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Frequently Asked Questions

Some of these items will need populating, updating or correcting over time. If you would like to contribute please email winsford.asc.web@gmail.com

Training

Who are the coaches at Winsford ASC?

Head Coach: Dan Goodwin
Assistant Head Coach: Nigel Woodbridge
Coach: Dan Stone
Raptor Coach: Alex Law
Transition A/B/C Coach & Lessons: Michael Secker
Volunteer Coaches: Claire Brown and Jenny Zwijnen

All of the coaches are ASA qualified

How do I communicate with the coaches?

If you wish to discuss a swimmer’s development or if you have any concerns generally the club coaches should always be accessible to the swimmers and parents. At poolside, however each coach will have a large number of swimmers to coach at any one time and therefore if you do want to talk to them, the best approach is to try to catch them at the end of the session, alternatively you can email clubsecwasc@gmail.com or winsford.asc.web@gmail.com and we will pass on your question.

What is the club’s training structure?

The club’s structure is designed to progress a swimmer through the various stages of development. The club operates in a competitive environment and therefore your swimmer will be expected to dedicate enough time to enable them to compete in galas and meets. The current club training structure and progression is as follows:

Lessons (ASA Stages 6-7)
Transition C
Transition B
Transition A
Development Bronze
Development Silver (Minimum age 8)
Development Gold (Up to age 12)
Development Platinum (Ages 12+)
Juggernauts (Minimum Age 10 with County Qualifying Times)

Swimmers will move through the club structure, as they develop their technique and speed, at the discretion of their coach. Their development and progression will be determined by physical and mental development as well as maturity. Movement between each elements of the squad can occur at any time. It is possible to move to Juggernauts from Gold or Platinum.

You will be informed via email if your swimmer has been promoted.

Movement from Transition to Development usually indicates a readiness to compete (if aged 9 or over) so this move should also be accompanied by the completion of an ASA Category 2 form which ensures your swimmer is insured to swim in open meets. The Club Championships and Club Time Trials are the only events you can enter under the age of 9 and without Cat 2 registration.

Each of the development stages has a specific training programme, with the relevant pages providing training time guidance.

Can a swimmer be demoted?

A swimmer's development will be continually monitored by their coach, with the vast majority of swimmers progressing effectively through the training structure. However, if a coach feels that a swimmer would benefit with a move or if a swimmer continues to miss their designated training times, a demotion is possible but rare.

What equipment does a swimmer need for swim training?

The following pieces of equipment are required for training:
Mesh swim bag
Training swimming costume / jammers or trunks
Winsford ASC swimming hat
Goggles
Towel
Water bottle
Kick board
Finns
Pull buoy
Hand paddles
Writing Slate
Snorkel

The Ugglies range of costumes are excellent for training and a good starting point for goggles are a pair of Speedo Futura Junior or similar, with a split head strap and good suction, so they hopefully stay in place as they learn to dive competitively.

As they progress swimmers will probably want mirror goggles. TYR offer a good range, also recommended are Maru Pulse Mirror, and Speedo Opals are the best to go on to as they are still quite large and sit comfortably on the bone around the eye, rather than in the eye socket, and they look good! Fastskin racing goggles are also popular with swimmers although they tend to be expensive! Proper racing goggles are much smaller and many young swimmers will find them very uncomfortable until they have been wearing goggles for 3 or 4 years.

For the rest of the equipment advice should be sought from the club coach as to which kickboard/pull buoy/hand paddles/fins etc. are generally used by the club. Once they start collecting the necessary equipment, a mesh sack to keep it all in is a good investment as this will stop the equipment going mouldy as it allows it to dry after each session.

More good advice on swimming kit can be sought from Michael Secker.

What does a Juggernaut Swimmer need for Land Training?

The following pieces of equipment are suggested for land training:
Shorts/ tracksuit bottoms
T-shirt
Indoor trainers
Floor Mat
Drink
Possibly small sugary snack or a banana for after session before swim

What about Gym Sessions?

Gym sessions are offered to swimmers aged 13+. Please see Barry Keeling for details. Swimmers must have had a gym induction.

Do I have to pay for training?

