The Club takes part in many different Competitions, Galas and Open Meets. The rules for each competition are often different, and the terminology used can be quite daunting for those new to the sport.
Club Champs - the Club holds its Annual Championships over four sessions in the Autumn each year. This is open to all Members (though there are some age restrictions on certain events) with medals available for the first 3 in each age group in each event and trophies presented at our Annual Awards evening (which is normally in December or January) for the top performers in each age group. Age groups are based on the swimmer's age on 31st December - swimmers born in the same year compete against each other (exceptions for older swimmers, e.g. 25 and over)
Events are organised by time entry, so the first heat in each event will include the swimmers with the slowest entry times and the last heat will include the fastest swimmers, no matter what their age is. The result of each event is based on Heat Declared Winner (HDW). For example, the fastest 10 year old in the 100m freestyle wins that age group in that event. Until all heats have been completed it is not possible to determine the winners.
At Club Champs we also hold Finals for the 13 & under and 14 & over 100m Freestyle. The fastest 6 in each of the 100m freestyle heats swim off in a final to determine the Club Champion, who has their name added to the honours board at Kettering Swimming Pool.
County Champs - Northamptonshire ASA holds its County Championships in the first few weeks of the year, typically across 2 weekends in January and February. This is normally held at Corby East Midlands International Pool and is a Long Course Event (i.e. the pool length is 50m). Qualification is based on entry times determined by NASA - swimmers must be faster than the published time. Heats are organised as for Club Champs. Most events also have a final, so the fastest 8 swimmers in each event (and age group) swim off in a final to determine who is the County Champion. A small number of events are HDW (200m Fly, Breast, Back and 400m Free / Individual Medley). County Champs also include team relays which are great fun and very exciting.
County Sprints - NASA also holds a Short Course (25m pool length) Championship, normally in September with 50m sprints in each stroke, 100m Individual Medley (IM) and relays. Again, qualifying times are in force.
Regional Champs - NASA is part of Swim England East Midlands who hold their Regional Championships in April / May. Younger swimmers (11-13) normally swim in Corby with older swimmers competing in Sheffield. These are Long Course events and qualifying times are in force. The best swimmers from Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire compete to become Regional Champion.
British / National Champs - British Swimming / Swim England enforce a Qualification Window in the Spring each year and consider results from Level 1 Meets. At the end of the Qualification Window the Top 20 swimmers in each age group for each event are invited to swim at British Champs. Age groups begin at 12/13 for girls and 13/14 for boys. The next 20 swimmers of each nationality are invited to National Champs (England, Scotland, Wales). These championships take place in July each year.
The Club competes in the Leicester & District Swimming League which holds three competitions per year:-
Autumn League - held between October and December, age is based on 31st December with the following age groups competing: 10/u, 11-12, 13-14, Open. Clubs compete against each other in different venues with points awarded based on placing in each event. There are 3 rounds, with the top teams after round 2 competing for the trophy.
Winter League - held between January and March, age is based on 31st December with the following age groups competing: 11/u, 12-13, 14-15, Open. Clubs compete against each other in different venues with points awarded based on placing in each event. There are 3 rounds, with the top teams after round 2 competing for the trophy.
Diddy League - held between April and June, age is based on 30th June with the following age groups competing: 9, 10/u, 11/u, 12/u. Clubs compete against each other in different venues with points awarded based on placing in each event. There are 3 rounds, with the top teams after round 2 competing for the trophy.
In the Leicester League swimmers can only take part in two individual events in their own age group and "swim up" in one event. There is no limit to the number of relays a swimmer competes in.
The Club also takes part in a number of regular Galas:-
Wilkinson Sword Gala - A County Gala for the following age groups: 8-9, 10, 11. Often the first experience of competitive swimming in the County. Teams compete against each other for the Sword.
Sadie Murray Gala - A County Gala with "speed limits". A competitor that swims faster than the specified time receives a speeding ticket and their time and placing does not count. Teams compete for the Trophy.
NASA Presentation Gala - A County Gala based on Age Groups. Teams compete to be the best age group and best overall team in the County - 10/u, 12/u, 14/u & Open.
WASC Relay Gala - Teams compete in Relays (Free, Breast, Fly, Medley) for points to determine the winner. There are restrictions on the number of events a swimmer can take part in.
WASC Fastwater Gala - a very different gala. Teams compete with all times added together. The team with the fastest overall time is the winner. Swiimers can only take part in one individual event in no more than 2 age groups.
Sandra Starkey Gala - very similar format to the Sadie Murray Gala.
Finally, the Club regularly competes in Open Meets. An Open Meet is a competition organised by another Club. These may be Long Course or Short Course. They may have no qualifying time, a qualifying time that swimmers must be slower than, or a qualifying time that swimmers must be faster than. Age may be as of 31st December or it could be age on the date of event (e.g. a swimmer may be competing as a 12 year old on the day but be 13 the day after). The number and range of events varies but typically includes different distances at all 4 strokes and IM. Open Meets last several hours and may cover 1 to 3 days of competing so it's important to keep fed and hydrated between events, have suitable clothes and footwear and a chair (a folding garden chair is ideal).
Some events will be Licensed. Results will be uploaded to National Rankings so you can see how you compare to everyone else in the Country. This is obviously important for qualification for Regional and National competitions.
A final word - Swimming is a technical sport. Whilst it can be very disappointing, Disqualifications (DQ) do happen and the reason is not always obvious. DQ Codes are normally available after an event or meet has finished and can be checked with coaches. Reasons for a DQ can range from a False Start (no second chances), a faulty stroke, an illegal turn or an early relay changeover. It happens to everyone and should be seen as a learning process. Anyone watching the 2018 Commonwealth Games would have seen Ben Proud DQ'd for a tiny twitch on the starting block - if an Olympian does it don't be surprised if it happens to you!