Most swimming events are age-groups up to national competitions. They are at levels 1, 2, or 3.
I recommend that you participate in licensed age-groups with the ASA and will appear on their event calendar.
The name says it, swimmers enter the events and they swim in their own age band.
Age bands usually start at 10 and below but there is a minimum age of 8 years at County level and below.
Some events have 2 year increments e.g. 10 -12, 13 – 14, 15 – 16 etc. Others have yearly age groups. They usually start at 10 or under, 11, 12, 13 …..
Each organisers sets an entry time level, that may be the lowest possible entry time or the highest, or something in between a time fram e.g. they may say the lowest time can be ….. but it can be no higher than…. If you do not yet have an entry time, do not worry, simply ask your club coach for an estimated entry time. Level 3 events are not monitored for already achieved times.
Each organiser also sets the age cut-off time. Usually club age groups set the age-group cut-off as “Age as on the last day of the competition”, if the events stretches over 2 days or “Age as on day of the competition”.
Clubs organise age-groups in their pools and invite other clubs to enter. Entry packs are made available to the clubs and the clubs in turn invite their swimmers to enter. There is a deadline for entries. Clubs decide which galas they enter.
Each event has a fee and swimmers need to pay this fee to their club. The club then in turn deals with the organisers to enter all swimmers.
The organiser decides which swimmers will be permitted and if the event is over-subscribed, some swimmers may have to be scratched. Usually the slower swimmers get scratched.
Hosting clubs have the advantage that they can enter their own slower swimmers to give them experience and a time.
The hosting club then sends out a list of accepted entries. Make sure your entry is on this, if not, your club ows you a refund. Otherwise you can normally only get a refund if you have a doctor’s certificate.
Generally level 3 age groups are quite flexible, ask your coach if you can still get a place in an event, that wasn’t entered and normally you get a time trial without being able to medal even if you get the fastest time in your age group.
Getting a Personal Best (PB) is the main goal of entering age-groups. A swimmers PB is recorded on the ASA website. Each swim gets points awarded and the higher you are to the world record, the higher your points total will be. These recorded times are the official record of time for each swimmer and only these officially recorded times at the licenses meet will enable a swimmer to enter more prestigious County, Regional events, which have even faster entry times.
Winning competition medals is a bonus and often winning swimmers enjoy strudding around with the cling-clang medals around their neck. Coaches are also very proud if their swimmers win medals.
It is the aim of age-groups to improve personal best times. Of course if you just turned 11 in an 11 and under age group you are slightly disadvantaged to those swimmers who are nearly 12, as they are older and stronger.
Swimmers usually make their own way to galas, parents come along and pay a spectator fee. Programs are also on sale and there is often a raffle.
I’ll set a separate page for officiating as clubs hosting events like age-groups usually need to have plenty of registered volunteers.