Q. How are teams selected for league galas?
Coaches select the teams for inter-club galas, for example National Arena Swimming League and Kent Junior League.

Q. How do I find out what times I have achieved?
After each gala or club event, results will be posted on the clubs swim club manager. Individual times from licensed meets can also be found on the Swim England website www.swimming.org/britishswimming/results-and-rankings/rankings/.

Q. What does age on 31st December mean?
Most galas are run for swimmers of different age groups such as Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Open. If a gala is an ‘age on 31st December’ it is asking for the age of the swimmer on 31 Dec in the year of competition. Some events are ‘age on the day’ and this is the swimmers age on the last day on competition.

Q. What does U12, U14 U16, Open mean?
Most galas are run for swimmers of different age groups such as Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Open though some galas refer to 11/U (11& Under), 13/U (13&Under) 15/U (15&Under) and Open. Both mean the same thing.

Q. What are the Club Championships?
All swimmers are expected to enter our yearly club championships. This is the opportunity for you to compete with your team-mates and also achieve an official time for other events you may enter. Your coach will advise you on events you should enter according to your age and ability. If you record and update your times after you swim at a gala you will be able to enter up to date times that will place you in a more competitive heat for your ability.

Q What are Open Meets?
Any swimmer can swim in an open gala although you will need to check that you meet the age requirement and the qualifying time for the events you wish to enter. These will vary according to the level of the Meet.

Q What are the Kent County Championships?
These are held yearly, normally February – March, they consist of individual events and team relays. They are hosted over several weekends. Swimmers have to achieve a Kent qualifying time to participate in these championships. These times are updated yearly and published on the Kent County website, towards the end of each year to give swimmers a chance to obtain times before the championship.

Q What are the South East Regional Championships?
These Championships are the next level above the Kents and are held May – June. Clubs from the South East Region are eligible to enter swimmers for this event who have achieved regional qualification times. This is a high level of competition and the club would expect swimmers obtaining these times to compete.

Q What are the National Championships?
This is the top level of swimming held in July/August and is open to the country’s top swimmers who are highly ranked in events where they have achieved times from competitions in the qualifying window of April/May

Q What League Galas does the Club enter?
The Club enters teams in the following:
–    Kent Junior League
–    National Arena Swimming League

Q. What is the National Arena Swimming League?
It is a National Swimming League sponsored by the swimwear company, Arena which is attended by about 400 Clubs in England and Wales. They compete in 7 regional competitions (East Midlands, West Midlands, North West, North East, London, South East and Western). Within each region there are a number of divisions with promotion and relegation between those divisions. The top 20 teams across the Country compete in the National A and B finals which are held in Sheffield in late April or early May.

Q. What is the Kent Junior League?
Virtually all the competitive swimming clubs in Kent enter this competition which is for 9-13 year olds. The league is divided into five divisions of six teams each and runs over three galas in June, September and November. The top team in each gala gets six points, the second five points etc. Promotion and relegation is operated on a one up one down basis.

Q. What does ‘Licensed meet’ mean?
Licensed Meets are Open Meets which have been sanctioned by the ASA as being either a Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 or Level 4 Meet. To be licensed the Meet organisers have to meet certain criteria imposed by the ASA.
All the times recorded in a licensed meet are shown in the National Rankings which is open to everyone to see so a swimmer can prove a time. This is particularly important for qualification into Regional or National Events where qualification can only be achieved at certain Levels of Meet.
Level 1 and 2 Meets are aimed the higher level of swimmer such as National and Regional qualifiers and the better County Level swimmers. Level 1 Meets must be held in a 50m pool and Level 2 Meets must be held in a 25m pool.
Level 3 Meets attract a wide spectrum of swimmers and require upper limit times and qualifying times. Level 3 Meets can either be in a 25m or 50m pool.
Level 4 Meets require upper limit times (except for Club Championships and time trials) but no lower qualifying time. Level 4 Meets are intended for either Novice events or Club Championships to enable those Meets or Championships to proceed as Licensed events with the minimum of red tape.

Q What times can I use for entry into Open Meets?
To enter an Open Meet the time entered needs to be a valid time – usually an official time recorded at a Licensed Meet or recorded by the official timekeeper at an Unlicensed Meet such as a team gala. Times recorded by parents in the stands or even by the Coaches on poolside are not official times.

