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Severnside Tritons Swimming Club

Swim England


Are there galas and competitions?

Yes, Severnside Tritons enters swimmers for different competitions on a regular basis and children generally start swimming at these events in their ninth year. We compete in galas, leagues, open meets and Championship events.

Our fixtures list gives all the information you need about the competitions we enter during the year - age, level, location, qualifying times etc. Some competitions are for new or emerging swimmers and if your child has not swum in competitive galas previously these are the types of galas he/she is likely to be entered into first.

The swimming year runs from September to September. Competitions start towards the end of September once swimmers have got back into their training after a break in the summer. Galas and League Competitions can take place at any time of year, Arena League is Oct/Nov/Dec, Southern Junior League Jun/Jul/September and Mini Series spread through the year. County Championships are in Jan/Feb/March, with Regional Championships in May, finishing with National Championships in late Late July/early August. Open meets are run throughout the year depending on the level of meet.


What’s the difference between a Gala and a Meet?

A Gala is an event where different swimming clubs compete against each other as teams. Individual swimmers from the club are selected by the coach depending on the nature of the gala and compete in individual events and team relays in various age categories.

Points are awarded for places in each race and the overall total at the end of the gala determines the winning team/club.

Top tip: Galas are usually held in the evenings and although are a competition they are also great fun. They normally last a maximum of 3 hours. Times from these events cannot be used for entry to meets but are kept on the OnDeck system for information.

A Meet is an event which individual swimmers enter to compete in races of their choice, usually against swimmers of the same age, with the aim of competing for medals and to register times that are uploaded to the official ASA Ranking database. It is these times that are used to qualify for invited events such as County, Regional and National swimming championships.


What’s the difference between an ‘Open’ and ‘Closed’ meet?

In theory, any swimmer can enter an ‘Open Meet’ as long as they satisfy any stated eligibility criteria (which can usually be found in the relevant event Meet Pack) and there are enough spaces to swim. Open meets are usually arranged by individual clubs and Severnside Tritons encourages as many swimmers as possible to enter these open meets to compete for medals and to register official times.

In contrast, only swimmers who are specifically invited can compete in ‘Closed Meets.’ These include Meets which require swimmers to reach a certain designated standard, usually a specified ‘qualifying time.’ Examples of such meets include County, Regional and National Championships.

How do I enter an open meet?

In contrast to galas, you do not need to be invited by one of the coaches to enter an open meet. Meets will listed on OnDeck under events, if you would like to attend and fulfil the criteria please accept and pick the races you would like to do.

Top tip: If you are attending a meet take note of the dates of the races may be spread over 2 days and you may only want to attend one day and may end of picking across both days. Also meets can be long events from 8am to 7pm each day so be prepared with food, drinks and things to do between races

What is a ‘licensed’ event?

Swimming at licensed events is the only way for you to get qualifying times as an individual to be able to enter County, Regional and National events. It’s a way of measuring yourself against others, improving your Personal Best times and maybe even winning medals. All licensed meets are subject to ASA laws and regulations and the ASA Technical Rules of Racing.

They are graded into four levels: 

  1. Level 1 Meets are long course (50m) only and cover National, Regional and County Championships. Their purpose is to enable athletes to achieve qualifying times for entry into National, Regional and County Championships.
  2. Level 2 Meets are short course (25m) only and cover National, Regional and County Championships. Their purpose is to enable athletes to achieve qualifying times for entry into National, Regional and County Championships in short course.
  3. Level 3 Meets are long and short course events. Their purpose is to enable athletes to achieve times for entry into Regional and County Championships and other Meets at Level 1 or Level 2.
  4. Level 4 Meets are entry-level events in pools 25m or longer. They are for inexperienced athletes and swimmers seeking to compete outside their club environment. If times are good, athletes can then progress to Level 3 Meets.


How do I work out which age group I fall into?

