First Competition



Before arriving at the gala make sure you know which races you are in and when sign-in closes.

Make sure you have all your equipment and that it is clearly marked:

  • Swimming costume x 2

  • Goggles x 2

  • HSC swimming cap

  • HSC Pool Shirt

  • Towel

  • Water bottle and healthy snack (see Nutrition)


On Arrival

Arrive in plenty of time especially before sign-in closes and SIGN-IN. If you are going to be late please call and let someone know - so that you can be signed in.

If you do not sign-in, you will be scratched from all races and may not be able to swim.

After sign-in go and get changed and put on your HSC pool shirt and then go to poolside and find your swim coach.



Before the races start you will be allowed some time to warm up. Listen out for the announcement as the warm-up time will generally be split between girls and boys. This is a good opportunity to get your muscles warm, please discuss with your coach the warm-up routine you should be doing.

Near the end of your warm-up time some of the lanes will be set aside for practising your starts.

After the warm-up put your HSC pool shirt back on to keep warm.



For each event there will be a number of heats. Swimmers are seeded based on their entry time, not their age. At the end of the event the swimmers will be classified in their respective age group based on the time that they achieved in their heat.


Age as at Date

Galas set an "Age at" for the competition. This may be the last day of the competition or may be the 31 December. If the gala is in March and your birthday is in June but the Age at date is the 31 December then your age will show up in the programme and results as 1 year older eg you are 10 at date of gala but turn 11 in June, then if competition has an Age at of 31 December your age will show as an 11 years old.

For the classification of results and medals most competitions group age groups, so the age category you may be swimming in is 11/12 years olds rather than just swimming against 11 year olds.


Before each event

Listen out for the announcement to go to the marshalling area for your event.

Once you hear the announcement tell your swim coach that you have gone to the marshalling area.

At the marshalling area there will be marshalls (usually parent helpers) who will organise all the swimmers for an event.

The marshalls will:

  • line you up with others in your heat in lane order

  • keep in this order as you move around the pool - the marshall will guide you

  • make sure you know what event you are swimming and the number of lengths in your race 

  • keep your HSC pool shirt on until the last minute

  • At the start of the heat before yours, you will be asked to stand behind the lane you will be swimming in

  • It is very important you are quiet at the start of all races

  • wait for instructions before taking your place at the side of the starting block


Start of the event

The Referee signals that a race is about to start by a series of blasts on a whistle, followed, when the swimmers and officials are ready, by a single long blast. At this point the swimmers step up onto the blocks or get into the water if it is backstroke.

When the swimmers are ready the Starter gives the command "Take Your Marks" followed by the signal to "Go", which may be by shot, klaxon or command.

Under the One Start Rule now in operation, any swimmer starting before the signal is disqualified at the end of the race. There is no recall of swimmers for a second start. However, if a faulty start occurs (eg there is a disturbance) the swimmers may be recalled by blasts on the whistle, and a rope is dropped into the water across the pool.

All swimmers and spectators should be silent for the start of each race


After each event

After you have swum, hold onto the lane rope until the next race starts at which stage you will be instructed by the officials to leave the pool by the side. Do not climb over the touchpads as you may damage them. Collect your belongings, put on your HSC pool shirt and then go to your swim coach to discuss your race. 

After your discussion with your coach go to the warm down pool for your warm down routine and then re-hydrate and have a healthy snack before your next event (see Nutrition)



All galas are held under strict ASA guidelines. All swimmers have been disqualified at some point so do not worry if you are disqualified, just try and learn from your mistake and try not to make the same mistake again. There are a number of reasons why you may have been disqualified, from a false start to a one handed touch just discuss with your swim coach  so you learn from the experience.


Basic rules for the start, strokes and finish

The one-start rule

Any movement on the blocks is interpreted as the swimmer trying to gain an advantage. Therefore all swimmers must remain "completely still" once they are in the starting position. Any movement at this time will disqualify the swimmer (even to adjust goggles!)



Movement of hands and feet must be simultaneous and in the same horizontal plane. At some point during each stroke the head must break the surface of the water. At the start and turn only one complete stroke may be made under the water (i.e. one arm pull followed by one leg kick) before the head breaks the surface. At the turns and at the finish, the two hands must touch at the same time. Elbows should remain in the water at all times except on the turn.



Movements of hands and feet must be simultaneous. Arms must be brought forward above the surface, and back on or below the surface. At the turns and at the finish, hands must touch at the same time at the same level. One or more leg kicks and one arm pull are permitted under the water at the start and turns.



Swimmers must remain on their back during the race except when executing a turn. During the turn the shoulders may turn over the vertical to the breast but the swimmer must have returned to a position on the back when leaving the wall. Gliding into the turn is disqualifiable. At the turn a touch must be made by some part of the swimmers body. At the finish, the touch may be made by hand, arm, shoulder or head and some part of the swimmers body must be above the water and the swimmer must remain on their back.

The flags across the pool are to assist backstroke swimmers and indicate 5m to the wall.


Individual Medley

Order of the swim - Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle

All of the above stroke rules apply. In addition, during the Backstroke to Breaststroke Turn swimmers must touch the wall on their backs and then can push off on their front.


The Finish

Stay in the water and hold onto the lane ropes until advised to leave by the side by an official.


Who are the officials and what do they do?

The ASA laws and rules dictate the number and type of officials that should be officiating at a gala. All these officials ensure that galas are run smoothly and fairly. The following list describes briefly the role of the various officials.



Has complete control of the competition, the venue and other officials in all matters of the swimming laws and conduct.

The Referee's decision is final.



Starts each event.


Stroke Judge

Patrol the side of the pool to observe the swimmers conform to the Laws of Strokes.


Place Judge

Stand at the finish of each event to decide the official places, may also act as a Turn Judge


Turn Judge

Observe the swimmers conform to A.S.A. Law regarding turns and relay take-overs.


Chief Timekeeper

Records official time from each Timekeeper, if necessary adjusts them to suit the places with the supervision of the Referee



Take and record the time of the swimmer in the lane allotted. This is the official time, which may be adjusted in accordance with A.S.A. Law to suit suit the official places, which takes precedence over times.



Announce results after they have been recorded, provides security awareness and any other relevant information.



Arranges the swimmers in each event into appropriate heats.


Technical Desk

Manages the data entry of the meet events, heats and results into the computer.  After the meet, the meet information is processed and sent off to British Swimming for publication in their swimming results database.