All swimmers at the club must pay ASA membership fees in addition to training fees. The website provides you with the details of what you need to pay on a monthly basis to the club via standing order.

The swimmer will also be required to pay during the week day evening an entry fee to the Lifestyle Centre which is currently £3.00 (with a Brio Leisure Card). To save money there is the option of a Brio junior memberships which are currently £12 a month for under 12s and £16 a month for under 18s.

How many training sessions am I expected to go to?

Swimmers will be encouraged by their coach to attend as many of the designated sessions as possible. It is not compulsory for the swimmer to attend all sessions however continued absence may hinder the swimmer’s progress as the demands on training increase. Ultimately you, as a parent, need to understand and appreciate whether your swimmer is tired and needs or rest or needs to increase their intensity. If that is not clear, contact their coach for advice.

Do I have to let anyone know if a swimmer isn't coming to their designated training session?

This is not absolutely essential, however if you expect a prolonged absence for whatever reason you should contact their coach and explain the reasons behind the absence.

Who do I speak to if I have any training/development concerns?

There are parents of older swimmers who have a wealth of experience to tap into and have gone through the same experiences you have concerns about. It is good to introduce yourself to other parents, especially at training or at a meet, to help pass the time but to also provide a useful source of information and advice. Your current Parent Representatives on the Club Committee are Julie Grindley, Sarah Jane Armitt and Sue Wright. All have swimmers in Development, Platinum or Juggernauts so are often around to ask advice from and will be happy to help. However your primary contact if you have concerns is your swimmer’s coach or the club’s welfare officer.

Who is the welfare officer and what is their role?

The welfare officer is currently Sarah Keeling. Her role in the club is to provide parents and swimmers with support if they feel they cannot discuss the issue with the coaches/the club or other parents. Sarah is also our first point of contact for any Safeguarding issues. For further information on the ASA Safeguarding Policies and Procedures, including Codes of Conduct, please see here.

What are the benefits of the early morning swimming sessions?

Swimming is very technical and requires many hours of practice, without morning training the swimmers will not get enough time in the pool to improve their technique, skills and fitness.

Morning training is very helpful to get the swimmer used to swimming early. Most competitions have early warm up times and racing. It is important to be able to swim fast in the mornings. Swimmers are fresh in the mornings, so we can get a lot of good work in before school. Morning training sets up the swimmer for the rest of their day.

Mornings are fun, challenging and it shows commitment. The swimmers who regularly train in the mornings are the swimmers who will reach their full potential. Evening training alone is not enough to be competitive.

What should you feed your swimmer before early morning swimming?

Try to encourage your swimmer to eat before a morning swim. A light, healthy breakfast is probably the best option such as a yoghurt, banana, cereal or cereal bar.

Also encourage your swimmer to drink fresh orange or a vitamin C drink.

Do I have to stay when the swimmer is training?

It is advised that a parent should stay at the poolside during training, in case of an emergency or ensure someone has your contact details if you leave. Younger swimmers will also feel more relaxed if their parents were in the gallery. For the morning sessions you can either drop and go or stay but you cannot leave or enter the building once the session has started until 6.30am when the centre opens to the public.

At all training session there will be a qualified coach and lifeguard available to assist if required.

What time should I arrive for training?

It is advisable that the swimmer arrives 15 minutes prior to training, so that they can change in a relaxed way and complete their warm up routine before they begin their swim. Please do not go on poolside until 5 minutes before your session starts though.

What is 50m training?

Once a swimmer reaches the Juggernaut squad an essential part of their development is 50 metre, or long course, training. These sessions are monthly at the Liverpool Wavertree 50m pool. They are on the calendar on the website but you will be sent an email the week before in order to establish numbers. Very occasionally sessions are offered to the Development Squad.

Other 50m pools are located in Manchester and Sheffield.

How can I help my swimmer - diet/exercise?

It is important that all swimmers eat a healthy diet, but more so when they are competitive swimmers. Please see our Nutrition Advice page.

What other training could I look at for improving my swimmer's technique?

There are numerous training camps and swimming technique workshops available. If you want to investigate further a swimmer’s technical development you should arrange a chat with their coach and they will advise.

Does the club offer private one to one lessons?

