Going to a Gala

Your first gala can be a bit daunting so here we have tried to explain what happens and how to be ready!

Before the gala

  • Please make sure you have plenty of sleep the night before - best to avoid any sleepovers !

  • Make sure you have eaten during the day - you won’t perform very well on an empty stomach.

  • Be prepared! Pack your bag the day before if you have an early start.

Arriving at a gala

  • Always arrive in plenty of time to get changed before the start of the warm-up.

  • If you are going to an away gala, make sure you know where the pool is and whether there is parking available nearby.

Things to take with you

  • Extra towel or t-shirt and shorts to help you to keep warm during the gala.

  • Goggles, hat and costume/trunks

  • Plenty to drink but not fizzy drinks or glass bottles

  • Light snacks, fruit, nuts etc preferably not sugary sweets - if you are there for the day you will need a packed lunch as well.

During the gala

  • Wear a club hat when competing please.

  • Always listen to your steward/team manager/coach and do what is asked of you.

  • You will be told where to sit whilst waiting for your events;

Initially this will be somewhere poolside with your teammates and friends. Before your event the coach or team manager will tell you to get ready and report to the marshals. Your team manger will take you to this point if you don’t know where it is. Here you give your name and the marshal will tick you off their list and tell you where to sit. There will be a line of chairs, or a bench, usually with some numbers on the wall over each seat. These correspond to the lanes, so you will be asked to sit in a row under the number of the lane you will be swimming in. As each race starts, all the swimmers will get up and move along to the next bench/row remaining in the same order i.e under the same number, so by the time you go up to starting blocks you walk up in a line in the correct order for the lanes. All the time there are marshals checking you are in the correct place.

Once at the end of the lane, the official (person in white) will ask your name, again to make sure you are in the right lane.

  • Remember you are representing Ashbourne and your behavior reflects on the reputation of the Club.

  • Let your team manager know if you need to leave the pool side area for any reason - even if its just to see someone in the viewing area - we need to know where everyone is so we can be sure you are ready and prepared for your race.

  • Eat light snacks during the event but not immediately before a race.

  • The team captains there also usually there for support and any help you made need as well as the team managers and stewards.

  • MOST of all ENJOY & don’t worry!

Whistles at the Start of a Race

Here is a good video for younger swimmers remembering what to do on whistles at Start!

Backstroke Ledges

What are they?

Need to Check your PBs from previous galas?

Then visit...


You can bring up all your PBs, where you rank against other swimmers and much more!

Want to convert your 25m pool times to 50m pool times or vis versa?

Use this website

Pullboy and click on the ASA Tables.

Make sure you fuel your body correctly!

Unsure what to eat?

Please see our nutritional guidefor advice on what to eat and when!

You can also find more information about swimming competitions on the Swim England website.

DQ Codes

Disqualified and don't know why?

Many swimmers and parents are often confused at internal galas and open meets, when viewing a disqualification on the result sheets and they are confronted by a series of letters which in isolation mean nothing to them.

To help you understand why a swimmer is disqualified a list and explanation of the codes can be found here: DQ CODES

Here is the protocol or etiquette for swimmers.

Before a Race

  • Be quiet for the start of a race. Once the referee blows the short whistles everyone should stop talking and be quiet. If you are walking anywhere near the start end of the pool you should also stop and stand still until the race starts.

  • DO NOT walk in front of officials. Everyone dressed in white is an official (timekeeper, judge or referee). They are observing the swimmers at all times so do not walk in front of them or between them and the pool. If you are in their way you will be asked to move.

  • DO cheer and support your friends and teammates. Feel free to shout, cheer and encourage other swimmers after the start.

At the Start

  • Short Whistles – Before the start of the race the referee will blow several short whistles, then the event and heat will usually be announced. At this point make sure your goggles are secure and prepare to get on the blocks.

  • The referee then blows a long whistle and the swimmers step onto the starting platform (blocks) and remain there. The starter will say "take your marks", the swimmers shall immediately take up a starting position and then remain still. When all swimmers are stationary, the starter shall give the starting signal which will be a beep. You start!

  • For an overview of the basic rules when swimming see here. You should be aware of the rules as you are developing your stokes and your coach should explain these to you when preparing for a gala in training. The best place to practice conforming to rules is at the Club Championships!

After the Race

  • Once you have touched the pad (or end of the pool) as you finish you should then hold the lane rope and wait for all the swimmers to finish. Do not hold onto the pads or end of the pool. All swimmers will then remain holding the lane ropes whilst the next race starts. Sometimes, the referee will ask swimmers to leave the pool before the next heat. After the next heat has started, or if asked by the referee, you leave the pool by the side nearest your lane ducking under any lane ropes. Do not climb over the pads or the end of the pool. Once you have finished you race, whilst waiting and leaving the pool, you should not touch the pads again.

  • You then collect any items you left at the start (like t-shirt, flip-flops etc) and return to your club and team manager.

At the end of the gala

  • Make sure you take all your belongings home with you.

  • Don’t leave any wrappers or empty bottles on poolside.

  • Please let the team manager or your steward know if you are going home with someone other than your parent.

4 Towns League

There are 4 galas each year which are held at Ashbourne, Alfreton, Leek and Uttoxeter.

Age groups are based on the swimmer’s age at 31st December. The races are allocated nearer the date of the gala so we can be sure who is available and any last minute changes to the squad. The team sheets are provided on the day of the gala - there are plenty around so you can check what races you are swimming and be ready to be called upon by the Team Managers.

  • 9 year olds compete in three 25m relays (Crawl, Breast & mixed stroke)

  • 10 year olds compete in 25m Fly, 50m Breast, Back and Crawl races plus relays

  • 12, 14 and Open swimmers compete in 50m Fly, Back, Breast and Crawl races plus relays

  • Open swimmers age group is 15 years and above