What are the different types of swimming events?

Swimming Competitions

Well done to your swimmer for making it into the competitive squad! Once the coach thinks they are ready, you will receive an invitation via Swim Club Manager for your swimmer to compete in their first competition.

What types of competitions will your swimmer be invited to?

Open meet? Level 3? League? Gala? What’s the difference and why is it important? It can be very confusing and a bit overwhelming when your swimmer first starts out in competitive swimming – especially when it seems that the same thing happens at every event, despite every event having a different name or title. Hopefully this page will explain everything you need to know, but if you need more help – please let us know.

Long Course & Short Course

Long Course 

Races take place in a 50m pool with the minimum race distance being 50m (so there will be no half length races at these events) 

 Short Course 

Races take place in a 25m pool or in a pool with a barrier set at 25m, so every length is 25m. For reference, Sharley Park is a 25m (short course) pool

Open meets & Galas

Open Meets 

 An open meet is where the swimmer decides on which events to enter. There is usually a fee to enter each race. 


These are usually where swimmers are selected by the coaching team to represent the club. The swimmer could be asked to represent Rykneld either in an individual event or relay or both. There is no race entry fee for these events. 

 IMPORTANT INFO ABOUT GALAS: The coaches are usually under strict conditions on how many swimmers they are allowed to take and how many events an individual swimmer can compete in. If your swimmer is selected for one gala, they may not be selected for the next as the coaches will rotate the swimming roster to ensure all our swimmers get the opportunity to represent Rykneld.

Licenced & Unlicensed

Both licenced and unlicensed competitions fall under the “Open Meet” category.

Licenced Meet 

 These events will have met conditions put in place by Swim England. These conditions will be such things as how many officials will be present and how the races can be run. These conditions need to be in place as the times that the swimmers achieve at these events will be counted as “official” times and be logged on British Swimming.

 There are four types of licenced meet:

 Level 4 

 A Level 4 meet is usually a “Rykneld Only” event. They tend not to be against other teams and do not have qualifying/entry times.  A level 4 event is most swimmers’ first experience of a meet and also the first opportunity they will have to set an official time. This official time can then be used to enter the other levels of swim meet. 

 Level 3

 This level event is a development opportunity for swimmers. They can be held over short or long course and will have entry times. Because this level is for the development of swimmers, there will also be an upper limit entry time (so if your swimmer has an official time above the upper limit, they will not be able to enter that event). If a swimmer achieves a time above the upper limit while competing in these events, they will not be eligible for a medal but they will receive a speeding ticket – these speeding tickets are much more sought after than the winners medals and the swimmers have a great time trying to achieve this accolade 

Level 2 

 Level 2 events are short course and have qualifying entry times but no upper limit. The times achieved at these meets can then be used to enter regional and national swimming events.   

 Level 1 

 These events are the same as level 2 but take place in a long course pool. 

 Unlicensed Meets 

 These meets do not have to follow Swim England criteria and the times set at these meets are not official times.