New to Galas?

Some Q&A’s to help parents and swimmers.

Competitive Squad members are required to swim in at least three designated Galas per year and Development Squad members are required to swim in at least two designated Galas per year in order to maintain membership of the Club.

Leinster Swimming organises galas every term.

Details of the gala and the closing date for entries will be emailed to parents.  Our website is a great source of information so remember to keep checking.  All gala event selection and payment will be done via our online payment system.  Some galas have qualification times included in the gala information and it is important to make sure that the swimmer has the required times before selecting and paying for an event. 

What is a Graded Gala?

There are two Graded galas.  They are open to all Leinster swimmers, whatever their standard.

The Club will enter swimmers according to their swim times.

All swimmers in each event are then arranged by the organisers in time order, starting with the slowest entry time and ending with the fastest.  Heats are then made up from this list so the swimmers swim against swimmers of similar standard, irrespective of age, size etc.  After each event the times of all swimmers are arranged in order and compared to preset Grade times.  The fastest three swimmers in each grade win medals.

How do we get there?

Swimmers should make their own way to the NAC or to pools a similar distance away from Kells. We may organise a bus to pools further away. 

What do we do when we arrive?

Always arrive on time for the warm up.  The swimmer should let the Coach/Team Manager on duty know that they have arrived. All swimmers must have a parent/guardian with them for the full duration of the gala.
The Coach/Team Manager on duty will normally be evident. They and other Club swimmers will be wearing their Club blue T-shirts.

Ideally if you arrive first to the NAC then you should try and command an area of the balcony to position the Club. As other fellow swimmers arrive we would like them all located in the same area of the balcony.

What do we do if we can’t make it?

Try to let one of the coaches know as soon as possible. The night before the gala the Gala Secretary/Coach will have to ‘scratch’ whoever can’t make it.

Only swimmers who have informed us that they are unable to attend will be scratched.

If you are unable to attend and do not inform the Gala Secretary/Coach you will not be scratched and the Club will be fined €10 for each event you have entered. That fine will be passed onto you.

If you scratch the entry fee will not be refunded.

If you had agreed to be in a relay and do not turn up and we can’t find a substitute we will pass on the cost of the relay entry. Please note it will not suffice to inform another swimmer of your non-attendance.

Do we need to bring food and drinks?

Eat plenty of carbohydrate (rice, pasta, potatoes, bananas, porridge) the night before, and keep drinking.  Eat something for breakfast, even if it seems too early.  Don’t experiment with new foods on the day of a gala – choose something you know you like and you know agrees with you.

Bring bread rolls/sandwiches, pieces of fruit, breakfast/snack bars and jellies, and of course a drink (write your name on your bottle).

Foods to avoid:-                      Greasy foods (burgers, chips, doughnuts)

                                                Highly seasoned foods (pizza,curries,chillies)

                                                Fizzy drinks

(You can usually buy food at or near the venue.)

Do we need to wear Club gear?

The only items of Club gear that are ESSENTIAL are the Club hat and T-shirt. We expect you to wear the T-shirt around the pool and for all photos and for medal presentations. (Don’t forget to write your name on all your gear) .

What else do we need to bring?

The following gear should be brought to every gala: (Make sure all belongings have your name in them)

Togsx 2 (at least) (warm up and race) 

Club Hatx 2 (In case one rips!)

Goggles x 2 (in case one breaks BUT try them all out before the gala!)

T-shirts/Sweat Shirt(you need to keep warm) 

Towelsx 2

Flip flopsor similar pool shoes

Drinks Bottle already filled

NOTE In the NAC you will not be allowed down to the deck without flip flops or pool shoes

What to do with personal belongings when at the venue?

The only answer to this is use common sense. The swimmers usually congregate together and the bags are left around where they are sitting. Bring as little as possible. – I-pods, phones and other valuables can easily ‘walk’ so it is probably best to leave them at home.

How do you find out about the times of races?

The Club Team manager will tell you when it is time to line up if you are in the area in which members of the Club are congregating . Please don’t wander off as the Gala officials won’t wait for you and you will miss your swim! Ideally Coaches would prefer the Club to be together and support each other for the duration of the meet.

What do swimmers do for warm-up sessions and will they get a chance to practice their starts?

The Coach will take the warm-up session and give any advice necessary. Just as in the Club sessions swimmers should warm up slowly and get a “feel” for the pool.
Diving is NOT allowed during the warm-up except when ‘sprint lanes’ have been allowed by the Gala referee. ‘Sprint lanes’ are generally available for approx 10 mins at the end of the warm-up.

How do we stop goggles coming off when diving in?

Talk to your Coach as goggles will NOT come off if they are worn correctly and the swimmers dive in properly. It can take a while for an inexperienced swimmer to master this. Diving in a ‘sprint lane’ during warm up can be a chance to check your technique Please talk to the Coach if in doubt.

What happens if swimmers are not happy to dive from the blocks?

They can dive from the side of the pool if they wish. They will have practiced diving in Club sessions.

What happens once the swimmers have lined up?

The Team Managers will tell swimmers what heat and lane they are in. When their heat is ready to swim they will be told to go to their lanes. It is important that the swimmers make sure that they check in with the timekeepers in their lane and are ready to swim. The Gala referee blows two or three short whistle blows to make sure the swimmers are ready. Then he blows one long whistle to get up on the blocks (or however the swimmer wants to start). Then the Starter says “take your marks” and waits until everyone is ready and stationary. He then starts the race with a whistle/beeper. If any swimmer is moving when he starts the race that swimmer is disqualified.

What are the other ‘officials’ doing?

Many of them are checking to spot if swimmers break the rules of swimming. If that happens the swimmer is disqualified. Swimmers will have been told the rules during Club sessions but from time to time they make mistakes. If you are disqualified ask the Coach to find out why so that you can learn for the next time.

How do we go about getting our official times?

These are usually (but not always) posted in a prominent place around the pool. Only when all swimmers have finished a race are they asked to get out of the water and they should ask the timekeeper for their time. The Club will be sent the results some time after the Gala finishes.

If there is an incident at the pool, who do we raise our concerns with?

If a child is hurt in an incident it must be reported to the recorders desk. There is a standard accident/incident report form for use at galas. The staff at the pool hosting the event should also be able to provide immediate assistance.

Can we take photos or videos?

The use of cameras/camcorders/cameraphones is not allowed. At some venues a permit is given to those who register their details with the pool reception or gala organisers/desk. It is a condition of attending a Swim Ireland event that swimmers accept that they may be photographed or filmed as part of the occasion, either as an individual or as a member of a group. Swimmers may also appear in a photograph or video inadvertently.

Is there any advice that Coaches give to members re rules, etc that parents/guardians should reinforce?

Not really except generally “be on good behaviour” and ENJOY!

Galas can be stressful for younger swimmers and all swimmers are encouraged to do their best and to focus on improving their times.

It is not realistic for EVERY child to win a medal every time and also not realistic for each swimmer to improve on their time every swim.

Can Parents help out?

Yes. The Club is required to provide “officials” at each gala. To facilitate this it will be expected that parents/guardians of all swimmers in the Competitive and Development squads will act as officials from time to time. None of these jobs require particular skills. Training can be given.


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