Open Meets


  1. What are Open Meets & How to Enter
  2. Open Meet Levels, Qualifying Times
  3. Championship Meets, National Meets & Galas
  4. On the Day & Volunteers


1) What are Open Meets & How to Enter

Open Meets are run by Swimming Clubs and swimming Governing bodies and include the Wiltshire County Championships, South West Regional Championships and National Championships. Swimmers swim in the name of Marlborough Penguins but performance is not judged as a team. These competitions are licensed – which means that times achieved at these meets will appear on swimmers Rankings on the Swim England database. Individual Best Times | Swim England (

Different meets are aimed at different levels of swimmers, and most will have upper and/or lower limit times to ensure they get the right range of swimmer ability attending.  See “Open Meet Levels” for more information.

There is an entry fee charged per event. This is likely to range from £6 to £10, although can be more for 800m/1500m Freestyle events. Marlborough Penguins (like most clubs today) add a competition fee on top to help cover the cost of Coach & Team Manager passes that we have to purchase for every competition.

We regularly email out a list of meets the club is planning to attend, along with guidance as to who should be going to each meet, by squad. Swimmers should generally discuss with their coach which events to enter, PRIOR to submitting their entry. The best way to do this is to print off the schedule for the meet – highlight the races/events you have qualified for – and circle the races/events you would like to enter. The coach can then discuss and advise. This advice will depend on many factors (time of the season, what your short- and long-term goals are, what qualifying competitions are coming up, etc), therefore this advice and discussion with the swimmer is not only imperative but also educational for the swimmer.

For open meets, ages can either be as of 31st of December of the year of competition   OR   Age as of the date the Open meet finishes. The details of this will be in the conditions and entry forms for each competition. Generally you have to be 9 years old on the day of the competition to be able to enter.

The ‘Meet Pack’ that is sent with the invite tells you everything you need to know about that competition… when, where and the rules. This will include the qualifying times and when you need to have achieved these times.

When Marlborough Penguins email you an invite to enter an upcoming meet, use the link at the bottom of the email to enter. You will only see races for which the swimmer has the qualifying times. Make sure you reply by the deadline to enable the team to complete the Club entry on time. Sometimes competitions are oversubscribed, so wait until entry confirmation is received before paying entry fees and booking non-refundable accommodation.

Once the internal deadline for the meet is met, our Meet Coordinator prepares a “Hytek” file. This is a database file to be submitted to the Meet organisers that includes all the swimmers we are entering, what races they will enter and their entry times (PBs / Personal Bests).  Once submitted it is very unlikely that we will be able to change any entry times (and this is why it is important to observe our internal deadline).  Note – to ensure we are accepted for Meets we will sometimes set what appears to be early deadlines, this is because we have found many meets fill up very quickly, even if months in advance.

Sometimes meets are oversubscribed, and in these cases swimmers will be “scratched” (removed) from events. This is to ensure that the number of swims fits into the pool booking time. This is either done on a first come first serve basis or slowest swimmers are scratched. This is made clear in the meet pack.

At the end of the Meet, the organisers will send all Clubs that entered the times and results from the Meet.  These are uploaded into our ‘Swim Club Manager’ database so that any new PBs will be logged ready for entering subsequent meets.



To be allowed to dive from the blocks at a competition, a swimmer needs to achieve the Swim England Competitive Start Award. At Marlborough Penguins we are passionate about ensuring our swimmers can get the best, safe start to their races. If you’d like more information, please ask your coach.


Attending “unsupported” Open Meets

As a Club we cannot attend every Open Meet, we therefore select the ones we feel are best for our swimmers and different qualifying windows.  We are also mindful of not “over racing” our swimmers.  As parents, you can take your swimmers to Open Meets without the Club (“unsupported”).  You will need to check the Meet Pack for any conditions associated with this i.e. if a DBS or Safeguarding qualification is needed.  Please inform your coach if you are doing this so we can tailor your swimmers’ training.  After the meet, please email our Meet Coordinator your updated times so that these can be added to your profile.


2) Open Meet Levels, Qualifying Times & Short Course / Long Course


Open Meet Levels

Open meets may be one of four levels.


Level 4

Generally, a single-club competition, or an inter-club competition of no more than 8 invited clubs. Results can be used for entry to the County Championships and other licensed meets. Eg Marlborough Penguins Club Championships.


Level 3

A multi-club meet with upper limit and (sometimes) lower limit entry times. Upper limit times are the times that swimmers cannot be faster than to enter the meet. Lower limit times are the times that swimmers cannot be slower than to enter the meet. Can be short or long course.


Level 2

A higher level of competition, held short course for which minimum entry times are required (i.e. swimmers need to be faster than the minimum entry times to enter the meet).


Level 1

The highest level of open meet you can compete in domestically. These meets are swam long course (in a 50m pool). Results can be used for entry to all of the National Championships. Again these meets have minimum entry times (i.e. swimmers need to be faster than the minimum qualifying time to enter) and rules regarding entering with official licensed times are enforced strictly.


