I’ve made the County Championships
Billy has just qualified for the County Champs. And he has no idea what he’s going to do! Read about what happened to him.
"Apparently I’m good enough to swim in the County Championships. To be honest I’m not quite sure what that means, but I will be swimming for my Club against all the other 12 year olds in the County.
To be able to swim you have to swim a qualifying time for each of the events you want to swim in. It’s good to do well in each of the individual events, but the best 11-year-old is the one who does well in lots of events. They keep talking about BAGCATS but I don’t understand it.
It means going to the County Championships which are held in a pool half an hour away in the car & staying there all day – sounds boring, but let’s see.At least I get to take my handheld computer game and can swap games with my mates – that will be good.
Now I’m getting worried – this is something I haven’t done before & it sounds important."
What do I have to swim?
You will only be able to swim in those events where you have achieved the qualifying time – your club will have all your times & will enter you – so there is nothing that you have to do.
What is ‘BAGCATS’?
British Age Group Categories is a system which has been designed to reward swimmers who are successful in a range of events – a combination determined by the age of the swimmer & their sex. In the case of an 11 year old boy competing at County Level, the events available are:
Sprint Category - 50m on all strokes
Form Strokes - 200m on Back, Breast & Butterfly
Distance Freestyle - 200m or 400m Freestyle
IM - 100m / 200m / 400mm Individual Medley
You can swim in as many events as you like – as long as you have met the qualifying time. Points are awarded for each swim – the faster you swim the more points you get. The best points score from each category is added up & the swimmers with the most points is the winner – the best all rounder!
Simple really! As long as you have a calculator to hand! J But you must enter the competition carefully. Don’t try & swim in everything – pick your best events in each category to get maximum points.
Who’s in charge?
As with all other swimming events you will have been to, your Club Coaches will be there to offer advice before you swim & to give some feedback after. Try to keep track of your pb’s & your BAGCAT scores – if you can work it out. Found out where the results are posted so you can see how you are doing.
If you need to leave the poolside, make sure your Team Manager knows & is ok with that.
Will I need to be there all day?
What do I need?
Make sure you have spares of everything – especially those little bits to mend goggles!
You will also need:
Enough clothes to keep warm – including some to keep dry to go home in
Your club kit
Shoes for the poolside
A waterproof bag to keeps things in on the poolside
Things to keep you busy & occupied – e.g. computer games
Enough to drink – bottled water is simplest – at least 1ltr per session – you will not drown! J
Plenty to eat – easily digestable & high carb – e.g. pasta, bananas
A can of fizzy & a packet of salt & vinegar? Maybe but not the best preparation for 200m Fly!
Qualifying for Regional Championships?
In the same way that you had to qualify for the County Championships – the next tier of competition is the Regional Championships & there are qualifying times for that too. They are harder to get that the times for the County event – but that’s the next target to aim for. There’s always next year.
If you do eventually make it to the Regionals, the final rung in the ladder is to qualify for the National Age Groups, which are held in Sheffield each year. The very best swimmers from all over the Country strive to qualify for the ‘Nationals’ – but only the very best make it – who knows what the future may bring ?
Coping with a long day is crucial for success – many really good swimmers fail to do well in BAGCATS because they can’t cope with the long days. Don’t make silly mistakes – drink & eat well – the right things – that’s always a good start & listen to your Coach’s advice!
How did Billy cope?
"Being there all day was really hard work – it was so hot & crowded on the poolside & difficult to find anywhere to sit.
It was good to have a wander, when my Team Manager said it was ok, to look at the Swim Shop and to talk to my mates from other Clubs that I have met at Open Meets & on Training Camps around the County.
I couldn’t work out how I was doing in my own age group as all the age groups swim together, but when I found the results on the wall, that made more sense. I had qualified for an event in each category – two in some – so I’m keeping an eye on the BAGCAT totals. At the end of the first day I was 10th, but I have my best events to come – so hopefully.
It was a really long day, but I enjoyed being part of a club team where everyone supported each other. Have managed two pb’s so far – another one and I might just persuade my Mum that the new cossie I’ve spotted in the Swim Shop might make me swim even faster!"