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, the inexperienced swimmers, 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 gala, which you might be asked to take part in; they are League/Team galas and Open Meet Galas. A detailed explaination of meet types can be found here.
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 of gala is the Open Meet Gala. These galas are run at various venues around the country, and are usually organised by one particular club, who advertises the Meet for anyone who wants to take part. There is always a nominal entry fee involved, this can vary depending on the level of meet. At these galas, the races are all individual events, with the fastest swimmers gaining medals or trophies. Also there may be a top boy and girl trophy for those that gain the most amount of medals!
The next thing you need to know is what items you need to take with you to both types of gala. First of all is your team kit, which should comprise of a costume/trunks, Club Swim Cap, a pair of Goggles, a club T-shirt/Track Suit (or any other kind of T-shirt) 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. The 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! You should avoid any fizzy drinks. Lucozade Sport (the still type) is ideal, or anything similar. Even diluted squash is OK provided you drink plenty of it. A few sweets are also a good idea to bring along in case you get an attack of the nibbles, and they also help to keep up the energy levels.
At Open Meets, it is a very busy and can be nerve racking experience. Try and not to worry all your team mates will be feeling the same. Try and all stay together to carm each other and most importantly cheer each other on! Firstly make your way to the changing rooms to get ready for the warm-up swim. Anything left in the changing rooms must be put into your locker and locked up. Then make your way onto the poolside with the few things that you need with you and your coach and team manager will be there to greet you and tell you where to sit and what, where & when to do it etc.
Poolside Behaviour: 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.
When it is time for your race, someone will tell you where to go and what to do. 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 and wait for the start of your race. 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….
The rules for the league galas are basically the same.
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. Cheer on the clubs’ other swimmers, you will soon feel part of the team, and once you have won your first race or medal, you will be hooked!