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References & Abbreviations

Age at - Some meets have moved to grouping swimmers according to their age at the end of the year, i.e. 31st December. This is in line with the major swimming competitions such as Nationals. However, some promoters still run their events according to your age on the day of the race.

Age Group - Division of swimmers according to age, usually in one or two year bands

Blocks - the starting platforms located behind each lane

British Rankings - this is a database maintained by British Swimming which records all times of all swimmers at licensed meets. You can see your own PB’s as well as seeing how you rank against others at County, Regional or National level. 

Gala Do's and Dont's: Text

Converted times
Swimming times can be converted depending on whether they have been achieved in a short course pool (25m) or long course (50m). Conversion can be calculated using on line tools (e.g., For events over the same distance short course times are quicker than long course due the advantage pushing off from the wall at turns gives the swimmer

Closing Date - the last date when entries into a competition have to be received by the club in order to send them to the Meet Organiser. Entries will not be accepted after the closing date. 

Galas are run under ASA rules and these are strictly enforced, this may mean, unfortunately, that you may be disqualified (DQ) if your swim does not meet the necessary standards (e.g., not touching on your Butterfly/Breaststroke turn with two hands, making a false start etc). Don’t be disheartened, it happens to almost all swimmers at some point in their career. The poolside coach will try and find out the reason for disqualification and you can learn from this for next time.

Electronic Timing - a timing system which is operated electronically which has touch pads in the water that hook up to a computer and records the swimmers split and finish times when they touch the pad.

Entry Fees - the amount per event a swimmer is charged. This varies depending on the type of meet.

Event - A race

False Start - when a swimmer leaves the starting block before the starter has started the race. The swimmer will be disqualified for making a false start. 

Heat Declared Winner (HDW) means that there will be no final and the winner of the event is determined by times alone when all the heats have been swum. In many galas the swimmer will be swimming in a heat with swimmers with similar best recorded time and not necessarily their age.

Licensed Meet - in order for race times to be official and recognised by British Swimming, they must be swum at a licenced meet.

Officials - these are the people in white you see poolside at galas.  They are qualified and registered officials who are there to make sure that swimmers abide by the official rules.  Open meets are dependent on having a certain number of officials to meet their license.  If you want to support your swimmer this is a great way to get involved

Open Competition - meet/competition which any qualified club may enter

Over the top start - used in freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly events to save time. The swimmers will remain in the water after the event until the next race starts

Recorded times
For all licensed events swimmers times are entered into the national database. You can find these at

Where a gala is over subscribed you may find that your swimmer has not been able to enter all the races they wanted as the organising club may decide to prioritise swimmers with recorded times. The competition secretary will notify you if this is the case.

ASA - Amateur Swimming Association, the governing body of British Swimming

ASA Number - A unique reference number that you will be provided with when joining a swimming club and used to enter competitions

DNF - Did not finish

DNS - Did not start

DQ - Disqualified

FINA - Federation Internationale de National de Amateur, the international governing body of competitive swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming

LC / SC - The length of pool: Long Course (LC) = 50 metres / Short Course (SC) = 25metres

PB - Personal Best, the best time a swimmer has done so far in each stroke and distance

QT - Qualification time  - often the conditions of a meet will require you to have swum a minimum (sometimes maximum) time at a licenced meet in order to qualify

Gala Do's and Dont's: Text
Gala Do's and Dont's: Text
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