Long course (LC) events are held in a 50m pool and short course (SC) is held in a 25m pool. The Olympic Games is always held in a 50m pool but there are international competitions in both LC and SC. The major difference is that a swimmer will turn more often in SC competitions and can therefore create more momentum from powering off the wall of the pool.

There are a range of events in the swimming programme. Typically this will be 50m, 100m and 200m races in each of the strokes (breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and freestyle). With freestyle there is also the 400m event and for women the 800m, and for men the 1,500m freestyle. 100m single stroke events are usually not recommended for swimmers 10 and under.

There are also 100m (SC only), 200m and 400m individual medley races for both men and women, where they will complete lengths using breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and freestyle strokes. Plus there are male and female relays swum over 4x200m (freestyle only), 4x100m and in SC meets 4x50m and 4x25m. Junior swimmers all aim to peak at the British Gas ASA National Youth and Age Group Championships. (Courtesy of ASA).

Hart Swim Club has a number of in-house club competitions throughout the year swum in our 25m (SC) pool at Hart Leisure Centre – all swimmers are encouraged to enter. While it can seem a little daunting, these events are great fun and a way to meet swimmers in other squads and to learn the format of a swimming meet - this FAQ sheet will answer many of your questions, otherwise speak to any of our coaches or committee members.  It is also a way for parents to meet other parents and also to get involved by volunteering.

Following on from these club competitions are the Open Meets  – competitions run by other swimming clubs. There are 4 levels of licences a meet can have: Level 4 being the lowest and 1 the highest. If a meet is licenced, times obtained will be registered with ASA rankings.

All our club meets are licenced at level 4 and open to all age swimmers in our club. Open meets are only open to swimmers 9 or over. They will be licenced at level 1–3, the higher the level the faster the swimmers it is aimed at. Swimmers from different clubs compete as individuals.

At a Gala clubs compete against each other with a team of swimmers. These tend to be unlicensed so times do not get posted to ASA rankings. Swimmers are selected by the coaches. The club competes in 2 leagues:

Competitive Swimming: A Guide

Competitive pool swimming goes from the grassroots to the highest levels in the Olympic programme. There are two types of pool swimming competitions: long course and short course.

The website is kept up to date, all the necessary paperwork plus an entry form  is on the Open Meets page.

Always pay particular attention to the qualifying times for Open Meets as these vary considerably. Two meets of the same level may have different qualifying standards, so please don’t assume a Meet is suitable for you without first checking your PBs. In all cases, the minimum age for entering an Open Meet is 9 on the last day of the Meet (some of these Meets are not suitable for Masters - please check conditions). For Club Championships there is no minimum age (except for all 100m single stroke events, 400 freestyle and 400IM). Swimmers are not expected to enter all Meets: they are listed are to give different options and hopefully between them will cover the needs of all our swimmers. If in doubt, please speek to your coach for advice on which Open Meets to enter.

Licensed swimming meets

The ASA operates a system of licencing to ensure that appropriate competition is offered to all abilities. There are presently four licence levels (1-4), Level 1 being the highest. Each level has different organisational requirements, such as entry time limits, provision of electronic timing, qualification of officials, swim down facilities, etc. For competitors, the more significant differences are the level of ability at which they are targeted and the way in which entries may be limited.

Suitable meets

It may be possible to look at the level of a meet to ascertain if it is suitable for a particular swimmer. However, as swimmers develop at varying rates they may change from being a ‘Level 3 swimmer’ to a ‘Level 2 or 1 swimmer’ (or the converse) in a short period. Swimmers may drop a Level as they pass a birthday, moving from the top of one age group to the bottom of the next. If you are in any doubt about the level of competition you should enter your swimmer, talk to their coach.

Restriction of entries

Open meets are often oversubscribed (there is a limit to the number of entries a club may accept given pool time and licensing requirements). It is not possible to predict which meets will be oversubscribed, but the outcome is that not all entries can be accepted.

There are two ways of restricting numbers; they are by rejection of the slowest entries and by accepting on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis. Level 1 & 2 meets cannot operate on a first come first served basis and will generally only reject invalid entries, or if greatly oversubscribed, those at the lower end of the qualification times. See below.

Rejection of slower entries

All valid entries are accepted up to the closing date. All are subsequently considered against the available pool time. If there are more entries than time allows, the slowest entries are rejected (entry fees will be refunded). Rejections are generally spread across the entire entry list, on a pro rata basis, with an approximately equal percentage from each event. This system ensures the best swimmers are accepted, so the level of competition is as high as it can be. The downside is that there is no guarantee of acceptance and swimmers may not know if their entry has been accepted until just before the event.

First come first served

All valid entries are accepted until the available competition time is filled. Slower swimmers may be accepted before faster ones due to the timing of entry, potentially compromising the level of competition. This is the reason this method is not allowed at Levels 1 and 2. The advantage being, provided entries are submitted early, acceptance is almost guaranteed.

Open Meets Explained

A Guide to completing entries

Ready to enter?


The system for entering Open Meets is being altered: rather than collecting the entry fee when the entries are submitted, we will collect it once we have confirmation of the entries accepted. This is to prevent the need to give refunds when there are rejections. Note: this does NOT apply to club competitions (eg Club Champs) where the process of handing form and payment in together remains the same. To enter an Open Meet:

  1. Download the details for the Meet you are interested in from the Open Meets page.
  2. Check the Open Meet’s conditions that you qualify. You should keep up to date records of your PBs, otherwise you can get PBs off the ASA site. Make sure you use times achieved in a 25m pool where short course times are requested OR times achieved in a 50m pool where long course times are requested. If you are asked to convert PB’s, please use this link. Please let Julie know when you have used a converted time.
  3. Look at the programme of events and choose what you want to enter.
  4. Complete the entry form (download from the Open Meets page).
  5. Send the entry form WITHOUT PAYMENT  by email to meetentries@hartsc.org. Alternatively, you can post entries to Julie Roberts, The Anchorage, Mount Pleasant, Hartley Wintney, RG27 8PW, allowing time for delivery. Or hand it to Julie on poolside. (Note: there will not be a box on poolside for entries.)
  6. Please be aware: at the point you submit the form you are responsible for the entry fee for any accepted events (which may be a subset of the ones you requested if they are over subscribed) even if you subsequently decide to withdraw, since the club will have paid this fee on your  behalf.
  7. All entries will be collated and submitted and the club will pay the total entrance fee. Confirmation of the entries submitted will be sent out to the contact emails on the entry forms (where possible this will be done before being sent to the host club).
  8. Once confirmation is received from the host club as to which of our entries have been accepted, Julie will send an email request for payment of the entrance fee. Where members have asked Julie to hold a credit from a previous refund, Julie will note this in the payment request.

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