The club does not run one-to-one sessions. All training is in a group setting with the club responsible for the swimmer during their training and when they represent the club at meets. The comprehensive training regime the club offers should provide all the development required to be a competitive swimmer.

If you think that your swimmer needs further one-to-one tuition, for whatever reason, this is obviously at your discretion. However, before you embark on an alternative route it is advisable to discuss this with the swimmer’s coach, explaining your rationale. If they agree, they can suggest suitably trained coaches whom they would recommend. It is important to recognise that if you decide on this course of action, there is a good dialogue between the respective coaches so there is a level of consistency in the tuition given and each can give feedback on their development.

Galas and Meets

What's the difference between a gala and a meet?

We don't know. For all practical purposes, the two words are interchangeable.

How do I enter a gala?

For the majority of galas you will receive an email from the club explaining what events are available the entry criteria, the amount to pay per event and the deadline. Usually the entries are made using an online entry form - a link will be on the website gala page and in the email.

The email will usually specify the information required to enter requesting that your entry details are sent via email within the date specified with a payment (cash or cheque) made as soon as possible afterwards at the club desk. The club desk is open on a Wednesday evening 6pm - 7pm and Sunday evening 6.45pm to 7.15pm on the balcony at the Winsford Lifestyle Centre. Please follow the instructions carefully or your entry may not be processed.

If you wish to change events after you have made your entry, there is a possibility as long as it is before the club makes the full entry submission to the club holding the gala. However it is important you do this quickly because once your entry is in it is difficult to change.

If you miss a club deadline, there can be the possibility to enter a swimmer directly with the club organising the gala. To do this you should check the organising clubs website to see if this is possible and then of course submit your entry within their deadline.

Withdrawal from a gala is possible right up the day of the event. DO NOT JUST NOT TURN UP, follow the withdrawal instructions on the meet website as soon as you know they can’t attend the event so the withdrawal can be arranged for you. Failure to attend one session of a meet often results in withdrawal from the entire competition.

It's my first gala. What do I do?

We have a whole page of advice for parents and swimmers at galas here.

Where do I get a swimmer’s ASA number from?

ASA membership is a pre-requisite for Winsford ASC membership. You cannot take part in training or enter a meet without it. This will be applied for by the club at the outset of the swimmers training and you will be advised of their number once received.

If you have lost it you can find it on your PB page of the website, email the membership secretary for a reminder or do a search on the ASA website.

What is a PB?

PB stands for Personal Best. It is the best time a swimmer has achieved for a particular stroke at a given distance. The club has a personal best section on the website, but parents are encouraged to keep a record if they can and all licensed PB’s are stored on the ASA National Rankings Database which are also ranked over a 12 month period by club, county, regional and nationally. You can also access, via the ASA website, all the licensed PB’s recorded by an individual swimmer.

PB Expectations

It is important to recognise early on that a swimmer cannot gain a PB every time they swim.

Sometimes they achieve significant PBs which they might not be beat for several meets. This can be down to numerous factors. For all swimmers there are troughs and plateaus as well as peaks and certainly the former should not be viewed as a lack of effort either in competition or training.

Parents must also recognise that swimmers, especially the younger ones, develop and grow differently and their performance in comparison with their peers will fluctuate. This needs to be recognised and you must ensure that the swimmer is not criticised for a perceived poor performance.

It is important for parents to understand this and always remember you are there to support your swimmer in an environment that they should enjoy. Both parents and swimmers can get frustrated and upset if a PB is not achieved, when this does happen it is essential to put the performance in perspective and recognise that competitive swimmers are very good swimmers compared to the vast majority of the population.

Some of the more experienced swimmers may be told that the expectation at a certain meet is, for example, PB plus 2% or 102% of the existing PB. This does not mean that the swimmer should try any less hard nor would the coach expect them to, but because, for instance, they might be in heavy training for another competition a few weeks hence, or at a certain point in their training cycle and are therefore tired, the coach may set what he considers a more realistic target for the swimmers. Naturally if they gain PBs at that meet everyone is delighted.

What records do I need to keep?

It is always useful to keep a full record of the events your swimmer has taken part in, including time, position and race, so you have to hand the latest information for gala entry. However the Winsford ASC website will provide a full list of results after a gala and on a regular basis the PBs licensed and unlicensed of each swimmer.

