A Guide to Open Meets

Kingston Royals Swimming Club

A Guide to Open Meets


Important Information:  A competition calendar is drawn up before the start of each season by the coaching team and competition secretary.  Galas are an integral part of a swimmer's training and, as such, specific meets are targeted to complement the training cycles of each squad.   

Do not get sucked into entering every gala on the Swim England calendar.  The Club spend a long time identifying galas that will provide sufficient gaps between each meet to tie in with the training programmes of each squad.  Swimming at meets for 3/4/5 consecutive weeks and expecting improved performances will not help your child’s swimming development and you will be wasting your money.

Therefore, the Club would respectfully request that swimmers attend only the meets set out on the Competition Calendar for each squad in order to avoid interruptions to their training cycles.



Kingston Royals swimmers compete at a number of galas throughout the year.  There are different ‘levels’ of gala and each have their own entry criteria.

Academy & Junior Galas

These galas are aimed as a stepping stone for younger swimmers to experience competitive swimming within their home environment.  All galas will be run in accordance with Swim England and FINA Rules which require a full complement of officials and referees and will be licensed at Level 4 .  These galas are held 3 times a year and are the only galas that are available to swimmers under the age of 9.   Times achieved at these galas are licensed and can be used to enter Open Meets once a swimmer reaches the age of 9.  Please note that since Covid we have been unable to secure our usual pool times for these galas to take place but we are currently working on resurrecting these galas in the near future as we understand these are important for any swimmers new to competition and our younger swimmers.

Club Championships

Club Championship Galas are organised and run by Kingston Royals Swimming Club.  There are a number of Club Championship galas held throughout the year.

  • The Long Distance Club Championship Galas (400m Freestyle, 400m Individual Medley and 800m/1500m Freestyle) are licensed by the London Swimming Association as Level 4 galas and comply with Swim England and FINA Rules.
  • The Royals Autumn Open Meet, held in November of each year, covers all other distances (50m, 100m and 200m in each event) and is licensed by the London Swimming Association as a Level 3 gala and complies with Swim England Laws and Swim England Technical Rules of Swimming.

The main entry criteria for these galas is that you are a paid up member of Kingston Royals Swimming Club.

All swimmers (so long as they are aged 9+ as at the date of the meet) from Academy 1 to Regionals Squad are encouraged to take part although for some of the longer distance events, restrictions may be placed on younger swimmers so they can only enter if they are invited to do so by the Head Coach.  The age group you swim in will be based on your age as at the date of the meet.  Medals and Club Championship Trophies are available to be won at all Club Championship galas.

Open Meets

These are galas organised and run by various swimming clubs and are held at various locations across the country.  Age restrictions are applied to every meet and are based on one of the following:-

  • A swimmer's age as at the last day of the meet;
  • A swimmer's age as at 31st December in the year of competition.

Each meet will apply their own Promoter's Conditions around the structure of the competition and this will include the one of the age group restrictions.  Open meets are licensed as Level 1, 2 or 3.  Level 1 and 2 meets accept the fastest swimmers only whereas Level 3 meets accept entries on a "first come first served" basis which means those Clubs who get their entries in first, secure places for their swimmers.  The Head Coach will select appropriate meets for each Squad and these will be listed on the KRSC website calendar on the KRSC homepage. There are strict deadlines for all Open Meets and therefore it is imperative all swimmers submit their entries by the Closing Date stipulated by the Club's Competition Secretary.

Surrey County Championships

The focus of many Kingston Royals swimmers is to meet the entry criteria for the Surrey Age Group Championships.  These are held each year, typically during February and March at venues including the London Aquatics Centre, Guildford Spectrum and Surrey Sports Park.  You must be at least 10 years old as at 31st December in each year to compete and the age group you swim in will be based on your age as at 31st December in that year.  Unlike most open meets, only licensed times attained after the previous year's Surrey Championships are recognised for the purposes of qualification.  Therefore it is important that, if you wish to be eligible to compete at the Surrey Age Group Championships, you compete at Club Championships and any open meets specified by your coach.

