City of Canterbury

Swimming Club



A Parent’s Guide to Competitive Swimming


General advice

Swimmers who have not yet reached their ninth birthday are only (under ASA rules) able to participate in internal events. However, it is important to get on the first 'rung' with an officially-recorded personal best (PB) time.


As a general rule, young swimmers start by competing over 25m and 50m distances, generally only once you are 10 (girls) or 11 (boys) can you compete for over 100m distances. The Individual Medley is when swimmers swim each stroke (in the order: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle).


For most galas, there are no heats or finals, just races (Heat Declared Winners or HDW). Swimmers race against swimmers with similar qualifying times but not necessarily the same age. The times are then recorded for each race and the winner is the quickest swimmer in that age group. This means that a swimmer may win their race - but not win a medal, as there may be someone the same age in a faster heat; or may lose their heat but still win a medal, as everyone else in their heat was a different age to them.  It is therefore important to tell your child to swim as fast as they can - as they are racing the clock, not necessarily swimmers in the other lanes!


Disqualifications are inevitable especially for the younger swimmer and for the more technical strokes. Your swimmer will be disappointed if they are disqualified but they should be praised for their race effort. In the long run, it is better for them to be disqualified in the early stages of their career as they will quickly learn how to avoid disqualification and be competitive. They will have plenty of other opportunities to race again.


Types of Swimming Events

  1. Internal Events. This covers our Club Championships, held once per year, as well as occasional galas run in conjunction with the King's School of Swimming.
  2. Open or Graded Meets. These are hosted by us (CCSC) and other swimming clubs and will include swimmers from many clubs.
  3. League Galas. Swimmers will be selected by the club to swim in these and will be told which event they will be swimming in once they have arrived at the poolside.
  4. Championships. These include events such as the County Championships, Southeast Regional Championships (SER) & National Championships. These have qualifying times which can be found on the relevant websites and on the CCSC website.

Internal Events

These include Time Trials (for specific squads) and Club Championships (for the whole club). Often the coach will decide which stroke the swimmer should do. They are encouraged to use these events to gain times in their less favoured strokes, to achieve a qualifying time for a forthcoming event or for squad progression.




For most events, the ASA uses the year of birth or “age as of last day of the event” which means the age your swimmer will be at the end of the event. The notable exception is club records and team events which are aged in the calendar year of the swim.


Club Championships

Once a year, CCSC runs its ‘Club Champs’. They are held over 2-3 sessions at Kingsmead Leisure Centre.


There is no entry fee to encourage maximum participation, swimmers are entered into as many events as their coaches think appropriate. Withdrawal forms need to be signed by coaches by the appropriate deadline.


Club Champs are open to all swimmers including all transition levels, although some younger swimmers may be invited to participate in selected events only. However, the Club Champs are most appropriate for the younger swimmer and a good event for them to get the time and have a try at the longer races. They are expected to enter all events they are eligible for. It’s definitely a “have a go” competition but there will be disqualifications so you should prepare the younger ones for this.


The awards are given within age groups, across squads, which enables coaches to compare times across the club. Results are posted after all ages have swum the stroke/distance. Trophies are awarded to any swimmer who finishes in the top three in any race in their age group. Points are achieved for places 1 to 6 in each race and are accumulated over the course of the whole club championships to determine the “Top Boy” and “Top Girl” winners in each age group. Trophies for Top Boy and Top Girl are awarded at our Club Presentation evening each year.



Licensed Meets


An open meet is very different from other events in several ways, so requires more preparation. An open meet takes place over a longer period of time than other events, often a whole day or weekend rather than a single evening. Open meets are generally “age on the day”, so the age your swimmer will be on the last day of the event. Any swimmer who is age 9 or older can enter open meets provided they meet the entry qualification or consideration time for their age.


Licensing Guidelines

This document is for general guidance, definitive English licensed meet conditions from the ASA may be found on the ASA website



The ASA operates a system of licensing to ensure that appropriate competition is offered to all abilities. There are presently four license levels, one to four, level one being the highest.


Each level has different organisational requirements, such as entry time limits, provision of electronic timing, qualification of officials, swim down facilities, etc. For competitors, the more significant differences are the level of ability at which they are targeted and the way in which entries may be limited.


