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Club Info: First Meet Information

A swimmer's first meet with Dartes is often a daunting experience. All at once you're faced with a huge and unfamiliar swimming pool complex, crowds of anxious swimmers and parents from all over the country, a long car journey, and an early morning start. To top it all off, you probably don't know many of your team mates either.

To help calm your nerves (and more importantly, those of your parents) and prepare you all for the day/weekend ahead, this document highlights everything you need to know to arrive in confidence.

Information for Swim Meets

Which competitions to enter

Refer to the Competition Calendar. The meets swimmers should attend depend on their age and ability to achieve the qualifying standard for the particular meet.

There are two different types of meet entry-time descriptions: qualifying times and cut off times.

Meets are also licensed at different levels. The level dictates the calibre of competitor expected to take part and the quality of officiating at that meet.

You should only ever do the meets found on our calendar that are marked as suitable for your squad. Don't be tempted to add in more of your own - too many meets is damaging for a young swimmer's development. Our calendar is planned to give you exactly what you need to excel.

Which events to enter at a competition

Over the course of each season, you should attempt to race every event at least once. It is important to keep a time on British Swimming's ranking system so that meet organisers can verify your entry time. Those times are no longer considered valid once 12 months has elapsed. The table below shows the events that should be performed annually. Although some events may seem daunting, and many won't be a young swimmer's favourite, under 16s should be competing in everything each season.

StrokeDistancesEven These
Backstroke50m, 100m, 200m
Breaststroke50m, 100m, 200m
Butterfly50m, 100m200m
Freestyle50m, 100m, 200m400m, 800m, 1500m
IM50m, 100m, 200m400m

When entering a competition it is important to consider the demands on the athlete over the course of the day. Each session will begin with a warm up (1250m), and each race will be followed by a swim down (900m and about 20mins). Plan your entries to allow enough time to squeeze in those swim downs. The objective is to perform well in each event, not to squeeze in as much as possible. Overloading your weekend will achieve nothing more than exhaustion, poor performances, and frustration.

You should aim to race no more than 300m per session across 2 events, or a single 400m event. If racing the 800m or 1500m it's worth limiting yourself to only that race that day. Sometimes it may be necesssary to go slightly above that, in which case balance it in a later session by doing less. Always make sure there is enough time to swim down between races!

100m + 200m2300mA standard session
200m + 200m2400mA little too much
100m + 100m + 100m3300mFar too much
100m + 100m2200mA good choice
400m + 50m2450mA little too much
400m + 100m2500mFar too much
200m + 50m2250mFilling a gap with a 50m
100m + 50m2150mA bit wasteful
50m + 50m + 50m3150mA waste of a session
400m1400mPerfect focus on the 400m

There are exceptions to those rules if the objective demands it. Setting "fast enough" times in multiple events to qualify for Championship finals for instance, or "posting any time" to the rankings database to allow entry to a meet later in the season. In the latter case, some would even swim an 800m followed by a 1500m at Animal Trials if they were confident of easily achieving a Yorkshire qualifying time in both. In general though, the rules above are what you should follow.

At the younger ages, focus should be on 200m upwards. Always try to include a 400m event across the weekend, and plan the rest of the weekend around 200m races. Any gaps left by that strategy are easily filled by 100m events. You will always find somewhere to squeeze in the 50m sprints regularly enough, but these should never be a priority.

1800 Fc / 1500 FcWhenever the opportunity arises
2400 Fc / 400 IM1-2 per weekend meet
3200 Any Stroke2-4 per weekend meet
4100 Any StrokeFill the gaps with these.
550 Any StrokeCan be squeezed in where necessary.

Obviously everyone has their favourite events. It's a good idea to mix a prefered race with a weaker one to keep the athlete focused. A big PB is often the prize for competing in an event that hasn't been performed in a while, so those are good to include too.

Meet Schedule and Events on Offer

Each meet will offer a different selection of events spread across the weeekend. They don't all offer everything. The meet information pack will show you what's on offer and state the entry fees and the date used for calculating a swimmer's age. It will also show an entry deadline, but ignore that one - our own deadline should be observed instead (see example calendar entry below).

The meet information pack will be linked to via our Competition Calendar. An example meet from that calendar is shown below. Click the blue "i+" information icon to expand the meet details on the calendar and find a link to the pack.

P23KuHull Regional QualifierD
P4Ennerdale Leisure Centre, Hull25
P5Date: 1-3 Oct 2021Deadline: 06 Aug 2021i+

Phase 3-5

Use this as an opportunity to perform events other than 50m sprints (use September Sprints for those). Full meet details can be found on the Information Pack.

When submitting your entries (using our online entry form) you should check which events the meet offers (shown on the information pack) and ONLY enter those events. You'll need to enter a time for the events you wish to enter (entry times are discussed elsewhere in this document).

You should also look for the "Age as at Xth Month Year" and work out how old your child will be on that date. That will determine which age they swim as at that meet. Some will be age at end of year (i.e. 31st Dec). Many will be age on last day of the meet (so in the example above, the 3rd Oct). A few qualifying events will take the same date as the event they are providing qualifying opportunities for. The latter may look like a random date, but there are reasons for doing that.

As stated above, the meet's official closing date should be ignored. Our internal entry deadline takes into account such things as time required to process entries and how quickly the meet is likely to fill up and close. Be sure to submit your entries before 5pm on the date specified as our deadline. There is a lot of work that goes into processing meet entries, so please obey our deadlines.

