SwimMark Club

A Parent's Guide to Galas


As a parent of a young swimmer or one that has not participated in galas yet, the prospect of entering an Open Meet can be a daunting one.

The following presentation was prepared for a Zoom session in late 2022, which we hope you will find useful:


This guide below is intended to provide further details about the different types of galas available and how to go about entering.

Swimming Events

These can be summarised as:

  • Internal or Closed events for EPSC members only – these could be internal EPSC Club Champs
  • Invitational galas - with a maximum of 8 “invited” clubs competing, swimmers will be selected for these galas based on the criteria of the gala and in accordance with the EPSC team selection policy
  • Leagues - the National Arena Swimming League (NASL) and National Junior Swimming League (JSL, for 9-12 year olds) are run over three rounds rounds: NASL in October, November, and December, and the JSL in May, June, and July. Swimmers are selected for these events in accordance with the guidelines set for each round of the league and the EPSC team selection policy
  • Open Meets - Clubs around the country hold “Open Galas” of varying entry standard. The Head Coach selects those galas which fit in with the Club’s training plans and the existing fixtures. Generally a communication will be sent via email prior to the event advising of the gala details and the closing date for the gala.
  • County, Regional and National Championships - these have specified qualifying times which will vary from year to year. You will be notified if you have qualified for any of these events.

Swim England minimum age for competitions

In line with Swim England Athlete Development Support Pathway, there are rules relating to the age a child may start competing as follows:

Events restricted to one Club

No minimum age eg Club Champs & Trophy Gala

Inter-club events limited to not more than eight clubs which do not form a part of a series of events as in a league

Age 8 e.g. invitational galas with other clubs

Open events other than Regional and National competitions

Age 9 e.g. local open meets


Open or Graded Meets Explained

These are organised by a Club and will be licensed with the ASA as either Level 1, 2, 3 or 4, Level 1 being the highest level of competition. They can also be referred to as a graded meet eg B Grade or C Grade. As a general rule B graded meets are a higher level than C graded meets. These meets will have a specific lower qualifying time which a swimmer needs to be faster than and a upper limit which your child cannot exceed, ie your child’s personal best must fall within the two limits.

Level 1

  • Highest level meet
  • 50m (long course) pool only
  • Minimum standard qualification times are required
  • No upper limit
  • Suitable for obtaining Regional and National Qualifying times

Level 2

  • Usually 25m (Short Course) pool
  • May have upper limit times (although not faster than National Qualifying Times)
  • Minimum standard qualification times are required.
  • Suitable for obtaining National or Regional Qualifying Times

Level 3

  • Have upper limit and lower limit qualification times to reflect the standard at which the meet is aimed
  • Suitable for obtaining Regional Qualifying Times
  • Suitable for obtaining qualifying times for Level 1 or 2 meets

Level 4

  • Suitable for obtaining County Qualifying Times and Level 3 meets.
  • Upper limit time only
  • No lower qualification time is required


Open Meets and Galas can last a whole day, one weekend or like the County and Regional Championships be held over several weekends. The age of the swimmer will be taken as the age on the last day of the event/competition. Any swimmer who is aged 9 or older on can normally enter open meets provided they meet the relevant entry requirements or consideration time for their age.


Entering a Gala

The senior coaching team decides which galas our swimmers should be attending and these are included in our Calendar (on website under Competitions). A few weeks before the closing date, a communication (via email) will be sent to all members with a link to the event details (programme of events, qualifying times & promoters conditions) and providing a date by which the entry fee and the entry form must be returned.

The gala coordinator is responsible for processing the club’s entry and will answer any queries you have. Please adhere to the deadlines as late entries cannot be accepted.

 If you are unsure whether the event is suitable for your child please speak with your child’s lane coach.

Steps to follow:

1. Work out whether your child’s time is faster than the lower limit qualification/consideration time and slower than any upper limit times that might be in place. You might find your swimmer is either too fast or too slow for every event they could potentially swim

2. If your child is eligible to swim almost every event

a) Which events are most suitable for my child?

b) How many events do I want my child to do? (The more they do the more it costs!)

c) What times does my child need for the next County Competition?

d) What is realistic for my child?

e) If my child enters all these events will it compromise performance?

f) Look at the programme of events as the schedule may help you to decide. Doing only one event in the first session and one event at the end of the last session means you will be hanging around a pool all day.

If you still can’t decide what to enter, talk to your child’s lane coach, the gala coordinator or someone you know in the club who could impart some much-needed advice to help you decide.



The meets coordinator will advise you if your child’s entries have been accepted.

All entries to First Come, First Served Meets are accepted provided the entry is received before the gala is full. For all other meets, even though your child is inside the consideration or qualifying times their entry may not be accepted if the host club receives too many entrants.

If this is the case, the host club will reject entries starting with those nearest to the cut off time.

Accepted entries are often available on the host club’s website. It is worth double checking that your child’s entries are correct.

Note - Any refunds due because of rejected entries will be given to you by the gala coordinator.


On the day of the Open Meet

Parents are not allowed poolside during a meet, so please ensure your child has everything they need with them and are prepared to look after themselves.


Signing In - Ensure your child signs in for the events entered for. The sign in desk will be poolside, by the entrance or in a specially designated room. Swimmers will need to ensure they sign in for each event for which they have been entered.

Once poolside the Coach and poolside volunteers will ensure that your child does an appropriate warm up and goes to the whipping area at the correct time.

After your child’s last event you may go home. Please tell the Coach and/or poolside volunteer, so he/she knows who is still on the poolside. Your child does not have to wait for the end of the event unless the Coach advises otherwise.



When the races have been swum the times of each swimmer are recorded on the host club’s computer system which produces the final result sheet after all the races for a particular event have been swum. Results sheets are displayed around the poolside for the swimmers and around the spectator area for you to read as soon as it is possible to do so.

Many clubs use Meet Mobile app to enable swimmers to view Psych sheets (pre meet), Heat Sheets – view which heat / lane your child will be in and immediately after the swim – the time recorded.  This app is invaluable but is a ~£5 per year cost.

Within your login to our website, you will be able to view your child’s Best Times which get updated via the Swim England swimming times after a meet.


Medals /Awards:

Generally medals are awarded for the top three in each stroke/age group and occasionally ribbons will be available for 4th to 8th (or 6th) places. These can be collected at the event any time after the results have been published. Some galas operate a top girl/boy award for various ages groups. Information regarding awards is generally in the promoters conditions.