The competitive club with the friendly heart

SwimMark Club

Rough Guide to Swimming Galas

There are many different types of swimming competition and this is a brief and summary of those your child may swim in. The head coach selects those galas which are important for the development of the swimmers in the club. He then produces a competition schedule at the beginning of the year which is drawn up with a lot of thought so that it ties in with the training cycles. Please note that the entry forms referred to below should all be available through the Redhill & Reigate Swimming Club website (


Club Galas

These are galas run by Redhill & Reigate for RRSC swimmers. They include the club champion ships. Parents   will be notified that a form is available for signing, confirming attendance at that gala - it is advisable for young and inexperienced children to take part in these galas when possible as this is usually a relaxed setting and a good way to introduce a swimmer to competition.

Interclub Galas

These are galas arranged by clubs or swimming bodies (e.g. Speedo) for competition between clubs. Some of these are designated B or C grade galas which mean that there are time limits for how fast swimmers can be. These are run to encourage clubs to send swimmers who might not normally be chosen for galas as their swimming times are a little slower than some of the other children in their age group. To help ensure this happens, if swimmers finish in times faster than those published, no points are won by that swimmer for their club. Children are chosen for these galas by the coaches, and swim only a small number of races and/or relays each - if your child is chosen you should make every effort to let them take part as these galas create “team spirit” and the first team chosen is the one most likely to do best at that level. Parents do not have to fill in forms or pay entry fees for these galas.

Open Meets

These are the most common competitions and they take place all around the country and are run at different levels. Children swim the events as individuals, parents when selecting which events to enter should consult with their child’s coach – a wide range of distances and strokes should be entered. At these meets a number of RRSC swimmers and a coach will supervise them. Children must be 9 yrs and over to attend these meets. Parents must fill in forms by the closing date on form and pay the entry fees for all these meets.

Open meets are run at different levels to encourage swimmers of different abilities and so may have restrictions:

Level 4: These are new and unlike the other levels restrict the swimmers who enter in two different ways.

1. by limiting entry by club membership (e.g. we could run our club championships to this level)

2. by limiting entry by having “no faster than” times. Children with times faster than those published at the time of entry cannot enter that event (for some good swimmers this may mean all events) These are the aimed at children competing at a fairly low level – below county time standard (see next section). This is a good level of competition to start at – assuming your child is not faster than the times published!

Level 3: These can have upper and lower time limits (usually just upper) – children must be faster than the lower limit but slower than the upper limit. These meets are usually suitable for children trying to qualify for the county championships as the upper limits are normally set just above county qualification times (see next section) Again this is a good level of competition to start at – assuming your child is not faster than the times published!

Level 2: These have upper and lower time limits – children must be faster than the lower limit but slower than the upper limit. These meets are usually suitable for children trying to obtain regional times as the upper limits are set above these times (see next section) This is a good level for children who already have county times

Level 1: These are the highest level of meets and only have lower qualification times – i.e. the swimmer must be faster than the entry times shown. These are suitable only for the top swimmers and are aimed at swimmers trying to obtain national times.

County Champs

These are the first major championships a competitive swimmer will encounter

(Feb/March)  It is like a level 1 meet in that there are only lower times (which the swimmers must have swum faster than by the date of entry), but it is not an open meet because they are only open to swimmers of clubs affiliated to the South East Region ASA. In the autumn of each year the following years “county qualification times” are published on the Surrey County ASA website. They alter a little each year (usually getting faster but not always), but the previous years can be used as a guide. If your child is faster than the time(s) published, then for the sake of your child’s development as a swimmer (and for the prestige of the club) you should enter this event. Parents have to fill in the form for entry to these champs and pay for entry.

Regional Champs: This is the next level of Championships. Clubs from the South East Region are (May/June)  eligible to enter swimmers for this event who have achieved regional qualification times (these are published on the South East Region website). This is a high level of competition and the club would expect elite swimmers to obtain these times to compete. Parents have to fill in the entry forms and pay the entry fees for this meet.

National Champs: This is the top level of “age group” swimming. It is open to all swimmers of(August) English nationality (Welsh and Scottish ASA have their own championships) who achieve a national qualifying time. These are available from the ASA website. If your child gets a national time you would have to be mad not to take them after all the effort they (and you) will have put in to get them to this standard! You still have to fill in the entry form and pay the entry fees yourself.

Bagcat points:

These are system of points which are awarded for different swims. At county champs and development meet (and other meets) they are used to calculate which swimmer has given an overall best performance. They usually include 200m free, another 200m race, 100m race (age 11 and above), 50m race and an IM race. If entering events with bagcat points being awarded you need to make sure your child swims all these events if possible, they can swim more if wanted. Always check details on the entry forms and ask your coach if you are in doubt about which events or competitions to enter.

Final comments:

Beware you may enter your child for 5 or 6 events in an Open Meet competition (with times just above the lower time limit) but end up with your child being accepted for none, or worse, only one event! This is annoying if the event is some distance away, so check with your child’s coach if you are unsure of the suitability of a competition! Club competitions and then level 3 or 4 meets are a good place to start. When your child is in the top competitive squads more open meets will be suitable and attendance at these across the country will be necessary to expose your child to the best opposition there is.

If you are unsure about any gala just ask your child’s coach.