So, what is an Open Meet?
Swimmers qualify for the meet based on their PBs. Although they are representing the club, they are to a large part swimming for them self and a time in each event. The coaches select which particular Open Meets the club will attend and support and give guidance on which swimmers should attend and which events should be entered. Where the club supports an Open Meet there will always be a coach present poolside to look after the swimmers and ensure they are in the right place at the right time to swim in their events (known as whipping, so don’t panic when you hear of swimmers being called to the whipping area).
OK, so the coaches select specific Open Meets for the club to attend, how do you work out if your little swimmer should attend and if so which events they should enter?
In part, some of these decisions are made for you as every Open Meet is licensed with the ASA and part of that licensing process determines what level the event is aimed at. It also determines the number and level of qualification for the officials and potentially whether such things as electronic timing are in place.
There are four levels of Open Meet licensing, with each level being defined by certain criteria and the top being Level 1.
50m (Long Course) pool only. No upper limit times and minimum standard qualification times. Suitable for obtaining National or Regional QTs
25m (Short Course) pool only. May have upper limit times (although not faster than National Qualifying Times – see below) and minimum standard qualification times are required. Suitable for obtaining National or Regional Qualifying Times (QTs
Should have upper limit and lower limit qualification times to reflect the standard at which the meet is aimed. Suitable for obtaining QTs for Regional Champs and Level 1 or 2 meets
Suitable for obtaining QTs for County Champs and Level 3 meets. Upper qualification times should be in place (other than for club championships) and no lower qualification time is required
Some points worthy of mention here, firstly the distinction between Long Course and Short Course events. Long course means the event is swum in a 50m pool; short course is a 25m pool. There are conversion factors which allow you to convert a time achieved in a Long Course event to an equivalent Short Course time, an online convertor can be found on the ASA website
COUNTY, REGIONAL & NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
A swimmer needs to meet published qualifying times to qualify for these championships. The 2014 qualifying times are available here
This competition happens once a year, over several weekends, in February and March. Entrance to the Championships is through qualifying times. Swimmers can start competing at County level from the age of 9 years as long as they have gained the qualifying standard.
The Region/District have three competitions per year, the Youth Championships for swimmers aged 15 to 19 & over , BAGCAT Age Group Championships for swimmers aged 10 to 14 years, the Open Championships for Senior (aged 17 years & over), and Junior (aged 16 years and under) swimmers. The Youth Championships are held in May, the Age Groups in June and the Open Champs in November/December.
All the competitions are Long Course, which means they take place in a 50m pool. Swimmers have to gain qualifying times from licensed meets in order to compete at these championships.
These are the next step up from the Regional Championships; again swimmers have to attain the qualifying standard in order to compete. As with the Region there are three levels of competition. The first is the National BAGCAT Championships, for swimmers aged 11 years to 14 years and is usually held late July early August. Then there’s the National Youth Championships for 15/16 years and 17/18 years – these are usually held early to mid August and directly follow the Age Group Competition. Selections for all the World Class Start and Potential Programmes come from these competitions. The last National event is the ASA Long Course Championships, which is open to any age group attaining the qualifying times, but is mainly a senior event.
All National events are held Long Course (50m pool).
The British Championships are held each year. The first is the Long Course (50m pool), held in March/April and doubles as trials for Olympic, World, European Championships, Commonwealth Games, European Junior Championships and European Youth Olympics.