Welcome to the world of competitive swimming!

Please read below to find out more on the different types of competitions. If you would like to enter competitions, but need some assistance, please email the gala secretary on [email protected].

Click here for a full list of up and coming events you can enter.



These take place throughout the year from September/October to June/July on a monthly/bi-monthly basis.

All members are invited to take part. Swimmers decide what strokes/distances they wish to compete in and they are placed within their own age groups.

1st, 2nd & 3rd place in each event receive an award.

Swimmers declare their wish to take part on the notices posted in prior weeks.

There is a small entry fee for each event.

There is an annual presentation held in July.

Club records are achieved at club championship events.

The results are maintained by the club and displayed on the club website.



These are informal competitions between clubs and hosted by a club.  

Swimmers are selected by the Team Manager/Coaches.

The team selection is usually posted at the club administration table in the weeks prior.

The age categories and criteria can vary from gala to gala.

There are no fees payable by the swimmer.



EAST LONDON MINI LEAGUE – a competition of galas throughout the year for novice swimmers aged 9 - 14.  Some galas are local, some may need transport.  

M11 NATIONAL JUNIOR LEAGUE – a series of 3 galas in April, May & June for swimmers aged 9 – 12 years. The fastest team is selected.

NATIONAL SWIMMING LEAGUE – a series of 3 galas in October, November, December for swimmers aged 9 – 16+. It is the most prestigious League competition in the UK and we aim to put out or best possible team.

BGSSC Club Rule 7 states:

“Swimmers are expected to take part in individual age group competitions but preference should be given to team selections whenever possible. Attendance at mini league and league galas is essential.”

All club swimmers training in competitive groups e.g. Academy and County/Regional/National squads must register as Swim England category 2 from the age of 9.



Open Meets are where swimmers enter events of their choice. Swimmers are charged for each race they enter and prices vary.  Some meets can only be entered if the swimmer has achieved certain qualifying times. Swimmers race against swimmers with similar times (usually in heats) to attempt to obtain a personal best time (PB).  

Swimmers are in age group categories for awards. Sometimes these are single year age groups, sometimes double, with awards presented for the top swimmers in each event in each age group, unless the event is declared as “no frills” whereby a placing is posted but no awards are given. 

It is the responsibility of the parent/swimmer to enter Open Meets by informing the club Competition Manager/Team Manager before the closing date and paying in advance. Information and entry forms for Open Meets can be obtained from the club’s competition secretary (please provide your e-mail address) or found on our web site, or noticeboard.  

Licensed meets follow specific Swim England guidelines. Licensed meets are graded level 1-4. Electronic timing must be used on level 1-3 meets. Results from these are submitted to Swim England for inclusion on the Swim England Rankings Database, which ranks swimmers in all age groups, for each stroke and distance.

The following is a guide to the standards of Licensed Meet:

LEVEL 1 - for swimmers of Regional standard working towards National Qualifying Times

LEVEL 2 - for swimmers of County standard working towards Regional Qualifying Times

LEVEL 3 - for swimmers working towards County qualifying times

LEVEL 4 - for club swimmers

More details can be found on the Swim England website under Swimming Calendar and Competition information.


Glossary of Terms

LC (Long Course) = Long Course 50m Pool

SC (Short Course) = Short Course 25m Pool

HDW = Heat Declared Winner

QT = Qualification Time


All club swimmers training in competitive groups e.g. Academy and County/Regional/National squads, must register as Swim England category 2 from the age of 9, and compete in age group competitions as specified in their BGSSC swimmer contract (as viewed on the club website)



These are the first major competitions a swimmer will encounter and are held in January to February.  

The age group championship categories are 10/11, 12, 13 years. The Youth Championship categories are 14, 15, 16+.  All ages are as of the 31st December in the year of competition.

There are ‘qualifying’ times which swimmers must have achieved in a licensed meet in the year prior to entry.  There may be (if stated) ‘consideration’ times – if swimmers have achieved these, and if there is sufficient room in the programme, they will be accepted. 

Swimmers are expected to enter all events for which they have qualified.  

Entries need to be completed prior to the specified deadline date, and fees handed to the competition secretary. 




The London Swimming (Regional) Summer Championships are usually held in May.  The age groups are 11/12, 13, 14, 15, 16 & 17+.  Ages are as of the 31st December in the year of competition.

