What you need to know about Club and Competition Swimming


As a parent of a swimmer I understand how confusing it all becomes when your child joins a swimming club and to help you understand this minefield I will lay out my swimming club and gala experiences to try and help you and your swimmer understand how it works and where to go first.

When you join the club, you pay your yearly membership, (£25) this goes to the club to help towards the running costs of the club and as the Treasurer I know how much paperwork and printing is involved! You also have to pay ASA fees, this is £13.65 for level one, and includes payments to the various sectors within the ASA:

ASA Category 1 – 2017 ASA membership fee £13.65

ASA Category 1 membership is for members of any age who are learning to swim or who are swimmers at any level, who do not compete in any discipline in open competition (other than those exempted under Law 321.1.2 and those competitions designated as ‘Low Level Competition’ as below

1. Leagues providing that:

The league is a local league e.g. within a County or local area and which does

not finish with a national final. (I.e. Club championships)

2. Inter-club competitions providing: (I.e Sussex League)

The participating clubs are invited to compete.

There are no more than eight clubs involved in the competition.

The event is a one off gala.

3. Club Championships –Licensed at level 4 (low level)



You will also pay the monthly subscription of between £15 and £58 and this allows your swimmer to swim between one and seven sessions a week depending on his/her group.



The aim of our club is to provide a safe environment in which the teachers can develop the swimmers up to a competitive standard and therefore all members of the swimming club are encouraged and invited to take part in the club’s annual championships, these happen five to six times throughout the year and cover each stroke and distance ensuring that the swimmers have an overall experience of all the swimming strokes. These galas are ASA Category 1 ‘Low Level Competitions’ and presently a charge of £2.50 per event is made to cover the costs of running the galas including the pool hire for that day and of course the medals for winners etc.



The club also enters galas within the Sussex League which is a competition held each year between local swimming clubs within Sussex. This is also classed as an ASA Category 1 ‘Low Level Competition’.  If your swimmer is proficient enough, they may be invited to compete in these galas, apart from finding your way to the local club to compete, there is no cost involved to participate as any payment is covered from ASA Sussex, but of course the objective is to win and become the Sussex Champions for that particular league!

Now your swimmer has a taste for galas and of course you love to see them win, coming home with medals around their necks. This means that they now want to compete in other galas further afield. In order to compete in all other ASA and British Swimming events, any division of a league which finishes with a national final, open meets, County, District/Regional events and National events members must be fully paid up category two members. This means you will now need to increase the ASA membership up to a Category Level 2.





ASA Category 2 – 2017 ASA membership fee £31.25

ASA Category 2 membership is for all members of any age who compete in any discipline in open competitions (other than those exempted under Law 321.1.2 and those competitions designated as ‘Low Level Competition’. See above.

These competitions are registered with the ASA and are called ‘licensed meets’, there are four levels, Level 4 being the lowest and Level 1 the highest. Our club championship are registered at Level 4 and any times achieved will be recorded on the rankings of the British Swimming registers, (ASA Category 1 is sufficient to enter a Level 4 meet). The reason for the different levels is to ensure that every swimmer has the opportunity to swim in appropriate, quality competitions to enable them to achieve their full potential.

Your swimmer can now start serious competition swimming and work  towards the next level, which is to gain what is commonly known as ‘County Times’. Several Licensed Level 2 and Level 3 meets are organised by the Sussex County ASA and other Swimming Clubs, at several venues throughout the County. These are organised at different levels so that swimmers of all differing abilities can achieve their own targets.  It will be necessary to swim at some of these galas to gain all County qualifying times throughout the year, and this will also give swimmers valuable experience of swimming with different ability swimmers from other clubs throughout the County. Some swimmers that you will meet at Licensed Galas may be looking to achieve Regional and National events as well as Counties. However for the relatively new swimmer the County Championship Competition is the one to be working towards.

You can gain your qualifying times by swimming at Licensed meets at all Levels, including some Level 4 competitions. If your swim time falls within the County qualifying times this then makes you eligible to enter the County Championships, these are usually held in February/March each year. (The County Qualifying times for each year are made available during the year after completion of the County Championships).The object of course is to obtain all of the qualifying times available which covers all strokes and all distances, this allows you to enter for all events at the ‘Counties’, where there are a number of different competitions running alongside each other. These include Age Group Categories Competition, County Championships, Champion Club Competition and Club Age Group Competition.

If you have managed to survive this far and your swimmer is still winning, this has to be put down to several factors, they are extremely fit, exceptionally competitive, they have a fantastic coach and massively supportive parents!! You will also know a lot more about competitions than I do and I hope that this missive will help along the way to them becoming County, Regional, National and who knows even Olympic swimmers.


Good Luck to all swimmers and parents especially those with a competitive streak!      

Celia Plowden, Treasurer