Also the ASA website records every result of each ASA member for a licensed meet. There are many ways to manipulate and download this data to show your swimmer’s results and rankings nationally, regionally, by county or by club. It is also possible to print the data

It also useful to print and laminate the swimmers PB’s and put them in their swim bag / net bag so the swimmer and coach know to hand what their PB’s are.

Coming soon is an excellent facility that stores your swimmer’s times, events and history including progression graphs.

When does the meet season run from and to?

September to July, with August being the only month without competitive events.

The Winsford Club Championships is usually the first event of the season.

What is an Open Meet?

This is an invitation by the host swimming club to other swimming clubs to participate in a meet.

Many clubs, including Winsford, host an annual Open Meet. Any swimmer from the participating clubs can enter as long as they meet the qualifying time criteria. Usually the qualifying criteria is based on the age of the swimmer on the date of the meet and the achievement of pre-specified qualification times in previous licensed meets. There are various levels of meets aimed at different levels of swimmer and the harder the qualification time the higher the grade of meet.

There are also meets which instead specify a upper time limit which again is based on licensed times achieved, but in this case the swimmer cannot enter an event if your time is faster than the upper limit time so as to encourage novice swimmers to enter an event.

Open Meets have a variety of different types of events ranging from 25m, 50m, 100m events to 200m, and 400m events, and at some 800m and 1500m. The youngest age group is 9 years old (as specified by the ASA).

What does 'licensed meet' mean?

Licensed meets are open meets which have been sanctioned and have been pre-approved by the ASA.

To be licensed the meet organisers have to meet certain criteria imposed by the ASA. The meet is Licensed by a Regional Licensing Authority. The most obvious benefit of licensing is that all times recorded will be shown in the ASA National Rankings. Consequently if a swimmer needs to prove a time for entry into a certain Meet he can do so by reference to the ASA National Rankings which is open to everyone to see. This is particularly important for qualification into Regional or National

There are events where qualification can only be achieved at certain levels of meet e.g. for Regional events only times at Levels 1,2 or 3 meets are acceptable.

The criteria for acceptance as a licensed meet include the following:
Pools used for licensed meets should be a minimum of 25 metres long.
Electronic timing must be used for meets at level 1, 2 and 3.
Anti-turbulence lane lines, starting blocks and turning flags must be provided.
Adequate provision must be made for swimmers to warm up.
Ages shall be at the last day of the meet/series of meets.
A maximum of 7½ hours swimming can take place in any competition day.
The minimum requirements for officials at each level of meet.
As far as the events be included in any Licensed Meet are concerned 100m events for 9 year old swimmers are not permitted, except 4x25m Individual Medley.

What do the levels mean when describing a meet?

All licensed meets are designated a level to determine the calibre of the competition, below is a guide to the levels:

Level 1 – National and Regional standard (requires qualifying times). Aimed at swimmers wanting National and Regional qualifying times
Level 2 – Regional and County standard (requires qualifying times). Aimed at swimmers wanting Regional and County level qualifying times
Level 3 – Local and County standard (may or may not require qualifying times and sometimes has upper limit times)
Level 4 - Club Championships or Time trials only

How many meets should I enter?

It is important that your swimmer enters the galas at Winsford Lifestyle Centre, which are the Club Championships (for Winsford swimmers only) held usually in September and the Open Development Meets in July and December. The Winsford Club Championships is particularly important as it is an opportunity to post as many licensed times as possible early in the season in a home environment.

It is important that as a competitive swimmer your swimmer enters as many galas as you feel necessary. It is also important early on to establish as many licensed times as possible.

The coach will usually highlight to swimmers, and any parents poolside, which galas they feel the swimmers should enter. If you are unsure about which gala your swimmer should enter and which events, either speak or email their coach who will advise accordingly. Ultimately however it is your decision and as a parent it is important to gauge proactive participation against spending many hours poolside.

Where do I find out about future galas?

In the galas calendar there is a comprehensive list of galas the club is participating in. This list has been prepared in advance by the coaches and is devised on past experience and is intended to provide a broad offering of events to cover all abilities. An indication of whether this gala is suitable for your swimmer is also denoted on that list.

