Swimming competitions are referred to as swimming galas or increasingly more common as swim ‘meets’. We are a competitive swimming club so we do actively encourage our swimmers to participate in a few galas each year.
We have our own Club Gala in September each year. This is closed to our members only.
Throughout the year we provide opportunity for our swimmers to compete in around 8 ‘open’ galas. Open galas are organized by other swimming clubs usually in their own pool, sometimes by hiring another pool. The organising club opens their event to swimmers from other clubs. Some of these galas are fairly local at Wrexham, Shrewsbury, whilst others are further afield in places such as Wolverhampton, Manchester & Cardiff.
Swim Wales Galas
We encourage our swimmers to compete as a matter of course in the Swim Wales North Region galas at Llandudno. Our membership of Swim Wales actually includes a commitment to support these events by entering swimmers and providing officials. These events consist of a development meet in December and the North Wales Championships over two weekends in late January and early February. We also target the Swim Wales Closed National Championships at Easter, as well as their Open National Championships in July/August, at the Wales National Pool Swansea. The latter two are subject to quite stringent qualifying times.
This is usually done via the Club. We provide details and entry forms for you to complete and return to us with full payment by a stated deadline. The Club then submits all entries received via an electronic team manager system. There are some instances though where you yourself will need to be responsible for submitting entries e.g. National Championships (Easter & Summer Nationals) have to be entered online by the individual swimmer/parent. The cost to enter galas varies but typically, gala fees are around £4-5 per event, some though can be as much as £7 per event. Payment by BACS unless arranged otherwise.
Not all galas are suitable or open to everyone. For instance, they may be limited to a certain age group. They may be limited to certain distances. They are also limited to the ability of a swimmer by qualifying times (QT).
Swim Wales will license a gala at one of four different levels. A Level 1 gala will restrict entry to faster swimmers whereas a Level 4 gala will have much less stringent qualifying times thus making it suitable for less experienced swimmers. In between, there are Level 2 & Level 3 galas. Swim Wales/ASA as the licensing authorities set the qualifying times. These are usually listed on an entry form as a lower qualifying time (i.e. you need to be faster than the LQT to enter).
Some galas set upper qualifying times (i.e. you must be slower than the UQT to enter). This is to ensure a more competitive gala for less experienced swimmers. Some galas set both so you need to fall somewhere in between the LQT & UQT. Others set a qualifying time which you must have achieved to ensure entry coupled with a slower consideration time (CT) i.e. if you meet the CT but not the QT you may still be accepted if there’s space. It can be very confusing so please don’t hesitate to approach our Gala Secretary or Coaches if there’s anything unclear about eligibility and how to enter galas.
Welshpool Sharks Swimming Club compete in the East Clwyd League comprising 5 other clubs in North East Wales. These galas take place in Holywell. We compete as a team rather than individuals with swimmers awarded points for their Club depending on their placing in each race. The club with the most points is the winner. These galas are great for team spirit. We travel together on a team bus and stop off on our return journey for food. McDonalds is the swimmers favorite venue, KFC a close second. Involvement is dependent on team selection and by its very nature places are limited. In each age group there are just 4 races plus a relay. Whilst we try to involve as many swimmers as possible the opportunities are limited.
Attending Galas Parents
Galas generally start early (e.g. warm-up is sometimes as early as 8am). They usually consist of several sessions (am/pm/eve) throughout the day. You could be there for one session or all day if your swimmer competes in many events. There is usually good viewing opportunity at galas but be prepared as a spectator to pay cash for entry. Refreshment provision can be poor so bring your own. The environment is very warm and humid. Turning up to spectate in heavy, warm clothing will mean you’ll get to feel very uncomfortable very quickly, even in winter.
It can be a long day for spectators. A few simple tips would be to sit with fellow Club parents, buy a program to follow the schedule, support not just your own child but our other Welshpool Sharks Club swimmers. You could even take a stopwatch to record your and other swimmers times and splits. Alternatively, bring a good book!
Attending Galas – Swimmers
Swimmers need to arrive on time. They’ll no doubt be nervous so turning up late simply adds to their anxiety. They’ll need their kit together with a towel and a t-shirt to wear poolside. A spare swim suit or jammers and a second pair of goggles and swim hat are recommended as these can rip or break. A pair of flip-flops a good idea too. Lunch, snacks and water are all essential. A book or music to keep them occupied in between their events is a good idea and whilst we don’t stop swimmers bringing electronic game devices, such items are their own responsibility.
Swimming is ‘refereed’ by individuals referred to as Officials. There are different roles from swimmer marshals to timekeepers to stroke judges to the Chief Referee. These individuals are prominent on poolside as they’re (usually) dressed in white. They too are all volunteers. As a Club we are required to provide judges & timekeepers as part of our gala entry application e.g. for every 10 swimmers entered we need to provide 2 officials. Whilst we have a few trained officials within our Club we can always do with more volunteers to these roles to spread the load.