 8 invited clubs. Results can be used for entry to the Hampshire County Championships and other licensed meets.
As a club Winchester hold two level 4 competitions each year:
WCPSC Club Championships run each autumn and offer events of all distances /strokes over a series of sessions, and include other fun club events such as SKINS and our Family and Parent races!. These club champs are aimed at the whole club. and historically we have swimmers from every squad competing!
WCPSC Grand Prix Series comprises 5 sessions running from winter through to summer aimed at our development squads. Swimmers from other squads will be invited to enter some events as time trials. This is down to the coaching team’s discretion and the additional time available at the event.

Level 3: A multi-club meet with upper limit and (sometimes) lower limit entry times. Upper Limit times are the times that swimmers cannot be faster than to enter the meet. Lower limit times are the times that swimmers cannot be slower than to enter the meet..

Level 2: A higher level of competition held Short Course (in a 25m pool) for which minimum entry times are required (i.e. swimmers need to be faster than the minimum entry times to enter the meet). Strict rules about the number and qualification of officials are enforced at these meets.

Level 1: The highest level of meet you can compete in domestically. These meets are held Long Course (in a 50m pool). Results can be used for entry to all of the National Championships. Again these meets have minimum entry times (i.e. swimmers need to be faster than the minimum qualifying time to enter) and rules regarding entering offical licensed times are enforced strictly, as is the number and qualification of officals.

FOR OPEN MEETS Ages can either be as of 31st of December of the year of competition OR Age as of the date the Open meet finishes. The details of this will be in the conditions and entry forms for each competition.

CHAMPIONSHIP MEETS

Championship meets are the target competitions for the different levels of swimmer.  These Championships can only be entered if the relevant qualifying times/criteria have been achieved in a designated time period.  These are the meets that most competitive swimmers will be working towards qualifying for, and once qualified competing well in.

HAMPSHIRE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIPS (County Championships)

These are the championships for all of the swimmers in the county of Hampshire.

  • These championships usually take place in late January/early February each year.
  • They are held over 3 weekends, and are split into
    • Distance/relay events (all ages) Long Course,
    • 14/Under – 50m/100m/200m events, Short Course, and
    • 15/Over – 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m events – Long Course.
  • There will be qualifying times for the competition based on age groups posted late in the previous year. The 2018 Qualifying times and information can be found on swimmeets.org website.
  • The age groups for these Championships are: 10/11 years, 12 years, 13 years, 14 years, 15 years, 16 years and 17/Over.
  • Swimmers will be able to qualify for this event with times achieved in licensed level 1, 2, 3 and 4 meets. These times must be achieved between 2 dates (e.g. for 2018 the qualifying period is between March 1st 2017 and 30th December 2017).
  • There will be AUTOMATIC qualifying times, of which if a swimmer has achieved this time or faster they will definitely accepted for entry into the competition (providing the entry form is completed on time and correctly).
  • There will also be CONSIDERATION or BASE qualifying times for this competition. Of which if a swimmer has achieved this time, their entry (providing it has been submitted and completed correctly and on time), will be added to the meet IF there is sufficient space. This will be at the Promoter/Organiser’s discretion. Therefore it is important if you get a Consideration/Base time as close as possible to the Automatic qualifying time.
  • There are Finals for some of the age groups/events at this meet.
  • There are also team relay events at this championship meet. Relay swImmers will be selected by the club’s coaching team and the swimmers/parents will be notified prior to the meet.
  • All ages are as 31st December of the year of the competition.

SOUTH EAST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS:

These are the championships for all of the swimmers in the South East region of England.

