SwimMark Club
Club Mark

Our competition calendar is drawn up before the start of each season by the coaching team and competition secretary.  Galas are an important part of a swimmer's training and development. 

Barking & Dagenham spend a long time finding galas that will provide sufficient gaps between each meet to tie in with the training programmes of each squad.  Competing at too many meets and expecting improved personal bests will not help your child’s swimming development and you will be wasting your money.

Our swimmers compete at a number of galas throughout the year.  There are different ‘levels’ of gala and each have their own entry criteria.

Open Meets

These are galas organised and run by various swimming clubs and are held at various locations across the country.  Age restrictions are applied to every meet and are based on one of the following:-

  • A swimmer's age as at the last day of the meet;
  • A swimmer's age as at 31st December in the year of competition.

Each meet will apply their own conditions around the structure of the competition and this will include one of the age group restrictions.  Open meets are licensed as Level 1, 2 or 3.  Level 1 and 2 meets accept the fastest swimmers only whereas Level 3 meets accept entries on a "first come first served" basis which means those Clubs who get their entries in first, secure places for their swimmers.  The Head Coach will select appropriate meets for each Squad and these will be listed on One Deck.

Some have qualifying times – the gala organiser can restrict who enters by setting a time that the swimmers must have achieved (lower limit) to enter or upper limit restriction so that very fast swimmers cannot enter.

There are strict deadlines for all Open Meets and therefore it is imperative all swimmers submit their entries by the Closing Date stipulated by the Club's Gala Secretary.

Essex County Championships

The focus of many Barking & Dagenham swimmers is to gain qualifying times for the Essex Age Group Championships.  This event is held each year, usually during January and February at venues includig the London Aquatics Centre and Basildon Sporting Village. You must be at least 10 years old as at 31st December in each year to compete and the age group you swim in will be based on your age as at 31st December in that year.  

Regional Championships

Once you have reached Counties, the next level of competition is the Regional Championships and we fall within the London Region. The Regional Championships are divided into two separate competitions - London Youth Championships (those aged 15+ as at 31st December in each year) and London Age Group Championships.(those aged 11+ as at 31st December in each year.  The Youth Championships are held over the last weekend in April at the Aquatic Centre whilst the Regional Age Group Championships take place over two weekends in May at either Crystal Palace or the Aquatics Centre. The Qualifying Times set by London Region each year must have been attained at a Level 3 (or above) meet after the last day of the previous year's competition.

National Championships

The top swimming event is the National Championships.  These are held at Ponds Forge, Sheffield at the end of July/beginning of August.  You must be at least 12+ years of age as at 31st December in each year.  To qualify, swimmers must achieve a Ranking position within a stipulated qualifying window (generally from mid-March until 31st May).  Only the top 44 swimmers across the country in each age group will qualify for Nationals in each event.

Preparing for and attending galas


  • 2 x swimsuits / jammers / trunks 
  • 2 x pairs of goggles
  • B&D swimming hat x 2
  • A towel for each session
  • B&D t-shirt and shorts/tracksuit bottoms to enable you to keep warm on poolside
  • Spare clothes
  • Drinks in plastic bottles 
  • Plenty of healthy snacks, as remember the gala could last the whole day
  • Personal belongings are the responsibility of the swimmer NOT the Team Manager or Coach


  • Eat sensibly in the run up to a gala – carbs are always important to swimmers to keep up energy levels.  
  • Keeping hydrated both in the run up to a meet and during is extremely important
  • Food on the day should be easy to eat and digest and it is a good idea to take food that can be eaten as small snacks rather than a big meal.  Low fat sandwiches/bagels, simple pasta dishes, fruit/raw veg are all good options


  • Spectators are always welcome but it can be a very long day in a very hot atmosphere, so ensure you dress comfortably for the heat, bring food and drink, a cushion and something to keep you occupied in the long waits between races
  • Parents are not allowed poolside so ensure you pack everything your child will need in their bag
  • Generally you will be expected to pay an entrance fee, for which you will be provided with a programme of events
  • Try to be positive for your children at galas even if they don’t swim well.  You may feel you have wasted many hours but negativity will not help!  Most swimmers will put immense pressure on themselves to perform well and, if a race does not go to plan, they will be disappointed and may feel they have let you down.  A parent's role is to give them reassurance and support.  Do not enter into a post-race analysis - this will be done by the coach as and when he/she feels the swimmer will be most receptive