Swimmers FAQs

What are Different Types of Swimming Competitions?
Published: 03 February 2017

What are Different Types of Swimming Competitions?

  • Interclub galas – The club get invited to or invite other clubs to attend a team competition.  These can be at any level and we try to compete in as many of these locally as possible.  Points are awarded dependent on placement, much like the League galas these are then added together to give an overall point score to determine the winners.
  • League galas - The club takes part in four leagues, the Chilterns Swimming League, the Milton Keynes and District Junior League (up to 12 and under), the Home Counties League and the West Midlands Division of the National Arena League. The Chilterns Swimming League is a C-grade competition with ‘no faster than’ time limits, but we pick our fastest team within those limits. The Junior, Home Counties and Arena leagues are very competitive and we field our best available team for every gala.
  • Selection policy - Flitwick Dolphins is a competitive swimming club and we enter competitions with the aim of winning or doing as well as we can. We therefore pick the fastest team available. The team list is drafted using the PB times of every swimmer for each event. The coaches then make adjustments to the team as they see fit; the coaches have the final word on selection.
  • Open Meets - As the name suggests, Open Meets are open to anyone, although most charge a fee and have qualifying times that a swimmer must have achieved in order to enter; some also have upper limits on qualifying times. Open Meets are set at different levels, so all of our swimmers should be able to take part in some of them. Some meets are licensed by the ASA; times set at these meets are used to compile the national rankings and can be used for entry into the Regional and National championships. The club targets a number of meets through the year at which it provides poolside coaching.  Swimmers should only enter the events they are guided to by the club as the coaching plan is set up to train for those events.  Swimmers should not attend more than 2 events per month – excluding Club Championships and County Championships.
  • County, Regional and National Championships - The Bedfordshire County championships are held annually and are an important event for the club. Every swimmer who qualifies is expected enter. The next levels up are the East Region, which holds age group, youth and open championships, and the Nationals. The qualifying times for these championships are very tough.
  • Club Championships - The club championships are open to every swimmer in the club, ALL swimmers are expected to enter, and they are great fun, often very competitive and a great opportunity to establish PBs. They are held in the autumn.
What are Open Meets?
Published: 03 February 2017

What are Open Meets?

These are competitions where Club swimmers enter individual events using their previously achieved personal best time for each stroke and distance. Normally Coaches will select the stroke/distance they want a swimmer to enter to help in their personal development. These may not necessarily be either the swimmers favourite or best events. The types of Meet vary according to the capability of the swimmers. The ASA have a licensing system of 3 categories which have been designed to broaden the range of competition available to swimmers. Briefly the four categories are being described as follows:

Level 1: These are the highest grade of Open Meet designed for swimmers of National Standard and above. There has to be a ‘lower qualifying times’ (no slower than) but there is ‘no upper qualifying times (no faster than). Times achieved at these Meets can be used for qualification to Nationals, Regional and County competition.

Level 2: These Meets have both ‘lower qualifying times’ and ‘upper qualifying times’ although this is usually much faster than a national qualifying time and therefore are not normally a restriction to entry. The ‘lower qualifying times’ however can vary considerably from meet to meet. Times achieved at these competitions can be used for qualification to Nationals, Regional and County competition.

Level 3 – These Meets have ‘upper qualifying times’ but not necessarily a ‘lower qualifying time’. The cut-off can be anything up to a National Standard. Times achieved at these Meets can be used for qualification to County competitions.
What are the Different Courses?
Published: 03 February 2017

What are the Different Courses?

Short Course - A Competition event swam in a 25m pool
Long Course - A competition event swam in a 50m pool
Your First Team Gala
Published: 19 September 2016

Your First Team Gala

It’s very exciting for both the swimmer and parent when you get the first selection for a team gala so here’s some tips to ensure it goes smoothly.