  • These championships usually take place throughout May each year.
  • All events are Long Course.
  • They are held over 3 weekends, and are split into 15/Over Championships – typically taking place on the Early May Bank Holiday weekend (in 2018 over Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon).  This is done to allow swimmers in GCSE and A-level examination periods to be able to compete when not in the middle of examinations.  The 14/Under Championships will be held over 2 weekends later in the month.
  • There will be qualifying times for the competition based on age groups.  These qualifying times will be posted around November of the previous year.  The 2018 Qualifying times and information can be found on swimmeets.org website.
  • The age groups for these Championships are: 11/12 years, 13 years, 14 years, 15 years, 16 years, 17/Over.
  • Swimmers will be able to qualify for this event with times achieved in licensed level 1, 2, 3 meets.  These times must be achieved between 2 dates (e.g. for 2018 the qualifying period is between May 1st 2017 and 13th April 2018).
  • There will be AUTOMATIC qualifying times, of which if a swimmer has achieved this time or faster they will definitely accepted for entry into the competition (providing the entry form is completed on time and correctly).
  • There will also be CONSIDERATION or BASE qualifying times for this competition.  Of which if a swimmer has achieved this time, their entry (providing it has been submitted and completed correctly and on time), will be added to the meet IF there is sufficient space.  This will be at the Promoter/Organiser’s discretion.  Therefore it is important if you get a Consideration/Base time as close as possible to the Automatic qualifying time.
  • There are Finals for some events.
  • There are also team relay events.  Relay swimmers will be selected by the club’s coaching team and the swimmers/parents will be notified prior to the meet.
  • There is also another Regional Championships event in early November – this is the Winter Regional Championships which are typically Short Course (but can be held Long course), and have Open and Junior events only.  Typically the older swimmers take part in this competition due to the qualifying times being aimed at Seniors.
  • All ages are as of 31st December of the year of the competition.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS:

There are different National Championships throughout the season.

Winter National Championships:
Typically in Mid December, and Short Course. The qualifying times are for Open and Junior (Junior being 15yrs Under).

British Championships and Olympic/World/Commonwealth Games trials:
Held in March/April each year for 4-8 days. These Championships are similar to the Winter Nationals in that they have an Open and Junior Qualifying times.
These championships double as the qualifying trials for the major games of the year – which are either the Olympics, World Championships or Commonwealth Games. In addition to this these are also the trials for Great Britain Junior Team events also (European Juniors, European Youth Olympics, World Juniors and Commonwealth Youth Games, etc).
There are typically Open and Junior Finals at this championships.

British Summer Championships:
The Top 24 British Swimmers (top 18 swimmers in distance events) in each event qualify for the British Summer Championships.
These championships are held at the end of July with the following age groups:
13/14 years, 15 years, 16 years, 17/18 years and 19/Over.
The qualifying period for these championships varies every year, but is typically between March and May of the year of competition, in which swimmers have to post Level 1 licensed times.

Home Nations Summer Championships (English, Scottish, Welsh):

Following the Top 24 British Swimmers ranked. THE NEXT number of qualifiers from each home nation English (20 swimmers) Scottish (numbers vary) and Welsh (20 swimmers) qualify for the respective home nations national summer meet.
These championships are held England – Early August, Scotland – Early July. Wales – Early August with age groups ranging from 12 years to 19/Over.
The qualifying period for this championships varies every year, but is typically between March and May of the year of competition, in which swimmers have to post Level 1 licensed times.
To ensure you are eligible for the correct home nation – you have to provide the relevant information to Swim England, Scottish Swimming or Swim Wales by April of the year of competition. If you do not declare yourself, your “home nation” will be that of your ranked swimming club – In the case of Winchester – ENGLAND.

A NOTE ABOUT SWIM TIMES:

Whenever you race you will get a swim time result (unless you are disqualified).
Swim times from Galas are useful for you to record but are not “official” times. They do not appear on the ASA listings of swimmers results and they can’t be used for entry to meets other than level 4 (the exception to this is times from Arena League, as this gala is licensed).
Times achieved in Open Meets (all levels) will be entered onto the ASA rankings database. Hence these are official times and can be used for entering other subsequent meets.
Once you are competing regularly you may want a quick link to the ASA database on your computer, as it will log all your swim results. This is the link: https://www.swimmingresults.org/individualbest/
This is a really useful site to visit. If you click on an individual event, you can see your swimmer’s history in that event – a great way to see progress!
However in addition to the above site, all swimmers are expected to keep their own log of PB’s!! When you enter an open meet you need all your entry times to put on your form. The open meets team won’t look them up for you – you need to do it!

