A Parents & Swimers Guide To Swimming Events

This guide has been put together after many requests of advice to ensure swimmers and parents are prepared for various swimming competitions they may be involved in throughout their swimming career.

At Haslemere Swimming Club we do expect our children to attend all squad sessions which will then ensure the children are at their best for entering the competitions that have been chosen for them. We also expect the children to attend all swimming events they are eligible for.

In this guide we will go through each swimming event and try to help you and your child understand each event and learn how to prepare and what to expect.

Each year the coaches pick out which meets they wish to enter for the following year and this is published on our website and a copy is also available on the notice board so parents can plan around these dates.

What types of swimming events are there?

Open or Graded Meets – These are events hosted by other clubs and will be held over a day or even a weekend. You will be entered for races applicable to your times. There are generally certain meets that we attend and swimmers are expected to attend.

Our own Open Meets – These happen at least 3 times a year and means of raising money to help keep fees low. These are compulsory for all eligible swimmers and all parents are asked to help to share the work (even if your child is not eligible).

League Galas – These are team galas which are held throughout the year. They generally take place on a Saturday evening (lasting approximately 2 hours). The leagues we are affiliated to are the Rother and Junior Cup.

Club Championships – These are held every year in September/October and are generally a chance for swimmers to achieve their times to enter the Surrey Championships held in February/March. Everyone is expected to attend.

County, Regional and National events – These are for top swimmers starting with County and going up to National events.

Open or Graded Meets

There are lots of different Open or Graded meets but it is a great opportunity for your child to compete in a wide range of strokes and distances.

These galas are hosted by other clubs and your child will be swimming in an event with children from other clubs from all over the county and possibly from other countries.

These are the best way of your child to improve on their personal best times and show that all the training is worthwhile.

Swimmers are seeded in ability so a fast 11 year could be swimming with 14 year olds.

Open meets are generally ‘age on day’ for a one day event or ‘age on last day of event’ for weekend events. Swimmers 9 and older can enter these events as long as they have achieved the qualifying times set by the host club. These types of events are listed below:

‘B/C’ or ‘L2/3’ events – These are for developing swimmers and a good start for those just starting out.

‘Level 2/3’ events – These events can have upper and lower qualifying times. This event is the next step up from a ‘B/C’ or L2/3 and the club will not enter children for events they do not qualify for as they may be too fast!

‘Level 1’ – These are the highest level of meets and only have lower qualification times. These are suitable only for the top swimmers.

How to enter

The coaches will know what events they wish to enter throughout the year so entry forms will be issued to swimmers at least two months before the closing date for entries by the host club.

Open meets are generally held in sessions. These can generally be a morning and an afternoon session with warm up before each session. All swimmers need to turn up before the warm up starts to ensure they have signed in.

Swimmers along with their parents should complete the form and return it as soon as possible with a cheque. Please make a note of this date in your diary as well as the events you entered your child for.

Any queries please speak to your child’s coach for confirmation of which events to enter or let them know of any problems regarding attending this meet.

These entries will be processed by kind volunteers and hopefully all entries will be accepted.

Non acceptance could be due to the meet already being full. In this instance refunds will be made to parents (check the notice board outside the club office).

Accepted entries will be posted on the notice board outside the club office and please ensure these correspond with your entries.

The night before the Swimming Event

Swimmers should pack their bag ensuring they have everything needed for the next day including costumes, HSC hat and racing goggles. Swimmers should also have club kit being a club t/shirt to wear on poolside. It is a good idea to bring a spare costumes and goggles.

Swimmers should know what events they are swimming the next day.

Food should be packed and ready in case of an early start. Food required for the day should be easily digestible and suitable for grazing throughout the day. Suggested food and drink should be:


Bread, pitta bread, bagel or muffin

Rice cakes



Breakfast cereals or cereal bars

Sports drinks

Weak squash



Parents should ensure they are aware of the time needed to get to the event and the correct location. Don’t forget to pack food and drink for yourself and possibly a cushion for sitting on. Parents should ensure that swimmers get an early night before the gala and that they arrive in plenty of time. If you are taking a camera please make sure it is fully charged the night before.

On the day of the Swimming Event

Please turn up at least 15 minutes before the warm up begins as generally sign in closes then.

Swimmers should first of all sign in and check that they are signed in for all event and then report to their coach and get prepared for their warm up. Swimmers should already be aware of their warm up.

Once they have warmed up swimmers should then dry off and keep warm (some swimmers will change into their racing costume).

Clothing on poolside should be HSC kit being T/shirt, sweatshirt if necessary and blue tracksuit bottoms.

All swimmers should be aware of what events they are swimming in that session and then sit with the other club swimmers and wait for your coach to tell you when to go to the whipping area.

All swimmers should speak to their coach before their swim for final preparation and then go the appropriate waiting area before the event.

Whilst waiting swimmers should ensure that their costume is tight enough and they have their hat and goggles.

As their heat gets nearer swimmers should start to get focussed on their swim and mentally think how they are going to swim it. By the time there are 2/3 heats to go swimmers should be ready with their hat and goggles on.

Once the swimmer has finished their swim they should then report back to their coach immediately for comment on the race.

For the overall result of that swim you will have to wait for the whole race to be swum before the result is issued by the host club.

When you have finished all your swims please ensure you let the coaches know you have gone as some Open Meets have finals and it is best to check with them.

Please clear up any rubbish and make sure you take all your belongings home with you.

