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Guide to Galas
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This is a guide to swim galas, with information based on advice from Swim England.

You can download and print our ‘Guide to Galas’ document here

Guide to the four levels of licensed meets

Licensed Meets are swimming events licensed by Swim England. This means they have to meet certain standards to ensure fair competition.

All licensed meets are subject to Swim England Regulations and the Swim England Technical Rules of Racing. They are graded into four levels.

Long and Short Course: Long Course (LC) is a gala swam in a 50-metre pool.  A short course (SC) event is usually swum in a 25-metre pool.  If you do not have a 50m (LC) qualifying time, you can usually use the ASA standard 25m>50m conversion, found here (make sure you select ‘ASA Tables’).

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 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 galas will have tougher qualifying times compared to a Level 3 gala.  To enter a Level 2 gala, you usually must have received a qualifying time at a Level 3 or higher competition.

Level 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.  Most Level 3 meets have qualifying times as set out by the organisers, but these are not usually as fast as you would find in a Level 3 meet.  They are sometimes qualifying times based on ‘no faster than’.

Level 4

Level 4 meets are entry-level events in pools 25m or greater.  They are for inexperienced athletes and swimmers seeking to compete outside their club environment. If times are good athletes progress to Level 3 Meets.  You almost never need an entry time to enter a Level 4 gala, and qualifying times will be based on times ‘no faster than’, as so to exclude really fast swimmers.

Meets with no level: Some competitions such as the Diddy League do not have a level assigned to them as they are team-based events and you have to be selected by your coach to compete.


Some common questions about galas.

Heats of Races at Galas
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Something that often confuses those new to galas is that swimmers do not race their heat according to age group.  Swimmers are placed in order based on qualifying times (slowest go in heat 1, fastest in the final heat).  Therefore it is perfectly normal for mixed age groups to swim in the same heat.

At the end of the event, times will be put in age order and each age group will receive ranked finishing times.

Medals at Galas
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All galas will award medals to the top 3 racers in each age group for each event.  Taking into account the above, even if a swimmer wins their heat, when the times are ranked by age they may not necessarily win a medal.  Likewise, a swimmer may not achieve a top 3 place in their heat but still win a medal.

Is My Time Fast Enough to Enter?
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Every gala will have an entry pack which will stipulate the required qualifying times for each event at that gala.  The entry times will be by age group, with the entry times required being faster as age increases.  Importantly the age group you will check will depend on the gala, with some setting an entry time of ‘Age on the Day’, whilst other galas stipulate age at a specific date, e.g. 31st December that year.  Some galas also list ‘Consideration Times’, which you can enter if you meet the time, and you will be given entry should there not be too many entrants to that race.  You can check your ASA official times here.

I Have No Qualifying Time – Can I enter
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This depends on the gala, in some galas, you must have achieved a qualifying time at an ASA licensed meet.  In other galas, it is ok to put training time trial times down, in this case, speak to the coach.  In other cases, you do not need a qualifying time, and you can simply write ‘NT’ on the entry pack.  However, if a race is popular, those with NT will likely be scratched.

Am I Too Fast?
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Level 1 and 2 galas, and some Level 3 galas are based on the need for a time ‘faster than’ the stipulated qualifying time.  Other galas, usually Level 3 and 4 galas are based on qualifying times ‘no faster than’, which means that the swimmer time can be no faster than the one listed.  In Development and similar galas there may be a condition that if you have qualified for a County or Regional competition, you are not allowed to enter.  This will be listed on the gala entry pack.

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