Level 1: For swimmers seeking National and Regional qualifications.

Lower limit times only (the swimmer must be faster than a specified time). The ASA set a minimum standard for the lower qualification time. Held in long course pools (50m) only. The meet may not be specified as ‘first come first served’ for entries.


Level 2: For swimmers seeking National and Regional qualifications.

Lower limit times only (the swimmer must be faster than a specified time). The ASA sets a minimum standard for the lower qualification time. The meet may not be specified as ‘first come first served’ for entries.


Level 3: For swimmers seeking up to Regional Qualification or also for entry to Level 1 and 2 open meets.

Upper and lower limit entry qualifying times apply. (the swimmer must be within a specified time band). Qualification times vary widely and may be dependent on the date that the competition is held within the season but may not be faster than National Qualifying times. Held in short course (25m) or long course (50m) pools. Entries may be on a ‘first come first served’ basis.


Level 4: For swimmers seeking County Qualification, inexperienced swimmers, or for Club events.

No time limit restrictions are mandated but may be restricted by the organising club to ensure safety regarding entry numbers.



  • National Qualification may only be obtained at Level 1 or 2 Meets or equivalent.
  • Regional Qualification may only be obtained at Level 3 or higher.
  • Kent County ASA Qualification may be obtained at Level 4 or higher.


Preparing entries

During the course of the year, the coaches choose which open meets the Club wishes swimmers to attend based upon the appropriate level of competition. The choice of the open meet may be different for different squads. Details of the meet, such as the entry form and qualification times, are put on the website. Several weeks (or even months) before an open meet your swimmer will receive an entry form from the competition secretary, with details, date, available events, closing date etc. These details can also usually be found on the host club’s website.


Open meet events are generally sign-in sessions with the first session often requiring you to ‘sign in’ by 8:00 am and the last session ending in the evening! Session details can also usually be found on the host clubs web site. Before entering any galas you should discuss the entry with your swimmer's coach, they will advise which events are appropriate.


Please clearly mark which events you want to enter & return the form to the Competition Secretary with the correct amount of money made payable to the City of Canterbury Swimming Club. You must return the completed form with payment by the date stated so that the Club can submit all our entries in good time before the closing date so that our entries are accepted and so that any queries can be sorted out early. If you miss the closing date your swimmer will not be able to participate.



Even though your swimmer is inside the consideration or qualifying times their entry may not be accepted if the host club receives too many entrants. If this case the host club will reject entries starting with those nearest to the cut off time so check if you were near the qualifying times for that event. For a card meet, if you have a card missing your swimmer’s entry has probably been rejected for that event. For a cardless meet, accepted entries will be posted on the notice board and on the host club website. Refunds will be given via the club for rejected entries.


Signing In/Out at meets

Most meets are cardless. You should take your ASA card along as you may be required to present it for identification and proof of ASA membership. These meets require your swimmer to sign against their name; “sign in” for each event. Signing in is required by a certain time, usually before the warm-up for each session but be aware some meets have a queue to sign in. The signing in sheets are usually found by the changing rooms and have one sheet per event, printed with the entry name in alphabetical order. If you are in more than one event in the session make sure you sign in for all events in that session. Often sheets for later sessions come out during the earlier session so if your swimmer has events in the later session they can sign in early and avoid the pre warm up rush.


Some meets involve signing out. At these meets, there is usually a financial penalty for not signing out. Organizing a Sign out meet, can lead to empty lanes, and extend the day, however, allows much more of the gala to be organized in advance.


Please note that your swimmer should not leave the event until they have told the coach - especially events that are held away from Kingsmead so that coaches always know where all swimmers are.



On the day of the Open meet

After your swimmer has signed in, they will get changed and should go and join the rest of the Club squad on the poolside.  There will be opportunities for you to chat with them but for the rest of the gala, they will be with the team on the poolside, whilst parents are on the balcony - which is why many parents volunteer to become an official, as it is less boring, gives them a poolside view (and is often less hot!).


Warm-up is 30 minutes to an hour before the event starts and is usually separate for boys/girls and, depending on numbers; the older swimmers will often warm up after the younger ones. There is no diving initially during the warm-up but towards the end of each warm-up session, listen for the announcement, some lanes will be dedicated as sprint lanes where swimmers can dive in and sprint one length, getting out at the other end and walking back.


