For those of you new to Piranhas, here is the low down on the competitive swimming competitions we take part in:
Huntingdon Piranhas Swimming Club Championships
These take place annually and are broken down into seven rounds, spread throughout the year. They cover all strokes over a variety of distances. They are usually held on a club night (Tuesday), and the entry lists will be posted on the club noticeboard at least one week before each event. They provide an opportunity to gain competition experience in a club environment and can also be there to set, or improve on, Personal Best times (PB’s).
Races are swum in age groups, and all races are for individuals (there are no relay events). Every single swimmer in the club can enter. Cups and medals are awarded to the winners, which are presented at the Annual Presentation Evening in January the following year.
The Club Championships provide an opportunity to see swimmers at all levels of ability compete. This is particularly useful to new members, who can get an idea of what they may be capable of in the future. It is also good for younger swimmers to gain experience of their first gala in a relaxed atmosphere in a pool they are familiar with.
Huntingdon Piranhas Invitation Galas
The club host three swim galas each year when they invite 3 other clubs to participate. These are the Spring Shield, the Novice Challenge Cup and the Autumn Shield. The ages range from 9 years to Open, and they operate as team formats. Cut off times apply to all three galas, which means that it’s not just the fastest swimmers in the club who always swim, others are given a chance. The Novice Challenge is specifically aimed at those who are new to competition racing, and it gives them a chance to do so in a ‘home’ environment.
Junior Fenland League
This is a cumulative event in which 15 teams from around the Fenland Area compete against one another over 5 rounds during the course of the year. Each round consists of 3 galas (5 teams in each) with teams taking it in turn to be the host club. For many of our swimmers this may be their first introduction to competitive swimming. The age range for this event is 9 to 13 years. Cut off times apply, and the event finishes with a Finals Gala, usually held in October.
Cambridgeshire County Championships and Development Championships
These are for swimmers aged 9 years and up, and are held annually. Most recently the venues have been shared by Parkside Pool, Cambridge, and manor leisure Centre, Whittlesey. The dates for the County Championships are always late January/early February. The Club encourages all members who set a qualifying time to enter.
To compete as an individual at the Counties you must set a Qualifying Time, as set down by the County ASA. These will be published in advance of the Championships and your Head Coach will make sure that they are available to all. If you set a time that matches or is quicker than the qualifying time, then you will be accepted. Again races are run in age groups, for both boys and girls, and in all strokes and distances.
For those who don’t quite match the County Qualifying time, there are the County Development Championships, currently held in June. To qualify your times must be slower than those set for the Counties. If you do well at the Developments, and swim faster than the qualifying time, then you will gain entry to the more senior County event.
The County Championships also include team relay events in age groups, which you may be asked to compete in, even if you are not swimming in individual events. The rules are subject to change by the County ASA.
Open Events (Individual)
These are competitions hosted by individual swimming clubs. The Piranhas fixture list will identify which Open Events the Head Coach would expect members of the club to enter, as they need to fit in to the training programme and cycle.
At these events you will be competing against swimmers from other clubs and districts. Very often entry into these events will require that you have achieved a certain level, or qualifying time, in order to be eligible for entry. The times you achieve may be recognised for entry into County, Regional or National events.
For all swimming events the selection of our Team is made by the Head Coach and Team Manager. You should look at the notice board on a regular basis to see if you have been selected. Reminders are generally sent out by group email (‘The Blackline’) or posted on the club website.
Time Trials (Individuals)
These are not competitions, but are arranged by the coaches to find out what your latest times are. Some competitions require that you meet a qualifying time and time trials can give you the chance to achieve this.
Many external competitions require that you submit your time for each event that you enter, and these times have to be validated by a Club Official. This is an ASA requirement. It ensures that you are then fairly entered into the heat that reflects your standard of swimming. If you wish to enter a competition but do not have a recorded time, please speak to your coach.
Cambs Cup (Team)
This is a County event (normally held in June) for all Cambridgeshire Clubs. The Teams are selected by each club, with the objective of winning this event. Huntingdon always try to field as strong a team as possible.
So those are the main events that swimmers from Huntingdon Piranhas will be involved in. For those who prove to have a greater talent or ability at competitive swimming, then there are also these events to aim for.
Regional and National Championships (Individuals)
Beyond County Championships, swimmers strive for qualification for the East Region Championships, which are held annually. Swimmers are from all clubs affiliated to the ASA East Region. Entries will only be accepted if certain qualifying times (that are set annually) have been met. These times have to be achieved at a ‘Designated’ event. Similarly, National qualifying times have to be achieved for entry into National events. further details of regionals & national events can be found on the ASA website.
County Galas (Team)
There is an annual National Inter-Counties Championships where all the counties compete against one another. The team for the County is selected by the Cambridgeshire County ASA Team Manager and is by invitation only. A similar event is held in the East Region, for all the eastern member counties.There is also the 3 Counties Cup, held annually between Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, which again is selected by invitation only.