SWIM COMPETITIONS – Galas, Meets and Championships
WCPSC is involved in a huge range of competitions through the year.
These fall into three groups:
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.
If you are selected for a gala (via Swim Club Manager invite) 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. 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. There are 3 divisions, which are then grouped in regions. The top teams in the top – Premier – division compete in National finals each year.
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. Times from galas other than Arena League are not licensed times and hence do not appear as such on rankings.
These are swimming competitions in which individuals/their parents enter themselves through the club’s entry process. These competitions are licensed – which means that times achieved at these meets will appear on swimmers Rankings on the Swim England database. There is an entry fee charged per event. This is likely to range from £6 to £9, although can be more for 800m/1500m events. In addition to the entry fee per event the club adds an “open meet fee”. This varies depending on the location / duration of the meet. These fees contribute towards the club costs of pool passes, coach travel expenses etc.
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 generally discuss with their lead coach which events to enter, PRIOR to submitting their entry. 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 can 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.
Open meets may be one of 4 levels:
Level 4: 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. This competition is aimed at the whole club, and all competitive swimmers would be expected to enter.
– 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 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 official licensed times are enforced strictly, as is the number and qualification of officials.
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 for each competition.
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 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, Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.
- 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.
- 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.
- There will be AUTOMATIC qualifying times, of which if a swimmer has achieved this time or faster then acceptance of entry into the competition in that event is guaranteed.
- There will also be CONSIDERATION or BASE qualifying times for this competition. Of which if a swimmer has achieved this time, their entry will be added to the meet IF there is sufficient space. The closer you can get to an automatic QT, the more likely your entry is to get in.
- 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 in May each year.
- All events are Long Course.
- They are held over 3 weekends, and are split into 15/Over Championships (1 weekend) and 14/Under Championships (2 weekends).
- There will be qualifying times for the competition based on age groups.
- 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 specific dates.
- There will be AUTOMATIC qualifying times, of which if a swimmer has achieved this time or faster they will definitely be accepted for entry into the competition
- There will also be CONSIDERATION or BASE qualifying times for this competition. Of which if a swimmer has achieved this time, their entry will be added to the meet IF there is sufficient space. The closer this time is to an automatic QT the more likely it is to be accepted.
- The numbers of swimmers per event to be accepted are published ahead.
- There are Finals for events of 200m and under.
- 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 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.
There are different National Championships throughout the season.
Winter National Championships:
Typically held 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). There are typically Open and Junior Finals at these 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: 12/13 & 14 years (girls) 13/14 years (boys), 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. Swimmers must post Level 1 licensed times within this window.
Home Nations Summer Championships (English, Scottish, Welsh):
Following the Top 24 ranked British Swimmers the next number of qualifiers from each home nation English (20 swimmers) Scottish (numbers vary) and Welsh (20 swimmers) qualify for their respective home nations national summer meet. These championships are held for England and Wales in early August, and in Scotland in early July Age groups are as British Championships.
The qualifying period for these championships is as per British Championships. To ensure you are eligible for the correct home nation – you need 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 this is 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 Swim England 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 Swim England rankings database. Hence these are official times and can be used for entering other subsequent meets. Once you are competing regularly you should have a quick link to the Swim England database on your computer, as it will log all your swim results. This is the link: https://www.swimmingresults.org/individualbest/
If you click on an individual event, you can see your swimmer’s history in that event – a great way to see progress!
If you are interested in rankings, these can also be found on the above site. You can view rankings for a certain event / age at Club / County / Regional and National level – with the option of choosing 12 month or all time rankings.
In addition to the above site, all swimmers are expected to keep their own log of PB’s!!
ENTERING A MEET
- All entries for open meets are organised through Swim Club Manager (SCM) and invites are sent out by email.
- The coaches decide which meets are appropriate for all swimmers.
- Without an invite you cannot enter a meet through the Club.
- The invite will include the details of the meet including venue, date, closing date, schedule of events and QT’s, either as an attachment or a link.
- The events shown as selectable on the invite are the events the swimmer qualifies for. If an event does not show then the swimmer is too fast / slow for this event.
- Click on all events you wish to enter then submit your entry.
- Keep the email invite – if you subsequently wish to amend your entry you will need it again. To do this you will need to re-select ALL the events you wish to swim.
- You will receive a confirmation email detailing all the events you have entered. If you cannot attend a meet – please decline the invite to avoid receiving chaser emails!
- The meet invite will only be accessible until the club closing date. After this date you will not be able to enter or edit your events.
- Generally, coaches will encourage their swimmers to discuss with them what events they are entering prior to submitting the entry.
- For higher level meets this is essential and coaches will make sure their swimmers know this.
- For level 4 meets you can submit estimates if you do not have an actual time. (You will be able to amend / add entry times on SCM for these events) 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 missing the closing date. Or risk it being rushed and incorrect.
- If you miss the closing date you cannot enter via Swim Club Manager. If you believe you have a very exceptional reason for missing the deadline you should contact the open meets team urgently. Late entries cause huge inconvenience and hence a £10 fee is charged for any that are accepted.
- 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.
- Once the host club has processed all entries, a list of confirmed and rejected swims will be emailed out. This may not be for a few weeks after our closing date.
- Please check this list carefully and promptly and advise of any errors.
- We are all only human and errors do of course happen – hence why we rely on parents to check!
- 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, unless they are for a certified medical condition.
- Once you have withdrawn, this will be final!
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!
Here are a few useful definitions…
OPEN MEET 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. DQ’s are important learning
points for swimmers and do get less common with more experience, although they are usually
disappointing at the time!
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. But any stroke, or combination of
strokes would be legal!
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 in
an event are then announced when all swimmers have swum.
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
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 –If a swimmer false starts the referee allows the race to proceed and
afterwards the offending swimmer is announced as a DQ. (If the false starting swimmer also
affected other’s starts then the race will be stopped and re-started, without the offending
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
QUALIFICATION TIME (QT) – often the conditions of a meet will require you to have
swum a minimum (and sometimes maximum) time at a licensed meet in order to be
eligible to enter.
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.
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