Competition Levels

What do the competition levels mean?

If you are new to the world of competitive swimming, it can all seem quite daunting at first. This is why we are here to help! We have set out below some background information on competitions, their levels and what this means for you and/or your swimmers.

An introduction to swimming competitions

An Open Meet is where the swimmer decides what events to enter. Typically, the cost is £5 - £10 per event and they are usually held over a single weekend although can sometimes be held over several weekends. Spectators generally pay to watch, but this is down to the discretion of the meet organiser. These costs help to cover the rising costs of hiring out the full facility and other costs associated with running a meet.

Galas are typically where swimmers are selected to represent the Club. The Head Coach and Team Manager/other coaches decide who is swimming what. This could potentially be an individual event or a relay. There is no charge for swimming at these galas, but spectators will generally be charged admission. An example of this UK wide would be the Arena League. For the purpose of this site we will be looking at Open Meets in more detail.

Open Meets

Open meets can be split into two main categories. Both licenced and unlicensed, the difference between the two being whether the meet has a licence from Swim England (formerly the ASA) or not. Swim England will impose conditions for the meet to be licenced, for example how many qualified officials you need on the poolside. Unlicensed meets generally have no or little restrictions as to who can swim, and the times achieved will not be viewed as ‘official’ for other licenced meets and also for the ASA rankings.

Licenced meets can be further split into four different categories:

Level 1

These meets are Long course (LC) only which means they are swam in a 50m pool. These competitions have qualifying times to enter and the times swam at these competitions can be used to qualify for Regional and National Championships.

Level 2

These meets are Short Course (SC) only which means they are swam in a 25m pool. These competitions have qualifying times and they are generally County Championships and other Open Meets. The times swam in these competitions can be used for entry into National and Regional Championships.

Level 3

These meets can be held in both LC and SC formats. These competitions will generally use qualifying times and also upper limit times (not faster than). This is to ensure that the meet stays as a development meet for up and coming and younger swimmers. Some level 3 meets also accept unlicensed times for the entry which could be timed by a coach at training (This is generally down to the discretion of the meet organiser).

Level 4

These meets are defined by the ASA as for one club entry, for example club championships. This is to allow swimmers to achieve ‘official’ times for the other level galas listed above. Qualifying times are generally not used.

Other key information to consider for swimming meets:

First Come First Served Meets accept entries until they are full. This means the deadline for getting your entries in can seem very tight and often several weeks before the Open Meet.

Open Meets will only accept entries until their closing date. If they are then oversubscribed they will reject (or scratch) some swimmers from the programme. It is usually the slowest swimmers for an event (within each age group) that are scratched, so it is worth carefully selecting events for such meets as you may end up with only 1 swim per session.

Some Open Meets set ‘no faster than’ times for entry. This means that the time entered cannot be faster than the time being entered. Entries exceeding this time will be rejected. This generally is only for times swam in the last 12 months, there may however be exceptions, therefore please refer to the independant meet conditions.

With upper / lower qualifying times The entry time must fall within the times specified. Entries outside of this will be rejected.