Competitions FAQ

Parents of children new to a competitive swimming club may find some of the terminology and forms confusing – many of your questions are answered here:

Time Trials, Open Meets and Galas - What are they???


Are held to enable all children to get times for all strokes over all distances. The Coaching staff will choose which strokes and distance are to be covered at each trial. These times can be used to build a profile of a swimmer’s improvement if licensed can be used for open meet entry times. On these occasions, your Hamble Aquatics T-shirt, shorts and a spare towel are handy for keeping warm while waiting to swim. These time trials are fun and much nicer if a parent can stay, watch and cheer all the children along.


These are licensed at different levels. Level 4 will qualify you to enter the Counties. Level 3 will qualify you to enter the Regional’s. Level 2 will qualify you to enter Regional and National Competition. If you have a time that qualifies within the consideration time, then you may enter (NB. Consideration times are set by the promoter of each competition, so may differ for each meet).  Forms for these events will be updated and found on the club website along with our fixtures list for the whole year. See Appendix A on how to complete entry forms and Appendix B for what to expect on the day.


These are by invitation only from the Head Coach, who picks the team. We may compete at all levels from Novice to Arena league. These are very competitive but all fun as you are working together as a team against the opposing clubs. These are great for team building and meeting other members from other squads. Team managers and club captains also have a part to play on poolside and at the end of the gala we sing our own Hamble song and maybe even pick up a trophy!!

Appendix A - Completing Competition /Time Trial Forms

Entry forms must be fully completed, including the swimmer’s DOB and ASA number. The ASA number can be found on the ASA Swim results website. Enter your swimmer’s surname and then scroll down until you find them and their ASA number.

It is the responsibility of the parent/swimmer to ensure correct times are entered on the form. If you are unsure of your swimmer’s recent times, they can be found on the Individual Best Times on the ASA Rankings Page. Either enter the swimmer’s ASA number or their surname. The committee will accept no responsibility for incorrect times being entered by parents/swimmers that result in the rejection of the entry and/or losing any entry fees.

For Level 3 and Level 4 competitions, swimmers are allowed to enter “NT” (no time) if they do not have an entry time and if accepted by the organisers, the swim may be accepted as a time trial.  However, this is not the case for Level 1 and Level 2 competitions where there is normally an upper cut-off time and the swimmer has to be faster than the times specified.  In addition, times must have been achieved from previously licensed meet.

Always read the Promotions Conditions, as these give you the full qualifying criteria that your swimmer has to meet – this information will be emailed to you along with the entry form. There are many more conditions of entry than just the qualifying time, for example, a qualifying window (dates when the qualification time must have been achieved between), the age of swimmer (either at end of year or on last day of competition) as examples.

The times required on the forms may be specified as either Long Course (50m pool) or Short Course (25m pool). Where your swimmer only has a Short Course time and a Long Course time is required these can be converted on the Pullbuoy website.  The site will also convert Long to Short course times.

Do ensure that you look at the competition schedule (found with the competition information) to ascertain which races are in which sessions over the competition weekend.

All entry forms must be handed to the Competitions Secretary, Head Coach or another member of the committee by the closing date specified on the form. Unfortunately, late entries cannot be accepted.

The correct entry fee must be paid at the time you submit your entry form – please ensure that you include the club’s admin fee. Payment can be made either via cheque payable to Hamble Aquatics Swim Team (with your swimmer’s and the competition names printed on the reverse or directly into our bank account with the reference as supplied on the competition entry form:

Barclays Bank

Sort Code: 20-97-01

Account Number: 93678091

If you are unsure about completing an entry form for the first time, please do speak to ask a member of the committee for any assistance or follow our help sheet

In the unlikely and rare event that your swimmer is unable to attend on the day owing to sickness, please ensure that the attending coach or another member of the committee is notified prior to the start to ensure that the club is not fined for empty swim lanes.

Appendix B - What to Expect at the Competition…

Before the competition, it may be prudent to remind yourself which events you’ve entered and in which sessions, it can be a potentially long day at the pool. Make sure that both you and your swimmer have enough with you to drink (remember athletes perform better when hydrated) and ensure you’ve planned lunch / snacks etc. as the cost of refreshments purchased on the day can add up!

Please ensure that you arrive poolside at the time specified, usually half an hour before warmup. Be aware that there is a “warm up” swim at the beginning of each of the day’s sessions, and your swimmer will be expected to swim in each of these if they are attending both sessions.

On arriving, the swimmer should change into their swimwear and where available place their possessions in a working locker. There is minimal space poolside and so a swimmer should only take the essentials with them, i.e., swim hat, goggles, towel, clothes to keep warm (club tracksuits, shorts and T-shirt), snack and plenty to drink.

The swimmers need to sit with the coaches so that they are ready for their races and the coach will then be able to prepare them for the race. In addition, after each race the swimmer must return to their coach to receive feedback. This should be done before they see their parents!