The Coach will give your swimmer advice on how much warm-up to do and what thing to concentrate on depending on the event they are swimming in that day.


When the event starts, announcements will be made calling each event in turn. When the announcement is made for the relevant events your swimmer should speak to the Coach for a last-minute talk and then will be sent down to the Marshalling or “Whipping in” area.  Be aware that at the larger events, they will have to go to marshalling well before an event - this helps the organisers sort the swimmers into heats and ensures that the gala runs as efficiently as possible.


The younger ones especially will want to wave to you as they go down to the Marshalling area and at this point, you start to panic that they haven’t got their goggles, hat etc.


In the Marshalling area, your swimmer should put their goggles on their head or push them down around their neck. If they are carrying them it is possible they will put them down or get in a “faf” at the last minute. It will also stop them chewing and biting them - goggles always snap in the whipping area never in the pool - now why would that be? They should also have their swim cap on in plenty of time.


Swimmers will be lined up in the Marshalling area in heat order and then asked to go forward and stand behind the relevant lane. The timekeeper for the lane will ask your swimmer to confirm their name. For a card open meet your swimmer's card will be handed back to them in the Marshalling area and they should hand the card to the timekeeper for their lane.


Depending on how many competitors there are in an event there can be a lot of heats and it can take absolutely ages! However, your swimmer's race will be over pretty quickly so be sure you don't miss it by an inappropriate moment for the loo, coffee or a snooze.


After your swimmer's last event, they may go home. However the must tell the Coach, so he/she knows who is still on the poolside, your swimmer does not have to wait for the end of the event unless the Coach advises otherwise.



When the races have swum, the times of each swimmer are recorded on the computer system which produces the final result sheet after all the races for a particular event have been swum. Results sheets are displayed around the poolside for the swimmers and around the spectator area for you to read as soon as it is possible to do so. Some events (including ours) now use smartphone apps to publish results. Its best to ensure you have the app prior to the event.


Speeding Tickets

For some lower graded open meets, there are a set of upper cut-off times (usually UQT or UQT plus a few seconds), which swimming faster than these times earns a 'speeding ticket. Check the small print in the gala conditions, usually found on the host clubs website, to see if there will be speeding tickets and if so whether the cut of times are UQT or above. Getting a speeding ticket means that the swimmer is not eligible for medals (and is effectively disqualified) but it is a very positive indicator of a 'good time' for that race, in that age group. So your swimmer should be reassured that a speeding ticket is a good thing just as is a win or a placing or personal-best.



Generally, medals are awarded for the top three in each stroke/age group and ribbons for 4th to 6th places. These can be collected at the event any time after the results are published.



Throughout the year the club enters teams in galas and leagues at different standards of competition. Swimmers will be selected by the club to swim in these and there are no entry fees or forms to fill in. Not participating in a Gala for which your swimmer has been chosen may jeopardise their squad place. The age groups are (usually but not always) determined as age on the 31st December of that year so your swimmer will be swimming against other swimmers of a similar age who may be faster or slower rather than swimming against other swimmers with similar times regardless of age as at Open galas. Swimmers will be told which event they will be swimming once they have arrived at the poolside.


Galas and League events take place on a single evening. The races are within age groups against five other (usually local) clubs. The exact number of teams competing depends on the league and the number of lanes at the host pool.

For younger swimmers, the races are generally 50m (sometimes 25m for the youngest age groups) individuals for each stroke, a Medley relay, a Freestyle relay and a Squadron relay. Swimmers may swim up an age group but may not swim down.

You must read the notice board each time you come training and regularly check the website. If you are selected to swim in a gala you must follow the instructions given on the team selection notice.


On the night

Club transport is sometimes provided (at a charge) for further afield league galas but when it isn’t you may want to share lifts or ask someone else to transport your swimmer if you cannot take them. Arrive at the host pool at the time requested on the board/sheet. The requested arrival time allows for confirmation of arrival to the Coach, changing and warm-up but getting there late will worry the Coach who at some point will have to reallocate your swimmer’s races.


