We currently compete in three leagues: Micro league, North Lancs League and Arena league. In 2016 we will be in the premier division for MicroLeague North West and the North Lancs League. For Arena, we currently partner Blackpool Aquatics, running joint teams, one in the premier division and one in Division 1. This is a considerable achievement for a small club of only 220 swimmers. A few changes may be made to teams as the season progresses and the team manager will approach each individual swimmer before a competition. Swimmers and parents must read the notice boards for team fixtures and let us know in good time if they are going to be unavailable.
WE EXPECT OUR SWIMMERS TO MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO BE AVAILABLE TO COMPETE IN OUR TEAMS, IF SELECTED, FROM THE AGE OF 9YRS.
Absence of a single swimmer can render the efforts of team mates pointless in more than one sense. If that swimmer would form part of a relay, for example, in order that the remaining swimmers can compete, we may have to enter a swimmer of the wrong age group and declare the change, so the relay would not gain any points; it can make a difference between success and failure for the entire team.
We compete in the Micro League of the North West against Lancashire clubs including Preston, Southport, Pioneer 79, Leyland, Garston, Everton and Blackpool Aquatics. There is a rule of 4’s: 4 age groups (9-12 yr.) competing in 4 galas, with 4 teams in each Gala. As in all team competitions there is a combination of individual and relay races. In the Micro-League the relays are 25m legs and individuals races are 50m, except for the 9 year olds who swim 25m individual events. The galas take place between February and July following which, depending on the points total and upon which division they are already in, teams may be involved in a promotion/relegation swim off’s or grand final in early autumn, to determine the Champion Team. The Micro-League galas are well supported and hence exciting and can be very noisy; parents will find that ear plugs for the final event of each gala, the cannon, in which the best free-styler of each age group form a relay, are an essential piece of equipment!
North Lancs League
This is a league containing many of the clubs that we meet in the Micro league but the age grouping is wider (12 and under, 14 and under and Open Age). There are four galas between February and June with 4 teams in each gala. A Trophy is presented at the North Lancs Championships in September to the winning club, but the NLL is not part of a National competition and goes no further.
This is a highly organised Nation-wide inter-club competition, involving over 500 clubs competing in three divisions. There are three galas, which take place on the same dates between October and December in each region, with four age categories, 11 and under, 13 and under, 15 and under and Open age, and with six teams competing in each gala. Our region extends from Carlisle in the north to North Staffordshire and North Wales in the south. Individual swims for the two older age groups are 100m but for the younger ones they are 50m as are the relay legs. For the final gala the division is split into a top, middle and bottom half depending on aggregated points scored in the first two galas, which sets up a relegation/promotion battle and determines the premier division champions for each area. These champions go on to compete in a prestigious National Arena League final from which, effectively, the top club in Britain emerges victorious.
Some clubs organise an annual or one-off gala themselves to which they invite teams from other clubs to compete. The club’s whose invitations we have accepted in the past few years has been Ulverston, Warrington and Preston.
What are the Age Groups?
Another term for the North Lancs Age Group competition now held at Palatine, Blackpool on two weekends, usually in the first two months of the year. Each area of the country has it’s own Age Groups’ competition and the events are standard throughout. This is a competition for individuals aged 9 yrs to Open.
Open meets are for swimmers to compete in as individuals though at some you may find team (relay) events. The term “open” does not denote the age group, but simply means there is no restriction as to who may enter, so long as they are registered with the ASA or an approved similar organisation abroad. Open meets are organised by individual swimming clubs and there is considerable variety in events offered. For example some may be sprint meets (50m races) and some distance meets (200m to 1500m), but a programme of 100m, 200m and 400m events, with 50m for selected age groups, is the most usual format. Age groups may be anything from 9yrs to open age and meets may last from one to 3 days. All open meets now have the entry age as age on the last day of the competition. Medals are usually awarded but sometimes trophies or even money (vouchers). There is often a top boy and top girl prize too and a top competing club. Open meets are now licensed for competition at one of four levels. Levels1, 2 and 3:
Level 3 – open meets have upper limit qualifying times i.e. if you’ve swum faster than the stated time your entry will be rejected, and if you swim faster than the stated time on the day, you won’t get a medal you’ll get a “speeding ticket” instead. Level 3 competitions are designed to encourage all swimmers to compete, and to stop swimmers of a higher ability winning absolutely every gala.
Level 2: These competitions have a lower qualifying time that the swimmer must achieve but there is also a higher cut off time, and the entry time must fall between the two times.
Level 1: High standards with qualifying times, which swimmers must have achieved, and at a Licensed Meet between set dates (usually 6 to 9 months prior to the competition closing date)
National Age Groups
Level 1 and 2 licensed meets are designated for entry into the National Age Groups competition, which takes place at Ponds Forge, Sheffield in August. That is to say, only times that are achieved in a level 1 or 2 licensed meet will be accepted as a qualification to compete. The lowest entry age for National Age Groups is 11(age on the day of competition) and qualifying times are extremely hard to achieve. In fact, to put it in perspective, most of the 1600 or so ASA registered clubs in Britain will never have had a NAG qualifying swimmer, and many others will only have one every few years. In 2013, our most successful year to date for NAG entries, we had 4 Otters competing.
No matter what your ability, you are advised to enter the club galas. These are held twice a year, usually in March and November. All four strokes and Individual Medley are covered over the year, with three events for each age group per gala. The galas are a traditional part of the club and all swimmers are encouraged to take part.