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Welcome to Bridgend County Swim Squad    Croeso i Garfan Nofio Penybont Ar Ogwr



Welcome to Parents' Corner

Information for New Members





Bridgend County Swim Squad is one of the leading competitive swimming clubs in South Wales.

Our Development squad swimmers train at Maesteg, Pyle & Ynysawdre pools.

As swimmers develop their skills they will move into more competitive squads where they will work towards the standard required to represent their country at the highest level of the sport.

Entry to the Development Squad is via the Academy route and swimmers are nominated by the Academy Coaches

 It may be possible  to attend an assessment session for swimmers who have the necessary skill levels  to join.

They should contact one of the Club Coaches or email the Club Membership Secretary at

If your child passes the coach's assessment then a membership application form will need to be submitted to the Membership secretary.

This will only be accepted if the coach has agreed that the swimmer has achieved the required standard.



Swimming and Swim Galas can be quite complicated affairs to understand.

For newcomers and novices, getting to grips with the rules, regulations, structures, and organisation of swimming competitions can be a minefield and will take a while to understand everything required of a swim parent to match the 'old soaks' who have been subjected to countless numbers of swimming galas and early morning training sessions.

Here is some information to explain some of the finer points of swimming:



The Competitive Meet
The competitive aspect of swimming, the meet, can seem like a daunting and confusing prospect for those new swimmers & parents. However, once you’ve experienced a couple you will quickly get into the swing of things, and there is always help at hand.

Your coach is the definitive point of reference for matters relating to meets, and, as with every other aspect of the club’s activities, there are plenty of people who have been involved in competitive swimming for many years who will be happy to advise you. JUST ASK!

Competition Types
Competitions are classified as “open” or “closed”.
An open competition, as the name implies, is open to all, whilst closed competitions are for selected groups.

For the majority of competitions, the club attends and stays together as a team, but the swimmers will be competing as individuals against other individuals. Usually the top three positions in events receive an award.

Why different Meet Levels?
A Level 1 meet will have minimum qualifying times and is broadly aimed at swimmers aiming for National Qualifying Times (NQTs).

Level 2 meets have minimum qualifying times and upper limit times; these are aimed at those looking for good Regional qualifying times (QTs).

Level 3 meets typically have upper limit QTs (swimmers may not enter if their times are faster than the specified QTs) aimed at Regional and Club swimmers, but also certain meets designed to encourage swimmers with no times and who are starting out in their swimming career.

What is short course/long course?

Short Course (SC) – a 25m pool
Long Course (LC) – a 50m pool

What does QT, CT, UCT, NT all mean?
Qualifying Time (QT) –
the time that must be achieved to enter the event in a gala.
If the gala also has Consideration Times (CT) these are usually slower than the QT and swimmers may enter the gala.

The meet programme however will firstly be selected from the swimmers who have achieved the QT for an event. Only if there are then places available will swimmers with a CT be entered to the event.

For example – 3 swimmers who are 13 on the date of the gala
Swimmer A has a PB for 100 Freestyle of 1:04.05
Swimmer B has a PB for 100 Freestyle of 1:10.21
Swimmer C has a PB for 100 Freestyle of 1:15.85

If in a gala pack for 100 Freestyle the Qualifying Time (QT) is 1:07.23 for 13 year olds but the organisers have also set a Consideration Time (CT) of 1:11.05 then swimmers A & B above can enter but swimmer C may not as they have achieved neither the QT or the CT. Swimmer B may have his entry accepted to the gala but only after all those swimmers who have entered the event with a QT have been given places.

Upper Cut Off times (UCT) are usually found in level 2&3 galas. Where UCTs are published swimmers may enter where their PB for the event is equal to or slower than the published UCT. If their time is faster than the UCT then their entry will not be accepted.

Galas which permit No Times (NTs) are the first step in competitive swimming for new entrants. These are usually Level 3 meets and will allow entries for swimmers who do not have any qualifying times, there are also usually UCTs associated with NT galas.

Gala Entry Procedure is the same for all meets.

Check the information on the FIXTURES page website to ensure that the meet is suitable and that you do not have any other commitments on the relevant day(s).

Decide which events you would like to enter. Bear in mind that entering too many events will be very tiring and may mean you do not swim at your best. If in doubt ask your coach who will be happy to advise you. Open Meets often have early starts and mean long days.

Follow the Meet Entry Protocol on the Competitions Page and email your entries through with a cheque for the relevant amount made payable to “BCSS”.

