If you are new to competitive swimming, then don’t worry – not all of the following applies to you!  As a swimmer progresses, then more of the following information is relevant.  The most important thing for newcomers to grasp is that it is vital to compete and get times in a variety of events.

The right event for you

The coaching team in conjunction with the head coach will have planned which galas are to be entered on our competition calendar and are suitable for a whole range of swimmers including those of you who are “new to competition”.


The gala secretary will then send out to all members any details of galas coming up approximately 2-3 months in advance for you to enter. For those just dipping their toes in the competitive water swimmers will be encouraged to enter swim meets that are low key, relaxed events that will be an enjoyable experience for the swimmers.

Competitions will be advertised on our web site and details sent out to all members on Home Contact. If you are unsure if your child is ready for competitions or are not certain what races your child should enter, please speak to your child’s coach.

Once you have decided to try competitions and your coach feels that you are ready, you will need to upgrade your current ASA registration from level 1 to level 2.  This ensures that you are insured whilst attending any galas promoted by Shiverers and that your results will be recorded on the British swimming data base.

Swimmers who are not registered as category 2 will only be able to swim in their own club championships.

Please ask at the desk at King Alfred for a form to upgrade to Category 2.

Your coach will also check that you are at the required standard to pass your ‘Competitive Start Award’ which is a requirement to allow you to dive at swimming competitions.

Club Championships – Licensed level 4

The Club Championships are normally held in June each year and are open to all members – Squad and Star Group swimmers, and all ages. There are races for 9 year olds and under, 10 years, 11 years, 12 years , under 14 , under 17 and Open in all strokes/distances and individual medley.

Trophies are awarded to the winners of each age group and medals to the top 3.  For the very young swimmers we have 25m races and all receive a medal or ribbon for taking part.

These Championships are great fun for both swimmers and spectators alike and allow new swimmers to get a taste of competition and some of our more established swimmers to enter a broad range of events including some they may never have done before.  It is not the winning that’s important but the taking part!

Team Events

Throughout the year swimmers take part in a variety of team events ranging from invitation and relay galas to our main team event each year which is the National Arena League.

The coaches will select the best available team to compete in team galas. Selection depends on age groups and ability.  Swimmers are selected to compete in events as the best choice for the team. The number of swims a swimmer competes in will vary, and changes can be made to the team up till the last minute.

These galas give swimmers an opportunity to swim as a team where they earn points for their team not individual awards. They are fun galas as well as competitive.

The Arena League swims take part outside the Sussex area and give the swimmers chance to compete against some of the best swimmers in the country. Coach transport is provided and spectators welcome. These events are important to the club and we aim to field our strongest team.

Team events are also included in the County Championship , Regional and National swimming programme so although you may not achieve a qualifying time for an individual event,  swimmers can be selected on speed to represent Shiverers at these important events anyway.

Open Galas – Licensed 1, 2 , 3 or 4

Throughout the year many clubs hold their own open meet. Swimmers from other clubs are encouraged to enter and can enter the events they wish to as long as they have the appropriate qualifying times.

Once you have decided to become a competitive swimmer it’s a good idea to do these ‘open meets’ on a regular basis throughout the year to see how you are progressing with your swimming and to try to gain ‘licensed’ times for entry to County, Region, and National competitions.  Your coach will be the best person to advise you what is suitable or not for your development.

Top Team awards (swimmers gain points for their club in individual races) and Top Girl/Boy in age groups are often included in the competition with occasional prizes and money awards in addition to medals and trophies!

Details and conditions of the gala will be emailed to all swimmers by the gala secretary or can be downloaded from the Club’s web site and forms must be returned promptly to the gala secretary to ensure all of our club entries arrive at the organising club’s desk on time.

See below for explanation of licensing levels.

What does ‘Licensed galas’ mean ?

All swims done at licensed meets will be automatically registered on the British Swimming Website.  It will record your child’s time and show where he/she is ranked for each event according to their age.

