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Types of Competition

There are a few different types of swimming competitions that take part over the year. Each type of competition can have it’s own rules and events included and the type of event will decide who can swim and how team may be selected.

We know this can be confusing so this information will help explain the main types of competition. There is also information around how age groups are determined and the licensing/ranking system. 

Swimming Leagues

As a club we currently enter two swimming leagues. The Rother League and the National Arena League.

These galas are made up of a series three galas where the team will compete against other clubs in the league. 

In these events there are typically 4 age groups of competitors and in each gala there will be an individual race for each stroke in each age group as well as Freestyle and Medley relays.

There are some slight differences between the age groups and specific events at each league but they operate in a similar way.

For these galas the team is selected by the coaching team, and the races that each swimmer are competing in are set by the coaches. The swimmers will find out the races they are competing in at the gala allowing for any last minute changes if people cannot attend.

The Arena League is a licensed event and competitions take places on the second Saturday in October, November and December each year.

Rother League is an unlicensed gala and although the calendar varies slightly the rounds are typically March, June and September.

Open Meets

Open meets are competitions set-up and managed by swimming clubs. The programme of events is set by the organising club, there is an entry fee per event, and swimmers choose which events they want to compete in.

There are different levels of open meet and the organisers can set their entry criteria. This can be either a minimum entry time to be considered, a maximum time allowed (often for lower level meets to ensure the competition is fair) and they can set maximum number of swimmers. Meets can be determined on a first come first served basis, or by taking the fastest swimmers up to the maximum number of swimmers. 

There are many open meets and as a club we will support a certain number of events through the year, trying to find a mix of levels and competition whilst fitting in with other events on the calendar. On some open meets we will only invite the relevant squads or groups to attend. E.g. the Novice Open meet is only open to swimmers under 13 and who have not qualified for county championships so open for Junior and Pre-Senior squads only. For a higher level meet we would only open this to our Senior squad swimmers.

Where the club is supporting an open meet we will arrange the entries and will ensure that coaches attend to support on poolside. 

Club Competitions

As a club Seaclose runs an annual Club Championships. For this event we run a full programme of races with 50m, 100m and 200m of each individual stroke, 100m, 200m and 400m Individual Medley and longer distance freestyle races at 400m, 800m and 1500m. The events are licensed so times count towards Rankings / County champs.

We sometimes run these inviting the other Island clubs so that we can share the pool time and officials but results are specific to Seaclose Swimming Club with medals / awards for the winners.

Where the calendar allows we will also organise the Isle of Wight Sprints and Isle of Wight Championships events which is where swimmers compete against other Island clubs. Again these events are licensed.

County and Regional Competitions

Each year there are County, Regional and National Championships. For these events there are qualifying times set and if swimmers achieve those times at a relevant licensed meet they have the opportunity to enter the County champs first, Regional champs and the finally national championships. 

Usually on all of these events there is a maximum number of swimmers so achieving the time may not guarantee acceptance, but is a minimum standard to be considered.

Our County Champs are the Hampshire County Swimming Champs – usually held at the early part of each calendar year. HCASA – Hampshire County ASA (hampshireswimming.com)

The Regional champs are the South East Regionals – Home – ASA South East Region website (southeastswimming.org)

Ages At / Age Groups

When a competition is set-up the organisers will specify at what point the ‘Ages at’ for a swimmer are set. This is usually either set for the date of the competition, or the end of the calendar year. This can be confusing at times for example if you are competing in an event at a certain point in the year but the ages are set from 31st December.

For example the Arena League (as with many events) are based on the Ages at 31st December, so whilst you may be 14 years old at the competition if your birthday is before the 31st December you would be competing in the 15 year old age group.

Rankings / Licensed competitions

When an event is set-up the organisers can apply for it to be a Licensed Meet. This is a set of standards set by Swim England that need to be followed. If your event is licensed the results can then be submitted to Swim England to appear on the official rankings. Anyone can check their submitted times on the Swim England website – Individual Best Times.

For most open meets and competitions, and for the County / Regional / National championships use times from the Rankings as their basis for allowing entries.

When we organise our Club Champs and Island based events we will always apply for a license meaning that times are included on the rankings and can be used for County Championships.