Licensed Swimming Meets

This section aims to explain what is meant by the term, ‘Licensed Meet’ and is for guidance only. If you want to consult the definitive ASA licensed meet conditions


The ASA operates a system of licensing swimming meets to ensure that the appropriate competition is offered to all abilities. There are presently four licence levels, 1 to 4, level 1 being the highest. Each level has different organisational requirements, such as entry time limits, provision of electronic timing, qualification of officials, swim down facilities, etc. But for competitors, the most significant differences are the level of ability at which they are targeted and the way in which entries may be limited.

Level 1

Specifically for swimmers seeking National and Regional qualification. There is no Upper Time Limit set, but a Lower Time Limit applies (the swimmer must be faster than a specified time). The ASA sets a minimum standard for the lower qualification time. Held in long course pools (50m) only. The meet may not be specified as ‘first come first served’ for entries.

Level 2

For swimmers seeking National and Regional qualification. Again, only Lower Limit times apply (the swimmer must be faster than a specified time) and again, the ASA sets a minimum standard for the lower qualification time. Held in short course pools (25m) only. The meet may not be specified as ‘first come first served’ for entries.

Level 3

For swimmers seeking County and Regional qualification, or also for entry to Level 1 and 2 Open meets. Upper and lower limit entry qualifying times apply (the swimmer must be within a specified time band). Qualification times vary widely and may be dependent on the date that the competition is held within the season, but may not be faster than National Qualifying times. Held in short course (25m) or long course (50m) pools. Entries may be on a ‘first come first served’ basis.

Level 4

For swimmers seeking County Qualification, inexperienced swimmers, or for Club events such as Club Championships. No time limit restrictions apply but may be restricted by the organising club to ensure safety regarding entry numbers.

Huntingdon Piranhas license their Club Championships at Level 4, which means that all swimmers who enter will set a valid ASA time, which will be displayed on the ASA website under Swimmers Rankings. It also means that they will have a legitimate and registered qualifying time for the County Championships.


National Qualification may only be obtained at Level 1 or 2 Meets or equivalent.

Regional Qualification may only be obtained at Level 3 or higher.

County ASA Qualification may be obtained at Level 4 or higher.

Suitable meets

It may be possible to look at the level of a meet to ascertain if it is suitable for a particular swimmer. This is not always the case as swimmers develop at varying rates and may change from being a ‘Level 3 swimmer’ to a ‘Level 1 and 2 swimmer’ (or the converse) in a short period. Swimmers may drop a Level, as they pass a birthday, moving from the top of one age group to the bottom of the next. If you are in any doubt about the level of competition you should enter, talk to the head coach. They know your ability as well as, or even better, than you do!

Restriction of entries

Open meets are often oversubscribed (there is a limit to the number of entries a club may accept given pool time and licensing requirements). It is not possible to predict which meets will be oversubscribed, however the outcome is that not all entries can be accepted.

There are two ways of restricting numbers; they are by rejection of the slowest entries and by accepting on a ‘first come first served’ basis. Level one and two meets cannot operate on a first come first served basis and will generally only reject invalid entries, or if greatly oversubscribed, those at the lower end of the qualification times. See below.

Rejection of slower entries

All valid entries are accepted up to the closing date. All are subsequently considered against the available pool time. If there are more entries than time allows, the slowest entries are rejected (entry fees will be refunded). Rejections are generally spread across the entire entry list, on a pro rata basis, with an approximately equal percentage from each event.

This system ensures that the best swimmers are accepted, so the level of competition is as high as it can be. The down side is that there is no guarantee of acceptance and swimmers may not know if their entry has been accepted until just before the event.

First come first served

All valid entries are accepted until the available competition time is filled. Slower swimmers, however, may be accepted before faster ones due to the timing of entry, potentially compromising the level of competition. This is the reason this method is not allowed at levels one and two. The advantage being, provided entries are submitted early, acceptance is almost guaranteed.

Unlicensed Meets

It is worth mentioning that not all swimming meets are licensed; for instance the Junior Fenland League and our own Home Invitational Galas. Although the galas are run in a similar manner, as regards officials, facilities etc, the main difference is that the results are not recognised (or recorded) by the ASA. Therefore, if you set a PB at an unlicensed event, which also happens to be a qualifying time, this will not be valid as it was not set at a licensed meet.