Development Club Championships - A Beginners Guide

There are two development club championships galas held each year, usually one in September and one in April.  These galas are for children in the junior squads.

The races on offer at each gala are decided by the Head Coach with the aim to introduce racing to Development and Sharks squad swimmers with 25m races and beyond races.  The idea is that the racing is fun and allows them to use the skills they practice in training and to help their development as well-rounded swimmers giving them a chance to race a range of strokes and distances.


We have put in place the following conditions;

1.  If you are in blue, otters and dolphins and Bronze the 50m plus races are for you.  You are not eligible to swim in the 25m races irrespective of your age.

2.  25m races are for 8 and under in all other squads.

Why do we have these conditions?  Firstly, if you are an 8 year old in Dolphins or Blue you have progressed more quickly than an 8 year old in Development or Sharks and may have already swam at a Development Club Champs, so to allow everybody to participate, encourage and celebrate their successes we split by ability as well as age. In addition we have to use our pool time fairly for our swimmers.


Heats are usually organised in squad order, with the slower squads swimming first.  HOWEVER medals are organised by age on the day, so it means if you are 8 you maybe in a heat with 7, 9 or 10 year olds, you may come 6th but may still be the fastest 8 year old and win the gold medal for your age group.  It is also worth noting there are separate categories for boys and girls. 

The age group categories are as follows;

25m races usually Age 7 and under, Age 8

50m races usually Age 8 and under, Age 9, Age 10+

Please discuss this with your child before the gala as a child can be very happy or sad at the result of their heat, but the only relevant thing is their race time in relation to others of their age.  This is deliberate, as it is how external galas are run and after all, it won’t be too long before they are attending these as fully fledged Dulwich Dolphins swimmers 


As we said previously this gala is all about fun and participation. After all it is not about the winning its about the taking part.  Todays' nervous 9 year old, who comes last, could be an Olympic Champion in the future.  We do not wish to place too much emphasis on the winners or losers so medals and ribbons are handed at out at the medal desk.  Finally, pool hire is expensive and we simply do not have the time whilst poolside to run a medal ceremony. 


Galas don't run themselves and the club is run by volunteers, all your squad fees are used to pay coaches and pool hire.  There are no paid members of staff.  Going forwards it is simply not possible to rely on the goodwill of a few parents to run a gala twice a year for your children, so without more volunteers these galas will not be held.  A gala requires a minimum of 20 volunteers and has the following roles;

1.  Entrance Co-ordinator - organises the collection of spectator fees usually 1 or 2 people and looks after the photo registration

2.  Race Starter/ Referee - will be a fully qualified official

3.  Chief Time Keepers - usually 2 people, who collect all the times for each heat

3. 6 Timekeepers - one for each lane, a little knowledge of swimming is good but on the day training is always given

4. 3 turn judges - will usually be someone starting out on their training to be a swimming judge.

5. Whips - 3 people who organise the children into heat and race order

6.  Computer Time Entry - 2 people who upload the race results so that medals can be awarded on the day some training will be given on the day but this is relatively straight forward

7.  Medal table co-ordinator - 1 or 2 people who are responsible for medals


Yes, we all started with limited knowledge and everybody is there to help.  At your first gala volunteering opt for a non-techinical role, there will always be someone there to answer your questions, plus its a great way to find out more and to help your swimmer and Club.


Swim England have the ruling that you have to be 9 to compete outside an internal club setting - this is a national limit set by our governing body.  Once you are 9 your child will be emailed about suitable galas that your child may like to participate in, please discuss races with your coach.  Progression to the senior more competitive squads (Silver and above) is decided on attitude, swimming progression and internal and external gala participation.


If you have any questions, please email [email protected] and we will endeavour to come back to you.