Meets and galas explained
We understand how confusing it can be when your child first joins a swimming club and you suddenly start receiving e mails about “meets”, “galas”, “licensed meet” and official times. We have therefore set out below some basic information about these events which we hope you will find useful in decoding the world of competitive swimming.
Team Events: “Galas”
“Galas” generally refers to events where the swimmers compete as a team -- usually a league comprising a series of galas. HAC currently competes in two leagues -- the National Arena League and the M11 Junior League.
The National Arena League (for swimmers aged 9+) and the M11 Junior League (for swimmers aged 9-12) are both “fast leagues” which means that there are no restrictions on how fast swimmers should be. The coach selects the best available swimmers in the Club.
The events at Galas are limited, typically comprising races in all strokes over a single distance plus relays, and swimmers can't choose what they enter; it's up to the coach. The swimmer does not have to complete an entry form or pay to swim in a league gala; the Club enters the league and pays a league fee at the start of the season and the coach selects the best available team for each round.
Individual Events: “Meets”
Meets are events where swimmers compete as individuals aiming to achieve times, usually for qualification for other events (for example, County or Regional Championships or indeed other meets) or just to track their progress and aim for a Personal Best time in an "official" setting. Meets are usually organised by a single club and take place over one day or a weekend. Some meets have qualifying times which means that organisers can restrict who enters by setting a time that the swimmer must have achieved to be permitted to compete. Others also have upper limits so that very fast swimmers can’t enter and others can have a chance.
In contrast to team galas, at meets, there will be up to 30 or so events over numerous distances (for example, 50m, 100m, 200m and longer distances for freestyle) and generally no relays. Before a meet, our Fixtures Secretary will send out an e mail with details (an “entry pack”) to all eligible swimmers. If a swimmer wishes to take part, he/she must decide which specific events to enter, complete an entry form and pay a fee (“meet fees”, which are typically £5-£10 per event depending on the distance).
Most meets and some galas are licensed by the ASA. A licensed event is generally more formal than a non-licensed one and times achieved there are listed on the ASA website. There are different types of license, from Level 4 (Club Level), to Level 1 (National Level).
In order to enter a licensed meet, you will be asked to provide your child's ASA number, and their current best times. Both can be found here: ASA Individual Best Times.