Once on poolside (although sometimes after warm-up) a team sheet will be available and your swimmer will be able to read this to see which events they are swimming. Swimmers swim the stroke and distance allocated to them. There is no discussion about this as in the weeks prior to the competition a great deal of thought has gone into what stroke each swimmer should do. Relays are always swum in the order stated. The club will usually put a swimmer in just a relay race for their first experience of the competition as this helps to control the inevitable 'first race nerves'. So do not be disappointed if your swimmer only does one length in the evening - it is an honour to be chosen to swim for their club.


All swimmers are expected to stay until the end of the event and to support their teammates and congratulate the winning club and the other participating clubs.



Ages for Championships are usually “age on the last day of the meet”. Entry forms can be found on the relevant websites but will also be distributed via your coach. Please clearly mark which events you want to enter & return the form to your squad rep/coach with the correct amount of money made payable to the City of Canterbury Swimming Club. It is advisable to return the form before the closing date rather than on the very last day, so that any queries can be sorted out early. If you have not got a consideration time for an event but expect to get it in an event before the championship then please speak to your swimmer’s coach for advice. If you miss the closing date your swimmer will not be able to participate.


County Championships

These are the first major championships a competitive swimmer will encounter. They are held over a series of weekends in Feb/March and are similar to a Level 1 Open meet in that there are only lower consideration times. However it is not an open meet because they are only open to swimmers of clubs affiliated to the relevant County ASA which for CCSC is Kent ASA. In the autumn of each year, the following year’s county qualification times” are published on the Kent ASA website. They can alter a little each year (usually getting faster), but the previous year can be used as a guide. If your swimmer is faster than the time(s) published the Club would expect your swimmer to compete.


Qualifying times need to be achieved at Level 1 to 4 galas, i.e. times recorded at galas that are not registered with the ASA don’t count. Entry forms will be distributed via the Competition Secretary and should be returned with the relevant payment (made out to the City of Canterbury Swimming Club).


Regional Championships

This is the next level of Championships which are split between Age Group Championships (Boys and Girls up to 14 years old) and Youth Championships (Boys and Girls aged 15 years old and over). Swimmers at this level and above will compete as part of the East Invicta Excel team.


Both Championships are held over one or more weekends in May and June. Clubs from the South East Region are eligible to enter swimmers for this event who have achieved regional qualification times (these are published on the South East Region website). This is a high level of competition and the club would expect swimmers obtaining these times to compete. Qualifying times need to be achieved at Level 1, 2 or 3 galas. For the Youth Championships, there is a full set of events. Entry times are short course although the Championships will have swum in a long course pool.


National Championships

This is the top level of “age group” swimming for swimmers aged 11-14 (Age Group Championships) followed by the National Youth Championships for girls and boys of 15 and over. It is held in July and is open to all swimmers who achieve a national qualifying time. These are available from the ASA website. It is important to note that qualifying times for National Championships must have been achieved at a Level 1 or 2 meet. If your swimmer gets this far you probably know what you are doing by then!


Obtaining Qualification Times for Championships

Currently, County times must have been achieved within 12 months of the closing date; at a licensed meet, level 1 – 4.

Both Regional and National times must be achieved from 1st Oct preceding the year of competition. Regional Times need to be achieved at licensed meets, level 1 - 3 and National Times at a licenced meet, level 1 – 2.



Swimmers Q&A


How should we prepare?

In the week before the meet, and at the end of each day of the meet, ensure that your swimmer refuels on top quality athlete’s food containing complex carbohydrates. They should also be drinking plenty of fluids, to ensure their body’s cells are fully hydrated.

It can add to the nerves before a race if a swimmer is worrying about a new pair of goggles that have just been bought because their usual ones broke. Where possible swimmers should refrain from trying out new costumes or goggles for the first time in a race. It is best for new items to be "experienced" during a training session so that any problems can be resolved ahead of the competition.


What equipment will be needed?

Swimmers usually take their bags with equipment to the poolside. However, at large events, many items end up in lost property or go missing so ensure everything is well marked and encourage your swimmer to put everything away in their bag when not using it, especially during warm-up and races. This will also have the advantage that they can find their goggles/hats quickly when they are needed for the race! To enable identification of swimmers and to have a “team” look, all swimmers are expected to wear a City of Canterbury Swimming Club hat when swimming in external events. It is a good idea to bring several swimming costumes to a long meet so your swimmer can get changed after a race (if there is time) and stay warm. They should also have at least one spare (tried) pair of goggles or spare straps and clips.


