TYPES OF COMPETITION
Open Meets are available for all standards of swimmer, from novice to senior international. Each meet has a licensing level according to the purpose of the competition and they all have qualifying or consideration times.
Level 1 Meets – Open Competition
This is aimed at national swimmers and swimmers close to national qualifying times, who come together to compete against each other during the year. There is no upper limit to ensure the best competitive environment, and there are lower limits to ensure only the fastest swimmers compete. These are held in 50m pools only now.
Level 2 meets – Qualifying competitions
This is where the competition gets tougher and swimmers are attempting to attain Regional and National Times. They have both an upper and lower limit to times and are designed for swimmers that are either too fast for graded galas or are too slow for open level 1 meets.
Level 3 – Graded Gala
These types of galas are again for low level competition, and swimmers use these competitions to gain qualifying times for County Championships, these galas have upper limits as to restrict the faster swimmers from competing and allow swimmers to compete at the right level.
Level 4 – Club / Invitational galas
This level is where there is no lower limit, and is a real introduction to competitive swimming. Some clubs have their own championships. However there are often invitational galas between clubs (Christmas Cracker and COP’s) where taking part is more important and learning about the competition environment.
National qualifying times are accepted from meets licensed at level 1 & 2.
Regional qualifying times are accepted from meets licensed at level 1, 2 & 3.
League Galas (e.g. Junior League and Arena League)
The club selects a team to swim against other clubs. This is an opportunity to practice racing, make friends and to enhance the team spirit. The swims usually comprise individual swims as well as relay swims.
Junior League is for children aged 9 years to 12 years, while the Arena League is aimed at 10/11 years to 16 years plus. The fastest four in each age group are usually selected, so if your child is in the top four in their age group, they are likely to be picked for the competition.
It is obviously a privilege to be picked for a team that represents your club and we would ask that swimmers do everything possible to ensure they attend team events to ensure the club has the strongest team possible.
Check the notice board for dates - they are usually known well in advance.
This competition happens once a year, over several weekends, in February and March. Entrance to the Championships is through qualifying times. Swimmers can start competing at County level from the age of 9 years as long as they have gained the qualifying standard.
The District have three competitions per year, the Youth Championships for swimmers aged 15 to 19 & over (boys), 14 to 18 & over girls, BAGCAT Age Group Championships for swimmers aged 10 to 14 years (boys), 10 to 13 years (girls), the Open Championships for Senior (aged 17 years & over), and Junior (aged 16 years and under) swimmers. The Youth Championships are held at the beginning of May, the Age Groups the middle of June and the Open Champs at the end of November.
All the competitions are Long Course, which means they take place in a 50m pool. Swimmers have to gain qualifying times from designated meets in order to compete at these championships.
These are the next step up from the Regional meets; again swimmers have to attain the qualifying standard in order to compete. As with the Region there are three levels of competition. The first is the National BAGCAT Championships, for swimmers aged 11 years to 14 years boys and 11 years to 13 years girls and is usually held late July early August. Then there’s the National Youth Championships for boys aged 15/16 years and 17/18 years and girls aged 14/15 years and 16/17 years and these are usually held early to mid August and directly follow the Age Group Competition. Selections for all the World Class Start and Potential Programmes come from these competitions. The last National event is the ASA Long Course Championships, which is open to any age group attaining the qualifying times, but is mainly a senior event. All National events are held Long Course (50m pool) and the venue is normally in Sheffield.
The British Championships are held each year. The first is the Long Course (50m pool), held in March/April and doubles as trials for Olympic, World, European Championships, Commonwealth Games, European Junior Championships and European Youth Olympics.
There are several types of officials:
Referee: The referee has full control and authority over all officials. The referee will enforce all rules and decisions of FINA and shall decide all questions relating to the actual conduct of the meet, and event or the competition, the final settlement of which is not otherwise covered by the rules. The referee takes overall responsibility for running the race and makes the final decisions as to who wins the competition.
Starter: The starter has full control of the swimmers from the time the referee turns the swimmers over to him/her until the race commences. A starter sends the swimmers off the blocks and may call a false start if a swimmer leaves the block before the starter sends them.
Clerk of Course: The clerk of course (marshal) assembles swimmers prior to each event.
Timekeepers: There are up to three timekeepers for each lane. Each timekeeper takes the time of the swimmers in the lane assigned to him/her. Unless a video backup system is used, it may be necessary to use the full complement of timekeepers even when Automatic Officiating Equipment is used. A chief timekeeper assigns the seating positions for all timekeepers and the lanes for which they are responsible. The chief timekeeper collects from the timekeepers in each lane a card showing the times recorded and, if necessary, inspect their watches.
Inspectors of Turns: One inspector of turns is assigned to each lane at each end of the pool. Each inspector of turns ensures that swimmers comply with the relevant rules for turning as well as the relevant rules for start and finish of the race. Inspectors of turns shall report any violation on signed cards detailing the event, lane number, and the infringement delivered to the chief inspector of turns who will immediately convey the report to the referee.
Judges of Stroke: Judges of stroke are located on each side of the pool. They ensure that the rules related to the style of swimming designated for the event are being observed, and observe the turns and the finishes to assist the inspectors of turns.
Finish Judges: Finish Judges determine the order of finish and make sure the swimmers finish in accordance with the rules (two hands simultaneously for breaststroke and butterfly, on the back for backstroke, etc.)
If an official catches a swimmer breaking a rule concerning the stroke he or she is swimming, that swimmer is said to be disqualified (commonly referred to as a "DQ") and the swim is not considered valid. The referee can disqualify any swimmer for any violation of the rules that he personally observes. The referee may also disqualify any swimmer for any violation reported to him by other authorised officials. All disqualifications are subject to the decision of the referee.