Swim England has published details of the British Swimming Festival of Swimming. East Region swimmers and their parents may have noticed that Region has later competition dates than other regions. Unfortunately, it was not possible to book our optimum dates for very legitimate reasons, due to our regional long course centres being used for other purposes – one is being used as Covid vaccination centre, for example.
The Region, has however, fully embraced the concept of the Festival of Swimming and has some exciting news to announce.
There will in fact be three galas to look forward to for East Region swimmers during the British Swimming Festival of Swimming period, which formally runs from Friday 16th July – Sunday 8th August. Whilst it remains unclear whether spectators will be allowed, all events will be fully live streamed.
The first of these galas will be the Swim England East Region Future Champions Meet. This gala will be held in the afternoon and early evening of 17th/18th July in short course format at Basildon Sporting Village. The event will be for swimmers aged 10 and 11 (ages at 31st December 2021) and will comprise 50 and 100m races in all strokes, in Heat Declared Winner (HDW) format. It will be possible to qualify for this meet using old ranking times and Level X times – the qualifying times will be released on Monday 7th June, to enable clubs to run small Level X time trial events for those swimmers without a time on rankings in advance of the entry deadline of 30th June.
The event is intended to be a fun and COVID-safe opportunity for the stars of tomorrow to come together and race -perhaps for the first time- after a significant period of disruption. In order to ensure the safety of all competitors, athletes will be housed and marshalled outside, in a 700-seater covered grandstand and surrounding athletics track. Entrance to poolside area will be highly controlled.
The East Region section of the British Swimming Festival of Swimming will take place at UEA Norwich on 31st July and 1st August and at the London Aquatic Centre on 7th and 8th August. These will be long course events, for swimmers aged 12 and above (ages as at 31st December 2021). Swimmers will compete in 50m, 100m, 200m events in all strokes, plus 200m and 400m Individual Medley and 400m Freestyle. All events will be swum in Heat Declared Winner (HDW) format. This meet will be inclusive of Para swimming events.
The qualifying times will be released very shortly, but the entry process will be different to the Future Champions Meet. When they are published, the qualifying times will look slower than usual. This is because they will be based on times registered by the athletes between 01.01.2019 and 20.03.20. This to ensure fairness to swimmers from all clubs, many of whom are still not able to run Level X time trials for their whole club in a variety of distances. Qualifying times will be based on short-course performances, but long course conversions will be permitted.
For the Festival of Swimming, there will be a two-stage entry process. In Stage One, athletes will be able to enter races using the times they recorded between 01.01.2019 and 20.03.2020 at levels 1,2,3 and 4. There will be a published entry closing date for Stage One, after which there will be a review of entries. If there is available space, entries will reopen, and at this point, athletes will be able to use times achieved since 20.03.2020, at levels 1,2,3,4 and X. The principle of having a two-stage entry process is to ensure that as many swimmers as possible get to benefit from the meet.
In view of its smaller capacity, both the 400m events and some of the 200m events will take place at Norwich, where we have also booked a 12-court sports hall to safely house the athletes and team personnel. The 50m, 100m and remaining 200m events will take place at the London Aquatics Centre, where a large number of athletes can be safely accommodated in the 2,200 seats on both banks of the pool hall, even if social distancing is required.
The final schedule will be released very soon and we look forward to communicating further information to you regularly from this point onwards.
Hopefully, barring any major changes to COVID-19 requirements, we will be able to reflect on a safe racing festival where very many of our swimmers got to restart their racing careers. In order to facilitate the event, the Region will also be seeking technical officials and event volunteers to staff the meet once entries open.