Before You Go
  • Where? Find out where the gala is and where you can park.
  • Check the times of the gala and whether the sessions have changed or not! There will be a gala page for most galas on the host swimming clubs website. This may also include accepted entries so that you can check you are in all the races you entered.
  • Check which races you are swimming with the Coach/Team Manager. You will only be told on the day of the gala not before.
  • Pack your kit bag – See ‘Tips for Swimmers’ and ‘Checklist’
At The Gala
  • Signing in. This is normally done by the Team Manager/Coach so make sure you let them know you have arrived, they will let you know if you need to sign in yourself.
  • Find your team mates. You will find the rest of your fellow team mates sitting in an area by the pool with the coach. You must stay there in between the races and tell the coach or any club officials if you are going off somewhere like to the toilet, so that they know where you are and you don't miss any races. Some clubs don't like you going into the balcony to see your parents as it gets water everywhere.
  • Warm Up. All swimmers will take it in turns to practice their strokes before the races they are about to swim. You should practice your strokes, sprinting and diving and your backstroke stroke count so that you are confident about when to turn.
  • Whipping. You then will need to wait until you are called for your race. This is called whipping. The coaches will have the details of your races and usually there will be someone from the club as well to help. You will need to take your hat and goggles, but can leave your flip flops and t-shirt on if you want to.
  • Start. When it is your turn to race, you will need to go and stand behind the starting blocks and wait for the race before you to finish. During this time you can get your hat and goggles ready and put your t-shirt and hat either in a box by the officials chair or on the floor near them you can pick them up after.
  • Last Minute Warming Up. You can also do some warming up exercises, like jumping and stretching your arms.
  • Start. When it is your turn to race you will need to go to the block and wait for the referee to blow his/her whistle several times to indicate that you need to get on the block and be ready to take your position, followed by a single long blast. This indicates that you need to get in your ready position or jump in the water for back stroke. After the starter has said "Take Your Marks", you must not move until you hear the starting signal
  • At the end of your race the referee may ask all the swimmers to leave the pool in preparation for the next race.
  • Or you may need to wait in the water holding the lane rope until told otherwise. Make sure you do not move whilst the next race is starting.
  • Once the race has started you may leave the pool and fetch your t-shirt and flip flops.
  • Coach. Return to your coach and team mates. Your coach will want to give you some feedback about how you raced.
  • Disqualification. Most swimmers are disqualified at least once, usually several times, when they start swimming. DO NOT WORRY! Just find out why you were disqualified and learn from your mistake. Sometimes it is confusing when you are swimming in a different pool or racing for the first time. Even the older experienced swimmers sometimes get disqualified when they aren't thinking.
  • Make sure you drink lots and eat between the races (but not just before!)

Download Your First Team Gala Document
Tips for Team Galas
Published: 19 September 2016

Tips for Team Galas

  • Team Galas are a team event – you are representing your club and will gain points from each race which is accumulated for the overall score.
  • Team Selection is made by the Coaches and Team Managers.
  • Selection is usually based on the swimmers current PB’s, and depending on the level of gala will generally be the fastest swimmers to give the club the best possible chance of winning.
  • Some galas e.g. ‘Chiltern League’, have ‘No Faster Than’ (NFT) times, which means if a swimmer swims faster than the NFT they don’t score any points for the team and may incur penalties.
  • Age groups in team galas vary e.g.‘ Under 12’ or ’12 and Under’ and some will be age on the day, others age at the end of the year. Age brackets will affect team selection.
  • Ensure you check emails regularly so you don’t miss a selection email.
  • Please respond promptly to team selection emails as this will aid the Team Manager organising the team.
  • Remember you may be in one or multiple races, and/or part of a relay team – whatever you’re doing you are an important part of the team.
  • There will always be at least one member of the Coaching Team and a Team Manager on poolside with you who will happily answer any questions you may have during the gala.

 Download Tips for Team Galas Document
Top Tips for Open Meets
Published: 19 September 2016