Your swimmer will be in and out of the water all day, so make sure you bring more than one towel. You might find it useful to get a swimmer’s chamois. It allows the swimmer to dry off most of the moisture without soaking their usual towel, and saves your laundry basket!


What clothing will be needed?

Some pools can be draughty and it is important to keep warm between events, so bring plenty of warm clothes. Club kit – Official City of Canterbury Swimming ClubT-Shits must be worn, this does not include any of the variety of event-specific shirts or polo shirts, such as Training Camp shirts etc... Don’t forget a pair of pool shoes, or flip-flops or clean trainers & socks, as a lot of heat can be lost through bare feet on a cold poolside. Don’t forget, if they arrive in their poolside clothes, to make sure they have a dry set to go home in! It can also be useful to have a spare plastic bag for regular clothes and other belongings to keep them dry while the swim bag is on the poolside.


What should the swimmer do when not swimming?

Swimmers are expected to stay on the poolside during the meet. They must not leave the poolside without a coach’s express permission. Coaches need to speak to swimmers during the day for either race strategy advice or to send them up for marshalling to get ready for their race. If your swimmer wants to leave the poolside, even if it’s just to go to the toilet, they must let the Coach know to ensure that they don’t miss their race. The Coach has a whole team to keep track of, which can be very difficult if swimmers keep “disappearing” at crucial moments. If a swimmer leaves the poolside to spend some time with parents they must get back in plenty of time for their next race, and let the Coach know they are back. After their swim, it is vital that your swimmer immediately sees the Coach, swim down and then if time permits visit with you. Please do not beckon your swimmer over to the spectator area after a race to discuss/congratulate their performance. There should be no messing about in the swim down pool…it is not playtime! Swimmers should be tidy and pick up all their litter. There are usually plenty of rubbish bags and bins at meets so do encourage your swimmer to use them.


Although swimmers are encouraged to support their teammates it can be helpful, especially for open meets, for them to bring something, such as a book, magazine or computer game, to keep them occupied during quieter moments. Do be aware that neither the club nor the venue can be held responsible for loss or damage to property so your swimmer should not bring valuables or things that can be damaged by being in a damp atmosphere.


Note that if swimmers do leave the poolside, they should always dry themselves and put on shoes before visiting spectators, shops or other areas.


What should the swimmer eat and drink?

On the day of the meet, your swimmer may be on the poolside for the whole day, so they need to be kept well-stocked with small, easily digestible snacks, rather than having large meals. It is just as important to stay well hydrated, so provide plenty of fluids and encourage your swimmer to sip often at their drink during the day. Although some venues have excellent catering facilities it is best not to rely on them, so bring a selection of food to keep your swimmer in top form throughout the day. For younger swimmers, it is best to hand the food to them in small “doses” to avoid them eating it all within the first hour! To keep perishable food fresh we suggest you use a cool bag with an ice pack.


Food suggestions

  • Complex carbohydrates for “grazing” throughout the day, e.g. small portions of:
  • Pasta/Rice salad
  • Muffins (sweet or savoury)
  • Bread, Pitta bread, Bagels
  • Pizza (but be careful of fatty toppings)
  • Rice cakes
  • Breakfast cereals or Cereal bars
  • Bananas
  • Popcorn
  • Jacket potatoes are also suitable if available at the venue’s catering outlet.


Drinks suggestions

  • Water
  • Sports drinks
  • Weak squash


What do I need to do?

You have to make sure that your swimmer gets an early night before the gala and arrives at the pool in plenty of time. In the rush to get your swimmer ready it can be easy to forget your own needs, so don’t forget to pack items for yourself. You might want to bring a comfortable cushion (some venues have very hard spectator seating), something to read, a pen or pencil to mark up your programme, and a separate picnic with plenty to drink. Some parents also like to bring a stopwatch but this is not essential as many venues have electronic time boards and results will be printed and displayed at the venue during the sessions. It is worth noting your swimmers times for each event as DQ’s will not get an official time recorded but praise for a PB, even with a disqualification, will help the disappointment. Then you have to be seen to be cheering, taking photos (remember spare batteries, memory sticks or film and to sign the child-protection form/ photographic register), and worrying!


