British Swimming calendar consulation nears an end

The consultation being run by British Swimming on changes to the domestic competition calendar is nearing its conclusion. Launched several weeks ago, those wishing to make their views known have until the 31st May to provide feedback on proposals that are wide reaching and that affect some of the fundamentals of the competitive sport in this country. The principal changes are:

  • A return to age at 31st December, rather than the age on day approach that has been in place for a decade of more.
  • This will bring Britain back into alignment with the age definitions used by LEN and FINA for junior competition, but will only be rigidly applied to county level competitions and upwards. Clubs will be free to stick to age on day if they wish, but whether many will choose to do so remains to be seen.

  • Reintroduction of a formal short course season
  • This would run from September to December each year and will include the resurrection of the British Short Course Championships, which were last held in 2004, albeit a short course grand prix meet featuring a large Canadian team was held in 2009. This meet will confusingly be timetabled at the same time as the European or World Short Course Championships, with regional equivalents held in November. This potential clash is intended to keep all swimmers aiming towards a taper at the same time, but means that a British Championships is not going to be used as a trial for the international short course championships.

  • A new British Summer Championships
  • A new long course meet to be held at the same time of year as the major international competition, again with the aim of keeping all swimmers focussed on performance at a particular time of year. These will be accompanied by the current home nation national championships which will take place at around the same time of year, but which will be aimed at a different set of swimmers. It’s not clear if this new championships will be in addition to or instead of the existing British Gas International Meet.

  • Changes to national championship qualification process
  • Instead of a set of qualifying times, there will instead be a qualifying window after which a number of swimmers from the top of the rankings in each event will be invited to compete at the relevant national championships (be it a British event or a home nation one). Its not entirely clear how this would work; the window is suggested to fall one training cycle ahead of the national championships period, but that could be anything from 6 to 12 weeks out, and it’s not clear how long it would run for. The best clue is that the window will include the regional championships, so it’s likely to be a period around May. The aim of this change is to get swimmers used to performing when it matters, effectively making regional championships like a trials meet for nationals with then a single training cycle to get back to peak performance again. Depending on how long the window ends up being though, there could be significant issues with the capacity of licensed meets that fall within it, as swimmers seek to register a high ranking.

  • Raising the minimum age for nationals to 13/14 years and no more BAGCATS
  • No more national championships for 11/12 year olds. Instead they will have to be satisfied with county or regional meets, the intention being to have a tiered age grouping system, so we may see under 10s at counties but not at regionals. Also going will be BAGCAT awards, with the consultation stating that there was no evidence it had improved Britain’s international performances.

    None of the consultation information makes it clear when the main British Swimming trials meet will sit, although it’s widely expected that it will return to its traditional spot in April from 2015.

    Those wishing to have their say should send their feedback to