If it is your first gala – don’t worry or panic. The Coaches/Team Managers will be there to guide you through the day and help you all they can. Any problems? – Just ask.

To avoid any unnecessary anxiety, it’s best to pack for a swim meet the night before the competition.

  • Remember the saying, ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’.
  • To enable identification of swimmers and to have a ‘team’ look, all swimmers are expected to wear our club’s tee-shirt or tracksuit when on the poolside/deck, and a Shark competition hat when in competition.
  • Swimmer’s should ensure that every piece of kit is named as is sometimes difficult to identify without it being named, and it’s common for swimmers to mistakenly pick up the wrong items.
  • Swimmers should ensure that everything is neatly put away in their kit bag when they are not using it, especially during warm-ups and races.
  • This will ensure that items such as goggles and hats/caps can be quickly located before they are needed for an event.

Checklist for Gala

Here is a checklist for what to bring to a gala ( note: no glass bottles or any other breakable items).

  • Two swimming costumes


  • Shark Competition hat
    • (Galas/meets often have dozens of swimmers, swimming many events, it’s very difficult for a Coach to spot a swimmer from their club who is not wearing a club hat. Swim hats/caps tear. Swimmers shouldn’t rely on you being able to borrow one from someone more organised than them.)


  • Goggles (plus a spare pair that has been tried and tested with spare straps)
    •   Goggles can break. Last-minute borrowed goggles may leak or fall off.


  • 2 towels & shammy towel
    • Swimmers may be in and out of the water all day, so make sure they bring more than one towel. Shammy Towels are very useful at all-day meets/galas, for preventing the swimmer’s main towel from getting too wet.

  • Deck/Pool shoes to wear at all times


  • Clothes to keep warm on the poolside – Shark tee-shirt, tracksuit etc.


  • Food of sufficient quantity to last the event/the day with lots of carbohydrates and low in fat.


  • Drinks in a suitable container – at least two litres


  • ·Music, reading a book or other pastimes

Arrival at a swimming gala.

When you arrive at a swimming pool for a gala, make sure you at least 30 minutes before your warm-up time.

Report to the Coach/Team Manager that you have arrived. Your Coach must see you before the time that you have been told to attend.

Check out the pool complex layout and familiarise yourself with the important places you will need to go during the day. For example, toilets, reporting area, changing rooms etc.


Check which warm-up is yours and be on time for it. When you warm up make sure you get the most out of it. Don’t stop and talk to your friends as you will have plenty of time to do this throughout the day. Your Coach will have shown you what warm up to do. You must keep moving and warm up your muscles properly to avoid injury.

Dryland warm-up (White, Blue, Silver & Black hats)

Dryland warm-ups are performed before a swimmer enters the pool, to ensure their muscles are warm and supple before swimming.

These are sometimes referred to as blood-flow stretching and are usually performed in two parts, first some warming-up exercises, followed by dynamic stretching. Therefore, swimmers should pack their preferred dryland warm-up equipment such as Stretch bands/cords and rollers.

Pool warm-up

As swimmers often compete in different events and at different distances, most have differing warm-up requirements.

As a result, there is no standard distance or time for an effective pool warm-up.

However, we prefer a pool warm-up lasting between 20 and 30 minutes.

This should include some kicking, with the focus on stroke technique.

Therefore, swimmers should pack their preferred pool warm-up equipment such as a warm-up costume & Swim cap/hat

All swimmers should wear a club competition swimming hat/cap for races and have a spare one available.


Cheering for your team

We encourage you to cheer for ALL members of your team - they will cheer for you!

 There is nothing better to improve your performance than seeing others do well. Don’t just sit down and stare into space – enjoy yourself!

During the Gala

Don’t go outside. When you are at a swimming gala and with an appointed coach and team manager, they are responsible for you and you must not leave the building without permission.

If your parents are there, please ask the Coach for permission to leave the building with them.

After your last race, it is a good thing to cheer others who are swimming.


When you are representing the Club or training with the Club at your appointed session or at an invited session you are expected to behave well. 

Swimmers are expected to sit with the team and NOTwith parents in the spectator area. Parents are not allowed on the poolside at any time during a competition.


Gala Nutrition Preparation

When preparing to compete at a swimming competition you need to pay careful attention to what you eat.