We then collate all the entries and send the information to the club hosting the meet.

Once entries have closed, the host club decides which entries to accept and sends details back to us. This is then posted on the FIXTURES page under the relevant Meet & circulated to squad members via the Class Manager.

If there are any rejections then details of any refunds available will also be given. You can choose to carry any refunds forward to future entries, or you can donate it to the Club to help with the additional costs which are not covered by individual entry fees.

Time Conversions
Some meets require times achieved in a 25m (short course) pool and others in a 50m (long course) pool. There are tools available to convert between the two, in the event that the swimmer has only the “wrong” type of time.

Traditional comparative performance tables are accessible on the British Swimming website. There are also online conversion tools: PULLBOUY Time Converter and via, although their results do vary and should be taken as a guide only.

Age Groups
Most competitions will organise swimmers into age groups for awards. Sometimes these are single year age groups, sometimes double, with awards presented for the top swimmers in each event in each age group. Heats can be spearheaded according to entry time, irrespective of age.

Nationals & Regional competitions have age as of 31 December. Other galas can do this as well or run on a system called “Age on Day”, which means that the age group a swimmer enters is their age on the final day of competition. If a competition runs over several weekends, then the age is on the last day of the whole competition.

In addition to individual age groups, competitions may also be split into:
Age is up to 14 for girls and boys.
Youth is from these ages to 17 for females and 18 for males
Senior is all ages above these.

Meet Programmes are available for sale at the venue, listing all swimmers in each event in order of seed time, and providing general information about the event. They are very useful if only to work out when your child is likely to be swimming and schedule comfort breaks and trips to the café accordingly!


There is usually some form of electronic timing in use at meets. Timekeepers provide backup in the event that the system is not operating. The results of each race will be shown on the display board, but they have to be ratified by the referee and declared so by the announcer before they are deemed “official”.

There may be disqualifications for the infringement of technical or stroke rules, or the electronic timing may not have been operating correctly (e.g. a swimmer may not have touched the pad hard enough to trigger it).

Official results are usually posted on the walls after the events and are often available on the host club/organisation’s website via Live results Meet Mobile.
We also post the results on our RESULTS page once received after the meet concludes.

National Rankings
All the results from licensed meets are forwarded to British Swimming which maintains the ASA National Rankings Database. This can be accessed on the British Swimming website via the link on the MEMBERS page.

Each swimmer in all of the age groups, for each stroke and distance, for long course and short course are listed.

What are the roles of the Officials at the gala ?

This is the first level of British qualification for which the minimum age is 15.
It encompasses the role and duties of a Timekeeper, Chief Timekeeper and Inspector of Turns.

Timekeeper - Records the time the swimmer takes to complete the race using a stopwatch and record it on the heat sheets. If the meet is working with Automatic Officiating Equipment (AOE) ie electronics then there will also be a secondary ‘back-up’ button that you need to push when the swimmer completes the race.
If the meet is using manual times the Chief Timekeeper will collect the time sheets for each event.

Chief Timekeeper ensuring the timekeepers perform their role. If the meet is manually timed, they collect the time sheets from the timekeeper after each event and work out the finishing times for the swimmers based on the order of the finish in agreement with the referee.
Inspector of Turns responsible for looking at the swimmers turns and finishes.
They report any infringement if seen to the Referee or Chief Inspector of Turns. Knowledge of the rules relating to the turn and finish for each stroke is needed However mentoring will assist & explain what should be looked for.
The only person who can disqualify a swimmer is the Referee.

Chief Inspector of Turns the link between the Inspector of Turns (J1) and the Referee. Takes the report from the time keeper to the referee.
Relay take-off Judge In relay events watching the take-over when the incoming swimmer touches and the swimmer on the blocks dives in. Any infringement is reported to the Chief Inspector of Turns/Referee.

The second level of qualification. It encompasses the role & duties in relation to all aspects of judging, the theoretical role and duties of Starter. Training is based around a workshop session followed by practical sessions with an experienced official and a final practical session.

Stroke Judge: J2 officials are responsible for ensuring that all stroke rules are complied with. As with J1 Stroke judges they do not disqualify swimmers. but report observed infringements to the Referee who will disqualify the swimmer.
Finish Judge: writes the lane order of swimmers as they finish and passes these to the Referee. An important role even in the meets with electronics as sometimes these systems fail!
Judge level 2-starter
This role is the most visible and easiest to understand role. The starter’s role is to ensure that the start is fair for all swimmers.