When entering an Open gala what time should I use?

When filling in a form to enter an Open Meet one has to be careful to ensure that the time entered is a valid time. Usually this is a time from a licensed meet which has been ranked by the ASA. It is also possible to enter an unlicensed time (this will be specified in the entry criteria) which has been recorded by an official timekeeper at an unlicensed meet such as a team gala. Sometimes, especially in Novice Events, it may be acceptable to enter an estimated time particularly if a swimmer has no previous time for that event but this is only rarely the case and should be done in full consultation with swimmer’s Squad Coach.

Times recorded by parents in the stands or even by the Coaches on poolside are not official times. Only the official timekeeper can see when exactly a touch has been made. Relay splits cannot be used as entry times except the lead off legs of a freestyle or medley relay. Please remember that putting in a time faster than a swimmer’s PB is unlikely to help a swimmer unless this has been specifically agreed by the Coaches. For instance, where a swimmer has not swum an event for some time and other circumstances indicate that he or she is capable of going significantly faster.

Many meets will require a time from another meet within a certain period or at a certain level e.g. Regional Times can only be achieved at Level 1, 2 or 3 Meets. Often the entry forms will require the date and name of the meet to be entered on the entry form so that the organisers can check whether the times are acceptable for their meet. Failure to meet the requirements will most likely result in rejection of the swimmer’s entry.

What does it mean if a meet is run on the swimmers age on 31st December?

Most meets split the swimmers into categories based on their age at the date of the meet. However some are run on a 'age on 31st December' basis, which is the age of the swimmer on the on the 31st December in the year of competition. This is the case for County, Regional and National Events.

What’s the difference between a long course pool and a short course pool?

A short course pool is 25 metres long
A long course pool is 50 metres long

How do I convert short course times into long course times?

Times achieved in a long course pool are different to times achieved in a short course pool, because a short course race involves more turns, which are usually a bit faster than the actual swimming. Gala entries will always specify that their qualifying times are either long course (LC) times or short course (SC) times. Fortunately, the ASA provide a standard algorithm for converting times between long and short course, so you can still enter a gala that lists its times as long course even if you have only raced the event short course. There's a calculator here that will do the conversions for you.

What should a swimmer take to a meet?

Meets usually take place over a day or a weekend, so a swimmer needs to be prepared for a long day sat by the pool!

Below are the essentials:

Club tracksuit or t-shirt
Approved race suit / trunks
Spare training costume for warm up or in emergencies
Goggles (and spare pair)
Named race hat (and spare)
Flip flops
Lunch cold pasta/fruit/sandwiches
Plenty of drinks (water bottle and sports drink)
A frozen water bottle will keep food/drink cool in the morning and the provide a cooler drink in the afternoon of a meet
Sugar snacks (sweets/health bars/jelly)
2 Towels (one for poolside and one to get dry with afterwards)
Dry clothes to go home in

………and a big bag to carry them all in!

What should a parent take to a meet?

It’s a long day (10-12 hours) so be prepared, essentials include:

Details of the location
Change for the car park
Money for programme and entry ca£10
Lunch / snacks / drinks
Marker pen - to highlight your swimmer's races.
Something to read (book/newspaper)
Tissues
Nerves of steel

Always dress for summer even in winter (shorts/flip flops/t shirt).

Do swimmers need a race suit and if so what sort?

It is advisable to purchase a race suit as soon as possible after the swimmer has begun to enter galas. Race suits can be expensive, however if your swimmer enters as many galas as is expected of them, it will be a good investment to buy a good one as it provides comfort, streamlining and allows the swimmer to ‘look the part’ on the blocks. For more information on competition suits, what to buy, where to buy them and how to care for them click here. Advice on what to buy is usually readily available from an experienced parent who will have already gone through a few race suits too.

Where can I order gala equipment from?

t-shirts/training suits/hats/bags: Shop
named hats: Not Currently Available  
Race suits: examples here.

What are the club colours?

Orange and Black, it is important that at galas your swimmer makes some effort to wear the club colours in the form of a track suit, t shirt or the black and orange TYR bag. This will allow both the swimmer and the equipment to be identified quicker both for you, the marshall or team manager, the coach and officials.