A swimmer must have reached any relevant minimum age to compete. In many competitions, a swimmer's age is the age they reach at midnight on 31st December in the year in which the competition takes place. So the age group you enter is determined by the age you are at that time and on that day in the year in which the competition takes place. There are some competitions, open meets and inter club galas that use the 'age on last day of competition' as the cut-off point.

By having different cut off points it means that swimmers will swim against different competitors, depending on when in the year the competition takes place. There is no minimum age for Club Championships and some other low level competition, but otherwise the minimum meets and galas is usually 9 in England but is 8 for Welsh meets. The ages for the youngest swimmers in championship events varies. County Championships are 10/11, Regional Championships 11/12, National Home Country Championships 12/13 and British Championships 13.


Advice for meets

Pack your bag the night before

Start packing for your meet the night before, and don’t leave home in the morning until you double-check that you have everything.  There is nothing worse than showing up to the pool without your swimsuit!

Here’s what to pack:

Swimsuit – Find a swimsuit that is durable and fits properly. If you’re a beginner, you definitely do not need to those fancy performance suits you see on the Olympics.

  • Girls: We recommend a one-piece suit that is made of 100% polyester and has both an inside and outside layer. The straps should be fixed, and should not tie.  The suit should be very snug to your body, to reduce drag in the water.  Make sure your suit is comfortable, it doesn’t dig into your armpits, shoulders or back and make sure that when you move your arms, the straps are not rubbing the wrong way on your shoulder blades.  Avoid padding or built-in bras as they will slow you down and will not give you support.


  • Boys: We recommend either a brief or jammer that’s comfortable. It’s advisable not to wear swim shorts because the added drag will make you much slower and cause you to do more work than is necessary.  In competition the suit cannot cover above the navel or below the knees.

2 pairs of goggles – Swimming with goggles will make all the difference.  We highly recommend wearing them.   Find goggles that can be adjusted tightly so water doesn’t leak in, have 2 straps, have a comfortable nose bridge, and have lenses that have anti-fog so you can see clearly in the water.  It’s also always nice to have a backup pair in case you lose a pair.

Tritons Swim cap – Swimming with a cap will make you faster and will ease the stress of having to worry about getting your hair in your face.  We recommend silicone or latex.  For recommendations, read Why You Should Wear a Swim Cap.

2 towels – It’s a long day, we recommend one normal and one microfiber towel.

Clothes –Before and after your swim events, you’ll want to keep your body warm and your muscles relaxed at all times.  Don’t forget your team t-shirt, jumper, sliders and shorts/tracksuit bottoms.

Lunch & Snacks – Swimming fast makes you hungry!  Pack some healthy options that are filled with protein, fibre, and carbs.  You may find that you prefer to compete on a more empty stomach, or you may find that you need to refuel between heats with some protein.  Pack snacks like string cheese, fruit, granola bars, peanut butter, or granola.  Having healthy food to fuel your body will be better than starving.

Water or Sports Drink – It is always important to stay hydrated!  Drink water or a sports drink all day long to prepare your body for your races.  Write your name on your bottle, in case you leave it on the pool deck or stands.

Show up early - Show up to the meet at least 15 minutes before warm up begins so you can get acquainted with the pool.  Go to the toilet.  Swim meet officials and volunteers are extremely friendly and love to help swimmers enjoy their time competing.  So, do not be afraid to ask for help! Upon arriving, you should follow these steps:

Head towards the Pool/Changing Rooms and change into your swimsuit and poolside T-Shirt/sliders.  Some may use the lockers to store their outdoor clothes and/or bring your swim bag, cap, goggles, water bottle, snacks and towel out to the poolside.  There is no need to be wearing your swim cap and goggles all day, it will only give you a headache.  Just wear your cap when you’re about to race.     Find your Severnside Tritons Swimmers/Team Manager/Coaches (some competitions require you to sign in with the Organisers however, your Coach/Team Managers will advise you accordingly).