Remember, competitions are about achieving to the best of a swimmer’s ability, but more importantly they are about having fun!

Parents/Guardians can watch the swimming from the viewing gallery, there will often be a long queue to get in! There will be an entry fee and on some occasions you may be charged extra for a programme (these are sometimes made available to print at home prior to the competition). Parent/Guardians are reminded that they are there to SUPPORT their children, not to provide feedback or judgement on their swims.

Also, it may be useful to bring a highlighter pen so you can mark all their races and some pens to record times – these will come in handy for the next competition entry form!

Appendix C - Glossary of Terms

ASA: Amateur Swimming Association, the governing body of British swimming.

Beep: The starting sound made from an electronic timing system.

Blocks: The starting platforms which are located behind each lane.

Club Championship: A swimming competition open to all members of the club regardless of their age or experience.

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.

DNC: Did not compete.

DQ: Disqualified: The swimmers performance in an event is not counted because they breached the rules.

Entry Fees: The amount per event a swimmer or relay is charged. This varies depending on the type of meet.

Flags: The flags that are suspended over the width of each end of the pool. These are designed to assist backstroke swimmers to determine how far away the end of the pool is.

HDW: Heat declares winner.

Heats: When an event has too many swimmers to allow them to all compete at the same time. The swimmers are split into heats and then the overall results for the event are given after all heats of the event are finished.

IM: Individual Medley: The swimmer uses all four competitive strokes in the order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.

Marks: The command to take your starting position.

Official: A judge on the poolside. The judges have a variety of roles, including an official starter and also lane judges monitor the swimmer’s strokes, turns and finishes.

PB: Personal Best: The best time a swimmer has done so far in each stroke and distance.

Qualifying Time: Times published times necessary to enter most Competitions.

Set: Swim workouts are divided up into sets of swims in a particular stroke, style, and distance, such as kick sets, pull sets, Distance sets, sprint sets, IM sets, etc.

Split Time: Split times are registered every 25 or 50 metres depending upon the distance of the race and are used to determine if the swimmer is swimming at the correct pace.

Whipping Area: A room or area on or near the pool side for the swimmers to gather before they compete in a race.

Nutrition Guide for Swimmers
Swimming events can last anything from 20 seconds to 15 minutes.  Swimming is, therefore, a highly anaerobic sport, with aerobic metabolism becoming more important as the race distance increases.  Although each event may be brief, swim meets are usually held over one full day or the weekend, with swimmers typically competing in heats in the mornings and finals in the evening, or many events are heat declared winners.

In most meets, swimmers may enter a large number of events and be required to swim numbers of times in one day with 20 minutes to several hours between races.  So the most important thing to consider is TIMING – what you can eat and drink and at what times.

Here are some frequently asked questions and top tips:

So what should I eat during the week leading up to the Meet?

  1. Ensure a high-carbohydrate eating plan
  2. Include more rice and pasta. About 70% of the calories in your diet should come from carbohydrates leading up to the event.  At least 55%!
  3. Include nutritious carbohydrate snacks in between meals. Cereal bars are excellent.  They are high in carbohydrates and are easy to put in your packed lunch.
  4. Eating the right balance of increased carbohydrate and less fat is the key.


Why is this the case?

  1. This is a “mini-nutrition period” that occurs in the 2 – 3 hours before the start of a Meet and is usually breakfast. Most swimmers don’t appreciate the exact role of the pre-event meal and eat as many carbohydrates as possible to top-up energy stores.  However, this has little effect on increasing muscle glycogen levels.
  2. To be able to perform well you usually need the stores of glycogen in your muscles to be full. It is the foods eaten during the week leading up to the Meet that establish the muscle glycogen levels.  By Meet day, glycogen levels are mostly “set” and there is little that you can do to increase them in the hours before the competition
  3. Eat this meal about 2 -3 hours before the warm-up. This is the ideal but it might be hard when you have to warm-up at 0830!
  4. This meal should top-up your blood sugar levels after the night;s rest.
  5. The meal should not have to be large but should fill you up for the next few hours.
  6. High-carbohydrate foods are the best options, so bread, cereals, fruit, pasta and rice, although you probably won’t want to eat pasta for breakfast!
  7. Ensure the meal is low fat. Fat takes too long to digest.
  8. Good drinks to have are juice, or simply water.
  9. Drink about 500 – 1000ml of water about 1 hour before the warm-up to “top up” your hydration levels.
  10. Avoid caffeine in cola drinks, coffee, chocolate and tea because it dehydrates you.
  11. Practice with your pre-event meal in the days prior to the Meet to fine tune what you will be eating. This will allow you to know whether it fills your up enough and whether it tastes good!

What can I have for breakfast?