Qualification times are usually provided on the London Swimming website; in March.  Entry times are usually 50 M times, but can be converted from 25 M times achieved at licensed meets. You can use the following website to convert times;


The Swim England competition structure is as follows:

The British Championships/Trials (LC) are confirmed annually, but are normally in March or April.

The British Summer Championships (LC) are held in July/August.  The age categories are 13/14, 15, 16, 17/18 and 19+.  The top 24 ranked individual swimmers per event qualify, and are age band identified from the British ranking list from a specified qualification window (March – May).

The Swim England Summer Nationals (LC) are held for those swimmers who finish outside of the top ranked places in the above championships. The age categories are Girls 12/13, 14, 15, 16, 17+, Boys 13/14, 15, 16, 17, 18+.

The Swim England Short Course Winter Nationals (SC) are held in December. Entry is by QT at a licensed level 2 meet in the year of competition. Converted times are not accepted.



The procedure for entry is not the same for all competitions. However, most entries will be done through our website which should make the process quite simple 

  • You should receive an email with a link to enter the competition. From there you will get extra information and see if your child is eligible.
  • Check the information on the website to ensure that the meet is suitable and that you do not have any other commitments on the relevant day(s).
  • Decide which events you would like to enter. If in doubt please ask the head coach who will be happy to advise you.
  • The majority of meets operate on a first come, first served entry basis. An BGSSC entry 'cut-off date' will be declared with a limited notice period as in most cases entries need to be in well in advance of the organisers’ stated closing date.

Some Competition entries may require a form which will come to you via email or be downloaded from the events page.

  • Fill out the entry form in full.
  • Sign the entry form and return via email to the clubs competition secretary [email protected].
  • Bacs the Money owed in full to the Bethnal Green sharks swimming club using the meet Location and the child’s First name and Initial as a reference.
  • Once entries have closed, the host club decides which entries to accept and sends details back to the competition secretary. If there are any rejections then details of any refunds available will also be given.

Every meet uses a slightly different entry form but the same principles apply. You must put the swimmer’s ASA number on the form. This is a wholly numeric reference (ie 123456), and is shown on the ASA registration card which all swimmers should have been given.

Please ensure you only enter events which are allowed for your age, and put down your personal best times (PBs) in the box provided. We recommend that swimmers and parents keep a record of their previous PBs and where/when these times were achieved. Swimmers can also request a time trial during a training session to get a better idea of speed.


Qualifying Times

Competitions are limited to certain durations so this means that organisers have to limit the entries through qualifying times. Meet requirements usually include qualifying times, and only swimmers who have achieved the relevant time are able to enter that event. Even then they are not guaranteed entry. If the meet is oversubscribed, swimmers with the slower entry times may be rejected or "scratched" from that event. Sometimes there are also upper time limits known as "No Faster Times" preventing higher standard swimmers from entering lower level competitions.



BAGCATS (British Age Group Categories) are a point-based system operated by the ASA.  Their objective is to encourage development across multiple strokes and distances for girls under 14 and boys under 15 and to discourage specialisation at too early a stage in a swimmer’s career.

You’ll probably come across BAGCATS for the first time if your swimmer goes to Counties.  At Counties, in addition to awards for success in a specific stroke over a specific distance, success can also be measured on BAG Points across the competition as a whole.

To participate in the overall BAGCAT competition, swimmers must enter and compete in at least one event from each of the following categories:

  • Best Sprint - 50m any stroke (all ages)
  • 100’s - 100m any stroke (ages 11-13 for  females and 12-14 for males)
  • Form - 200m back, breast or fly (all ages)
  • Distance - 200m free (all ages) can be substituted by 400m, 800m or 1,500m for older swimmers
  • Individual Medley - 100m, 200m IM (all ages) and 400 IM (10 Years +)

Points are scored for each event, dependent upon time swum, contributing to an overall score and position. If you enter more than 1 event in any category it is only the “best” score that counts towards the overall competition. This does not preclude a swimmer from entering only the events that they wish to participate in during the County Championships.

When swimmers move into their mid to late teens, their bodies become fully developed (girls sooner than boys – hence the difference in BAGCAT upper ages) and they should start to specialise in strokes and distances.  Therefore beyond BAGCAT ages, swimmers will compete at County, Regional and National events at individual events.