Know what time you’re swimming - Once you are situated at the pool, check with the Team Manager when your warm up and races are.  The most important detail is to remember what time you have to compete (Team Managers will assist you).

Find each heat that you’re competing in and double check that you remember the details (again Team Managers/Coaches will assist you):

  • What events am I swimming? (Example: 100 breaststroke & 50 freestyle)
  • What time is warm up?  Warm ups start at the beginning of each session and usually age dependant and/or Team ie; 9 year olds should not be warming up with 14 year olds). The Coaches will come Tritons Warm Up Lanes and manage the warm up for the Tritons swimmers.
  • What order does my event fall in the meet schedule? (Example: 5th and 9th – Team Managers will assist)
  • What heat am I swimming in? (Example: I’m in the 1st heat out of 5. This means I’ll be swimming first when the 100 breaststroke event begins – Team Managers will assist)
  • What lane am I assigned to? (Example: Lane 6. I need to confirm which side of the pool is lane 6.  Pre-printed programmes will show this, however this is all subject to change on the day - Team Managers will be constantly updated.  Parents check Meet Mobile to avoid missing your child’s race).
  • What event is before mine, and how many heats does it have? (Example: The 200 freestyle is before my first event, and there are 5 heats. The 200 free takes at least 4 minutes for each heat, so once the 200 free event starts, I’ll have about 10-15 minutes before my heat to go stand behind my lane)
  • How many events do I have in between my 2 events? (Example: I have 5 events between my races to cool down, eat a snack, go to the bathroom, and then prepare for my next heat)
  • Make sure you have gone to the toilet before racing.   Let your Team Manager/Coach know where you are going.

It is really important to watch other people swim and follow along with the program. You’ll enjoy cheering them on, examining their technique, watching them get best times, and you’ll start to learn how long each event takes in a swim meet. Follow along with your meet program and you’ll be caught up on what’s going on in the meet.  Remember, it’s always better to underestimate the duration of a meet than to overestimate!


Race your heart out!

Each lane will have a designated staff member to help ensure the meet is running smoothly and to run the touchpad timer.  In the moments before your heat, your lane official will confirm your first and last name and with the younger children make sure they know what stroke they are racing and length, they will tell you when it’s time to get ready to step up on the diving block.

The referee will blow the whistle a few times, which is your cue to step up on the diving block (or jump in if you’re swimming backstroke) and get ready to take your mark.

The referee will announce “take your marks” and you will take your position, and hold it.  It’s very important to NOT move at all, until you hear the loud and distinctive “start” horn.  If you move before this, you will may be disqualified with a “false start.”

If someone else in your heat accidentally jumps in before the horn is blown, do not be tempted to move.  Wait until the referee tells everyone to stand up.  You will then stand for a few moments, let the swimmer get out of the pool, then take your mark again.

When you’re in your last length of your event, you should be pushing yourself as hard as you can! Swim aggressively into the wall, reach your arm as long as possible in your last stroke, and press the touchpad as hard as you can (depending on which stroke)

Once you’ve touched the pad, then you can bring your head up and take a look at your times.  The announcer probably will not read off your results, so try to find your lane number on the scoreboard and see how fast you went (your Coach will be able to let you know)

Stay in the pool/ hold onto the lane ropes not the pads at the end of the pool until all swimmers have completed the race.  Once everyone is done swimming the referee will advise you to whether you have to stay in the pool until the start of the next race exiting via the steps or whether you leave prior to the start, to the next race.

Cool down/Refuel – A few pools do have a cool down pool, Coaches and Team Managers will advise.  Once you’re cooled down, dried off, throw on some warm clothes, grab a snack and some water and rest!  Whether you have another event to swim or not, your body is going to need to recuperate.

Do not leave until your session has finished and you must advise your Coaches/Team Managers that you are leaving.


Top tip: download Meet Mobile via the app store. This will enable you to see the races for the meet your child has entered and also their placing and time at the event.