First time at a Gala? shark3.gif (10256 bytes)

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. 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, usually from £1.50 up to around £3.50 per event. At these galas, the races are all individual events, with the fastest swimmers gaining medals or trophies.

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 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, 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. To start with, it should tell you on the cards what time they have to be posted by. When you arrive at the gala venue you must post your cards in the special boxes provided. There will be someone there waiting to show you. You then make your way to the changing rooms to get ready for the warm-up swim. That time is also printed on your cards. 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 Kevin 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 be given your card for that event. When you receive it, always check that it has your name on it – not some one else’s. 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, 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 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. 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!

Happy Swimming!