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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. or SSHM

At some of these meets a prize for top swimmer and top club is awarded, to win top club, accumulation of points are calculated for all swimmers. Medals are given to Top 3, or 6 or sometimes even down to 8.

If a meet has Finals, swimmers will swim in a heat, times are then put together for the age group and the fastest 6, 8 or 10 go on to the final, (dependent upon how many lanes the pool has).  There are reserves for finals.

You must swim as fast as you can in your heat to stand a chance of getting into the final.  You need to make sure that if you make the finals, you indicate that you are swimming. There are fines for not letting them know you are not swimming the finals.  

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 it is a HDW  meet, it 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. 

Guide to the four levels of licensed meets

All licensed meets are subject to ASA laws and regulations and the ASA Technical Rules of Racing. They are graded into four levels. For a detailed description of each level download the Open Meet Licensing Criteria PDF here.

Level 1 Meets are long course (50m) only and cover National, Regional and County Championships. Their purpose is to enable athletes to achieve qualifying times for entry into National, Regional and County Championships. All Qualifying Times (QTs) will need to have been achieved and on British Rankings. These are top level meets and only have a consideration/Qualifying time – aimed at the fastest swimmers and you have to be fast enough to make the cut.

Level 2 Meets are short course (25m) only and cover National, Regional and County Championships. Their purpose is to enable athletes to achieve qualifying times for entry into National, Regional and County Championships in short course. All Qualifying Times (QTs) will need to have been achieved and on British Rankings.

Level 3 Meets are long and short course events. Their purpose is to enable athletes to achieve times for entry into Regional and County Championships and other Meets at Level 1 or Level 2. These meets have an upper limit so the fastest swimmers shouldn’t be entering but also have a lower limit to ensure there is entry standard to be met. These can be held in any length pool.

Level 4 Meets are entry level events in pools 25m or greater. Club Championships are an example. They are for inexperienced athletes and swimmers seeking to compete outside their club environment. If times are good athletes progress to Level 3 Meets.

Entering an Open Meet

The club puts recommended Licensed Meets into the Competition Planner along with details and entry forms.  For all of these meets an email will be sent out to all with details and deadlines for the entries. The entries will be processed and submitted by the club's Fixtures Secretary. If you have any questions on any meets you want to enter, you can talk to your coach or the Fixtures Secretary here.

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 your coach at the first instance. 

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) .

All accepted meet entries will be communicated via email and published on the website. Any problems must be emailed ASAP to the Fixtures Secretary.

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 a list of all the events you entered.

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. Warm up information can be seen on the pre-meet information on the Club website. You can go with your child into the changing rooms but once they are through the changing rooms you are not allowed onto poolside unless you have a poolside pass. Your child can then make their way onto poolside where the Club staff for that competition will be waiting for them. If running late please contact someone from the club so we are aware you are on your way, there are usually two coaches & two poolside helpers at least on poolside at each competition.

If you need to withdraw from an event, make sure you follow procedure that has been sent out. Promoters of the meet don't want empty lanes so it is important that you withdraw if you are not able to swim. At some meets, there are fines enforced if you do not withdraw. Refunds will only be issued if the reason for withdrawal is on medical grounds, a medical certificate must be shown or sent to Fixtures. You will also be refunded if you withdraw because you have been chosen to represent the county or region.

If your child needs to leave poolside for any reason, even if going to the toilet, then they need to let poolside staff know. If there is more than one session of swimming that they are in they can leave poolside in between to see you etc but again the club staff need to be informed where they are. Please note the poolside staff are only responsible for your child whilst they are on poolside, once they leave the swimmer is then the responsibility of the parents/responsible adult appointed by parent.

Competition Kit

The Club has a Team kit which can be purchased online via Swimzi Club Shop , an email will be sent out when the online shop is available,. We ask that all swimmers wear this team kit to feel part of the team etc. It is compulsory in competition to wear the Sharks club hat. Sharks swimming hats can be purchased by contacting Kathy on kathy@teamsharks.com

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. 

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, if not the Timekeeper will ask your 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. 

Results will be posted regularly after everyone has swam that event, ask your coach where to find them.

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