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.
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 ASA 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.
Leicester Diddy League
This league consists of three rounds normally held in April / May and June and normally involves a bus trip. This is one of the most important competitions in the clubs calendar.
LICENSED and GRADED Open Meets
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 the ASA (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.