A Beginner’s Guide to Open meets


The following information is intended as a guide for parents of children who wish to become involved in competitive swimming, those swimmers who have reached 9yrs of age , have completed the competitive starts and diving  course and are main pool swimmers, attending the 7.10pm and later training sessions on a Thursday evening.


ASA Swimmers Classification


Newark Swimming Club is affiliated to the ASA and our members are also registered members.


Members of the club are allocated into one of three classification groups:


ASA Category 1


This classification is for young swimmers who are starting off in swimming and for those swimming in the Junior Coaching programme. Additionally, swimmers in our competitive squads who are under 9 years of age are registered as category one swimmers. Finally, swimmers over the age of 25 who swim with our Masters squad and do not wish to compete, hold this classification. Category one membership provides insurance whilst the swimmer is at training and at some low level (level 4) galas.


Category 2


Swimmers over the age of 9 years who train with our competitive squads are registered as category two swimmers. This level of classification provides access to the British swimming rankings system and offers insurance to swimmers at training, organised club events and competitions.



Category 3


This classification is for parent members and for all volunteers who offer their services to ensure the smooth running of the club.


When you join NewarkSwimming Club a membership fee is paid, this membership fee is renewed each year in January. From this fee the Club then pays for the member’s yearly registration to the ASA, the East Midlands ASA and Nottinghamshire ASA. The fee offers insurance for volunteering and the administration of safeguarding checks.


To become registered in one of the above shown categories. Please speak to Jill at the desk on a Thursday evening.


Open meets


Open meets arecompetitions where the competitor is swimming for themselves to gain times and sometimes medals! The club targets many meets throughout the year, and as  we are a competitive club, swimmers are expected to enter. The events calendar on the website show which open meets the club will be targeting. An email will also be sent alerting you to which competitions you should enter.


What is Licensing?


Swimming competitions do not have to be licensed, but where they are specific ASA guidelines and rules must be followed. Licensed meets are graded level 1-4. Electronic timing must be used on level 1-3 meets. Results from these are submitted to the ASA for inclusion on the National Rankings database. www.britishswimming.org/rankings-records-results/rankings



Level One Meets are for experienced swimmers and are targeted by those trying to qualify for National Championships.

Minimum entry times apply equivalent to the ASA ‘A’ Grade qualifying times.

Pools must be either 25m or 50m long.


Level Two Meets are intended for qualifying for Regional Championships.

Qualifying Times and Upper Limit times apply.

Pools must be 25m or 50m long.


Level Three Meets are intended for qualifying for County Championships, although swimmers who achieve a Regional Qualifying Time at a level three competition may use that time for entry into their Regional Championships.

Qualifying Times and Upper Limit times usually apply.

Pools must be 25m, 33m or 50m long.


Level Four Meets are intended for club swimmers and those beginning to enter individual open competition.

Qualifying Times sometimes apply, Upper Limit times usually apply.

Pools must be at least 25m long.


What this means….

When you look at the details for an open meet they often state that they are Level 3, Level 2 etc. The level indicates the standard of the meet, what the times can be used for in the future and what level of officials are used. Also higher level galas are more competitive; level 1 being the top level of competition. To qualify for county championships it is usually stated that qualifying times have to be achieved at a Level 3 gala or above. For regional championships qualification has be at Level 3 or above.


Each year Newark swimming club hold there own club championships. Theses are not licensed therefore the times are not recognised by the ASA and will not be placed on the national rankings database.


For level 1, 2 and 3 meets the swimmer needs to have a Category 2 member classification.



Entry to open meets


Entry forms for Open meets will be emailed to swimmers and are also available from the website of the club hosting the competition. You will need the swimmers ASA number in order to complete the form. For most levels of competitions you will need to get the entry time for each race off the ASA personal best times website. www.swimmingresults.org/individualbest/Enter the swimmer’s surname or ASA number to view their PB’s. If your swimmer is entering a low level swimming competition and they do not have an official time, log onto Newark website and view the PB list, alternatively ask your coach for advice.  Guessing  times or entering a time that you would like your swimmer to achieve is never a good idea and usually leads to frustration and unrealistic expectations.


Once the email has been sent an initial expression of interest will be required in the first instance so we can determine how many swimmers are wishing to enter the meet. You will then be notified that entries are to be submitted. There is always an entry fee for each race, between £4 and £7. Entries along with payment are submitted individually or by the club  by the advertised closing date. The email will advise you if the entry is an individual entry or a club entry. You must ensure that entries are submitted by the date on the email and not the date shown on the entry form. Popular Meets often fill up early and so an earlier submission is recommended.


What to Take


A swimmer needs two costumes or racing suits, two pairs of goggles, two towels, a club shirt and two club hats.

Swimmers are always hungry and pool environments are usually hot; they will need plenty of drinks and possibly some food

Club shirts can be purchased from K and H sports in Newark. Club hats can be purchased from the desk on a Thursday night


At the meet


Ensure that the swimmers arrive in good time for the start a competition. Try to arrive half an hour before a warm up starts as the swimmers are expected to stretch before entering the pool. You will also have trouble parking if you arrive late as swim meets are usually well supported.


Once at the gala the swimmers go off and change and then have to go poolside by themselves to sit with their club mates. Parents are not always allowed in changing rooms and are never allowed poolside. This can be a bit daunting, especially for the younger swimmers competing in their first couple of galas but be reassured that Newark will provide a  member of the Coaching team who team manage, get the children to the right place at the right time and where possible coach the children during competition.

What do the parents and supporters do?  Sit and cheer on the swimmers – if you’re lucky the pool will have proper tiered spectator seating, otherwise you end up sitting very close to the pool. There is usually a small charge for spectators and sometimes a raffle to raise funds for the hosting club. A programme is usually available to purchase; this will enable you to follow the events running order and ensure that you catch your childs swim.


The Swimming


Most open meets  are split into two or more sessions with a separate warm up for each session. The warm up takes about an hour with the swimmers split into older/younger boys and girls.

At most open galas each event is ranked in the order of the swimmer’s entry time (their PB may have changed since the entry was made). The event is then swum in heats starting with the slowest times irrespective of age. As a result it is unlikely that a swimmer will be completely outclassed (or completely out class the other swimmers) in their particular heat.

Once the event is complete the recorded times are sorted out and the swimmers sorted into their age groups and the results posted, at which point you find out whether you have a medal winner.

Trophies/medals are awarded for anywhere between the top three and top six in each of the age groups. For most swimmers though, a PB is as good as a medal!



For those that don’t know, a PB is a personal best time.


PB’s are recorded by the club but you may also find it useful to keep a personal record at home.

The ASA also holds a database of all official times recorded at licensed open galas. These are the times needed for most meet entries. www.swimmingresults.org/individualbest/

Once your child has recorded official times at a licensed gala you can go to the ASA web site to see where your child is ranked at county, regional and national level.

It is at this point you realise how many competitive swimmers there are, and just how good some are! Don’t get carried away thinking you have potential Olympic prodigy; there are around 400,000 competitive swimmers in the UK, of which about 20 go to the Olympics. Enjoy the journey, don’t worry too much about the destination!


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