Regional Championships

Once you have reached Counties, the next level of competition is the Regional Championships and Kingston Royals falls within the London Region.  The Regional Championships are divided into two separate competitions - London Youth Championships (those aged 15+ as at 31st December in each year) and London Age Group Championships.(those aged 11+ as at 31st December in each year.  The Youth Championships are held over the last weekend in April at the Aquatic Centre whilst the Regional Age Group Championships take place over two weekends in May at either Crystal Palace or the Aquatics Centre. The Qualifying Times set by London Region each year must have been attained at a Level 3 (or above) meet after the last day of the previous year's competition.

National Championships

At the top of the swimming pyramid are the National Championships.  These are held at Ponds Forge, Sheffield at the end of July/beginning of August.  There are two levels of National Championship qualification where places are offered to the Top 44 qualifiers across the Country.  The top 24 Ranked swimmers in each age group and each event will qualify for British Nationals with the remaining 20 Ranked swimmers in each age group and each event qualifying for the Swim England National Summer Meet. 

  • British Nationals - The British Championships form part of British Swimming’s broader Performance Pathway strategy which aims to increase and support junior talent on the journey to senior medal-winning performances. Swimmers are invited based on the National Rankings following an advertised qualification period (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Qualifcation Window’) usually covering the period between mid-March and the end of May). The top 24 swimmers in each age group and event are then invited to compete at the Championships. The purpose of the event is to expose the greatest number of young, talented swimmers to a national competition environment whilst continuing to provide athletes a transitioning opportunity to become competitive senior swimmers. The rankings are on swimmers’ performances at Level 1 meets during the Qualifcation Window mentioned above. The minimum qualifying age is 13 for girls and 14 for boys.
  • Swim England National Summer Meet (also referred to as English Nationals)  - This is Swim England’s biggest domestic swimming event of the year. The Summer Meet forms part of a swimming competition structure in Great Britain whereby the next 20 top ranked swimmers (i.e. those ranked from 25-44 in British Rankings) from Swim England affiliated clubs in each event are invited to compete at the Swim England National Summer Meet.  The rankings are based on swimmers’ performances at Level 1 meets during the Qualification Window, typically between March and May in each calendar year . The minimum age is 12 for girls and 13 for boys.

The age of each swimmer for ALL National Championships/Meets is their age as at 31st December in each year.

National Arena League ("NASL") and Junior Swimming League ("JSL")

As a club, Kingston Royals competes in two leagues, the Junior Swimming League for those aged 9–12 years of age and the National Arena Swimming League for swimmers aged 9 and over.  Both leagues involve a series of galas where Kingston Royals swims as a team against other swimming clubs.  Events include both individual and relay events.  Points to note about each gala:-

Times achieved at JSL are not licensed Times achieved at NASL are licensed
JSL galas take place from April-June in each year NASL galas take place from October-December in each year
Age Groups for JSL are based on the age of swimmers as at the date the last gala in the series is held

Age Groups for NASL are based on the age of swimmers as at 31st December in each year



Teams for league events are selected at the discretion of the coaches and will be based on PBs and current performance of swimmers.  If swimmers are selected they will be notified by the Club’s Team Manager.


Preparing for and attending galas


  • Swimsuits (as a rough guide, 1 to warm up in and 1 to compete in for each session)
  • Goggles x 2
  • KRSC swimming hat x 2
  • One towel for each session
  • KRSC polo shirt/t-shirt and shorts/tracksuit bottoms to enable you to keep warm on poolside
  • Pool shoes
  • Drinks in plastic bottles (no cans or glass bottles on poolside)
  • Snacks for between races
  • iPods and mobiles are allowed but please ensure they are set to silent at all times. These are the responsibility of the swimmer NOT the Team Manager or Coach


  • Some galas operate a signing-in process whereby, unless you sign-in ON THE DAY, you will not be allowed to swim.  Do not assume that because you have entered and paid your race fee you are entitled to swim.  The Surrey Championships always operate a sign-in procedure
  • Occasionally meets will operate a withdrawal system whereby you will be down to swim unless you notify them otherwise.  London Regional Championships always operate a withdrawal procedure
  • If you decide not to swim you must let the Coach who is attending the event know.  This should be done as early as possible and is very important as they will not waste time looking for you/trying to contact you on the day.  In addition, if a withdrawal system is in place, the event organisers will have you assigned to a heat and lane unless they hear otherwise
  • If you decide to go home before the end of a meet it is very important to let the Coach/Team Manager know so they can withdraw you from any races you are down to swim later in the day


