What is the FVJL?
Forth Valley Junior League (or simply ‘FVJL‘) is an annual series of six graded meets which culminate in a final each December. Each session consists of a standard set of 39 events, it’s fast and furious and the swimmers love it. There are twelve clubs in the league and points are awarded in each event. This section is designed to give parents an overview.
Parents are often surprised to find that unlike many meets where the swimmers compete individually for PB’s and medals, in FVJL the BASC squad compete as a team.
The teams compete for points which are tallied up over the course of the year and which ultimately determine which of the two league finals each club competes in.
Non attendance hurts the team
If a swimmer is picked and can’t attend a meet it is important to give the coach as much notice as possible to find a replacement. Things do happen, and we all recognise that, but the more notice you can give the better. If you can imagine a football club fielding a team eight players because three didn’t show… it’s the same idea and usually has the same result! BASC knows from experience that one bad result can really damage the team’s chances over the whole season.
The Improvers Lead Coach picks the team and approaches parents of swimmers directly. The majority of the team can be expected to be picked from the Improver and Bronze squads with some augmentation from elsewhere. There comes a point where swimmers are too fast for FVJL – which is as it should be.
Age Categories & Squad Size
Events are structured for different age categories: 9 & under, 11 & under and 12 & over. Events for the 9& Under category are typically over 25m, rising to 50 m distances for the older age groups.
Children who are too fast for their age category can ‘swim up’ a category – allowing them to compete without being penalised. Swimmers cannot swim down, plugging gaps in the lower orders. This means that the FVJL naturally favours larger clubs with a larger pool of swimmers in each age group to draw from.
Theoretically there is no limit to the size of squad a club can bring – but the spirit of the FVJL is to give swimmers the chance to swim in multiple events and different strokes. Smaller clubs are often unable to field swimmers in all events impacting their points total. Late call offs excepted, BASC does not normally have this issue.
The programme for the meet is standardised allowing comparisons between teams and different years. There are 39 events in each meet, but each event is a single heat with one swimmer or relay team selected from each participating club. As it’s a team centred meet over a third of the FVJL events are relays (15 out of 39 events is a lot). Interestingly, some of these relays you don’t see elsewhere for example:
- Events 1 and 2 – 4 x 25m back/breast/free/free (i.e. no fly)
- Events 5 and 6 – The first three strokes (back/breast/fly) are over 25m and the final Freestyle leg is over 50m.
- Events 37, 38 and 39 – Squadron (six swimmer) relays – with event 39 being mixed.
The FVJL Points system
A worked example – updated for 2018
So it used to be that your swimmer launched off the block like a scalded cat, won the race by miles, gets a brilliant PB and er… cost the team five points for his or her trouble! No more! As of the beginning of the 2018 season the maximum penalty for swimming too fast is scoring zero points.
The example below may help explain.
|Event No||Event||Boy/Girl||Penalty (0)|
|Event 1||9U 4 x 25 bc/br/fc/fc||Boys||01:38.50|
In this event six teams of four swimmers compete in a 4 x 25m relay.
Ordinarily points are awarded on the basis that first place gets 6 points and sixth place gets 1 point. So everybody gets some points right? Wrong!
Penalties for swimming too fast
In this example if a team swims faster than 01:38.50 ‘Penalty (0)’ they are penalised – they get zero points; and first place goes to the fastest team which was slower than 01:38.50. In theory if five teams went faster than 01:38.50 then the team that came last would get six points.
It may seem odd at first sight but it is the coach’s job the pick the swimmers who will get closest to the threshold and it stops swimmers who are too fast spoiling it for less experienced swimmers.
Each club hosts one session per season and the clubs take it in turn to host the Finals – BASC hosted the final in 2016.