Do eat the following:

  1. Cereals like oatmeal or oat bran
  2. Whole grain or high fibre cereals
  3. Bread like toast or bagels
  4. Milk preferably skimmed or low fat
  5. Fresh fruit and fruit juices
  6. One egg with toast
  7. Choose fat-free toppings like syrup and jams as alternatives to butter

Don’t eat…

  1. A full fry-up of sausage, ham or bacon
  2. Too many eggs, concentrate more on having carbohydrates rather than protein.
  3. High sugar children’s cereal. They will give you a quick fix
  4. Have fast food breakfast sandwiches. They contain too much fat which takes longer to digest.  This will make you feel “stuffed” and lazy in the pool.
  5. Too much butter or margarine

And most importantly… Don’t skip breakfast!!  Swimming on an empty stomach will make you feel like you have no energy.

What do I need to eat and drink after the Warm-Up?

These simple guidelines will guide you through recovery after the warm-up and prepare you for the heats

  1. Replace fluids immediately after the warm-up
  2. Fill your drinks bottle with water (approximately 500ml) and drink all of it
  3. If there is more than 1 hour between the warm-up and your first heat, try to eat a little. Something like a banana will stop you feeling hungry and give you more energy
  4. The best approach is to eat a little and often during the day in between events.
  5. Eating too much at once can make you feel heavy and lethargic

What should I be drinking in between events?

  1. Right before an event it is best not to snack or drink. You don’t want to start swimming with a stomach full of anything
  2. In longer breaks of at least 90 minutes have something to eat as well as some fluids
  3. The indoor pool environment is humid and dehydrating, so DRINK, DRINK DRINK!

Keep drinking throughout the day to keep your blood and energy pumping.  It is recommended to drink about 500ml every hour, however, due to the warm environment this may be more

  1. Do not wait until you are thirsty to start drinking. Once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
  2. Important fact! 2% dehydration leads to as much as a 10-20% decrease in performance!

What should I be eating in between events?

  1. Foods that are high in complex carbohydrates are easier to digest and empty from the stomach faster, which is important because not only do you want to swim on a relatively empty stomach, you also want the foods you eat to be efficiently converted to energy.
  2. Cereals, pasta, bagels, baked potatoes and sandwiches are good carbohydrate sources that are easily digested and converted into glucose.
  3. If there is a longer break (a few hours) eat a carbohydrate meal. A good idea is to have pre-cooked pasta in your lunch bag.
  4. Take your own foods and drinks with you
  5. Don’t rely on the sweet machines!
  6. A cold pack and thermos food flask help keep food and drinks cold which aids in absorption and is better on a humid poolside

Which snack can I have between events?

If there are 1 – 2 hour breaks, these are good snacks

  1. Fruits or fruit salad as these store easily in your bag
  2. Bananas – these are the best fruit as they are high in carbohydrate
  3. A small sandwich with a light filling – why not try a banana sandwich!
  4. Fruit buns like hot-cross buns or raisin bread
  5. Rice cakes, topped with honey, jam or banana
  6. Jam or honey sandwiches
  7. Plain crackers with jam
  8. Jelly
  9. Low-fat yoghurt

What can I eat when I have a long time between events?

Do eat…

  1. Whole grain bread
  2. Lean meats like turkey or chicken
  3. A baked potato with a light topping like baked beans or tuna
  4. Pasta with a stir-in sauce but try to avoid fatty creamy sauces
  5. Good quality soups and stews

Don’t eat…

  1. Fast food meals like burgers as these are high in fat and serve minimal nutritional quality for your next race
  2. Fried foods like fish and chips
  3. Too much dressing like mayonnaise or tomato ketchup
  4. Fatty, salty luncheon meats
  5. Skip the meal altogether!

How can I recover after the Competition?

  1. Have something to drink and eat immediately after your last swim
  2. Avoid the “fast food” chains on the way home – the high-fat foods will delay recovery
  3. The worst thing you can do is wait a couple of hours and then have a little snack. This will not be sufficient especially if you have an event the next day
  4. A high carbohydrate meal with some protein is best
  5. Protein will repair muscles overnight and works best when consumed with carbohydrates

What constitutes a carbohydrate and protein meal?

  1. Spaghetti Bolognese
  2. Chilli con Carne
  3. Chicken with potatoes
  4. Jacket potato with tuna

What do I eat if I have events the next day?

Do eat…

  1. Pasta dishes. Spaghetti Bolognese is a good all round meal as it contains carbohydrates, proteins and fats
  2. Rice dishes
  3. Home-made pizza. Start with a plain pizza base, add some tomato puree and a little cheese, and then experiment with your topping!
  4. Fish as this is high in protein. Boiled fish is best with some vegetables
  5. Have soups with some bread to dip in
  6. A baked potato with a low-fat topping
  7. Fresh fruit, yoghurt or jelly for dessert

Don’t eat…

  1. Deep fried meals like sausages, chips and beans
  2. A microwave meal Most contain inadequate sources of energy
  3. High-fat meals like hot dogs and burgers


Week commencing Monday 19th August 2019:

Get Started

To join one of our competitive squads your child will need to attend an assessment session where we assess their swimming ability. It also gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about joining a squad.