What if I am late for a gala?

Always plan your journey, make sure you know where you are going, how long it will take before the day of the meet. If you are late don’t panic!, it won’t help………………………If possible try to share the journey with another parent so you are not alone, and then take contact details of another parent who you know will be attending the gala. They will then inform the team managers and they will act accordingly.

What is the role of the club’s volunteer team manager at a gala?

The team manager is there to help the coach, primarily making sure the competitor turns up for their event in good time. They will be provided with a list of entries and at the appropriate time call up the swimmer and direct them to the coach who will then give them a ‘pep talk’ along the lines of “arms like a windmill” or “swim as fast you can”. The team manager also makes sure your swimmer is looked after whilst the coach concentrates on performance in the pool.

Why did the times on the Scoreboard not always agree with the times given in the results?

Where electronic timing (Automated Operating Equipment in the parlance of the Swimming rulebook or colloquially known as “AOE”) is being used at a meet the official time given to each swimmer will be the time recorded by the AOE provided the AOE is operating properly. The primary AOE system automatically starts the clock the moment the starting signal is given. There is no need for any of the timekeepers to push anything connected with the AOE at that point (other than start their own manual stopwatches). The primary system clock is stopped on each lane the moment the swimmer in that lane touches the timing pad. However not all systems are infallible and sometimes there is a malfunction in the pad or the system or some other reason which means that the primary system has not recorded a time – most often with young swimmers it is because they have barely touched the timing pad although there is no need to hit it particularly hard as one sometimes sees swimmers do. In the case that the primary AOE does not record a time the timekeepers press a button connected to the AOE which records a “back up” electronic time as well stopping their stopwatches the moment the swimmer touches the wall.

If things are working well both the primary and back up times are recorded and the referee receives a print out after each heat showing the positions of the swimmers in that heat and their primary and back up electronic times recorded. Usually the referee will only query the times on the sheet if they disagree with placings recorded by the finish judges and the referee or if there is a significant difference between the primary and back up times. In that case the referee will ask the Chief timekeeper to find out the manual time recorded by the timekeeper on the relevant lane. The referee may or may not adjust the official time recorded by the swimmer to take account of the placings recorded by judges or of the back up or manual times. Sometimes the timekeeper will mention a significant difference between the time on the scoreboard and the manual time he has recorded and again the referee may look into this and adjust the official time.

What does DQ by the name of a swimmer mean?

DQ stands for DisQualification. All competitive swimmers are “DQ'd” at some point in their career, this means they have been disqualified from the event they have just competed in.

At the end of a pool will be time keepers, recording a final time achieved by the swimmer. By the side of the pool, walking up and down, are judges. If a judge feels that the swimmer has not touched properly, performed a stroke incorrectly, or false start i.e. entered the water before the starter gun/whistle, this will result in a DQ.

The club results reports note cases where a swimmer has been disqualified and, where possible, includes details of the reason for disqualification. The fact of disqualification is usually indicated on results pages by annotating the result with 'DQ' or with a more specific disqualification code.

If a swimmer is disqualified then he will be given no time on the results. Any time recorded by the timekeeper will not be treated as an official time and cannot be used as a qualifying time for any event. This a bit akin to goal in football being disallowed for offside in that although the ball crossed the line no goal is counted in the actual score.

The disqualification codes used in results represent the best effort of the person encoding the infraction reported by the judge or other official. Sometimes this requires the use of a code which doesn't exactly match the infraction, but has been chosen as being in some sense 'near'.

What are the different DQ codes and what do they mean?

TODO - to contribute or update please email winsford.asc.web@gmail.com

What does DNC or DNF mean?

A swimmer's name at the bottom of a result sheet with DNC or DNF next to it, means that the swimmer DNC (Did Not Compete) or DNF (Did Not Finish).

What is a HDW (“Heat Declared Winner”)?

If a gala states HDW, (Heat Declared Winner) this means there are no finals. Therefore if you have 30 swimmers competing in a 50 metre freestyle race the winner will be the swimmer with the fastest time regardless if the swimmer swam in the first or last heat.