There are four different levels of licensing.  The hardest level with the fastest qualifying times is level one.

  • Level 1 suitable for Senior Performance, Junior Regional and National, and County Squads.

  • Level 2 and 3 are easier and will suit ALL swimmers, from all five Squads.

  • Level 4 is the easiest and no qualifying times required but may have upper limit times (in other words you could be too fast). Most suited to County, Sharks and Tiger Squads and Star Group swimmers who want to do the occasional gala.

Qualifying times and cut-off times

  • A qualifying time (QT) is a time that is required in order to enter an event

  • A cut-off time is a time that is the fastest a swimmer can be in order to enter an event

For example: 13 year old Alex wants to enter the 100m Butterfly at Brighton Open Meet and his time is 1.16.20.  The qualifying time for the race for 13 year old boys is shown in the entry pack as 1.19.90, so he is fast enough enter.  The cut off time for this race is 1.12.30.

If Alex’s time had been 1.12.20, he would have been too fast and wouldn’t be allowed to enter that race.

Sussex County Development Meet-Licensed level 4

The Sussex County Development meet is held annually and is organised by Sussex County ASA.

Who is it for?

The Development meet is for all those swimmers who are trying to achieve qualifying times for the County Championships particularly new to competition.

How do I enter?

The gala secretary will send out details and entry form and you can ask your coach if this gala is suitable for you to enter and which events you should do. The aim of the Development Meet is to encourage younger and less experienced swimmers to compete and to give them more race experience as well as achieve a County Championships Qualifying time.

Sussex County Championships – Licensed level 2

The format of the County Championships has recently changed following the introduction of a new pathway by British Swimming.

There is now a new Winter County Championships which is held in November and is short course – i.e. swum in a 25m pool.

There is also a County Championships are held every year over two or three weekends in February/March.  From 2015 this event will be long course – i.e. swum in a 50m pool.

For the Spring Counties, all swimmers must have achieved a qualifying time at a licensed gala from 1st April in the preceding year. It is therefore very important that as many of our swimmers as possible enter the licensed L4  Sussex County Development meet.

This meet provides an opportunity to achieve County qualification times for the County Championships in February /March as well as any other licensed meets entered between 1st April and 15th January (usual cut off date for entry to Counties).

The County Championships are prestigious for each swimmer and very important to the club. Each club taking part gets points for each swimmer that does well, so it’s crucial that all those who can enter, do so.

County Championships have qualifying times. Swimmers are automatically invited to do the events in which they’ve qualified and are given their invitation personally by their coach/gala secretary.

Getting to the top…


The next step up from County Championships is Regionals. The UK is divided up into eight regions and we compete in the South East Region comprising Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and the parts of Surrey and Kent that are outside London.

Who can go?

To get to the Regional competition a swimmer has to get a qualifying time.  These times are tough, so it’s a huge achievement when a swimmer achieves a Regional qualifying time.  This event is a long course event.

When is it?

From 2015 Regionals will be held across 3 weekends in May so qualifying times will need to be achieved by approximately the end of April.

Winter Regional Championships are held in November for swimmers aged 15 and over and trophies awarded to the winner.

For more information about the 2015 SE Regionals, click here.

British & Home Nations Championships

One of the ultimate goals for most swimmers is to qualify for national level championship competition. Only 1% of all competitive swimmers make it to this level.

For more information about the 2015 British and Home Nations Championships, click here.

And finally…

Many of our swimmers also take part in additional competitions such as Open Water, Pier to Pier races and Biathlons, triathlons and also major schools competitions organised by the English Schools Swimming Association and Independent Schools organisation.

Basically entry to ALL of these competitions is achievable by swimmers who regularly train to swim in swimming pools.

Please also read “Guide to what to do at Swimming galas” in our useful info section

If you have any questions about any of the above or if there’s something you don’t understand, please don’t hesitate to ask – after all, even the veterans of the club were all new to this once!