ENTERING A MEET

SUBMITTING FORMS

  • Entry forms are made available on the Club website, along with all the information you need about a particular meet.
  • When you submit your form, the easiest to read forms are those done online.
  • PLEASE only send one form per email. Send a separate email for each sibling!
  • Our Open Meets team collate all individual entry forms and enter them into one of several entry file systems to submit to the hosting Club of an Open Meet.
  • This is a time consuming task, not least because it is important to get everything right.
  • They rely on entry forms being filled in clearly, correctly and completely. It is not their job to look things up for you!
  • The team do, however, check entry times submitted against official times on Rankings. For lower level meets not all times will be checked, but for higher level meets they will. So please get them right!
  • Generally coaches will encourage their swimmers to discuss with them what events they are entering before sending in a form. For higher level meets this is essential and coaches will make sure their swimmers know this.
  • For level 3 and level 4 meets you can submit estimates if you do not have an actual time. You need to ask for guidance from coaches on this – so allow time for this.
  • Really really don’t leave it all to the last minute! If you have a problem then you risk your entry being late. Or risk it being rushed and incorrect.
  • Sometimes late entries can be accepted, IF at the point they are submitted the open meets team have not finished processing everything. However late entries cause inconvenience and hence a £10 fee is charged for any that are accepted. You shouldn’t rely on the team being able to accept a late entry… if you are keen to enter a meet then please get the form sent in plenty of time.
  • Please remember the open meets team are all volunteers, who also have day jobs and families to think about! They cannot always reply on the day to email queries but do their very best to deal with issues as soon as they can.

AMENDMENTS

  • Please try to avoid sending subsequent forms with different event selections! This is time consuming admin wise and increases the risk of errors and confusion.
  • Amendments other than simple genuine errors will incur a late fee if submitted after our closing date.

ENTRY CONFIRMATIONS

  • For some meets we are able to send a list of submitted entries for checking. This will be emailed to swimmers. Please check these promptly and carefully – you need to advise the open meets team ASAP of any errors so these can be corrected. The time window is usually only 24h!
  • Once the actual meet has closed, a list of confirmed and rejected swims will be emailed out, as soon as we have received this from the host club.
  • Again, please check this list carefully and promptly and advise of any errors.
  • The open meets team take no responsibly for any errors not advised to them.
  • We are all only human and errors do of course happen – hence why we rely on parents to check!

WITHDRAWALS

  • There are various reasons for which swimmers may not be able to swim in an event / meet which they have entered.
  • Once entries are submitted, withdrawals will still incur the meet fee.
  • The only exception to this is if a withdrawal is for medical reasons that can be verified / evidenced by a doctor’s (or sometimes eg physio) letter.
  • Once you have withdrawn, this will be final!

COMPETITION VOLUNTEERS

All competitions require many volunteers to be able to run. This will be very evident when you see the number of people poolside helping to run things when you attend your first meet or gala! Whilst we don’t expect our very newest swimming members’ parents to do any more than sit and enjoy watching their child swim, we do hope that as time goes on people will be prepared to offer to help in the running of these events. There are more details about this in our volunteering section. Often, people find it’s much more enjoyable to come poolside and help the swimmers than to cook for hours in the spectator’s gallery!

Our Club Championships and Grand Prix series are great places to get stuck in with helping out, and meeting people.

Roles vary from organising swimmers, providing refreshments and entering results on the computer to working as an official, watching the swimmers to make sure they do everything correctly. We are always delighted to have new recruits to any of our volunteer roles, and we provide all training needed to get people started.

It’s worth remembering that many officials at open meets do not have children of their own swimming there and do not get paid to be there. They do it purely because they enjoy it and and are generous with their time!