This role is the highest level of qualification in British Swimming and combines several theory sessions, an exam and assessed practical sessions.

The Referee is in overall control of all aspects of the meet and is responsible for health and safety as well as ensuring that the competition is fair. He considers reports on observed infringements from the other officials & decides whether these will be accepted.




Your First Competition

Competition Days for Novices


The Night Before –Parents and Swimmers

Swimmers should make sure they pack their bags the night before as most competitions start early. Always pack a costume (and spare), fast skin (if required) Bridgend County Swim Squad Hat, Goggles (and spare), Bridgend County Swim Squad T-Shirt, flip flops, two towels, healthy lunch (pasta etc.), fruit, enough drinks for the competition (Squash or water) and snacks all of which the swimmer takes on poolside with them. Don’t forget to bring money for entry and programmes. There may also be the opportunity to purchase swimwear/equipment.

Get plenty of sleep. Set two alarm clocks so that you don’t oversleep or spend the entire night worrying that your alarm clock doesn’t go off! If the competition isn’t at home, make sure you have planned your route and arrive early. Familiarise yourself with the programme of events.


Make sure you wear comfortable clothes to and from the pool. Arrive at least 15 minutes before warm up and make yourself known to your coach.


Warm-ups are essential to the swimmers performance. They give the swimmers the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the diving blocks, depth and water temperature, positioning of the 5m flags and the feel for the end of wall. These sessions are strictly organised as they are extremely busy. Swimmers must always follow instruction from the Bridgend County Swim Squad swimming coach or the poolside officials. Once warm-up has finished, each swimmer should dry off and change into their competition costumes and club tops. It’s essential that the swimmer keeps warm. Swimmers are required to stay on poolside with their team mates throughout the meet. Parents, meanwhile, remain in the seating area provided for them! Swimmers from time to time may be allowed to go and see their parents/guardians but must at all times check first with the coach on poolside.

Off to Marshalling

Swimmers will be told when they are required to go to marshalling. It is important that swimmers listen carefully to instructions from their coaches; this will help their performance in the race. Once in marshalling the swimmers will give their name to the marshal in charge and they will be directed to the relevant seat. Marshals will organise the swimmers into the correct heats and lanes and tell you when to go to the officials on the relevant lane. This is a good time when space is available to do some stretches. It is important that all swimmers follow instructions or this may result in you missing your race.

Starts for Beginners

It’s a good idea to put your hats and goggles on just before the marshals send you over to the blocks. Swimmers should leave their T-shirts etc., on until just before the race. The officials for your lane will check your name again. This is a good time to remove the last of your warm clothes. The referee blows a short series of whistles to signal that the swimmers should stand behind the starting block. At this time all swimmers/parents etc. should be quiet.

When the referee blows a long blast on the whistle you should either; stand on the block, stand at the edge of the pool if you are starting in the water or jump into the pool if it is a backstroke start.

Each swimmer has their own preference where they stand on the block (it really doesn’t matter) but when the starter gives the command “Take your marks” you must take up your position with one foot at the front of the block and remain completely still! Until the start signal is given.

If swimmers moves on the block or dives to soon it will be deemed a false start, this will result in a Disqualification as most meets use the “one start rule” which means the swimmer will not have another chance


There are a number of reasons a swimmer can be disqualified including; making a false start, delaying the start, faulty stroke, faulty turn, and faulty finish. It happens to everyone at some point. The best thing a swimmer can do is not get to upset and learn from your mistake. Find out why you were disqualified. If a swimmer is disqualified they cannot use the time recorded.

At the end of the Race

Firstly return to your coach for feedback about your swim. Depending on facilities, and when your next event is, you may be able to use a swim down pool or dry off and put your warm clothes on. Make sure you always have a drink at the end of a race.


Some or all events, especially the longer ones, may be heat declared but others have finals, with the fastest swimmers form the heats going forward.

Advice for Novice Parents

Get everything possible ready the night before. Preparation is the key. Most parents take a cool bag with food and drink as venues differ vastly with what they provide.

A pen to mark down your child’s times etc. A highlighter is ideal if they are swimming in more than one race. Something to keep you occupied as there can be a long time between events. Wear something cool even if it’s snowing outside –pool sides are like saunas!

Remember –your child may not always win or get a personal best every time but they have given 100%

- whatever you may think, always respond with supportive, encouraging praise.



Swim meets are a great family experience. They’re a place where the whole family can spend time together.


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