At many meets, including our Club Championships, all the swimmers in a given event will swim in heats together regardless of age, starting usually with slowest in the first heat and the fastest in the last heat. This does not mean that the 9 year olds are actually competing against 16 year olds or older as once all the heats are swum the swimmers’ times are sorted into the individual age groups and medals awarded accordingly. Where an event is Heat Declared Winner there are no Finals.

What is an “over the top start”?

This is a race when the competing swimmer will dive over the top of the swimmer from the previous race. When a swimmer has finished their race, they should stay in the water and hold on to the lane rope until the next race has started over the top of you. Then the swimmer will be asked to leave the pool as quickly as possible by an official. Swimmers must not climb out over the timing boards.

What's a speeding ticket?

Certain galas, to encourage a wider participation and a lower category swimmer, introduce speeding tickets which means that if a swimmer records a time faster than the upper time limit then they are excluded from the age group competition. Instead of potentially receiving a medal they receive a speeding ticket, which from a competitor’s point of view can be highly regarded.

What team galas does Winsford take part in?

These are usually league galas, although relay teams are chosen to race at the Cheshires. The Club enters teams for both the National Arena Swimming League and the Crusader League. Swimmers are chosen at the discretion of the coaching team and it is usually based on a mix of times, experience and the introduction of new younger in the team environment.

What is the National Arena Swimming League?

As the name implies it is a National Swimming League sponsored by the swimwear company, Arena. Approximately 400 Clubs throughout England and Wales compete in 7 regional competitions. The Divisions are East Midlands, West Midlands, North West, North East, London, South East and Western. Within each region there are a number of divisions with promotion and relegation between those divisions. Winsford ASC is in the North West Region which has a Premier Division, Divisions 1 and 2 and minor leagues. 3 league meets are held in October, November and December annually at which 6 to 8 teams from the relevant division compete against each other. Points are awarded for the performance in each gala so that the final gala in December is seeded so that the top teams points wise swim to decide who will progress to the National Club finals or who will be promoted depending on the division they are in, whilst the lowest points scorers swim against each other to decide relegation.
The top 20 teams across the Country compete in the National A and B finals which are held in Sheffield in late April or early May.
The events in each meet follow a similar format with each age group swimming broadly the same programme. The age groups are 9-11 (although 9 year olds may only swim in relays), 13 and under, 15 and under and Open. The age groups are calculated by reference to the age of the swimmers on 31st December in the year the 3 qualifying galas take place. There are limits on the number of events in which swimmers may compete. Each gala starts with an Open Individual Medley followed by a series of relays for each age group (all relays are 4 x 50 except the Open freestyle relays). Each age group then swims each of the 4 strokes individually followed by further relays culminating in the Women’s and Men’s 6 x 50 Open freestyle.

What is the Crusader League?

The Crusader League consists of teams in and around the Staffordshire area. Meets are held in the first few months of the calendar year. The age groups are U10, U12, U14 and open, with the minimum age for competing being nine years old.

The league consists of three divisions, with Winsford ASC in Division 1. Each division consists of four teams with the teams competing over three meets with each team taking turns to host the meet.

Points are awarded for 1st (6) 2nd (5) 3rd (4) and 4th (3) places with the club with the most points winning both the individual meet and the division. Each year there is a system of promotion and relegation between each division.

What are the Regional and National Championships?

The North West Regional Championships are held in May and June, in Manchester and Liverpool. They are split in to 2 categories: Age Group - Ages 14 and Under and Youth -  Ages 15+. There are qualifying times which need to be achieved within a qualifying window which spans this season from 8th June 2016 to 4th April 2017. Regional times can not be achieved at Level 4 events.

The National Championships are split in to 2 categories, this time based on qualification times. Swimmers will have the opportunity to post a long course ranking time within a “qualification window” which this season will run from 10 March 2017 – 29 May 2017 (inclusive) and, in the same way as this past season, up to 24 top ranked swimmers in each age grouping will be invited to the end of season British Summer Championships.  For those who finish outside of the top ranked places, the next level of talent will have the opportunity of attending home nation championships in England, Scotland and Wales. Last season Winsford ASC had a number of swimmers in both these competitions.

