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Competitive swimming and Kimberley Swimming Club

It is clear that many children get involved with the competitive side of the club without either them or the parents fully understanding what goes on.

Let’s take a step back to the teaching end of the club first. Our initial objective is to teach children to swim from about the age of 5 years and many children and parents will be happy if they achieve this and have reached a standard where they have water confidence and reasonable swimming ability but as with any skill there will be some who have more ability than others, perhaps also with a more competitive streak.

In the competitive side of the club we try to cater for this progression. It is a vital part of the club as it retains both swimmers and parents for many more years and provides stability and continuity, which are necessary for the club to function.


How is the transition made from teaching to competitive swimming?

To answer this question it is probably best to first understand what we mean by competitive swimming.

As in most sports or indeed walks of life, the ability to do something may be followed by the desire to do it better and ultimately do it better than anyone else. Organized competition is the natural way to do this and provides the swimmer with a means of comparing their performance with that of others.


On an individual basis it allows the swimmer to compete against themselves and measure progression in terms of personal best times (PBs). It also allows the swimmer to measure progress against their peers in head to head races or by comparison of PBs.

Competition adds interest to the sport and is an entirely natural progression however it must be recognized that not everyone will want to compete and some will develop faster than others.


The first step:-

Preparation for competition, besides development of skills, develops discipline, commitment and perseverance as well as confidence and the ability to mix with others. At this level however the main objective must be enjoyment.


At Kimberley this preparation is mainly done in Lane 5 of the improver session with swimmers younger than 9 yrs old or in Lane 1 of the squad.

Most swimmers will not move from Lane 5 into the squad until they have at least reached the age of 8 and only then if the coaches think the swimmer is ready for the step up. Occasionally a swimmer may be put into squad when they are 7yrs old but only if the coaches think they are being held back by continuing to swim in Lane 5.


The second step:-

The swimmer is ready for his/her first gala/competition as soon as he/she can swim the distance required and feels confident enough to compete. The sooner the swimmer begins to compete, the sooner he/she will see improving times. A gala is a great teaching media and everyone is encouraged to improve his/her skills in preparation for the next one.   The weeks of practice before a gala and between galas are very important ones. It is during these practices that a swimmer perfects new skills and techniques and prepares for the next competition.  



Kimberley Swimming Club enters a variety of League and Friendly Galas throughout the year.

The events included in each gala are varying distances of the four competitive strokes: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle as well as the Individual Medley, which is a combination of these four strokes. Relays, consisting of four swimmers, highlight many galas.


Age Groups

All galas are now ‘age as at date of swim’ or age at the end of a series of league galas.


Each year we hold our own Club Championships usually over two Sundays in October, and are open to every member of the club. (There are certain criteria which may prevent a swimmer taking part)  Events are divided into age groups and trophies and medals are presented at our annual presentation evening in November.

We also hold our own Novice Gala in April every year. This may well be a swimmer's first taste of competitive swimming and prepares them for the other galas.


Inter-Club Galas & Leagues

Eight year olds can swim in inter club galas but they only swim in relays. In most competitions nine year olds can only do relays, however some inter club galas and the Notts Stage One Galas have individual events for this age group. Ten/Eleven/Twelve year olds normally swim in 50 meter individual races and relays, Thirteen years and above usually swim in 100 meter individual races and relays. We are affiliated to Nottingham ASA and Midland District ASA and the league competitions are overseen by them.



These are swimming meets organized by clubs throughout the country ‘open’ to other clubs. We try and enter Open Meets, which we think are suitable for our swimmers and once again we try and encourage our squad members to enter. To compete at Open Meets, swimmers must be registered individually with Swim England (see membership secretary for details). Information on forthcoming competitions, suitability, entry qualification times are usually on the clubs desk. License 1 meets are the highest level, with fastest qualifying times, License 2 and 3 are equivalent to old graded (B and C grade) meets. For these, swimmers will often have to have NOT swum faster than a qualifying time to be allowed to enter.

The next step:-

Nottingham County & Midland District Gala's

Annual championships are held at both County and District levels, these galas are subject to achieving qualifying times. County Championships are held between February and April and entry information is issued in the autumn of the previous year. District and National competitions take place over the remainder of the year. To enter the Midland District Championships qualifying times must be achieved in a designated competition, e.g. the County Championships. The Coaches will advise you if you think you are eligible to compete in these competitions. To compete at this level swimmers must be registered individually with Swim England (see membership secretary for full details).

Times achieved at the County Champs or district competitions are entered into The BAGcats scoring system, which the A.S.A uses to determine the overall winners for that competition. The scoring takes into account the swimmers overall development and their skills across all strokes.

This means the likely winner of the counties/district competition will have swum all four strokes. All young swimmers should be working well to achieve in BAGcat events.

What is Nottingham Nova?

Notts County Swim Squad started in 1973. It is part of the Notts County Council coaching programme and offers elite training opportunities to the best swimmers in the County.

Each year swimmers are invited to join the Swim Squad based on the results of the County Championships. On at least one other occasion during the year clubs are able to nominate appropriate swimmers to attend a trials session.

There are main Squads in 3 areas - Nottingham, Mansfield and Bassetlaw, and in addition a Development Squad in Newark & Sherwood. Details of the Squads and the guidelines for the criteria for selection are listed overleaf. The age guidelines now provide the opportunity for some swimmers (particularly girls) to be fast-tracked due to early maturation and exceptional training ability in line with LTAD and British swimming policy.

Selection and promotion for all squads is based on both competition times and talent identification by the coaches. Standards may vary each year dependant on the standard of the cohort of swimmers in the County in any one year. There is no “place for life” on the Swim Squad - membership may be discontinued if a swimmer does not maintain their standard or if they do not reach the required standard to be promoted to the next squad by the time they have reached the upper age level.

The Nottingham A Squad is Swim21 accredited as a Performance Squad, swimmers having access to 20+ hours per week training. The other A Squads and all the B Squads are Swim21 accredited as Competitive Development Squads.

The Development Squads have been introduced throughout the County. These are not the main Squads but rather an introduction to performance training. It is a talent ID opportunity and is to supplement their development process in their club programme.  These Squads cater for larger numbers, to give as many swimmers in the County as possible the Squad experience. Many therefore, will continue solely with their club programmes after their period on a Development Squad, with only some progressing straight on to the main squads. A number of swimmers who do not make the step up immediately onto the main Squads come back later after a further period of training with their club, and some swimmers who have never been on a Development Squad come straight into the main Squads.

Swimming is a training intensive sport, and in comparison with some other sports, requires a significant commitment to training at a relatively young age. If swimmers joining the Squads are to develop their potential they are expected to attend 90% of the sessions available to them.

Nova Centurion Swimming Club is the club based on the Notts County Swim Squad which acts as the competitive section of the Swim Squad. All members of the Swim Squad are required to join Nova Centurion as an additional club to their base club. All Swim England membership fees are payable through the base club.

Squad swimmers will continue to compete for their base clubs, as Nova does not compete in events within the County, but only at Regional (Midland) level and above, and in selected Licensed Meets. Nova does not compete in any swimming leagues.

For more information see the Nova Centurion SC section on the Notts ASA website


National Age Groups are exactly what they say - these championships attract the very top swimmers in the country who make the very tough qualifying times. They are normally held in July - often at Sheffield.

If you have any questions please don’t be afraid to approach us and ask them. We are here, to try to do the best for your child. We need your support to do this.

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