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!
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
performance tables are accessible on the British Swimming website. There are
also online conversion tools: PULLBOUY
Time Converter and
via swimmingworldmagazine.com, although their results do vary and should be
taken as a guide only.
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
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
We also post the results on our RESULTS page once received after the
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 ?
JUDGE LEVEL 1
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.
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
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
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.
JUDGE LEVEL 2
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.
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.
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
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.