Guide to competitions

Guide to competitions:


Travel to Open Meets will be by personal means/arrangement. Please be aware of the times of the warm ups begin and aim to arrive half an hour before to prepare. There is usually limited space on poolside for swimmers so the earlier you arrive the better space you will have to sit in. A fold away chair is always a good addition.

Swimmers are expected to stay with the team and follow directions of the coaches/team managers in attendance at all times. They must ask if they are going off to see parents/spectators.

What to bring:

  • Two swimming costumes and a warm up swim suit
  • Goggles and a spare pair
  • Two Towels – one to keep you warm and one to dry off afterwards
  • Club Kit –pool side T-Shirts and Swimming Hat
  • Food to last the day or sessions you are attending
  • At least two litres of water/squash drinks.
  • Snack foods high in carbohydrates
  • Reading book/homework
  • A Bilston Swimming Hat
  • Poolside shoes – flip flops/Clean trainers or similar
  • Please note that Phones are not allowed poolside or in changing areas (they must be left in bags if swimmers need them to contact parents)
  • Please remember all belongings are the swimmers responsibility so it is a good idea not to send anything valuable particularly with young swimmers. Swimmers are not allowed to take photographs/videos on poolside.

* General Information

Generally most gala last between 2.5 and 3 hours and if the gala is some distance away or it is a final the Club will provide a coach (there is a small charge for this).

The address of the gala venue is shared with parents but if in doubt ask one of the coaches or other people that you see on poolside.

The Team selection list will also have a warm-up time on it and it is important to be there 15-30 minutes before warm up to get changed and get on poolside. Usually swimmers don’t have to wait in the queue outside a pool – the queue is for spectators and swimmers should get through to the front.

Team selection criteria - each league has different rules regarding age group criteria.  Leagues require different age bandings and age by date's etc.

Swimmer's will be selected for team events based on rankings, swimmers with the fastest times are predominantly awarded the individual events unless there are restrictions such as injury or criteria league rules which are usually restrictions on number of races allowed etc (coaches discretion can be used on the event night if races need to be changed due to illnesses or injuries), if selected swimmers declare they are not available prior to the event night, we will then invite team reserves (next fastest)

  • Gala Preparation

    Ideally swimmers should not have eaten a large meal two hours before they swim but they should have “stocked up” well throughout the day as swimming is hungry business.

    Swimmers should do their normal activities throughout the day but try to have a bit of a rest before setting out for the gala.

    Swimmers under 16 should be accompanied by a responsible adult who has the swimmers parents contact details if they are not the swimmers parent. Please note swimming club officials will not take responsibility for your child’s safety unless it has been agreed in advance.

    Before leaving your child at the gala please make sure he/she is aware of:

  • Arrangements for getting home and meeting you

  • That they know that they should not leave the poolside UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES unless they have asked an adult poolside helper

  • That they know to make themselves known to the Bilston Swimming Club Poolside staff when they arrive so we know they are there


    What to bring – Parents

    Yes there is a list for you too!

  • Wear layers – swimming pools get very hot!

  • Bring plenty of drinks and comfort food! Your child will probably want more than you have packed and you will probably get hungry too – it’s all the shouting!

  • Pen, paper, highlighter and if you are very enthusiastic a stopwatch!

  • Cash – there is always an entrance fee which varies from club to club and depending on the level of meet and whether it is a league event of an Open Meeting. There is also usually a raffle (difficult to say “no”) and sometimes (at open meets) you also have to pay for a programme. You will also end up paying for hot drinks, hot dogs and hot new swimming costumes if the Swim Shop is there!!


    and Finally

    Many parents operate a “bribe” system for the children and reward them for each PB – there is no standard for this – just to say BEWARE – many a parent has been left nearly bankrupt after a long open meet where their child has had a particularly good day!

    Remember – it’s the parent’s job to support and encourage – it never looks very good when a parent starts ranting at their child for not doing as well as the parent expects.

    It is the Coaches job to point out where a swimmer could have done better and to get the maximum learning out of a race.

A summary of the key terminology relative to the competitions process is listed below


Types of Competition
  • Long Course (LC) – This is used during competitions where the pool will be 50m long. It can also be described as ‘Olympic sized’.
  • Short Course (SC) – this is used during competitions when the pool will be 25m long.
  • Upper Qualifying Time (UQT) – This is the fastest time a swimmer can be to enter a specific race. Anyone with a faster time is not able to enter the event.
  • Lower Qualifying Time (LQT) – This is the slowest time a swimmer can be to enter a specific race. Anyone with a slower time is not able to enter the event.
Open Meets

Swimming meet competitions are usually broken down into four levels:

  • Level 1 - These are long course meets that are focused at those swimmers achieving Regional and National Times. They are the events where you are likely to see international swimmers in action. Age Group and senior squad swimmers are encouraged to enter these meets.
  • Level 2 - These are the highest level of short course meet and must have a lower qualifying time. They are focused at those who are aiming to achieve Regional and National Qualifying Times, or to get swimmers familiar with racing long course .
  • Level 3 - These are either short course (in 25m pools) or long course (in 50m pools) meets which are run throughout the year. They are relatively easy meets to gain qualifying times for and sometimes there is no lower cut off time. These are for swimmers aiming towards County and Regional Qualifying Times. Swimmers who fit this level are encouraged to enter these competitions
  • Level 4 - Lower level meets which include Club Championships and Novice Open Meets

Other types of meet include:

  • County Championships – These championships are held once a year over three weekends in February  for all clubs within the Staffordshire County area. To compete in this competition you must have achieved ‘County Qualifying Times’ found at Staffs ASA Website.
  • Regional Championships – These are split into Age Group Championships (under 14 year old boys and under 13 year old girls) usually held in May (Long Course) or November (Short Course).
  • National Championships – are held once a year usually in a 50m pool and selection is based upon the top swimmers per age group, based upon times recorded during a qualification window.
Meet Information

The Club targets a selection of different meets to ensure that all levels of age and ability within the Club can have the opportunity to enjoy competitive swimming. We take part in a number of team competitions and would ask swimmers to support these.

For Arena League, Nuneaton League and Staffs League swimmers selected to represent the club are expected to make themselves available. The responsible coach will post the team selection in advance on both this website and also the club notice boards.

Each competition will have details on when the meet is, warm up times, events, qualifying times and a most importantly the closing date for entries. The closing date is very important as we need time to process the entries before sending them off to the meet organiser.
Please read the meet conditions carefully - this will help explain things you may later question.

Entering a meet

Parents can either fill in the forms online and return electroically or print off copies for completion.  Forms need to be returned to:

Once the events have been agreed, you will need to input individual entry times to enter. The swimmer’s Personal Best time must be entered accurately; this could be a short course 25m time or 50m long course.

It is important to enter the swimmer's Personal Best (PB) time that is appropriate to the course length, i.e. short course PB's for short course competitions. However, it is possible to convert a PB time from short course to long course - which is an acceptable alternative if the swimmer does not have a qualification time for that course type.

To convert times please use the following link:

Check the qualifying times against the meet pack which is also available on the website. Sometimes specific time ranges are stipulated for acceptable entries.