When competition time comes round, you’ll have plenty on your mind already. So the day before/day of the event, keep exercise to a minimum – if anything at all – and eat meals and snacks high in complex carbohydrates. You need to keep those glycogen stores topped up.

·Drink fluids little and often to stay properly hydrated.

·Eat little and often – every two to four hours to keep your blood sugar levels steady and fuel your muscles in preparation for your event.

·Avoid big meals or over-eating in the evening – this will almost certainly make you feel uncomfortable and lethargic the next day.

·Try to stick to familiar foods. Curries, spicy foods, baked beans and pulses (unless you are used to eating them) can cause gas and bloating, so avoid eating anything that may cause stomach discomfort the next day. It’s best to stick to foods that you are familiar and compatible with!



·Don’t swim on empty. Even if you feel nervous, make breakfast happen. Stick to easily digested foods – cereal with milk, porridge, banana with yoghurt, some fruit or toast with jam.

·If you’re struggling, try liquid meals such as milkshakes, yoghurt drinks or a smoothie.

·It’s a good idea to rehearse your competition meal routine in training so you know exactly what agrees with you.



·Try to eat as soon as possible after your swim to give yourself as long as possible to recover if you have to swim again.

·High fat and simple sugar foods will do you no favours in competition – instead search out the complex carbohydrates again.

·If you can’t stomach anything solid try sports drinks, flavoured milk or diluted juice that will help replenish your energy supplies and assist the recovery of aching muscles.

The list below offers great food options to be snacking on in and around training for a competition. Remember to keep eating healthy foods from your regular diet though, such as fresh vegetables, nuts and fruits.

Here are some more you can try

·Water, diluted fruit juice with a pinch of salt or a sports drink

·Pasta salad

·Plain sandwiches e.g. chicken, tuna, cheese with salad, banana, peanut butter

·Bananas, grapes, apples, plums, pears

·Dried fruit e.g. raisins, apricots, mango


·Crackers and rice cakes with bananas and/or honey

·Mini-pancakes, fruit buns

·Cereal bars, fruit bars, sesame snaps

·Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks

·Small bags of unsalted nuts e.g. peanuts, cashews, almonds

·Prepared vegetable crudites e.g. carrots, peppers, cucumber and celery


This is very important. During a one-hour training session, a great deal of fluid can be lost from the body. To compensate for this, 1 litre of fluid per training hour should be available to the swimmer. Drinking before a training session is vital. During a competition, the swimmer should be careful not to dehydrate. Swimming pool surrounds are notorious for being hot and sometimes unbearably so. During the day, water should be taken little and often. Headaches, dizziness and nausea are some of the symptoms of the onset of dehydration.


Water is the best fluid to drink –NO fizzy drinks or high sugar sports drinks are allowed during training sessions unless recommended by a doctor. Parents, please note swimmers who do not turn up to training with the correct drinks bottles will not be allowed to consume their drinks until after the session has finished.

Post-event refuelling

Swimmers need to refuel with quality nutrition after competition to aid the recovery process, ideally within 20 min after the competition. Suggested recovery snacks include: Milk, a banana, a cereal bar, a fruit bar, a sesame snap, dried fruit, nuts (not salted) or rice cakes

If the swimmer arrives in their poolside/deck clothes, they should ensure they have packed a dry set to travel home in.

Overnight Accommodation

To be able to participate in certain events, the swimmer may be required to stay away in overnight accommodation.

  • The swimmer should ensure they have an early night.
  • Most children require about 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.
  • Competitive swimmers may need more to help them fully recover from the rigours of training and competition.
  • A lack of sleep can hurt the swimmer’s performance.
  • Therefore, swimmers must make quality sleep as much of a priority as they do for training and nutrition.
  • Many swimmers find it difficult to get a good relaxing night’s sleep when staying away from home on the eve of the competition.
  • To try and aid a good night’s sleep, it may help if the swimmer packs their normal pillow/s, along with some earplugs and a sleep mask.
  • Swimmers may wish to pack a book and/or their phone/media player as reading and listening to music are great ways to help a swimmer relax.
  • No electronic equipment should be used at bedtime.
  • Some hotel rooms have air conditioning, which could make the swimmer start to dehydrate; therefore, some water by their bedside is always a good idea.