Introduction to Competitive Swimming




For parents with no previous experience in the sport entering the world of competitive swimming can be a mystery and confusing. In this document we hope to be able to give you some information that helps you understand the sport and the pathway your child is entering into.


In England children become of competitive age at nine, however mini galas can start to be entered at age eight.



When your child becomes a member of a competitive swim squad at Aquajets then the first thing you may wonder about is what is this Swim England membership and how does it relate to my child?


Swim England is our governing body we are affiliated to them as a club and this allows us to compete our members in competition both inside and outside of the country. They create the rules we must abide by at a national level, we are then governed by a regional board and then by a local county board.

 Our national body is Swim England

Our regional body is North East Region

Our local body is Northumberland and Durham County  webpage is accessed via the regional site.


Your child’s Swim England’s membership will be a Category 2 allowing the swimmer to compete and be part of a structured pathway in the club.

Category One is for learn to swim/non competitive swimmers

Category Three is for volunteers, coaches and teachers.



There are different types of galas.

Team Gala (External)

Diddy League Galas will start next season – a swimming season runs September to August each year.

The Diddy League is for children aged 8-12 years old and they compete as part of a team, gaining points for each swim they take part in.

The team is selected by the Head Coach and there are four girls and four boys in each age group category.

In summer 2020 when the team is selected for next season the children selected will be invited to attend a team training session where they will learn to work as a team, support one another and learn relay skills.

The team will compete against other clubs in the area in four galas across the season. If the team comes in the top two of their division they will be promoted to the next division the following season.

Club Championships/Time Trials (Internal)

The club runs four galas in house throughout the season where swimmers are invited to compete.

The aim of these trials is for the junior swimmers to gain more race experience and for the coaches to be able to video races and review performance and see where the work needs to be amended in the training programme.

In the summer of each year the swimmer who has accumulated the most points from competing in these galas will win top girl or top boy in their age category.


Christmas Fun Gala (Internal)

This is once a year close to Christmas and it is a fun gala, not all serious races and the boys v the girls to see who can come out on top at Christmas all swimmers throughout the club are encouraged to take part age 5 to ………


Open Competition (External)

This is a gala where there are no qualification times. The swimmer is racing to compete as an individual and to gain or improve on their personal best times.


Graded Gala (External)

This is a gala where there are faster than or slower than entry times. These galas require the swimmers to have times to gain entry – if the swimmers does not have an entry time then the coach can provide one.


Championship Galas (External)

County Northumberland and Durham

Regional North East Region

National (Summer British, Scottish, Welsh and Irish)

British Championships

These galas require qualification times for entry and the standards change each year. An indication of the most recent timing standards are attached to this document.


Galas are categorised by a license, which the meet organiser applies for – you will see level 3, 2, 1 licensed meets frequently used on competition information.

Level 1 is National or entry into National competition

Level 2 is Local reasonably quick gala

Level ¾ is entry level


Competition is always swam short or long course.

The short course season is September – December each year for Championship swimmers and Long Course Jan – August.

This does not mean that Championship swimmers will not compete short course Jan – Aug it just means that the Championship Galas that fall Jan – August will be long course.

Short Course swimming is in a 25m pool

Long Course swimming is in a 50m pool

Junior swimmers just entering into competition will swim mainly short course.

If you have a time from swimming short course and your coach asks you to enter into a long course gala, then your time will need converting and you can use the following website to do this:-



There is a gala entry process.

A gala will be posted to the website with a deadline date.

The swimmer will need to take their gala entry form to their coach with a list of all the swims they qualify to swim at that meet.

The coach will highlight the swims they want the swimmer entered into and forward that onto the club competition secretary – their contact is:-

The secretary will then post onto the website a list of swim entries and request the member to make the appropriate payment.

A list of accepted entries will be posted once the meet organiser has accepted the entries and after the meet the results sheets will be posted to the website.

The swimmers times are registered on the Swim England online database and you can access your swimmers times by going to:-


Click on rankings in the top blue bar

Then individual best times

Enter Surname and search




The thing you need to remember about going to competition is that there is no going back home to get something if something gets lost or broken to two of everything is a good rule.

Two costumes

Two pairs of goggles

Three hats (at least one club)

Two towels

Water Bottle

Snack food and lunch

Kickboard for warmup

Club T shirt


Costumes need to be tight – they don’t need to be fancy at junior level.

A loose costume will pocket the water cause drag and slow your swimmer down.

Goggles need to be speed sockets as soon as possible – goggles that leak and are too loose are no good.

Hats when racing junior swimmers need a minimum of two hats, they put one hat on then their goggles then the second hat and that way we avoid any gogglegate! It keeps the goggles in place while they race.


To try your best – simple as that and enjoy it.

Warmup time will be issued by the competition secretary aim to be there 15 mins before.

Your coach will give you your warmup time slot and send you to marshalling when your race is coming up and give you any instructions for your race.

Do not leave the poolside without getting the permission of your coach.

After your swim immediately go to speak to your coach – if your coach is busy watching and talking to another swimmer wait your turn, but you must speak to your coach for feedback after every swim.

Support your team members.

You can leave the gala after your races have finished with the permission of your coach.




Training sessions for junior swimmers are based on two principles – correct levels of technique and fitness.

Learn to swim the stroke correctly. Two tech sessions will be carried out each week at junior level.

Learn to deliver that stroke at speed.

Strong kick

Aerobic base fitness.

So the training week would look a little like this:-

Tuesday Kick

Friday     Tech

Sat Tech and Aerobic base

Junior swimmers are provided with a swimmers log book and after each session when they get home they need to complete their log book.

They need to know at least one thing the learnt in the lesson that day.

Note the set the swam and how many meters.

Think about what they would like to improve.

An engaged swimmer who understands what they are trying to achieve will be more successful.

Every swimmer needs a water bottle in training, if they are working hard they will need to hydrate.

They will need a snack for after training as they will need to refuel and recover – good sleep pattern will help with this.



Coaches coach and parents support

Do not try to be a home coach, it can lead to the swimmer hating the sport and drop out.

Any coach in the club would be happy to meet with a parent to discuss progress.

However remember progress can be seen and evident at galas as swimmers PB and move forward. Swimming is a long journey and you often need to be patient to see the results you would like from your child as all children grow and progress at different rates.

Do not over analyse your child or their performance that is the coaches job and they will contact you if they feel there is any issue that needs addressing.

Is your child giving it their all?

Are they enjoying it?

If the answer is yes then their time will come.



Useful websites

For kit





For information on swimming and swimming tips

The Race Club Miami

USA Swimming