Qualifying Times

Competitions may have full qualifying times, or consideration times. Qualifying times may be specified as being achieved within a time frames (qualifying window), AND in certain level of licensed meet. E.g. Regional qualifying times need to be in a level 1 to 3 meet.

They may be set as short course OR long course times. A consideration time means if the swimmer achieves that time – they may be able to enter, however if the competition is oversubscribed the swimmer may get ‘scratched’ from the event. The competition entry pack will tell you the rules that will be applied e.g. first come first served; slowest entries will be removed etc.


Short or Long Course?

Short Course competitions are in 25m pools and Long Course are in 50m pools.

Swimming has a short course season (Autumn/Winter) corresponding with the County qualification window and a long course season corresponding with the Regional and National qualification windows (Spring/Summer). Short course benefits swimmers with good turns and underwater work and times tend to be faster. The Swim England website has a ‘time converter’ which you can use to convert long course times to short course and vice versa.


3) Championship Meets, National Meets & Galas

County & Regional Competitions

Every year, the County (Wiltshire) and the Region (South West) host Championship competitions.  This allows swimmers who qualify to race against the other top swimmers in the County or Region.  To enter these, you must achieve a qualifying time (or a consideration time) in a licensed meet within the qualifying window.

For Counties the qualifying window is usually from the beginning of June to mid-December. Counties are held in January/February each year.  Throughout the county qualifying window you will see lots of short course meets being run.

For the Regional Championships the qualifying window is the beginning of Sept to the beginning of April. The Regional Championships is a long course meet (50m) with higher qualification standards than the County Championships.  Therefore you tend to see lots of long course meets and higher level meets (Level 1) being offered within this qualifying window.


National Competitions

British Summer Championships:

The top 24 British swimmers in each event in each age group qualify for the British Summer Championships.  They are held at the end of July and for swimmers 12 years old +.  The qualifying window is typically March – May and times must be attained in Level 1 meets.


Home Nations Championships

Following the top 24 British swimmers ranked, the NEXT number of qualifiers from each home nation qualify for the respective home nations National Summer Meet. (This varies by Nation and is sometimes updated).  Wales and Scotland often run their meets as Open Meets as well, meaning additional swimmers can enter as long as they meet qualification times.


League Galas

As a Club, we take part in the Wiltshire Moonraker League along with other clubs in the county. These are different to open meet galas as we swim as a team, with selection based on current performance. These are a combination of team relay and individual races in 2 to 3 rounds over the year, with a final at the end of the year. These galas may or may not be licensed for rankings times.


4) On the Day & Volunteers

On the Day

If your swimmer cannot attend and needs to withdraw from their races please let the Coach responsible for the Meet know as soon as possible.  Fees will only be refunded by hosting Clubs if a medical note is provided.

We will email out warm up times and meeting times ahead of the meet.  Please make sure you arrive on time and sign in with a Team Manager.

Swimmers:  Please ensure you have the following items packed in your bags;

  1. A warm up costume and racing suit.
  2. Hat and goggles, plus spares of each.
  3. A towel and a T-shirt to wear poolside when not racing. If you are racing all day you may want to bring two towels.
  4. Warm clothes /footwear to wear when going to race marshalling
  5. A large water bottle and a few snacks (NO NUTS) . If racing all day, bring a healthy lunch to eat between sessions.

Swimmer Behaviour Poolside & In Changing Rooms;

  1. If you need to go to the changing room, you must ask a Team Manager before leaving poolside.
  2. Mobile Phones – Swimmers are not to use their mobile phones in the changing rooms.  Phones should be kept in bags or on poolside when using the changing rooms.  We would also like to encourage you to not use your mobile phones on poolside. We would like everyone to be supporting, encouraging and cheering each other on.

At the end of a session, please ensure you (if your swimmer is U14) / your swimmer has signed themselves out with the Team Manager.



Swim England has set supervision ratios at competitions based on the number of swimmers present. In addition to coaches poolside, we also need both female and male Team Managers who make sure the swimmers are safe and that they go down for their races on time. Team Manager is a one-off 2-3 hour online course. It’s a great way to help support your swimmer and the Club. If you’d like to join in the fun poolside let us know.

We also need more volunteers to train as Officials.  When the Club enters swimmers for an open meet, it is usually in the conditions that we supply a certain number of Officials per X swimmers. All training is provided (starting with timekeeping), and no prior knowledge of swimming and its rules is required – there is an initial online course, and then the rest is on the job training! Plus, if you are there the whole day you get lunch and can claim travel expenses.

Volunteering as a Team Manager or as an Official are both great ways to support the Club that doesn’t require an ‘every week’ commitment. You can sign up to attend individual sessions or a whole weekend – it’s entirely up to you. It’s not just for parents/carers either – anyone who’d like to get involved is welcome.