Entry Times

When submitting entries via our online entry form), you specify which events to enter by adding a time in the appropriate box. Only enter those events that the meet information pack offers. Don't rely on our Competition Secretary knowing your times, that adds a lot of unnecessary work to their job.

Once you've been competing for a while, tracking PBs is a normal thing. You can find all of your licensed swim times via British Swimming's rankings system When you're first starting out though, you may only have times from feeder club galas (that aren't licensed) or time trials, or maybe nothing at all. In such cases, you'll only be eligible for Level 3 meets until you have times on the rankings system.

If you don't have a time, talk to your coach in plenty of time and they may give you a time trial or provide an estimated time for you to use.

Long Course versus Short Course

Inexperienced swimmers tend to consider long course (50m pool) and short course (25m pool) times as interchangeable. They are not, they're as different as apples and oranges. You should have a list of long course PBs and short course PBs and never compare the two.

The bigger the distance, the more those times diverge. Never compare them as equivalents or there will be tears!

Converting Times

For meet entry purposes it is common to "convert" a short course time to long course (and vice versa), but the result is an estimate only and not something to compare PBs with.

You should use a conversion tool similar to the one provided by
- Time Conversion

Similarly you can estimate a 200m time from your 100m PBs, but it is only a best guess. Simply double the time and add 10sec (12sec for Breaststroke and Butterfly). Once you have an actual PB though, use that - no matter how out of date.

Coach/Squad Manager

The Coach or Squad Manager will be able to offer guidance on which events to enter at each meet. If you already understand the process, and you're happy to plan your own entries without guidance, please do so. Your coach's time is obviously limited.

Submitting Entries and Payment

When the swimmer and parent is happy with the choices made (possibly in consultation with the coach) it's time to submit an entry form. Payment should be be made at the same time (cheques made payable to Doncaster DARTES). If an entry is made without payment it will NOT be accepted.

The price per entry shown on the information pack is what you pay to Dartes. Entering clubs collate all their own entries together and submit them to the host club en masse. So add up all your entries, multiply by the entry fee, and transfer that amount to the Dartes bank account.

Take care with calculating entry fees. Sometimes distance events have a different fee to shorter events to reflect the extra time they take to complete (rare, but it does happen).

For bank transfers (and other methods) please ensure payments are clearly identified with "Swimmer Name" and "Meet Name".


It is unfortunate, but sometimes circumstances dictate that a swimmer has to be withdrawn from a meet. If this situation happens, it is important that the Competition Secretary or a coach is informed prior to the meet. They will then advise you accordingly. Failure to do so may result in a fine to the club or parent responsible (depending on the particular competition).

Swimmers should be encouraged to swim every event they enter and should only be withdrawn after consultation with the coach. Only under special circumstances will swimmers be withdrawn from events!

Carded Meets

Carded meets are rare these days, but occasionally one pops up. At such meets, competitor cards must be handed in before warm up begins. Lane assignments are then made based on the cards handed in. It is very likely that failure to hand in a competitor card will result in no-swim!

Reserve Finalists

Swimmers who achieve reserve places in competition must inform coaching staff if they do not intend to wait for the final. A surprising number of finalists do withdraw so it's often worth waiting. Some meets fine clubs for reserve no-shows, so it is important to make your absence known.

Dartes Team Kit

Doncaster DARTES swimmers if choosing to wear a cap must wear a DARTES swimming cap. DARTES T-shirt or sweat shirt should also be worn at meets to make swimmers easily identifiable. There are also available kit bags, hoodies etc.

Dates and Location

It is important to make sure you have all the information correct:


Please make sure your child has all the following items with them in kit bags:

All swimmers must respect pool side rules

Inform team managers if you need to leave poolside for any reason during a session (toilet, etc). Parents/Guardians should encourage swimmers to remain on poolside rather than sitting in the spectator area as it is important to build a strong team atmosphere. Swimmers should also be encouraged to show support to other team mates during their races. Swimmers should always show high levels of good behaviour as representatives of Doncaster DARTES and be respectful to coaching staff/ team managers and meet officials.

Swimmers should

LISTEN to instructions from the coach, who is there to help you achieve your goals/targets.
TALK to the coach before going to the marshalling area, prior to the race.
PREPARE your muscles before the race; this will help reduce the chance of injury.
DISCUSS your performance with the coach after every race.

Remember to Swim Down!

A snack bar should be eaten as soon as possible after the race to start the process of replenishing the energy stores within the muscles. It is important to swim down after your race in order to reduce the levels of lactate that are in the muscles. A well structured correctly performed swim down should help the swimmer to maintain performance levels throughout the swim meet.

Once swim down is complete it is important that swimmers dry themselves thoroughly and wear dry clothing to keep the muscles warm. Now you need to have the appropriate drink and snack for the time available before your next race.


Parents must Remember

Parents should refrain from giving any technical feedback or performance criticism to their child; this is counter productive and it is the responsibility of the swimmer's qualified coach to deliver any guidance required on areas for improvement. It is important that swimmers experience no confusion as to who they should be listening to with regard to race performances. Praising your child for a good performance is always welcome.

Important Contacts

At least one of our coaches will be on pool deck at meets Dartes attends. Their contact details can be found in the contacts section of this website.

Doncaster DARTES wish all swimmers the very best. We hope that you enjoy the day’s events and learn a lot from the experience.

Thank you