What types of Officials are there?

There are a number of basic levels of qualification for a technical swimming official for a licensed meet: TODO - Update this: to contribute email winsford.asc.web@gmail.com

Timekeeper: Competent with a stop watch and able to act as a Chief Timekeeper at an event.
Judge (J1, J2, J2s): Knows the laws of the various strokes and is able to place the finishing order of an event.
Starter: Nice loud clear voice with the ability to settle the swimmers and start them fairly.
Referee : Responsible for running the event safely and fairly.

There are also other "non-technical" officials such as recorders and announcers. These do not require any particular qualification, but are still vital for the successful running of an event and include:
Announcer: Reads out safety announcements prior to gala and then announces each race and any other information as directed by the referee. Poolside Job.
Recorders: Record results of each race from slips provided by judges. Normally two recorders required, with both writing down results and cross-checking them throughout the evening.
Runners: Throughout the gala getting results sheets from the Recorders and displaying them in the gallery, behind the spectators.
Door Money and Programme: Man a table in reception area to give out programmes and collect fee per adult spectator. For some galas there may also be raffle tickets to sell.
Door Sign In/Registration: For certain Galas, including Club Champs, swimmers need to register that they have turned up to swim. Minimum of two people required, one to sign in boy swimmers and another the girl swimmers.
Marshalls: To make sure swimmers know what and when they are swimming (from lists provided) and guide them towards the starting blocks at the appropriate time.

What does Under 9 (“U9”) through to Under 16 (“U16”) and Open mean?

Most meets are run as a competition for swimmers of a similar age. For example U10 means that although the swimmers will seeded by time rather than age into different heats. The U10 competition (or sometimes termed 10 and under) will be based on the times achieved by swimmers aged 10 or under. The Open category means that there is no restriction on age.

Why have qualified Officials at galas?

At the fundamental level, the officials are there to ensure that a competition between swimmers is safe and fair. Health & Safety, as with all aspects of life, is fundamentally important. The promoter of a swimming event has the overall responsibility for Health & Safety, but due to its importance, all officials on pool side must also keep their eyes peeled to try to prevent any accidents occurring. Fair play is achieved by following the laws and technical rules of the various swimming bodies, which leads to consistency not only within a single event, but also across all events in a league or championship.

How do I go about becoming a Club official?

Each level of technical official consists of some training, a short examination and a practical evaluation of the skills required. Examples of the examinations and other helpful material can be found on the British Swimming Web site. If you are interested, have a look at the British Swimming site and speak to other members of your club about it. Most of the officials at an event are also approachable, so why not ask them about their experiences?

Remember, the officials are all volunteers who give up their time freely so that swimmers can enjoy their competition. Without them there would be no competitions.

If you are interested in officiating please contact clubsecwasc@gmail.com

Further information

Who owns Winsford ASC?

The members i.e. those people who pay the money, the parents.

Who runs the club?

The club is run through and decisions taken collectively through the main Club Committee. Membership of the committee is determined at the AGM usually held in February. The members of the committee can be found on the contacts page.

What is the role of the Gala Committee?

  • To organise and run Winsford ASC galas and time trials.
  • To provide support and communication to other parents who need advice on: which gala to enter, how to enter and what is needed for a gala (Hence this FAQ).

Swim 21: What is it?

Swim 21 is the ASA's Club Development model - a planning tool, based on the principles of Long Term Athlete Development, enabling clubs to help athletes, teachers, coaches and administrators to achieve their full potential. It focuses particularly on the needs of athletes - striving to provide them with the best possible support and environment.

Swim 21 Accreditation is a 'Quality mark'. It recognises nationally and regionally the clubs that are committed to providing safe, effective and quality services for the benefit of their members.

End Note from the Gala Committee

We hope you found this useful. If, however, you still have questions then please ask Debra Thomson (Lessons), Michael Secker (Transition), or your Parent Representatives: Julie Grindley (Juggernaut), Adam Parkinson (Development) or Sue Wright (Juggernauts) and they will be happy to help you further or will find out for you. Alternatively you can email clubsecwasc@gmail.com or winsford.asc.web@gmail.com.

Special thanks goes to Peter Coleman for the original draft of this document.

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