Worcester Swimming Club
The unofficial guide to swimming - or what every new parent needs to know!!
What does PB mean?
A PB is a Personal Best time and is a better measure of achievement than where a swimmer finishes in a race.
Parents should keep a note of their child's times for future reference and to be able to show the child their progress. As the swimmer gets older, they should learn to keep their own times!
PB times are also recorded on the club's rankings list provided they have been achieved at properly timed events.
This is the official club record of swimmer's best times (over the last 12 months). It is usually updated several times a year and is used for gala team selection. A copy can be found on the website and the notice boards.
There is also a National Ranking List, and once your child is over 9 years of age and has competed in the Club Championships or any licenced Open Meet they will appear on it! So check out www.britishswimming.org to see where your child is in relation to others in their age group, within the County, Region and Nation!
The Club enters swimmers in a variety of different competitions
- One-off galas against say 4 or 5 other Clubs, with the winners often being presented with a trophy
- Leagues, a series of galas against a much wider range of Clubs
- County, Regional & National competitions - for which there are Qualifying Times
- Open Meets
Most competitions are "Age on Day". This is simply the age of the swimmer on the day of the event - though for some competitions that span more than one date (Leagues, County Championships, etc) it will be the age of the swimmer on the last day's swimming.
Nuneaton Junior League (for swimmers aged 9-12)
This is the premier team competition for junior (12 & under) swimmers in the West Midlands and if selected, swimmers should make every effort to be available. The Club always enters 2 teams in this League. Currently the A team are in division 1 and the B team are in Division 3. For B team swimmers, this is a chance to learn how to race in a less pressured environment. The B team usually have a lot of fun! For A team swimmers life is a bit more serious and competition is fierce! There are 3 rounds in April, May & June with Finals for the top 6 in each Division held in early September.
National Swimming League (for swimmers aged 11 and upwards)
This is the most important/prestigious League of all - a priority for all Clubs. Formerly the Speedo League (until 2008) it is divided into Regions and Worcester competes in the West Midlands Division One. There are 3 rounds in October, November & December - with the top teams from each Region going forward to a National Final the following year. The team will consist of the Club's highest performers and if selected, those swimmers should ensure they are available.
Mercian League (again for swimmers aged 11 upwards)
A fun but high standard league for swimmers who do not have Regional Qualifying Times, it takes place throughout the early summer.
PGL League (for swimmers aged 10-14)
This is largely aimed at giving Club swimmers who do not have County Qualifying Times a chance to compete for the club - and you can actually swim too fast in this league and get a Speeding Ticket!
County, Regional & National Championships
To enter into these competitions, you will first need to achieve Qualifying Times.
County times - these are the qualifying times required to swim in the County Championships in February/March each year, your chance to become the county champion! Times vary slightly each year and can be found on both our website and the County ASA website. Qualifying Times have to be achieved within the 9 months prior to the closing date for entries, usually early January, but can be achieved in any Club competition, Open Meet or Club time trial.
Regional Times - one step up from County Times and enable the swimmer to swim in the Midland Championships in May/June and November. Again Regional times have to be achieved in the 9 months prior to the closing date for entries - but can only be achieved in licenced meets i.e. not league galas or time trials. Details can be found on the Midland District ASA website.
National Times - for the very very few!! If you are at this standard, you probably won't need to be looking at this guide!
Please note that Lizzie Monkhouse is the current County Swimming Representative and therefore the contact for all County, Regional & National competitions. All entries for County, Regional or National Championships - plus any entries for Open Meets recommended by the Head Coach - must go through her please.
At most inter-club galas, a swimmer will be selected by the Coach to swim just a few specific races for the team e.g. 50m Freestyle. By contrast, at an Open Meet, the swimmer competes as an individual and can therefore choose to compete in whichever events they wish. Open Meets - which are "open" to swimmers from any Club, hence the name - also provide an excellent opportunity for swimmers to compete in a wide range of different events at the same competition e.g. 50m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 200m Breaststroke, 400m Individual Medley, etc.
The Head Coach recommends several Open Meets each year that he will attend and these are always advertised on the notice boards.
