Harpenden Swimming Club is a competitive swimming club, and we expect all of our members to be competing on a regular basis in open meets, club galas and leagues as appropriate. A large percentage of our swimmers make County Championships every year, and we also have swimmers making East Region Championships on a regular basis. Below is a brief explanation of each type of competition.

skip to: Club Champs - Team Gala - Open Meets - Herts League - Daplyn - Counties - Regionals - Nationals



Harpenden currently hold two Club Championships during the competition year; 200m Champs and Sprint Champs. These take place in May and January respectively. Swimmers are encouraged to enter every event that they are eligible for as these competitions provide a fun, low key environment in which to race events that they would not normally enter. There are trophies for the top swimmer in each age group, medals for the top three swimmers in each event, and a certificate for every swimmer who participates. The age at date for these Championships is 31st December and they are licensed, allowing entry to the Hertfordshire ASA County Championships.


The club also holds and annual Team Gala in December. Upon joining the club each swimmer is allocated to one of three teams, who then battle it out to win the coveted Team Gala trophy and bragging rights for the year. This is a fun gala, with team colours, Christmas hats and a happy atmosphere! The three teams are named after famous swimmers:


  • Team Phelps (Red) - named after Michael Phelps, 22x Olympic medallist (18 golds) and multiple world record holder. Best know for butterfly.

  • Team Jones (Yellow) - named after Leisel Jones, 9x Olympic medallist and former world record holder. Best known for breaststroke.

  • Team Manaudou (Blue) - named after Laure Manaudou, 3x Olympic medallist and France's first ever female swimming Olympic gold medallist. Best known for distance freestyle. Recently, the name Manaudou is better known for her younger brother, Florent Manaudou, who claimed gold in the 50m freestyle in London.



Open meets are the most common form of competition for our swimmers. They are events that are put on by swimming clubs with a range of different events and age groups. Other clubs are then invited to enter their swimmers. All open meets are slightly different as the host club can chose the format.

There are different levels of open meets that target different groups of swimmers. Meets can either be licensed or not licensed. In order to qualify for County Championships and higher, times must have been achieved at licensed meets. Non-licensed meets are often novice meets and these are good for swimmers who are just starting out.

There are 4 levels to licensing. Level 4 is the lowest level of licensing and are targetted at people looking to qualify for County Championships and level 3 meets. Our club champs are licensed at level 4. Most other level 4 meets will have 'no faster than' times in order to ensure the competition is of the right level. Level 3 meets are aimed at those attempting to qualify for County and Regional Championships and higher level meets. These meets usually have both qualifying times (you must be of certain standard to enter) and 'no faster than' times, although these are at the discretion of the host club. Level 2 meets are held in 25m (short course) pools and have a minimum qualification time set by the ASA. Level 1 meets are held in 50m (long course) pools and are also subject to ASA minimum qualification times. These two levels are aimed at swimmers looking for Regional and National times.

Harpenden swimmers tend to compete in Level 3 and 4 open meets, although in the higher squads swimmers are sometimes sent to higher level meets.


Galas provide the swimmers with an opportunity to race as part of a team. The club participates in the Hertfordshire Swimming Leagues, sending teams to both Hertfordshire Major League and Hertfordshire Peanuts (Junior) League. We also enter teams into the Hertfordshire ASA Daplyn Trophies.


The Hertfordshire Swimming Leagues run in a gala format where you are swimming for Harpenden against other clubs from the county. There are 12 teams in the top two divisions, making 2 6-team galas per round. The overall winners of each gala on the night get 6 league points, down to 6th place who get 1. The league runs over three rounds. The first round is a random draw, although the top 4 teams are seeded and are there are two in each gala. The second round is drawn as follows.

Gala 1 Results: A - 1st, B - 2nd, C - 3rd, D - 4th, E - 5th, F - 6th
Gala 2 Results: Z - 1st, Y - 2nd, X - 3rd, W - 4th, V - 5th, U - 6th

The above are the results of the two galas of round 1. In the second round, the odd placed teams of gala 1 race the even placed teams of gala 2, and vica versa. So here, round 2 gala 1 would be between teams A, Y, C, W, E & U and round 2 gala 2 would be between teams Z, B, X, D, V & F. The third round is defined by league points after the first 2 rounds, with the top 6 in the league racing each other, and the bottom 6.

Each League has 4 age groups, with Major League having under 12, under 14, under 16 and Open and Peanuts League having 9, under 11, under 12 and under 13. In each age group there are 4 individual events (one of each stroke), a medley relay and a freestyle relay. A swimmer can only do 2 individual events in their age group. The last event of the night is the squadron relay; an 8 man freestyle relay with a boy and a girl from each age group.  A swimmer can therefore have a maximum of 5 events in their own age group, 2 individuals, 2 relays and the squadron. A swimmer can however be asked to 'swim up' an age group, covering individuals/relays as required. In Divisions 1 & 2 the top team wins the league, and the bottom 2 get relegated. In Division 3 the top 2 teams get promoted to Division 2.

Swimmers cannot enter for the leagues, they are called up by the club as part of the team but are expected to swim when called upon. For more information on the Hertfordshire Swimming Leagues please visit their website here.


The Daplyn Trophy is an event run by Hertfordshire ASA in December. This is a team gala for under 14s. There is girls section and a boys section, and you can enter a maximum of 2 teams into each section.

There is a 50m individual event in each stroke, a 100m IM individual and two relays; a 4x50m medley relay and a 4x50m freestyle relay. A swimmer can only do one individual event, but can swim in both relays, so the maximum number of events is 3. This means that each team is usually comprised of 5 swimmers, one for each individual, with the five of them covering the 2 relays.

Dependent on the the number of teams there can be more than one heat of each event and so it is all about time rather than position in the heat (i.e. you can win your heat by half a length but still be beaten by everyone in the next heat). You are scored on where you come overall in each event. From 2014 you could also score bonus points for skill work in the race; every time you travel over 10m underwater from a start or turn you earn an extra 3 points. Team with the most points overall wins.  In 2010 Harpenden won the boys section of the Daplyn Trophy, and in 2014 we won the girls section. Swimmers cannot enter for the Daplyn, they are called up by the club as part of the team but are expected to swim when called upon.For more information on the Daplyn Trophy, visit the Herts ASA website here.


Championships are the higher levels of competition. Harpenden compete in the Hertfordshire County Championships, the ASA East Region Championships and the National Championships. It is normal for a swimmer to progress slowly through these levels of competition.


County Championships are held in January for swimmers aged 10 and over. This is the key competition in the year for many of our swimmers. This is a short course championships, and the event runs over a number of weekends. In order to compete the swimmers must reach the qualifying standards set by the county. These times must be achieved at licensed competitions.


There are two Regional Championships in the year. The ASA East Region Winter Championships are a short course open championships held in December for which qualifying standards must be achieved. The times must be achieved at licensed competitions. The ASA East Region Championships are held in May as a long course championships for swimmers aged 11 and over. Again, qualifying standards must be achieved in order to enter the competition. Times for the Regional Championships must be swum at licensed open meets of Level 3 or above.


There are a number of National Championships. In March there are the British Championships, a long course open championships for which qualifying standards must be achieved at licensed competitions. In July there are the British Summer Championships, which are a long course championships for swimmers aged 12 and over. The top 24 swimmers in each age group in each event based on the British Rankings database are invited to this competition. In August there are the British National Championships, a long course championships for swimmers aged 12 and over. This is a home nations championships, so for the English Championships the 25th-48th ranked swimmers will be invited to race based on the British Rankings database.


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