How can we see the Results?

Each time the swimmer swims the results will be fed back to the Club and CCSC swimmers times will be available on your Swim Manager account available online or on the App. Full results of external meets will be posted on the relevant hosting clubs/championship website. This can take a few weeks so keep checking!


Are there trophies or medals?

The medal system and its quality will vary from event to event. Please see advice on individual events for guidance on awards.


What/Where are my Personal Bests?

When the swimmer achieves a time that is better than their existing time for that stroke/distance it is recorded on the club PB database. The latest PB's can be found on the website. PB's are recorded separately for 25m short course (SC) pools and 50m long course (LC) pools.


These PBs should be used to check against qualifying times for Open Meets and Championships. PBs achieved in events where your swimmer is not representing CCSC i.e. schools galas, can be emailed to the coach for inclusion in the PB database.


What are BAGCATS?

British Age Group Categories or BAGCat points are systems of points that are awarded for different swims. When a swimmer competes in a BAGCat event, their time is converted into points that take into account a swimmer's age and sex. A swimmer can take part in as many events in a season as they choose to, but only their highest points score in each swimming category will count towards their final BAGCat total. For an event, the overall position of a swimmer is the sum of the BEST point score in each of the 5 categories (50m events, 100m, FORM, Distance and IM (100IM for 9-11year olds and 200-400IM for older swimmers). It is therefore advisable to enter every category in the Age Groups if you can achieve the qualifying times. (N.B boys 11 and below and girls 10 and below don’t swim the 100m individual events).




Consideration or Qualification time - the slowest entry time for a particular event that the organisers of a gala will consider.

DQ'd and disq. - Abbreviation for disqualified on result sheets and time cards ( See reason codes below)

Entry time - The time submitted by the Club for a swimmer being entered in a gala. If entries are made well in advance, the entry time may not be the swimmers current PB

Form Stroke - One of the three strokes having specific requirements (ie. Breaststroke, Butterfly or Backstroke). Freestyle is not a Form Stroke but is used for distance events, such as 200/400/800 or 1500m depending on the swimmer's age and sex.

Heat Declared Winner (HDW) - When no final is swum and the winner is declared on the times swum in the heats

Individual Medley (IM). The competitor swims all four strokes in the following order: - butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.

Licensed Meets: These are the only meets via which you can qualify for County, Regional and National competitions (see the section on Licenced Meets)

Long Course (LC)- Events held in a 50 m pool

Lower Qualification Time (LQT). The slowest entry time for a particular event that the organisers of a gala will consider.

Medley Relay - Four swimmers each swim a different stroke. The order is always backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.

Personal Best (PB) - A swimmer’s personal best time for a given event.

Upper Qualification Time (UQT). The fastest entry time for a particular event that the organisers of a gala will consider.

Short Course (SC) - Events held in a 25m pool

Squadron Relay – Usually the last race of a gala. A freestyle relay consists of one swimmer from each age group or one swimmer of each sex from each age group.




Disqualification Reasons

The following codes are built into Hy-Tek Meet Manager Software; these codes are used in many open competitions.


