Guide to galas

There are a wide range of galas and competitions that club members can be selected to swim in. If selected for a team event, members are expected to represent the club. Swimmers are asked to wear a Stowmarket Swimming Club hat and a club top. We usually make our own way to Galas or lift share.

The Club is a member of various Leagues that target different ages and speeds. The strongest team is put forward, based on the personal best times (PB’s) of the swimmers, to compete against other clubs in those leagues. At some galas we may put out an A and B team. A young or new swimmer may be entered into a B team to gain experience. Every time you swim it is a good idea to write down the date, stroke, distance, time and whether it was a PB in your log book. There is one included to start you off. This is useful as if you wish to enter open meets you will need to submit times for each race entered.

Open meets are organised by Swimming Clubs all over the country. These meets are different to club galas as you are not swimming as part of a team but as individuals under the Club’s name. The Coach will give out entry forms of Open meets he feels suitable and advise you as to which races you should compete in. There is a fee payable to the hosting club for each race entered. Open meets are not compulsory but gives each swimmer an opportunity to swim any stroke and distance, (taking into account the coach’s advice) and get a time for that race.

In March every year The Suffolk County Championships are held. These Championships are run in the same way as open meets but are only open to swimmers living in Suffolk. To come first in an event means on that day you are the best in the County. By entering the Suffolk County Championships and designated open meets you have the chance of obtaining the qualifying times needed to enter the ASA East Regional Championship and the ASA National Championships.

The Club’s Annual Championships are held in October/November each year. It is run as an open meet, in that you choose what races you wish to compete in, but only club members participate. Our awards presentation evening and disco is held during January. Details are displayed on the notice board nearer the time.

To keep warm between races it is useful to bring a Tee shirt (club polo shirts etc can be purchased from our Swimshop). A non-fizzy drink and a small snack e.g. cereal bar, fruit, chewy sweets (no chocolate) is also a good idea to keep up energy levels.

Q. What is an Open Meet?

A. An Open Meet is a competition where you could win trophies and medals, which are normally yours to keep. The competition is usually split into age groups and swum in speed order over several sessions.

Q. How do I enter an Open Meet?

A. Open Meets are advertised on the club notice board along with all details of who to contact for an entry form. Once you are in possession of the entry form you will need to complete the form and return it before the closing date, with a cheque for the entry money.

Before you enter please check with our Coach as to whether it is a suitable meet for you to do, and that it does not clash with a team gala.

Q. What do I do on the day of the meet?

A. On the day of the meet arrive at the venue in plenty of time, at least 30 minutes before the warm-up time. The time of warm-up is stated on either your entry form or your entry card (which are used at some meets). Ensure you know the location of the pool before you set-off! If you are not sure ask your Coach or Teacher before the day of meet.

On arrival, if a card system is being used, and at the earliest opportunity, you will need to post your competitor cards in the boxes provided, if you are unsure what to do ask any official who will be there to help you. A warm-up is the time given to the swimmers before the racing starts this allows their muscles to warm up, and also get a feel of the pool before they race. The warm-up is usually split, either into boys and girls, or into age groups, (these will be specified by the organisers on the day).

Bring with you several changes of swimming costume and spare towels, a tee shirt to wear poolside and some poolside shoes or clean trainers. You will need to change into a dry costume after warm-up, as it could be sometime before you are called for your race. You will need plenty of food and drink (in plastic bottles).

Swimming pools are very warm places and you will need to replace fluid regularly to avoid de-hydration, little and often is best. Food gives you energy, and you will be surprised just how much energy is used in the racing environment. Light, low-fat, high-energy foods are ideal, e.g. pasta, rice, bread, cereals, marshmallows, jellies etc. again, in small amounts, as swimming on a full stomach is ill advised. Avoid too much chocolate as this will melt and is not easily digested!

Q. What do I do when it is time for my race?

A. On poolside there are normally coaches and helpers from the club there to look after you. Report to them when you arrive on poolside, they will help you with the warm-up procedure and with getting you ready for your race. Please note, once you have reported to the coach/helpers it vitally important that you do not leave poolside without their approval. Should you need to leave poolside for any reason you should ask the coach/helper before you leave and report back to them on your return. There is usually a board on which the event being prepared is displayed; when your event is shown you should make your way to this area and report to the marshals. Take with you your swimming hat, goggles and drink; keep your tee shirt on. The marshals will ask your name and return your competitor card (if cards are being used) to you and will then arrange you in heat order ready for your race, follow the instructions of the marshals carefully as things can move very quickly at this point.

When it is your turn to race you will be marshalled to the start area, when the previous heat to yours has been started you should make your way to the lane indicated on your competitor card and hand your card to the timekeeper on that lane. Remove your tee shirt, shoes etc. and put on your swimming hat and goggles and wait instructions from the Referee. When you have finished your race do not leave your lane until instructed to do so, and where electronic timing is in use exit the pool at the side. Pick-up your tee shirt, shoes and drink, then report back to the coach.

If you require more information, on this or any subject please ask the coach or any teacher who will be only too pleased to assist you.