The site is dedicated to information relating to the H&SC Swimming Leagues.
contributed by Dennis Miles
The H&SC Swimming Leagues organisation started as ‘The Minor League’ in year 1977 with the objective of providing league competition at a level appropriate to swimmers of clubs not strong enough to compete in the then recently formed major league (Swimming League South) and/or for the B swimmers of the bigger clubs which were taking part in it. Fourteen clubs took part in the first year swimming to the same major league programme, but with the age-group ages reduced by one year. That specific competition continues to be swum with just two changes. Firstly a move to gala points scoring, which allowed the competition to become two-round and galas to be set with any number of teams from five to eight; the usual entry waiting list was eliminated. Secondly the use of mixed-sex relays which allowed an additional age-group to be introduced while also allowing a club team to be formed with just twenty swimmers; an encouragement to smaller clubs to take part!
In 1981 the lack of competition for younger swimmers was recognised and the Junior Cup competition, also two-round, introduced. The organisation revised its name to ‘The Hants & South Coast Swimming Leagues’. Shortly after the Junior Cup was formed the principle of Postal Swimming was put forward and accepted to allow competition by the Channel Island clubs without onerous travel time and cost.
In the year 1985 the League introduced its own Open Meet to provide inter-swimmer competition at low cost. The competition was originally three, age-designated, sessions on one day, initially at the Southampton Baths and then at Waterlooville. Since 2004 it has been swum as a single session for junior swimmers, as a Saturday evening gala at Haslemere or Woking.
The next addition to the competition structure was, on demand by Member clubs in1989, the Premier League providing junior competition in the early half of the year. It differs from the Junior Cup in that, like the Minor League, it uses mixed sex relays thereby allowing, if wished, for smaller teams and fairer, single-year, age group steps for swimmers.
In 1992 the League recognised that large teams were appropriate to the bigger clubs. The Gemini, a two-string gala completion was therefore introduced; in each of the single round galas, seeded from the previous year competition, three teams were put into a six-lane competition. An interesting and useful effect is that the ‘second choice’ swimmer of the club is in competition with their first choice swimmer as well as the four from the other clubs; a chance for the swimmer to prove that the club “got it wrong” in their first-choice selection!
The next historical event was the amalgamation of the H&SC Leagues with the Rother League organisation in year 2007. Two ‘new’ competitions were therefore introduced, the Rother League and Rother Junior Trophies.
The Rother League, started in year 1972, swimming galas in outdoor pools, is now three-round with the unique arrangement that, to avoid duplication and to provide competition for a bigger selection of swimmers, the league swims a different programme in each gala round. In addition the competition format allows geographical location to be included in lower Division groups in order to reduce travel costs.
The Rother Junior Trophies, as its name suggests, is for younger swimmers. For administration simplicity the basic programme that came with the amalgamation as been adjusted to copy that of the Premier League, but remains with the increased flexibility of a single round competition, simplifying gala venue and Host selection and also allowing geographic considerations in the gala grouping.
The remaining competition on offer to League Member clubs is the recently introduced Virtual Gala. This acknowledges the ever increasing cost of travel in inter-club league competition and the shortage of weekends without the constraints of other competitions and school holidays limiting team selection. The competition therefore allows for clubs to swim to a set gala programme at any time over a four-week period, at their own pool, and submit swimmer times for comparison with those of other clubs participating. A league table is then produced ranking swimmers and clubs; the League then provides certificates for clubs to award to swimmers in medal places and/or with PBs. The mini galas can be made short and competitive by multi-lane running, swimming a number of different events (such as odd and even, of same stroke and distance), simultaneously to provide very low cost competition.
In 2021 the Rother League was changed from a separate competition to one where the three galas were separate competitions. Any club entering all three can then enter the league and their times from the individual competitions are used for their league entry.
Also from 2021 the Minor League and Invitational meet were suspended as there are now insufficient free dates following the introduction of the Arena Junior league.