7O       False start

7P        Declared false start

7Q       Did not finish

7R        Delay of meet

7S        Entered water without permission

7T         Interfered with another swimmer

7U        Walking on or springing from bottom

7V       Standing on bottom

7W       Pulling on lane line

7X        Finish in wrong lane

7Y        Unsportsmanlike conduct



2I        No touch at turn

2J        Non-continuous turning action

2K       Not on back off wall

2L        Shoulders past vertical towards breast

2N       Head did not break the surface by 15 metres

2P       Toes curled over gutter after the start

2Q       Did not finish on back



3A       Alternating Kick

3B        Non-simultaneous kick

3C       Downward butterfly kick

3D       Scissors kick

3E        Hands brought beyond the hipline during stroke

3F        Non-simultaneous arms

3G       Arms two strokes underwater

3H        Arms not in same horizontal plane

3I         Elbows recovered over water

3J        One hand touch

3K        No touch

3L        Non-simultaneous touch

3M       Shoulders not at or past vertical towards breast

3P        Head under for 2 or more strokes

3Q       Incomplete stroke cycle other than 1 pull - 1 kick



1A       Alternating Kick

1B        Kick breaststroke type

1C       Scissors Kick

1E        Non-simultaneous arms

1F        Arms underwater recovery

1J        One hand touch

1K        No touch

1L        Non-simultaneous touch

1M       Shoulders not at or past vertical towards breast

1N       Head did not break the surface by 15 metres



4K        No touch on turn

4N       Head did not break the surface by 15 metres


Individual Medley

5P        Strokes out of sequence



61        Stroke Infraction swimmer #1

62        Stroke Infraction swimmer #2

63        Stroke Infraction swimmer #3

64        Stroke Infraction swimmer #4

66        Early take-off swimmer #2

67        Early take-off swimmer #3

68        Early take-off swimmer #4

6P        Changed order of swimmers

6Q       Not enough swimmers


Your Child's First Gala

Firstly remember to get there on time, being late will make your child stressed, so aim to arrive at least 15 minutes before warm-up commences.


If this is a gala where your child has been selected to swim for the Club remember they are there to swim for the team. Confirm as early as possible to the team manager that your child is or is not available to swim. If later your child cannot make the gala, let the team manager know as soon as possible. Dropping out at the last minute lets the whole team down. Sometimes your child may only be selected for relays - that is part of being a team.


What should your child to bring with them?

Remember galas usually last 90 minutes or longer, unlike the time trials your child will have started out on.


  • They will need a drink, ideally, half a litre per hour. 2 parts water mixed with 1 part fruit juice is ideal, you don't need to waste money on expensive energy drinks.
  • Something to nibble on; an energy bar, jelly babies, fruit gums or jelly cubes are ideal - not chocolate.
  • A tee-shirt, but not cotton as it absorbs too much water and they will get cold.
  • Shorts, again not cotton.
  • Flip flops, crocs or similar to put on your feet.
  • 2 costumes, 2 pairs of goggles and 2 swimming hats.
  • 2 towels.
  • Cards, books or something else to do poolside, because it can be a long wait between races.


What should you bring with you?

  • A drink and something to nibble on - it gets hot in swimming pools and catering facilities can be non-existent.
  • A pen to write down your child's result and possibly a stopwatch to time them - most mobile phones have a stopwatch function.
  • Something to do/read, as stated earlier galas can be long and dull.
  • Lots of positive energy and sympathy - always look for something positive to say to your child, sometimes this is hard but with practice, it can be done.


Try not to get too wound up.

Very few young children are focused, yours may the exception but most aren’t. They will forget to drink, they won't remember to do any land warm-up and if you are really unlucky they may even miss their race because they are too busy chatting etc. They do get better over time and usually, the coaches and older swimmers help them to remember all of these things.


Galas for Parents of more advanced swimmers.

As your children progress they will need more kit poolside.

  • Warm-up costume.
  • 2 racing suits.
  • 3 pairs of goggles and 3 hats, which they should take with them up to the starting blocks - goggles always snap just before a race, it is a universal law.
  • Shorts, tracksuits and woolly hats because some pools are colder than others.
  • iPod / MP3 player to concentrate the mind before a swim, but make sure they give it to the coach before they swim.
  • Trainers and socks because flip flops aren't good if you need to do a land warm-up.
  • Something more substantial to eat, more energy bars, bananas, dried fruit, energy gels.


Get involved!

Why not volunteer and get a poolside role? You will not be alone! Over 10,000 volunteer hours are given to the club each year. It makes the day go quicker. All of the officials and other helpers are unpaid and the gala wouldn't run without them. The children of many of the officials stopped swimming 20 or 30 years ago!


Get involved in supporting gala’s in different ways, providing refreshments, manning the raffle, helping at the signing in desk etc. If you can help with marshalling on the poolside see the clubs Welfare Officer to have a CRB check, as you cannot help the poolside without it. Assisting is enjoyable and it makes the day go quicker.


You will still get to see your child swim, often from a more favourable position on the poolside!