Gala and Competition Guide


Whether you are competing in galas and championships, at Club, County or National level, you still need to know what to do and when to do it. Preparation is everything and the better informed you are the more likely than the competition will go smoothly.


Details on the gala will be sent to you via email by your squad rep along with a gala entry form and closing date for entries. It is important that you talk to the Head Coach , Fiona before submitting any entries. She will determine on what each swimmer should enter. Some galas have qualification times included in the gala information and it is important to make sure that the swimmer has the required times before submitting an entry form.


ALWAYS ARRIVE ON TIME. Report into your coach/team manager to let them know your son or daughter has arrived. If you are going to be late please let the coach/team manager know prior to the gala or contact them as soon as you can. If you arrive first then you should try and command an area of the viewing area to position the Ballinasloe Swimming Club team. As other fellow swimmers arrive we would like them all located in the same area of the viewing area if possible.


Eat plenty of carbohydrate (rice, pasta, potatoes, bananas, porridge) the night before, and keep drinking. Eat something for breakfast, even if it seems too early to be hungry. Don’t experiment with new foods on the day of a gala – choose something you know you like and you know agrees with you.

Bring bread rolls/sandwiches, pieces of fruit, breakfast/snack bars and jellies. After racing you have used up energy and need to replace it with something.

Bring water (write your name on your bottle), isotonic sports drinks or diluted squash with you for sipping during the gala, as most pools are very warm and it’s easy to get dehydrated.

Pasta followed by fruit makes a good lunch and try to eat as soon as the lunch break starts so your body has a chance to start digesting your food before the afternoon session begins. Keep eating healthy snacks throughout the day and drink water, fruit juice or isotonic sports drinks to keep dehydration at bay.

Foods to avoid – Greasy foods (burgers, chips and doughnuts)
Highly seasoned foods (pizza, curries etc.)
Fizzy drinks


Swimsuits x 2 (warm up and race)
Club Hat x 2 (in case one rips!)
Goggles x 2 (in case one snaps!)
T-shirts/Sweat Shirt , Sweat Pants (you need to keep warm)
Water Bottle already filled (write your name on it!)
Towels x 2 (if there for a full day)
Flip flops or runners


The only answer to this is use common sense. The swimmers usually congregate together and the bags are left in/around where they are sitting. If the mum/dad is with them they may hold on to the kit bags. Bring as little as possible. IPods, phones, etc need to be minded by an adult but it is probably best to leave valuables at home.


Parents do not formally meet up with the coach. The coach is normally on the poolside/among the swimmers. You can speak to the Team Manager  if you have any questions.


When you arrive you should be able to buy a programme which will give you the session times, etc. Also you can listen out as the races are being called and swimmers are being asked to line up. Your coach/team manager might have an approximate time of each heat but also leave at least a half an hour leeway in advance of your race in order that you are guaranteed to be there. Ideally we would prefer the swim team to be together and support each other for the duration of the meet. The swimmers also need to learn how to ‘sit around’ and get used to being at a gala because the older they get at national level, sessions last for 4 or 5 hours at a time. When considering relays, etc on the day, the coach/team manager will need to be able to find the swimmers to discuss things with them and to finally select the relays.


You warm up to get your muscles stretched and ready for competition. It also gives the swimmer a chance to familiarise themselves with the competition pool.

Getting there on time means arriving in time for the warm up, so enabling you to practisce your strokes before the event begins. Always check warm up and start times and make sure you arrive on time.

The warm up normally begins about an hour before the start time. It is divided into boys and girls and all swimmers who are swimming in the gala need to do the warm up. The Coach will take the warm-up session and give any advice necessary.

Diving is NOT allowed during the warm-up except when ‘sprint lanes’ have been allowed by the Gala referee. ‘Sprint lanes’ are generally available for about 10 mins at the end of the warm-up. When the warm up is over it is important that the swimmer keeps warm until it is time to race.


The Rules of Swimming do NOT insist that swimmers dive off blocks. They can dive from the pool bank/deck or start in the water if they wish. Inexperienced swimmers may not want to dive off blocks and the coach will support them in an appropriate start.


Goggles should not come off when diving in. If this is a problem talk to the coach as goggles will NOT come off if they are worn correctly and the athletes dive in properly. It can take a while for an inexperienced athlete to master this. It is a good idea to wear your goggles under your hat to prevent them from coming off easily, and wear another hat over these. Please talk to the coach if in doubt.


The programme will tell you what races are HDW (Heat Declared Winner) and what races have Finals. If an event is HDW there will be no finals and the fastest swimmers are declared winners. HDW means the swimmers will only swim once. After the heats of each event have concluded the gala announcer will announce the fastest swimmers who will either swim in the final or will announce the winners of the HDW event. Check the programme for clarification and the order of how the events will be swum.


The results are usually (but not always) posted in a prominent place around the pool. After the swimmer swims and they get out of the water they should ask the timekeeper for their time. The coach/team manager will also keep note of the times of each swimmer. The results of the gala will be available on this website – under results – as soon as they become available online; it may take a couple of days.


You should never leave the gala without first checking with your coach/team manager if it is ok or if you are needed to swim in a relay. If you have to leave early you should inform the coach at the start of the day so they do not include you in a relay team.


If a child is hurt in an incident it must be reported to the recorders desk. There is a standard accident/incident report form for use at galas. The staff at the pool hosting the event should also be able to provide immediate assistance. At some galas only the team manager or coach can approach the recorders desk so you should check with them first before doing anything.


The use of camcorders/cameras is not allowed. At some venues a permit is given to those who register their details with the pool reception or gala organizers desk. Our club PRO will take photos of any presentation and these will be posted on our webpage and facebook page.


Galas can be stressful for younger athletes and all athletes are encouraged to do their best and to focus on doing PB’s (Personal Bests). It is not realistic for EVERY child to win a medal every time and also not realistic for each athlete to improve on every swim every time. The primary aspect of competitions is to gain experience in various events, distances and as the athletes develop, to try different race tactics, etc. Generally the coach will keep it simple with younger athletes. They will focus on one or two key points, get them to do their best and enjoy themselves. Parents should be there to support their child in their attempt rather than ‘critique’ the swim – that is the coach role.

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