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All About Galas

For a young swimmer attending their First swimming gala can be an exciting time, though we also appreciate that they may feel nervous or apprehensive as they might not know what to expect. Our coaching team will do their best to prepare our swimmers for attending their first event, however the information on this page is designed to give an additional insight for both the swimmer and the parent for whom such an event may also be a new experience.

What is a Gala?

Essentially a swimming gala is an event or competition where your swimmer has the opportunity to swim/ compete against other swimmers either individually or part of the club team. Forthcoming gala's are normally advised by the coaching team, though should you have any concerns or questions regarding suitability of an event for you swimmer please ask. Consideration for entry to a gala may be based on several factors such as Squad level, age or entry criteria set by the gala organisers such as times for the stroke and distance to be swam. 

I've been accepted for a Gala What do I need ?

Once your swimmer has been accepted for entry into a Gala you will be sent confirmation as to what events/swims you swimmer shall be competing in. You will also be advised of any entry fees which are due to be paid before the gala commences.

On the day please ensure you swimmer has their club swim cap, googles, water bottle, towel, poolside shoes, T'shirt and coin/token for the lockers in the changing room. For longer or all day Galas you swimmer should have a change(s) of swimwear in order to stay warm and dry.  Dependant on the length of the gala it may be necessary for your swimmer to also have a healthy snack or packed lunch. If you are unsure or need further advice as to what is required for a particular event please check with a member of the coaching team.

What happens when you turn up?

The most important thing to remember is that your swimmer enjoys the day. You should ensure they arrive at the swimming pool at the time advised, this is generally 20 miniutes or so before the warm up session is due to start. This allows our coaches/team managers to ensure all swimmers are present and briefed on the warm up session.

On arrival they should get changed into their swimwear, T-Shirt and poolside shoes and take their water, goggles and cap with them poolside  putting the rest of their belongings in one of the lockers in the changing rooms. Next locate the coach/team manager who is attending the event with the swimmers from the club, all of our club swimmers will sit together in one area on the poolside. As a parent once your swimmer is poolside with the coach or team manager you can retreat to gallery. Parents are remind that they are not permitted poolside at any time.  

How does my swimmer know when to swim?

On entry into a swimming gala you swimmer be allocated to compete in particular heat of an event. Prior to the event the coach/team manager will direct you swimmer to a Marshalling Station usually located in the changing room area. Once at the marshalling station a marshall shall organise the swimmers into the correct event/heat and position them in correct lane order. The swimmers for each event/heat may then pass through further marshalling stations before being directed to the start end of the swimming pool.  

Who are all the people in white poolside?

The people in white on poolside are the timekeepers and technical officials who are in place to ensure that swimmers times are recorded accurately in the event that the Automatic Officiating Equipment(AOE)  fails and also to ensure that swimmers swim in accordance with the rules for a particular event. The AOE is connected to the start signal initiated by the starter which commences the race timing and also the timing pads (yellow & black boards) at the end of pool which record the finish time for each swimmer. All officials are SASA Registered and have undergone training and a period of mentoring to ensure they are competent in the role which they perform.

The illustration below shows where the officials are typically located poolside.

Timekeeper - Typically 2 or 3 timekeepers are present for each lane. Manually record a swimmers time using a stopwatch and aslo operate the back up button for the AOE when the swimmer touches the timing pad .

Chief Timekeeper -  Operates two stop watches, to provide a replacement for any timekeeper who's stopwatch fails, also records the first and last swimmers time and collects and collates timecards if used or in event of AOE failure.

Judge 1 (J1) - Present at the start and turn ends of the pool, these judges ensure that the start of the race and any turns are performed in accordance with the rules for the stroke/event being swam.

Judge 2 (J2) -  Present at the sides of the pool, these judges ensure that each swimmer each event in accordance with the rules for the stroke being swam.

Starter - Responsible for initiating the starting signal for each event.

Referee -  Responsible for the running of the swimming gala. The Referee will allocate all duties to Timekeepers and Technical  Officials present at a Gala, confirm results with the recorder/AOE operator, receive reports for any of the technical officials where a swimmer may have made a technical infingement and make final decision as to whether a swimmer may be disqualified.

Why are swimmers disqualified?

There are many reasons as to why a swimmer may be disqualified, They may include, but not limited to the following:

  • Starting the race before the start signal

  • Leaving the starting block in a relay before the previous swimmer has touched the wall

  • Swimming the incorrect stroke

  • Starting or finishing a race in a method not in accordance with the stroke being swam

  • Not completing the full race

  • Failing to correctly complete a turn in accordance with the stroke being swam

  • Failing to make contact with the wall during a turn in accordance with the stoke being swam

  • Interfering with another swimmer

Should one of the Judges notice a technical infringement with a swimmer, they would report the matter to the referee who will make the final decision as to whether a swimmer may be disqualified. It is also common practice in some novice meets that the referee may choose not to make any disqualifications due to the experience level of the swimmers attending. In this case it is normal for one of the officials to discuss the matter with the swimmer when they leave the pool in order that they can understand they have committed and infringement and learn that there may be an area to work on. Where this is done the officials try to provide feedback to swimmers in a positive manner so as not to discourage.

What happens at the end a race?

At the end of a race your swimmer should remain in the water in their allocated lane until they are advised to leave the water by the side of the pool. During this time they should remain still and hold onto the lane ropes. This is to ensure all swimmers remain in place until the result is confirmed and aslo becasue at some events (not backstroke) "over the top starts" are used, this is where the next race is started with the swimmers from the previous race still in the water. It is therefore imperative the swimmer in the water remains at the side of the lane in a postion that does not interfere with the next race.

In a relay only the final swimmer is required to remain in the water until advised, other swimmers may leave the pool by the side at the end of their leg, however they must ensure they do not interefe with swimmers starting/finishing in lanes they will cross over to get to the side of the pool.

On leaving the water your swimmer will normally return to the area where their coach/team mates are seated.

Following the completion of an event, results and placings for each swimmer along with official times are typically posted near the gallery for spectators and/or poolside for swimmers/coaches.

What about the spectators?

There is very little for a spectator to do other than watch, but there are a few points to note.

  • Please remember to pay your admission fee and buy your programme or raffle tickets.

  • Please observe any health and safety announcement relating to the venue

  • Please observe the photography policy of the event organisers or the event

  • Remember that mobile devices should never be used in changing room areas

  • Cheer on, encourage and support your swimmer and their team mates. Remember that even if they do not win, they have taken part, performed well and hopefully beaten their personal best time giving them something to aim for next time.

  • Behave in an acceptable manner, there are alot of young children present.

  • Please treat all organisers, officials, coaches and other spectators with respect.

Most importantly enjoy the day and enjoy the rewarding experience of seeing your swimmer develop.