First Time Swimming in a Gala...?


Congratulations! You have probably just been asked to take part in what is probably your first swimming gala where you will be representing the club. This leaflet has been designed especially for you, so that you will know what to expect when you arrive, and also what is expected of you.

To start with there are two types of events which you might be asked to take part in.  They are League/Team galas and Open Meets. League galas are team events where the whole team competes against other clubs, gaining points with each race that takes place during the gala. These galas are usually made up of individual races and team/relay races for the different age groups. The second type is an Open Meet. These galas are run at various venues around the country, and are usually organized by one particular club who advertises the Meet for anyone who wants to take part. There is always a entry fee involved, usually around £4.00 per event. At these events they are individual races with the fastest swimmers gaining medals or trophies.


The next thing you need to know is what items you need to take with you. First of all is your Kit, which should comprise of a costume/trunks (plus spare), Club Swim Cap, two pairs of Goggles, a club T-shirt, (or any other kind of T-shirt), shorts/Jogging bottoms to wear on poolside between races and keep warm. At least 2 towels (1 for drying yourself off between races and 1 to get dressed with at the end of the gala), a pair of poolside shoes and plenty to drink. You will also need change for the locker.  Drinks are very important as you need to drink as much as possible before, during and after the gala to avoid de-hydration. The pool environment is very warm and if you get de-hydrated it will not only sap your energy but you’ll probably end up with a headache!  If you read the article regarding Nutrition (using General Information Link) you will see what types of drink/snacks are advisable on competition days.

At Open Meets you will be given entry cards a week or so before the gala is due to take place. You must remember to bring them with you to the gala. The cards carry valuable information not only for you but also for the officials.  If you are not given cards prior to the event it may be an electronic entry event with no cards so just check with your coach that this is the case a week before the event.  It should tell you on the cards what time they have to be posted by (usually an hour before the event starts) so when you arrive at the gala venue you must post your cards in the special boxes provided as failure to do so may mean you cannot swim in the event. There will be someone there waiting to show you where to post them.  You then make your way to the changing rooms to get ready for the warm-up swim then make your way onto the poolside, the coach will be there to greet you along with all your team mates.  We start the day with blood flow exercises and then its time to warm up, boys and girls warm up separately and generally for 30 minutes each.  After warm up return to the team and listen out for you race call.

When it is time for your race, someone will tell you where to go and what to do. You will be given your card for that event. When you receive it always check that it has your name on it. If it is wrong then tell the person that gave it to you so that they can change it and give you the correct card. You will then be put into Heat Groups, usually about six swimmers per heat, but it might be more or it might be less depending on the number of swimmers entered. You will all then line up until it is time for your heat. You then go to the lane that you are to swim in (it should be on your card) and give the card to the timekeepers on your lane.  If you are at your lane end and there are a couple of races before yours then you must stand still during the start of those races. Once you are on the blocks, you must remember that once the starter has said “Take your Marks…..” you must remain absolutely still until the gun or other starting signal is given, then off you go….When you have competed the race do not get out of the pool until asked to do so by the official.

Once you have completed your race, retrieve your t shirt, pool shoes etc from the lane end and return to the coach who will have a chat with you and then ask you to swim down in the allocated pool.

It is important that swimmers are well behaved during the gala. As each event comes up the referee will blow his whistle to signal to the starter to start the race. When this happens you should stop talking so that there is absolute silence for the start of each race. Please remember this as it is embarrassing not only for the club but also for you if the referee has to speak to you personally whilst asking for quiet! Always try to remember that the poolside is not a playground, no running or chasing about is allowed. Never dangle your feet in the water or get in the way of the officials. If you need to walk past an official, always go behind them, not in front of them.

The rules for the league galas are basically the same apart from the fact that you don’t use cards.

Do your best that is all that is asked of you. You will probably be a bit nervous but just remember so is everyone else! Try to relax and enjoy the experience. Remember each of your team mates has experienced this for the first time and once you have competed a couple of times it will all become second nature.

Parents: Use Events link to find details for directions to the pool you are competing at.  Any queries regarding where to park, hotels etc please feel free to email any committee member.