COMPETITIONS GLOSSARY

Here are a few useful definitions…

ADMIN FEE

When the club enters a meet we have to buy passes for coaches and team managers and also cover coaching expenses. So in addition to the fee per event, swimmers pay an admin fee to us which contributes to this expense.

CLOSING DATE

An important one! The date by which our open meets team need your entry. The official closing date for submission of entries by WCPSC to the external club hosting the meet will be a week or so later. We need this time interval to process everything, check queries, send summary forms and calculate and submit payment. (very occasionally we may be able to take an entry sent to us after the closing date. We never guarantee this, and if we do accept it we charge an additional £10 admin fee). 

DISQUALIFICATION (DQ)

When a swimmer during a race does, or doesn’t do, something specified in FINA rules, as observed by an Official. No time will be recorded in the results. Coaches are able to find out, if necessary, what the error was.

DNF

A code on the results when a swimmer did not complete a race

DNS

A code on the results when a swimmer did not start a race.

EVENT

A race  – a specific distance / stroke – eg the 200m backstroke.

FREESTYLE

An event where each swimmer is free to choose the stroke of their choice. As the fastest stroke is front-crawl this is the stroke normally chosen.

HEATS

Where an event has more than 6/8 swimmers events are divided into heats. Following which HDWs are announced or semi-finals and finals are swum.

HEAT DECLARED WINNERS (HDW)

All swimmers swim in order according to their entry times, slowest first to fastest last. This is irrespective of age. The top places in each age band are then announced when all swimmers have swum that particular event.

INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY (IM)

A race comprising of all four strokes in a set order – butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, front-crawl. Under the FINA programme IM races are 100m/200m/400m.

LONG COURSE (LC) SHORT COURSE (SC)

A Long Course pool is 50m and a Short Course pool is 25m. Some competitions will be SC and some LC. IF you enter a LC competition you will need LC times. These can be worked out by converting SC times using a time converter tool.   The tool you need to use is here: http://www.pullbuoy.co.uk/times . Once on this use “ASA tables”. You can also convert LC times to SC. .

MEDLEY RELAY

Where four swimmers are selected to swim a set distance divided by four and all four strokes are swum by one of the four swimmers in the following order: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and front-crawl  (this differs from the Individual Medley order of Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Front-Crawl).

OFFICIALS

These are the people in white you see poolside at galas and meets.  They are all qualified (or training) and registered officials who are there to make sure that swimmers abide by the official rules. Open meets are dependent on having a certain number of officials to meet their license so if you want to support your swimmer this is a great way to get involved

ONE START RULE

Under FINA and ASA TECHNICAL RULES swimmers are not allowed to move from the starter saying ‘take your marks’ to ‘go’. The referee allows the race to proceed and afterwards the offending swimmer is announced as a DQ.

OVER THE TOP STARTS

At the end of a race the swimmers remain in the water while the lead referee starts the next race. This assists in quickening and streamlining the pace of the meet. Obviously this is not used for backstroke events!

PERSONAL BEST (PB)

This is the fastest time a swimmer records for a particular stroke and distance.

QUALIFICATION TIME (QT)

Often the conditions of a meet will require you to have swum a minimum (and occasionally maximum) time at a licensed meet in order to qualify.

STARTS AND FALSE STARTS

At the start of the race the referee blows a whistle three times followed by one long blow. This tells the swimmers to mount the starting blocks/enter the water for backstroke. The starter then starts the race. The race is only stopped if the false start is as a result of an electronic error.

TEAM MANAGER

A trained volunteer from the Club, who remains poolside with the swimmers during a gala or a meet session. They help to organise and keep an eye on the swimmers. Swimmers are expected to listen to and respect their team managers. 

TOUCHPAD/Timing Pad

 Part of the electronic timing equipment. Touchpads are placed at the end of the pool and are sensitive to a hand/foot touch at the turns and finish. They act as a stopwatch.