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Gala Information

Many of you will know these procedures, but many first timers will be unfamiliar with just how a swim gala operates. Here are a few guidelines as to what happens, and how you are expected to behave.

You should swim events and galas that the Coaching team has entered/selected you for, unless agreed otherwise by prior agreement with the relevant club official. Each competition is carefully chosen for specific reasons and training adjusted accordingly.


It may seem obvious, but before you set out to your gala please check you know and have: 

  • Your swimming bag with your goggles, hat, swimwear etc. 

  • Food and drink for the duration

  • The location of the swimming pool holding the event

  • What time the event starts


After signing in with your team manager/coach and getting changed, you will then go poolside to get ready for the warm-up. This is to prepare yourself for the racing ahead. First there will be a poolside warm-up, to limber up and get the body ready.

The coaching team will give you advice and help you during the warm up.


Then you will start the Warm in the pool. Use this time to warm-up properly by concentrating on your swimming, not playing about or stopping in the lane. You should get the opportunity to practice turns and then starts from the blocks. Again, the coaching team will tell you when.


Be part of the team. Stay with the team on poolside. If you leave for any reason you must tell the Coach or Team Manager where you are going.


Listen for your race to be announced. Go to the marshalling area in time and report in. Take your hat, goggles. Your team manager should instruct you to do this. You will then be told which lane you are swimming in, and when the time is right, told to take your position behind the blocks. This is generally done just after the race before has started.


The procedure to start a race is as follows:

  • The Referee will blow the whistle 3 or 4 times. This is to warn everyone that a race is about to start, and that EVERYONE should be quiet and still. If you are a swimmer, this is the time to check your goggles & hat, and take off your t-shirt and be ready for the race (if you haven’t already done so!) 

  • The Announcer will introduce the race on the PA system, and then hand back to the Referee. 

  • Next, the Referee will give one long blast on the whistle. This is the signal for you to either stand onto the racing blocks, for Freestyle, Breaststroke and Butterfly races. If it’s a Backstroke race, then you get into the water. For Backstroke only, the Referee will give another whistle to get you to hold onto the blocks and be ready. Some swimmers may not be ready for  a full ‘Racing Dive’ start, and so you will be allowed to either start from the end of the pool (alongside the blocks) or in the water. Again, your coach or team manager will help you with this. 

  • When everyone is on the blocks (or in the water) and the Referee is happy, they then hand over to the starter. Everyone should by now be concentrating on the start of their race, and be still (no fidgeting or adjusting goggles). 

  • The Starter will say “Take your marks” which is the signal to get into your take off position, and then the buzzer will sound, which is the signal to start your racing dive. 

  • You must concentrate on your race at the start – and everyone else should respect this by being quiet and still until after the race has started. Once the race is underway then everyone can cheer their swimmers on. 

  • After your race, report to the coach, to receive valuable feedback on your race. 


Support your team mates. Everyone likes to be cheered on.


You must wear club uniform and hats when representing the club.


While waiting for your race keep warm and your head clear. Once in marshalling area visualise your race craft.


After a while all this will become second nature. But the main thing to remember is – have fun with your sport!

What To Eat

When preparing to compete at a swimming competition you need to pay careful attention to nutrition. Here are some tips about what to eat during swimming competitions.

The Day Before 

When competition time comes round, you’ll have plenty on your mind. So the day before the event keep exercise to a minimum – if anything at all – and eat meals and snacks high in complex carbohydrates. You need to keep those glycogen stores topped up.

1.    Drink fluids little and often to stay properly hydrated.

2.    Eat little and often – every two to four hours to keep your blood sugar levels steady and fuel your muscles in preparation for your event.

3.    Avoid big meals or over-eating in the evening – this will almost certainly make you feel uncomfortable and lethargic the next day.

4.    Try to stick to familiar foods. Curries, spicy foods and baked beans (unless you are used to eating them) can cause gas and bloating, so avoid eating anything that may cause stomach discomfort the next day. It’s best to stick to foods that you are familiar and compatible with!

The Morning of the Event

Don’t swim on empty. Even if you feel nervous, have breakfast. Stick to easily digested foods – cereal with milk, porridge, banana with yoghurt, some fruit or toast with jam.

If you’re really struggling, try liquid meals such as milkshakes, yoghurt drinks or a smoothie.

It’s a good idea to rehearse your competition meal routine in training so you know exactly what agrees with you

Snacks Between Heats

Try to eat as soon as possible after your swim to give yourself as long as possible to recover if you have to swim again.

High fat and simple sugar foods will do you no favours in competition. Instead search out complex carbohydrates again.

If you can’t stomach anything solid try sports drinks, flavoured milk or diluted juice that will help replenish your energy supplies and assist the recovery of aching muscles.


The list below offers great food options to be snacking on in and around training for a competition. Remember to keep eating healthy foods from your regular diet though, such as fresh vegetables, nuts and fruits.

•      Water, diluted fruit juice with a pinch of salt

•      Pasta salad

•      Plain sandwiches e.g. chicken, tuna, cheese with salad, banana, peanut butter

•      Bananas, grapes, apples, plums, pears

•      Dried fruit e.g. raisins, apricots, mango

•      Smoothies

•      Crackers and rice cakes with bananas and/or honey

•      Mini-pancakes, fruit buns

•      Cereal bars, fruit bars, sesame snaps

•      Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks

•      Small bags of unsalted nuts e.g. peanuts, cashews, almonds

•      Prepared vegetable crudités e.g. carrots, peppers, cucumber and celery

Swim England Times on Rankings

Swim England Times on Rankings

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