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Level 3 Open Meet Overview

What is a Level 3 Open Meet?

A Level 3 Open Meet is a swimming event designed to enable all swimmers to take part in competitive swimming and are open to all swimmers aged 9 years and over on the day of the competition. If you are taking your first steps into competitive swimming outside of the Club Championships, this is where you begin.

These meets often have upper limit (not faster than) times to ensure it stays as a development meet for up-and-coming swimmers.

Their ultimate goal is to enable swimmers to achieve times for entry into Country and Regional championships.

These meets are licenced by Swim England to ensure they meet certain standards and ensure fair competition.

Which Events will I take part in?

When you receive an invite for an Open Meet it will contain information about the sessions and events that are part of that Meet. It will be up to you which of these events you enter. Your coach may advise you about your eligibility, or suitability, for entering certain events.

If this is your first Open Meet the prevailing wisdom is to pick a one or two sessions and enter as many events in that session as you are able to swim. Most people (or their parents) make the same mistake and cherry pick events throughout the weekend. This is fine if that is what you really want to do. Please bear in mind that each session can last several hours, and swimmers often find it much more enjoyable to swim more often rather than have a long time between swims.

There is often a 'per-event' cost for each Open Meet that you will need to pay. These vary by meet and will be available with the meet information pack.

What do I need to bring?

While there are changing facilities at all meets, it is often best to arrive 'swim ready' as these areas can get overcrowded at the start of any session.

All swimmers should have a BoA swim hat (available poolside at training for £5).

Between swims, swimmers should wear team kit if they have it, or other suitable dark blue clothing if not. As they can be out of the pool for some time between events, it's advisable to pack more layers in case they need them. Some form of pool shoes are also a good idea.

Any intergalactic travellers among you will also know the value of a spare towel, and this also holds true for swim meets. Packing one can mean the difference between comfort or being sat in a puddle poolside. Always, always, pack another towel.

Don't forget the most important part: snacks. As sessions can last several hours, and swimmers can be expending a lot of energy, it's vital to have food and water to re-fuel. In an ideal world this would be something healthy and nutritious, in reality this is often a mountain of Haribo.

What happens at an Open Meet?

For first timers, everything can seem a little scary and this is perfectly normal (for both the adults and children). So, here's what happens when you arrive:

  • Session times are available in the meet information pack and/or will be advised by the club. You will see 'Warm-up starts at X'. You should plan on getting to the venue at least 15 minutes before this time.
  • When you arrive at the venue, you will find a large amount of people gathered either outside or inside, depending on the size of the venue. This can seem a little chaotic; look out for BoA swimmers (often identifiable by their club bags), coaches, or other known people.
  • Once you've found everyone, make sure the Team Manager and/or Coach knows that you've arrived.
  • You now get to hang about for a while, chat to your friends, sort out your hat, or anything else you need to do last minute.
  • At some point an official associated with the meet will announce that swimmers can now enter the pool or waiting area.
  • Make sure you stick with other swimmers from the club so that you all stay together.
  • If none of your friends are at the meet, just ask one of the other swimmers if you can tag along. Everyone is friendly and they'll guide you through.
  • Once you are poolside, the Team Manager and Coaches - who you'll know from your lessons - will guide you through the event.
    • Events are normally 'Heat Declared Winners' (HDW) which means that everyone swims once and then the fastest time wins, and so on.
    • The starting order is decided based on Personal Best times. Those swimmers without a time go first, then the slowest PBs, all the way up to the fastest swimmers.
    • If this is your first event you may find that you are swimming against swimmers much older, or younger, in the no-PB heats earlier on. You are not directly racing against them, just do your best!
  • When your events are done you can leave. Make sure the Team Manager knows that you are leaving.


The spectators experience often starts once the team leave the allotted waiting area and disappears pool side; the spectator queue begins. This will either be signed, or you will just need to make like a sheep and follow the herd.

While you can view the action at all Open Meets, the experience differs greatly depending on the venue in question. You will find that some pools have lots of poolside seating where you can spend all day feeling part of the action, some have a viewing area where you must watch through a window, and some are an experience unto themselves!

Most Meets will charge a spectator fee (usually less than £5). It's always advisable to have some cash in your pocket as not all venues are able to take cards. You can often buy a program as well.

The best advice for spectators is to be aware that sitting next to a pool for several hours with lots of other people can be very warm, especially in the summer. If your swimmer has entered several sessions across a weekend it can also be long, so be prepared, find other club parents to talk to, and bring provisions.


All Open Meets depend on the support of volunteers from both the host club and those clubs who've entered. Without the necessary officials, no event can take place.

The biggest bonus of volunteering is that you will always get to be poolside and part of the action. If you would like to get involved, please see our overview of the roles and contact the club secretary. Before you know it, you'll be on your way and will be an integral part of the BoA swimming family.

Anything else?

The club is here to support both swimmers and their parents/carers. If you have any questions, please reach out to a parent liaison via email or in person (details on the Who's Who page of this site) or ask a friendly face on the day.

And most important of all, these events should be enjoyable for all. Please help us to make it so.