The different levels of competition and which squad(s) they are most suitable for are explained below.
Club development time trial
The development time trials are very informal development meets run internally by the club and are a must for all Tier 4,5 and 6 swimmers. This is one of the only meets where your child is guaranteed to get to swim, regardless of age, ability or speed. They introduce your child to competitive swimming in a known environment and are also a good improvement indicator for coaches and parents, as we aim to hold a development time trial every term. They are also a means of swimmers attaining times for each event to enable them to gain entry into external licensed meets. The coaches and any officials present can also use this as an opportunity to point and and correct errors that may get swimmers disqualified at external meets.
Disqualifications happen to all swimmers at some point. Things like incorrect turns, incorrect technique or just falling in at the start of the race are experiences they will learn from and are unlikely to repeat.
Novice Meets, Development Galas, Unaccredited Time Trials
These are often referred to as “Level 3 Meets” or “Unaccredited Meets” which is an indication that judges and referees are more likely to point out mistakes to the swimmer or coach than to disqualify the swimmer. This provides the ideal opportunity for coaches to discuss with swimmers ways of correcting and improving technique to ensure they learn from their mistakes, enabling them to progress.
Much like the club time trials, these meets are aimed at novice swimmers from Tiers 4,5 and 6 who have either never competed, or who are relatively new to competitive swimming. Some of the younger swimmers in Tier 3 will also be invited to take part in these meets. They are run as very friendly, informal events and are intended to introduce swimmers to competitive swimming in an encouraging and supportive environment, aimed at building the confidence of young, inexperienced swimmers.
The main difference between these meets and the internal club meets is that they are open to swimmers from all clubs. This, unfortunately, often leads to the meet being “oversubscribed” (i.e. too many swimmers for the competition to be run within the prescribed time), so swimmers are not guaranteed to be accepted for all events entered. This can be very frustrating to young swimmers, and their parents / carers, when they have been looking forward to competing. When a meet is oversubscribed, it is entirely up to the meet organizers how they decide who gets to swim, though this is usually indicated on the meet information provided before the event. The cut-offs are usually made based on a swimmer’s entry time. In most cases, the swimmers with the slowest entry time, or no entry time, will be rejected and not get the opportunity to swim. However, occasionally, at this level the cut-offs are done from the fastest swimmers to ensure that swimmers with slower times and no times get the opportunity to swim in order to improve their times, or to achieve their first time. Clubs will usually be given advance notice (usually around 10 days) of which swimmers have been accepted and rejected. This will be advised by our club’s entries secretary in the form of an “entry fees report”. For oversubscribed meets, there are usually “reserves” who may get to swim if another swimmer withdraws. If your swimmer is listed as a “reserve”, they will be asked to attend the meet as there is normally a good chance they will get a swim. If your child attends the meet and does not get their reserve swim, they will not be charged for that swim. If your swimmer does not attend the meet, but their reserve swim is offered, you are liable for the fee.
Graded meets are usually run as level 2 “accredited” meets. At this level, disqualifications will occur for rule infringements on stroke, starts and turns. For this reason, they are most suited to swimmers who are able to perform all four strokes confidently, with good technique over the appropriate distances. However, these are ideal meets for developing swimmers as there are “consideration times” set which swimmers must be slower than to be permitted entry, denying entry to top level swimmers. This is encouraging for swimmers who are progressing from Level 3 meets who may feel overwhelmed or discouraged competing against the best swimmers from clubs in the surrounding area. The events in Graded meets are usually over greater distances than in Novice and Development meets, often giving swimmers their first competitive opportunity over these longer distances. Although these meets can be “oversubscribed”, the consideration times do give developing swimmers more chance of being accepted for their events than they’d have entering an Open Meet.
Graded Meets are most suited to swimmers in Tiers 2, 3 and 4
Open and Age Group Meets / Accredited time trials
These meets are open to all swimmers, are usually divided into age group categories and will be either Level 1 or Level 2 accredited meets. Disqualifications will occur for rule infringements and these meets are best suited to swimmers who are able to compete confidently in all distances over 4 strokes. Entries are often attracted from the top swimmers in the region and the meets provide excellent opportunities for fast racing and good time improvements.
Swimmers in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 will usually compete at this level of meet, though they may also be considered appropriate for some swimmers in Tier 4 at the coach’s discretion
District / National Championships
These meets are at the very top end of domestic meets available to competitive swimmers. They are usually Level 1 accredited meets and have “consideration times”, which swimmers must be faster than to be permitted entry. There are separate Age Group Championships and Open Championships at this level. They have a minimum entry age of 11 and the age for Championship Events is defined as “age at 31st December”, which differs from most other meets where age is usually “age on last day of competition”.
The Championship Events are the season’s main target meets for many swimmers in Tiers 1 and 2, though not all swimmers in these squads will achieve the entry times required for entry.
Selection Meets / Relay Events
At some of the meets listed in all of the categories above, there is the opportunity to enter relay teams. Coaches will select swimmers for relays based on the best individual times of all swimmers attending the meet. Wherever possible, more than one relay team will be entered for each event to try and ensure as many swimmers as possible get the opportunity to compete.
Occasionally, the club will enter a team / teams for a “selection meet”, where they will aim to enter their best team(s) of swimmers to compete against other clubs in the region/country. For these meets, the coaches select what they believe to be the strongest team(s) from the swimmers available. Examples of these events are:
Lothian Intermediate Leagues is a series of 3 graded meets held in the spring-summer term, where swimmers are selected to compete in age group teams against other Lothian clubs. The teams are selected from all swimmers who say they are available and we often enter 2 or 3 teams in each age group to enable as many swimmers as possible to take part.
National Team Championships is an event that sees junior swimmers from the top 10 clubs in Scotland (decided on team points from the Scottish National Age Group Championships) compete for the title of Top Team. Swimmers for this event are selected based on times and specific age criteria.