  • Most galas are very busy and there is limited space poolside.  Swimmers should ensure that they place their bags in lockers (most operate with a £1 or 20p refundable coin) and only take essential items poolside (towel, t-shirt/shorts, goggles, water bottles and snacks)
  • Take your swimming bag with you poolside as this is where ALL of your possessions should be kept at all times
  • Report to the team manager/coach when arriving on poolside and, if you need to leave for any reason (e.g. to change/go to the toilet), ask permission before doing so
  • Be silent at the start of races and keep still if you are near the starting area
  • Do not walk in front of officials during races
  • Be aware of when you are meant to be swimming and listen for instructions to warm up or whip in for your events in order to minimise the risk of missing races
  • Where possible, swimmers should try to warm up together
  • Speak to your coach prior to and after racing, so he/she can give you advice and feedback
  • Keep warm between races by drying off and covering up
  • Keep the area tidy by keeping your bags neatly packed and putting any rubbish you create into bags provided
  • Where a warm down pool is provided, it is to be used for swimming not playing
  • Swimmers should sit with their team mates throughout galas and be supportive of them – negative comments about other people’s swimming are not acceptable


  • Eat sensibly in the run up to a gala – carbs are always important to swimmers to keep up energy levels.  Too much fat, or food generally, will make you sluggish
  • Keep hydrated both in the run up to a meet and during – regular small drinks of water will help
  • Food on the day should be easy to eat and digest and it is a good idea to take food that can be eaten as small snacks rather than a big meal.  Low fat sandwiches/bagels, simple pasta dishes, fruit/raw veg are all good options


  • Spectators are always welcome but it can be a very long day in a very hot atmosphere, so ensure you dress comfortably for the heat, bring food and drink, a cushion and something to keep you occupied in the long waits between races
  • Parents are not allowed poolside so ensure you pack everything your child will need in their bag
  • Generally you will be expected to pay an entrance fee, for which you will be provided with a programme of events
  • Try to be positive for your children at galas even if they don’t swim well.  You may feel you have wasted many hours but negativity will not help!  Most swimmers will put immense pressure on themselves to perform well and, if a race does not go to plan, they will be disappointed and may feel they have let you down.  A parent's role is to give them reassurance and support.  Do not enter into a post-race analysis - this will be done by the coach as and when he/she feels the swimmer will be most receptive

Meet Mobile

Meet Mobile is a results service that you can download from the App Store.  It will allow you to view heats and see results for each event across most meets.  Please note there is a minimal annual charge for this app.


Sooner or later, swimmers will be introduced to the concept of disqualification (DQ). Like all sports, competitive swimming is governed by strict technical rules that are there to make sure races are run fairly for all swimmers. All meet officials such as referees and judges have passed examinations (both theoretical and practical). Officials would prefer not to disqualify any swimmers. However, they have to maintain standards without which some swimmers could gain an unfair advantage. We do understand that it is very upsetting to new swimmers when DQ’s happen, but the Club has to expose swimmers to these rules from the very beginning of their swimming journey. When a DQ occurs it is normally announced, along with the reason, when the result of the race is being announced. The coach will also have been notified or can determine the DQ from codes on the printed results. It is much better to be disqualified early at an internal club event and learn from the disqualification than to be disqualified at a County Championships or National League event, later in a swimmer’s career when it really matters. Most swimmers have experienced a DQ at some point, even at the Olympic Games - it is simply a part of the journey!

The main (but not only) reasons for disqualifications are:

  • A false start - there are no second chances on the start in swimming. Please note that a false start might be no more than a swimmer moving (twitching) on the starting blocks once the starter has called ‘Take your marks’
  • Incorrect stroke technique
  • Incorrect touch at the turn or finish
  • Incorrect turn
  • An early take-over during a relay race

Being disqualified should be seen as a learning experience; it is not the end of the world. It happens even at the highest performance level. 

Open Meet Results

Meet results will be uploaded to our database shortly after the meet.  Your can view your individual swimmer's results via your Team Unify account. 

Alternatively, to view the full competition results (including DQ Codes) for each meet, please navigate to Galas | Meet Results on the KRSC website or follow the link below:-

Meet Results