Top Tips for Open Meets

  • Check the club calendar for Open Meets the club are entering.
  • The Competitions Secretary will email out entry details and the date entries need to be submitted by.
  • Ensure you submit your entries on time – Open Meets are often oversubscribed so entries need to be in promptly to try and avoid rejections.
  • A swimmers personal best times from Level 1, 2, 3 & 4 Open Meets are recorded on the ASA database. Personal best times from galas are recorded by the club.
  • Thoroughly check the entry criteria of the open – Key Areas:
    • Check the age groups, is it age as of 31st December or age on the day.
    • Check the entry time criteria’s: Lower Limits (has to swim faster than the lower limit time) Upper Limits (Cannot enter if they swim faster than the upper limit time). If there are no Lower limit times you may be able to enter even if you don’t have a time in that event by entering N/T. Please check the Open Meet rules and chat with your coach.
    • e.g ‘Flitwick Open’ has both Upper and Lower limit times, so the swimmer has to swim faster than the Lower limit, but slower than no faster times to enter. Linslade Open (2016), has no faster than times but no lower limit times and they accept swimmers with no times, so swimmer can enter as long as they swim slower than the no faster than time, and if they don’t have a time you just enter N/T on the form. Also bear in mind at this type of open, if you swim faster than the no faster than time, you may be the fastest in your age group, but may not get a medal but a ‘speeding ticket’ instead! Don’t worry your time will still be recorded on the ASA database.
  • All Open Meet entries must be paid by cheque at the time the entry is submitted. Cheques made payable to: Flitwick Dolphins Swim Club
  • For Level 3 meets entries are normally accepted on a first come first served basis.
  • For Level 1 ( 50m Pool) & Level 2 (25m Pool) meets entries are normally accepted on times, if the meet is oversubscribed they will accept the fastest swimmers – if you are not one of the fastest in your age group you may get rejected.
  • Always discuss entries with your coach, to make sure you’re entering the right event and the right number of events.
  • Open Meets are Licenced which means times are recorded on the ASA database.
  • Depending on the level of the meet you can achieve County, Regional and National qualifying times so try and enter all the Open Meets you qualify for.
  • There will always be at least one member of the Coaching Team and a Team Manager on poolside with you who will happily answer any questions you may have during the meet.

 Download Top Tips For Open Meets Document
Gala and Open Officials
Published: 19 September 2016

Gala and Open Officials

The ASA laws and rules dictate the number and type of officials that should be officiating at a gala. All these officials ensure that galas are run smoothly and fairly. The following list describes briefly the role of the various officials. If more than one is required the number is shown in brackets.

  • Referee. Has complete control of the competition, the venue and the other officials in all matters of the swimming laws, moral conduct and security. If judges disagree, then THE REFEREE’S DECISION IS FINAL.
  • Starter. Starts each event, has certain powers of disqualification.
  • Stroke Judge. Patrol the side of the pool to observe the swimmers conform to the Laws of strokes.
  • Place Judge. Stand at the finish of each event to decide the official places, may also act as Turn Judge.
  • Turn Judge. Observe the swimmers conform to A.S.A. Law regarding turns and relay take- overs.
  • Chief Timekeeper. Records official time from each Timekeeper, if necessary adjusts them to suit the places with the supervision of the Referee.
  • Timekeeper. Take and record the time of the swimmer in the lane allotted. This is the official time, which may be adjusted in accordance with A.S.A. Law to suit the official places, which take precedence over times.
  • Recorder. Record the places and times on a master sheet, arrange the Finalists, or in the case of an Inter-Club Gala allocate the points gained by each swimmer on behalf of their club.
  • Announcer. Announce results after they have been recorded, provides security awareness and any other relevant information.
  • Chief Whip. Arranges the swimmers in each event into appropriate heats.
  • Stewards/Whips. ewards/Whips.swimmers in each event into appropriate heats. rity awareness and any other relevant information.to arrange their allocated swimmers into the order on the programme, hand them over to the chief whips, and inform the chief whips of any swimmers who are missing.

Competition Swimwear Rules
From 1st January 2010 all competitions in England, Scotland and Wales have applied the FINA rules below in relation to Swimsuits for swimming.

FINA rules state:
General Rule 5 SWIMWEAR
GR5.1 The swimwear (swimsuit, cap and goggles) of all competitors shall be in good moral taste and suitable for the individual sports discipline and not carry any symbol which may be considered offensive.
GR5.2 All swimsuits shall be non transparent.
GR5.3 The referee of a competition has the authority to exclude any competitor whose swimsuit or body symbols do not comply with this Rule.
GR5.4 Before any swimwear of new design, construction or material is used in competition, the manufacturer of such swimwear must submit the swimwear to FINA and obtain approval of FINA.

BL 8.1 All FINA approved swimwear to be used at the Olympic Games and FINA World Championships must be approved by FINA at least twelve (12) months prior to the start of the respective competition. In addition, it must be available for all competitors by 1st January of the year of the Olympic Games or FINA World Championships.
BL 8.2 In swimming competitions the competitor must wear only one swimsuit in one or two pieces. No additional items, like arm bands or leg bands shall be regarded as parts of a swimsuit.
BL 8.3 From January 1st 2010 swimwear for men shall not extend above the navel nor below the knee, and for women, shall not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor shall extend below knee. All swimsuits shall be made from textile materials.

