Getting Competitive

Club Championships

Younger swimmers first experience of competitive swimming in the club will most likely be in the CSWPC Club Championships. Under ASA Rules, swimmers under 9 years of age are only able to compete in internal competitions. Our Club Championships take place every year just for our members. All swimmers are expected to take part.

League and Gala Fixtures

CSWPC competes in several gala leagues, where the club will take part as a team against other swim clubs in the region. There is a varied selection of leagues to give as many swimmers as possible the opportunity to swim competitively for Cheltenham. Coaches will choose swimmers to field the best possible team for each gala criteria; not always based on the fastest swimmers for each event!  The coaches will do their best to give as much notice as possible and appreciate swimmers to make themselves available when selected. Teams will get promoted and relegated in the league galas, so  every point counts. The club organises coach transport for swimmers, officials and some spectators.  Swimmers are encouraged to travel together as this helps team spirit and ensures the whole team arrives at the gala on time.


Open Meets

Open meets are competitions where swimmers compete in events as individuals. The club will usually advise on the open meets that are being targeted. The club will inform you in advance. For each open meet, all of the events that your swimmer can enter will be based on their ASA swim times.  The club will submit the entries for the events that you decide to swim. You will be notified of the entries that have been accepted or scratched. You will be expected to make your own way to the open meet at the required time, but there will be a supportive team of CSWPC coaches and volunteers at poolside for the duration of the meet. 


Other Useful Information

Age Groups
Many galas have 2-year age bands that are used for each event, with an Open Age Group for older swimmers. So swimmers get to swim against others in the same age bracket.

Age at
Depending on the galas and open meets, a different date may be used to determine which particular age group your swimmer will be competing with at the competition. Some are based on ‘Age on the Day’, usually set by the date of the open meet, but league galas that run over several rounds tend to use the date of the final round of the competition. Alternatively some open meets and galas may use the swimmers age as at 31st December of that year instead.

Levels of open meets, galas, and competitions
There are 4 levels of licensed meets. 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. Level 1 meets can only be undertaken in the very best possible competition grade 50m pools, within our region only Hengrove pool currently can undertake level 1 meets.
  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. Level 2 meets can only be undertaken in an ASA registered and measure swimming pool to ensure precisely correct pool length and conditions of competition
  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. As long as automatic timing systems are in place any pool can undertake a level 3 open meet as long as either 25m or 50m length
  4. Level 4 Meets are entry level events in pools 25m or greater. Borough Championships are an example. They are for inexperienced athletes and swimmers seeking to compete outside their club environment. If times are good athletes progress to Level 3 Meets. Any pool can run a level 4 event as long as 25 or 50m, automatic timing does not have to be in place but is preferred for accuracy.

Unfortunately each swimmer, sooner or later, will come across the concept of disqualification (DQ). Competitive swimming is governed by technical rules in place to make sure that events are run fairly.   The same set of rules used by all swim competitions in the country. All officials, such as referees and judges, would prefer not to disqualify swimmers. However the rules have to be adhered to, to prevent an unfair advantage being gained. Being disqualified should be looked on as a learning experience, even experienced swimmers can be disqualified. You can find the technical rules in the ASA Handbook.

In the event of a disqualification, all queries related to results or timing should go to the referee only. The referee will only speak to a named representative from the club, usually a coach or team manager, not a parent or friend or another swimmer. It is strongly advised to always refer any concerns to our coaches and poolside team managers on the date of competition and as soon as possible. New ASA and FINA rules dictate that any contesting or disagreement with a result or a swimmer’s time, placing or disqualification has to be submitted within 30 minutes of the race ending. Most of the time the referee will listen to these queries and answer them satisfactorily, however some of these disagreements could be escalated to a Jury of Appeal.

Jury of Appeal
This is a new development within FINA and the ASA and reflects recommendations that are now world-wide. If enough officials and a referee are at a competition and are able to man a jury of appeal, then an appeal can be heard. A referee, wherever possible, will sit within a three-person jury of appeal, alongside other experienced officials, usually a J2 or higher with a junior official knowledgeable about ASA rules. The jury of appeal sit separately to the gala. Ideally, they will not watch or listen to the competition. That way they have no bias and no knowledge of any disagreement. They will not overturn any material facts. The purpose will be to listen to the concerns if the swimmer’s representative believe an ASA rule or regulation relating to the result, place, finish, timing or disqualification has been broken or not enacted in accordance with ASA rules and regulations. An example might be that the swimmer has been disqualified but the lane number reported was incorrect or a disqualification code on the DQ report is not the right code for the reported DQ infringement.