Qualifying Times 
All Ages:446 
Age Group:82 
Short Course:
Age Group:

What is an Open meet?

Open meets (or Galas) are competitions where swimmers compete against swimmers from other clubs in various parts of the country as well as each other, swimmers enter under the name of their club, i.e. Stratford Sharks A.S.C.

At some of these meets a prize for top swimmer and top club is awarded, to win top club, points are awarded for all swimmers who make finals. Medals are given to 1st, 2nd & 3rd placed swimmers in finals, sometimes all finalist receive medals.  

Swimmers will swim in a heat, times are then put together for the age group and the fastest 6 go on to the final, (dependent upon how many lanes the pool has).  

You must swim as fast as you can in your heat to stand a chance of getting into the final.    

There may be several heats in each event, and you may be seeded in a low heat, you could still make the final if you swim hard. 

If you have HDW written on your card that means it is a heat declared winners event and no final will be swum, the fastest times from all entries will be awarded the Medals/Trophies. 

Entering an Open Meet

The club puts recommended Licenced Meets into the Competition Planner along with details and entry forms.  For all of these meets you will be given an entry date by which point the form and payment (to Stratford Sharks ASC) must have been handed to the appropriate person.

A club coach will be present at all recommended meets.

You should aim to enter a range of events and not just your favourites!  As you get older you will find that you're strokes change and specialising in one event will not happen until you are much older. 

If you wish to enter a meet not on the Club Recommended List then you should contact the Gala Promoter from the relevant club.  It will be up to you then to organise a poolside pass (if allowed, you may need an ASA CRB check) and sendyour times to Sue Kennedy after the meet (original copies only please).

If there is no club entry a coach should sign the form confirming your entry times.


Swimmers name:                      Joe Bloggs                            DOB: 21/05/1991           

ASA registration number:           120545        


Your number will be on your ASA registration card, If you have not received your registration number, check with the Membership Secretary and then write 'applied for'. 

Event numbers, event and your current time if known. Remember you may be asked for Long Course (50M) or Short Course (25M) times.  Do not put down false times, most meet promoters now check national rankings to ensure fair play. 

 1. 50m Butterfly             48.56

 6. 50m Free                   36.03

 9. 50m Back                  43.82 

 Amount: 3 events at £5 each = £15 total entry costs

If it's a club recommended meet the form and cheque (to Stratford Sharks ASC) should be handed in before the clubs entry date which will be well in advance of the actual meet closing date.  If you're entering a meet not on our calendar the post your entry to the promoter along with payment made out to them.

The majority of meets now are moving to electronic entry and paper entries are more expensive. 


Entry Confirmation

If the organisers of the meet receive a large amount of entries, either the slowest competitors from some events by age group will be rejected or the later entries received rejected and your entry will be returned.  Normally payment will be refunded (but not always) to the club coach on the day of the Gala. 

Swimmers will then either receive cards back from the promoter or more usual nowadays a list of accepted entries will be posted on their web site, in which case it;'s up to you to check your entry immediately.  They will accept corrections (but not updated times) for a short period afterwards, not on the day of the meet.

If it is a cardless meet it's up to you to turn up on time for the warm-up, most meets do not have a sign in facility, you're either there or your not and if not there will be a spare lane in that heat.

If you get cards they are blue for boys and pink for girls.   The information on the cards will be:

Swimmers name, club, event & competitor number, entry time, session number, warm-up time, start time, and the most important of all, post cards by (time).

Cards must be taken to the meet.

On the day

Before leaving home make sure you have your kit, 2 towels, 2 or 3 costumes/trunks, plenty of drink (very important) a couple pairs of goggles tightened ready to wear, appropriate snacks for poolside, not chocolate/crisps, on the poolside you will need 2 T-shirts, leggings or shorts and poolside shoes. And your CARDS if you have them.

Always arrive in plenty of time, be there at least 40 minutes before the warm-up, no-one likes a panic if things go wrong.

If it's a carded meet there will be Boxes for cards, usually situated by the entrance to the pool or by the changing rooms, if you cannot find them, ASK someone.

If you forget to take your cards tell the organisers and you will be issued with cards, you will need to write them yourself.  

If you were supposed to sign in or post your cards by a certain time but you were late or forgot what do you do?

Go and speak to the club's Coach, who will then speak to the organisers, (if the coach is busy he may ask you to do this).

If Start Lists have already been generated there may be a space in the first heat and you will normally be offered that space.

If there are no spaces you will not be able to swim that event or probably any other that session, this is down to the Promoter's discretion.

What Next?

Get yourself changed and go onto the poolside.  You will need to look for the Sharks coach(s) on the day and the rest of the swimmers.  Don't worry just keep looking, you will find them eventually. 

Report to the coach and tell him/her who you are, you must not leave the poolside without informing the coach. 

The coach will organise you for warm-up and tell you when your swim is coming up.  Keep an eye on what is going on and cheer all the Stratford Sharks swimmers during their swims.


Your Swim

The announcer will call your event usually 2 events before you swim; the Coach will send you to a marshalling area.

Do not wander off or mess about, you need to pay attention to everything that is going on.

Your may be given your card to take with you to the timekeeper in your lane but most probably you just need to keep in your heat and when instructed go to your lane.  Don't worry there will be adults there marshalling you.  If you are worried ASK.  

Sometimes the Coach will send an experienced swimmer up with you to show you the ropes, don't worry you'll soon get the hang of it. 

The marshals will then call your heat and send you to your blocks, your heat and lane number will be written on your card if you have one, if not the Timekeeper will ask you name to confirm that they have the correct swimmer for that heat.    


Once you have swum and got out of the water, collect your drink and anything else you put behind the blocks and go directly to the coach, not your parents (you can see them later).    

Sometimes your swimming does not go as well as you expect, do not worry there is often a good reason for that, do not get upset, put that swim behind you and concentrate on the next one. 



(British Age Groups Categories) were introduced to nurture swimmers through to senior level. The development of Children ( nervous, muscular and cardio vascular systems ) was studied in relation to swimming and it was concluded that skills were best developed by a multi-stroke approach to training and competition. This would reduce the likelihood of injuries and get away from early specialisation which was seen as partly responsible for swimmers retiring early from the sport.

In January 2010 BAGCAT/GB points were abolished and now FINA points are used exclusively, however the BAGCAT categories remain for competitions even though now points are awarded regardless of age/gender. 

To be in contention for a BAGCAT award the swimmer should aim to get at least one swim in each of the four categories . As the swimmers get older so the number of possible events to swim gets larger ( e.g. 100's, 400 free, 400 IM, 800 free, 1500 free). By then you should have worked out the system. Thing do change for girls 14 years and over and boys 15 years and over, when the swimmers are more likely to start to specialise.


And remember....................ENJOY IT!