Medals are available for the first 3 places and some clubs issue ribbons up to 8th place. These can be collected once the final result has been published.

Some lower grade meets operate ‘speeding-ticket’ for swimmers who swim faster than the upper cut-off times. This means the swimmer is not eligible for a medal but it should be considered as a positive as their time has improved dramatically.

Parents who stay to watch may find a pen or pencil to mark your programme useful as well as praise and encouragement for all swimmers representing the club.

If you wish to take a camera you will have to declare this at the admission desk as you will be asked to sign a child-protection form.

Parents, once your child has swum please let them speak to their coach before calling them over for a short visit.

Our own Open Meets

The preparation for this is exactly the same as for any other Open Meet event.

These events are great for the club as more of our own swimmers will be there and as it is our home pool it more likely that swimmers will do well.

The extra is that it is being hosted at home and all parents are expected to help throughout the day. This could be helping timekeeping, marshalling, serving drinks or even handing out medals.

These events are critical to the financial stability of HSC.

League Galas

Please keep checking the notice board to see if your child is eligible for league (or team) galas. If your child is selected you will be asked to confirm by ticking their name. Then make a note in your diary where and when.

Each child will be swum within an age range and you should check the rules to confirm the date for ages as at.

On the day of the gala (usually Saturday evening) early morning training will be as usual unless stated before by their coach.

Transport to the gala is not usual so own transport or lift share is down to you.

Once at the gala the swimmer should report to the coach to advise them of their arrival. Please try and get to the gala at least 15 minutes before the warm up.

The coach will advise the swimmer of what race/s they will be swimming and a short warm up will take place.

Swimmers must report to their coach before and after each swim.

The team will be expected to wear full team kit including HSC hat and t/shirt.

The swimmers should cheer and encourage all swimmers and show good team spirit throughout.

All swimmers are expected to stay on poolside for the entirety of the gala to congratulate the winning club and the other participating clubs.

For parents this is a good opportunity to meet up with parents from the club and if possible a group seating area is good to boost the swimmers with plenty of cheering and encouragement from all. What more do you want on a Saturday evening!!

Club Championships

Every year HSC hold their club championships around September/October. For the volunteer organisers this means a very quick turnaround of paperwork once we have started back in September.

All club swimmers are eligible to enter and this is the only opportunity for swimmers under the age of 9 to take part in competition. Ages will be ‘age on the last day of the championships.’

All swimmers are expected to take part in all the events stated on the entry form and these should be returned as soon as possible with payment.

The races are within age groups, across squads, which enables the coaches to compare times across the club. Results are posted after each event and all ages have swum.

Medals are available for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd with ribbons for children placed 4th to 8th. Prizes are given to children in each year.

For parents, this is the best chance to start with helping out at meets. This event is only within our club and a great way of learning how the open meets run. These events will not run without full parental support.


Results from all galas are input onto the computer in the club office to hold on the data base. These results are used by the coaches when picking the team for league galas. The system used by the club is called Hy-Tek. The fastest times are able to be seen by swimmers by looking on the website.


Coaches recommend that as swimmers start their swimming career they start a book to record their times for each event attended. These times may not necessarily be personal best times but will show the swimmer and also the coaches how they have been performing throughout the year.

The book can be expanded to become a diary to show eating habits and also training patterns and eventually help the swimmer to overcome any problem times they may incur.


British Age Group Categories of BAGCat points are a system of points which are awarded for different swims. When a swimmer competes in a BAGCat event, their time is converted into points that take into account a swimmer’s age and sex.

A swimmer can take part in as many events in a season as they choose to, but only their highest points score in each swimming category will count towards their final BAGCat total.

For an event the overall position of a swimmer is the sum of the BEST point score in each of the 5 categories (50m events, 100m, FORM, Distance and IM being 100m for 9-11 year old and 200-400m for older swimmers).

It is therefore advisable to enter every category in the Age groups if you can achieve the qualifying times. (NB, Boys 12 and below and Girls 11 and below do not swim the 100m individual events).

Glossary of Swimming Terms

Consideration or Qualification time – the slowest entry time for a particular event that the organisers of a gala will consider.

DQ or disq – Abbreviation for disqualified on result sheets and time cards.

Entry Time – The time submitted by the club for a swimmer being entered in a gala. If entries are made well in advance, the entry time may not be the swimmers current PB.

Form Stroke – One of the 3 strokes having specific requirements (i.e. 200m backstroke, butterfly or breaststroke). Freestyle is not a Form stroke but is used for distance events, such as 200/400/800/1500m depending on the swimmers age and sex.

Heat Declared Winner (HDW) – When no final is swum and the winner is declared on the times swum in the heats.

Individual Medley (I.M.) –– The competitor swims all four strokes in the following order:- Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle.

Licensed Meets – These are the only meets via which you can qualify for national competitions.

Long Course – Events held in a 50m pool.

Lower Qualification Time (LQT) – The slowest entry time for a particular event that the organisers of a gala will consider.

Medley Relay – Four swimmers each swim a different stroke. The order is always Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly and Freestyle.

Personal Best (PB) – A swimmers personal best time for a given event.

Upper Qualification Time (UQT) – The fastest entry time for a particular event that the organisers of a gala will consider.

Short Course – Events held in a 25m pool.

Squadron Relay – Usually the last race of a gala. A freestyle relay consisting of one swimmer from each age group or one swimmer of each sex from each age group.

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A Parents & Swimmers

Guide To Swimming Events