Q. Why are the times on the scoreboard sometimes different to times in the results?
Where electronic timing is being used at a Meet the official time given to each swimmer will be the time recorded by the Electronic Timing (AOE) provided the AOE is operating properly. The AOE system automatically starts the clock the moment the starting signal is given and stops the moment the swimmer touches the timing pad. However not all systems are infallible and sometimes there is a malfunction in the pad or the system So the timekeepers press a button connected to the AOE which records a back up electronic time as well stopping their stopwatches the moment the swimmer touches the wall.Both the primary and back up times are recorded and the referee receives a print out after each heat showing the positions of the swimmers. if there is a significant difference between the times the manual time is checked and the referee may adjust the official time recorded.

Q. What is a Squadron relay?
The Squadron is usually the last race of a gala. It’s usually freestyle relay (but can be any other stroke) with one swimmer from each age group or one swimmer of each sex from each age group. There are usually eight swimmers in a squadron relay.

Q. What does Heat Declared Winner (HDW) mean?
If a gala states HDW, (Heat Declared Winner) this means there are no finals, the winner is the swimmer with the fastest time regardless if the swimmer swam in the first or last heat.

Q. What does ‘sign in’ mean?
Many galas want you to sign in once you have arrived at the pool. On arriving, ask where the signing in desk is, check your name against the lists on the desk and sign. if your name is not on the list and should be see your coach immediately. If you do not sign in you will not be able to compete.

Q. Why does the official time on the results sheet differ from that recorded by the timekeeper?
At a Meet where there is no electronic timing (AOE) such as the Club Championships the only official times are those decided on by the referee having first considered the time recorded by the timekeepers. The placing recorded by the finish judges and the referee and approved by the referee take precedence over the manual times of the timekeepers and as a result it may be necessary to adjust the times to fit in with the placings.

Q. Why have qualified Officials?
We need to ensure that competitions are fair and follow Health & Safety regulations. Fair play is achieved by following the laws and technical rules of the various swimming bodies, which leads to consistency not only within a single event, but also across all events in a league or championship.

Q. What types of Officials are there?
There are five basic levels of qualification for a technical swimming official:

  • Timekeeper: Competent with a stop watch and able to act as a Chief Timekeeper at an event.
  • Judge (J1 and J2): Knows the laws of the various strokes and is able to place the finishing order of an event.
  • Starter: Nice loud clear voice with the ability to settle the swimmers and start them fairly.
  • Race Results: Knows how to determine the result of a race using electronic timing. Qualified to act as a Deputy Referee.
  • Referee: Responsible for running the event safely and fairly.

There are also other non-technical officials such as recorders and announcers. These do not require any particular qualification, but are still vital for the successful running of an event and include:

  • Announcer: Reads out safety announcements prior to gala and announces each race and any other information as directed by the referee.
  • Recorders: Record results of each race from slips provided by judges. Normally two recorders required, with both writing down results and cross-checking them throughout the evening.
  • Runners: Throughout the gala getting results sheets from the Recorders and displaying them in the gallery, behind the spectators.
  • Door Money and Programme: Man a table in reception area to give out programmes and collect fee per adult spectator. For some galas there may also be raffle tickets to sell.
  • Door Sign In/Registration: For certain Galas, including Club Champs, swimmers need to register that they have turned up to swim. Minimum of two people required, one to sign in boy swimmers and another the girls.
  • Marshals/Whips/Stewards: To make sure swimmers know what and when they are swimming (from lists provided) and guide them towards the starting blocks at the appropriate time.

Q. How do I go about becoming an Official?
We are delighted when people volunteer to become an official –  without them there would be no competitions. Each level of technical official requires some training (e.g a J1 course take only three 2hr evening sessions, afterwhich there is a short exam, the next stage is ‘on the job’ mentoring and when once you’re confident, there is a practical evaluation of the skills required. Examples of the examinations and other helpful material can be found on the British Swimming Web site. If you are interested, have a look at the British Swimming site and speak to Lee Pilcher or Amanda Jewell. Most of the officials at an event are also approachable, so why not ask them about their experiences.

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