British Swimming has also published the following announcement: ‘In addition to complying with FINA General Rule 5, the swimwear in these competitions must comply with By-Laws 8.2 and 8.3 concerning the style and material used. This does not prevent the use of a zip (or other fastening) as this is not mentioned in these provisions. British Records may be achieved. However, if a World or European Record is to be claimed then the swimwear must meet the requirements of the issuing authority. This is separate from the General Rules and By-Laws and is subject to change at any time. A list of approved swimsuits can be found on the FINA website www.fina.org

Download Gala and Open Officials Document
Competition Tips for the Swimmer
Published: 19 September 2016

Competition Tips for the Swimmer

  • Discuss your races with your coach, and set yourself Goals.
  • What to pack in your swim bag:
    • Swimming Costume or Trunks (more than one for longer meets).
    • A Towel (more than one is very useful especially the lightweight ones).
    • Two pairs of Goggles (practice with new googles before race day).
    • Your Club Hat (take a spare if you have one).
    • Your Club T-Shirt, you will need it to keep warm while waiting for races.
    • A pair of Shorts, flip flops or crocs if you wish to wear them.
    • Plenty to Drink (no fizzy drinks).
    • Healthy Snacks and a Healthy Meal if you are there all day.
    • A book to read or something to play with, remember space is limited and Electronics/Phone are best left at home or in the locker.
    • Always remember to take a 20p, 50p and £1 for lockers, every pool is different when it comes to lockers!!
  • Ensure you arrive in plenty time.
    • You may need to sign in, normally by the time of the published warm up.
    • If it’s a team gala ensure you report to the coach 15 minutes before warm up starts.
  • Before the racing starts there will always be a warm up, ensure you follow the Coach/Team Managers instructions, as it’s very important to warm up correctly.
  • Before your races you will wait with the rest of the club swimmers – always try to cheer on team mates while you are waiting!
  • The Team Manager/Coach will remind you of the stroke and distances you are racing, (but for Open Meet please try to remember what you have entered).
  • The Team Manager/Coach will instruct you when to go to the whipping area. Once there you will be told what heat you are in, and you will be instructed to go to the start with the swimmers in your heat in lane order, you must listen carefully and follow all instructions.
  • Always take your drink to the whipping area and the start (you can collect after your race), you may be there a while and you must stay hydrated.
  • Once you have finished your race, you need to see your coach for feedback on the race.
  • Ensure you have a drink after your race, and if you have time before your next race have a snack.
  • You should remain with your team throughout the gala/open, if you wish to see your parents or go to the toilet please ensure you speak to the Team Manager/Coach first, (imagine what it would look like if every swimmer went to the spectator’s area after every race).
  • Always remember that if you are racing in heats, winning your heat may not mean you have won the event. Always check the results.
  • Most importantly show RESPECT for your Team Manger/Coaches and fellow team members.
  • Ensure you put your rubbish in the bin or take it home with you.
  • Most of all enjoy the experience.
  • Disqualification. Most swimmers are disqualified at least once, usually several times, when they start swimming. DO NOT WORRY! Just find out why you were disqualified and learn from your mistake. Sometimes it is confusing when you are swimming in a different pool or racing for the first time. Even the older experienced swimmers sometimes get disqualified.

Download Competition Tips for the Swimmer Document
Competition Tips for Parents
Published: 19 September 2016

Competition Tips for Parents

  • Ensure you know the timings of the gala/open and arrive on time.
  • Know where the location of the pool is before the day, and ensure you know where you’re going.
  • Check your emails the day before/on the day for any club arrangements.
  • Take a note of the Coach’s or Team Manager’s mobile number should you need to contact them re last minute illness, unforeseen delays etc.
  • If you wish to video or photograph your child you will need to complete the relevant record book when you pay your spectator fee in order to comply with ASA and BSC child protection procedures.
  • Let the Coaches do the Coaching.
  • Always be positive and supportive with your child no matter what the outcome of the race is. If you have concerns discuss them with the coach.
  • Ensure you child has everything they need – see Competition Tips for the Swimmer.

Download Competition Tips for Parents Document
Swimmer Checklist Before a Gala
Published: 19 September 2016

Swimmer Checklist Before a Gala

Swimmer Checklist

1. Directions to the gala
2. Times of session starts and races I am swimming
3. Food, snacks, drinks for the day/evening
4. Coin/coins for locker (20p, 50p or £1)
5. Kit

  • Goggles x 2 pairs
  • Race suit
  • Warm-up swimming suits
  • Towels
  • Club Swim Hats x 2
  • Flip flops

Download Competition Cheklist for a Gala Document