Open Meets are licenced at Levels 1, 2, 3 & 4 by the Amateur Swimming Association and are "open" to swimmers from any Club. Level One is the highest, aimed at swimmers looking to achieve National Qualifying Times. Level Two is aimed at Regional Qualifiers and swimmers close to Regional Qualification. Level Three is for Club swimmers who are seeking County Qualifying Times while Level Four is for swimmers just beginning to enter individual open competitions (our own Club Championships, which all Worcester swimmers should enter, are licenced at Level 4).
Each level usually has different entry criteria including Qualifying Times and Upper Limit Times. These are times set by meet organisers to control the number of entries. A Qualifying Time is the time that a swimmer must have already achieved in order to enter the competition i.e. to enter the 200m Individual Medley, they must have already swum faster than the QT for that event. However, most meets have an Upper Limit Time for each event too. This means that swimmers who have previously achieved times faster than the ULT are also not eligible to enter that event.
Details of all galas can be found on the notice boards at both swimming pools. Please keep a regular eye on these notice boards to see if your swimmer is on the Team Selection List in which case you will need to tick it to confirm that they are available to swim.
Most gala last 2.5-3 hours. Sometimes a coach (bus!) is provided for galas that are further away or for Finals at a small cost. Directions to galas (and/or a post code so you can get directions off the internet) are usually on the notice board but if in doubt ask the coaches or people that you see on poolside.
The Team Selection List will also advise you of the Warm Up time and is important to be at the pool 15-30 minutes before warm up to get changed and get on poolside. Usually swimmers don't have to wait in the queue outside a pool - the queue is for spectators and swimmers should work their way through to the front.
What to bring - swimmers:
- 2 towels - one for drying, one to sit on
- 2 swimming costumes/trunks
- 2 pairs of goggles (in case one pair gets lost or breaks)
- A T-shirt, preferably a Worcester Club polo shirt.
- A Worcester Swimming Club Hat (though boys with short hair don't have to wear one)
- Poolside shoes - flip flops or similar
- Plenty to drink - squash or water (nothing fizzy)
- Snacks - fruit, nuts, pasta, rice
For full day Open Meets also bring packed lunch, spare set of clothes plus something to do (book, game, magazine, etc)
Please remember all belongings are the swimmer's responsibility so it is a good idea not to send anything valuable, particularly with young swimmers
Ideally swimmers should not have eaten a large meal two hours before they swim but they should have "stocked up" well throughout the day, as swimming is hungry business!
Swimmers should do their normal activities throughout the day but try to have a bit of a rest before setting out for the gala.
Swimmers under 16 years old should be accompanied by a responsible adult who has the swimmers parents contact details if they are not the swimmers parent themselves. Please note swimming club officials will not take responsibility for your child's safety unless it has been agreed in advance.
Before leaving your child at the gala, please make sure he/she is aware:
- Of arrangements for getting home and meeting you
- They must make themselves known to the Worcester Swimming Club Poolside staff when they arrive so we know they are there
- They should not leave the poolside UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES unless they have asked an adult poolside helper
- They MUST STAY TO THE VERY END OF THE GALA. This is because Worcester has a very positive team ethic that we want every swimmer to develop. Unlike many clubs we always wait for the points and positions to be announced at the end of every gala and we cheer and clap every other club. Any parent wishing to take their child home early must speak to the coach for permission please.
What to bring - Parents (yes there is a list for you too!)
- Wear layers - swimming pools get very hot!
- Bring plenty of drinks and comfort food! Your child will probably want more than you have packed and you will probably get thirsty/hungry too - it's all the cheering!
- Pen, paper, highlighter and if you are very enthusiastic a stop watch!
- Cash - there is always an entrance fee. This varies from club to club and depends on the type of gala. There is also usually a raffle (difficult to say "no") and sometimes (at open meets) you also have to pay for a programme. You will also end up paying for hot drinks, hot dogs and hot new swimming costumes if the Swim Shop is there!!
Many parents operate a "bribe" system for the children and reward them for each PB - there is no standard for this - just to say BEWARE - many a parent has been left nearly bankrupt after a long open meet where their child has had a particularly good day!
And Always Remember...
...It is the parent's job to support and encourage - it never looks very good when a parent starts ranting at their child for not doing as well as the parent expects. Don't get yourself labelled as a "pushy parent" - after all swimming is supposed to be fun; every swimmer will have a different potential and they will only reach this if they enjoy the sport. It is the Coaches' job to point out where a swimmer could have done better and to get the maximum learning out of a race.