We seek to answer all those tricky questions that new & old parents have about  competitive club jargon and how galas are entered here

The Competitive Meet

The competitive aspect of swimming, the meet, can seem like a daunting and confusing prospect for those new swimmers & parents. However, once you’ve experienced a couple you will quickly get into the swing of things, and there is always help at hand. 

Your coach is the definitive point of reference for matters relating to meets, and, as with every other aspect of the club’s activities, there are plenty of people who have been involved in competitive swimming for many years who will be happy to advise you. JUST ASK!

Competition Types

Competitions are either open i.e. open to all or closed competitions which is for selected clubs. They can be 

Short Course (SC)

 – a 25m pool or 

Long Course (LC)

– a 50m pool.

For the majority of competitions, the club attends and stays together as a team, but the swimmers will be competing as individuals against other individuals. Usually the top three positions in events receive an award.

What is the difference between meet level 1, 2 and 3?

A Level 1 meet will have minimum qualifying times and is broadly aimed at swimmers aiming for National Qualifying Times (NQTs). 

Level 2 meets have minimum qualifying times and upper limit times; these are aimed at those looking for good Regional qualifying times (QTs). 

Level 3 meets typically have upper cut off times (swimmers may not enter if their times are faster than the specified UCT) aimed at Regional and Club swimmers, but also certain meets designed to encourage swimmers with no times and who are starting out in their swimming career.

What does QT, CT, UCT, NT all mean?

Qualifying Time (QT) – the time that must be achieved to enter the event in a gala. If the gala also has Consideration Times (CT) these are usually slower than the QT and swimmers may enter the gala. 

The meet programme however will firstly be selected from the swimmers who have achieved the QT for an event. Only if there are then places available will swimmers with a CT be entered to the event.

For example – 3 swimmers who are 13 on the date of the gala
Swimmer A has a PB for 100 Freestyle of 1:04.05
Swimmer B has a PB for 100 Freestyle of 1:10.21
Swimmer C has a PB for 100 Freestyle of 1:15.85

If in a gala pack for 100 Freestyle the Qualifying Time (QT) is 1:07.23 for 13 year olds but the organisers have also set a Consideration Time (CT) of 1:11.05 then swimmers A & B above can enter but swimmer C may not as they have achieved neither the QT or the CT. Swimmer B may have his entry accepted to the gala but only after all those swimmers who have entered the event with a QT have been given places.

Upper Cut Off times (UCT) are usually found in level 2&3 galas. Where UCTs are published swimmers may enter where their PB for the event is equal to or slower than the published UCT. If their time is faster than the UCT then their entry will not be accepted.

Galas which permit No Times (NTs) are the first step in competitive swimming for new entrants. These are usually Level 3 meets and will allow entries for swimmers who do not have any qualifying times, there are also usually UCTs associated with NT galas.

Gala Entry Procedure

Gala Entry Procedure is the same for all meets.

Check the information on the FIXTURES page to ensure that the meet is suitable and that you do not have any other commitments on the relevant day(s).

Decide which events you would like to enter. Bear in mind that entering too many events will be very tiring and may mean you do not swim at your best. If in doubt ask your coach who will be happy to advise you. Open Meets often have early starts and mean long days.

Fill out the Internal Entry Form in full, this is usually sent out as an email invitation. Respond to the email, and then pay the invoice sent to you for the entry fee. Entries not paid will not be processed until the correct payment has been received.

We then collate all the entries using the club’s Swim Club Manager software and send the information electronically to the club hosting the meet.

Once entries have closed, the host club decides which entries to accept and sends details back to us. This is then posted on the FIXTURES page under the relevant Meet on Swim Club Manager.

Time Conversions

Some meets require times achieved in a 25m (short course) pool and others in a 50m (long course) pool. There are tools available to convert between the two, in the event that the swimmer has only the “wrong” type of time. 

Traditional comparative performance tables are accessible on the British Swimming website. There are also online conversion tools: PULLBOUY Time Converter and via swimmingworldmagazine.com, although their results do vary and should be taken as a guide only.

Age Groups

Most competitions will organise swimmers into age groups for awards. Sometimes these are single year age groups, sometimes double, with awards presented for the top swimmers in each event in each age group. Heats can be spearheaded according to entry time, irrespective of age.

Nationals & Regional competitions have age as of 31 December. Other galas can do this as well or run on a system called “Age on Day”, which means that the age group a swimmer enters is their age on the final day of competition. If a competition runs over several weekends, then the age is on the last day of the whole competition.

In addition to individual age groups, competitions may also be split into:
Age is up to 14 for girls and boys.
Youth is from these ages to 17 for females and 18 for males
Senior is all ages above these.

Meet Programmes

Meet Programmes are available for sale at the venue, listing all swimmers in each event in order of seed time, and providing general information about the event. 

They are very useful if only to work out when your child is likely to be swimming and schedule comfort breaks and trips to the café accordingly!


There is usually some form of electronic timing in use at meets. Timekeepers provide backup in the event that the system is not operating. The results of each race will be shown on the display board, but they have to be ratified by the referee and declared so by the announcer before they are deemed “official”. 

There may be disqualifications for the infringement of technical or stroke rules, or the electronic timing may not have been operating correctly (e.g. a swimmer may not have touched the pad hard enough to trigger it). 

Official results are usually posted on the walls after the events and are often available on the host club/organisation’s website.
We also post the results on our RESULTS page once received after the meet concludes.  You will also be able to see the results against your swimmer, when you log into Swim Club Manager.

National Rankings

All the results from licensed meets are forwarded to British Swimming which maintains the National Rankings Database. This can be accessed on the British Swimming website via the link on the MEMBERS page or here

Cheshire Times

This year's consideration times can be found by using this link http://www.swimcheshire.org/PublicPages/pdf.aspx?f=~/events/2020/Champs/cc2020Consideration.pdf