Guide Preparation & Etiquette

  • Always arrive promptly for a gala (preferably early) and certainly don’t be late for the coach if provided for away galas.
  • Ensure you listen to what the officials/coaches/managers tell you to do and act on it.
  • Be aware of when and what you are swimming.  The officials/coaches/managers will be able to tell you.
  • If you need to leave poolside, please ensure you tell the officials/coaches/managers (even if you just go to the toilet – they need to know where all the swimmers are).
  • Keep quiet for all race starts.
  • Support and encourage your team.

What to take


  • Swimming costume/trunks.
  • Club hat.
  • Goggles x 2.
  • Tracksuit/shorts and spare t-shirt for poolside (to keep warm).
  • Poolside footwear (either proper poolside shoes or extra clean trainers).
  • 2 towels (one for use during the gala, and one for getting dry afterwards).


  • Drink in a plastic bottle with secure lid.  No need for anything special but not a fizzy drink.
  • Sandwiches, bananas, pasta are suitable foods.
  • Don’t eat everything you have all at once!  Eat and drink small amounts gradually during the gala.

Warm Up

  • Each gala will have a warm up period.  Make full use of the time to warm up for each stroke being swum in that meet, to practice turns (particularly back stroke) and to practice starts.
  • Always listen to guidance from the pool side by Club or Gala officials.
  • Do not dive in where other swimmers are warming up.  A sprint lane will be designated for starting practice.
  • Always continue to swim during warm up – do not stop in the middle or at lane ends (unless letting a faster swimmer pass).
  • Do not be disruptive in a lane and ensure you always keep in mind the safety of you and others.
  • A warm-down pool may be provided, which can also be used to warm up again between events.  If so, you are only allowed to use this facility when given permission by Club officials.

Anyone can enter assuming they meet the entry time requirements where they exist. Look out for notices about these galas on the notice-board, take note of the closing date giving all the necessary information on the Meet. You can also find out about Open Meets on the websites of the swimming clubs themselves as well as the Swim Ulster/Swim Ireland web sites.



It is strongly recommend, that all swimmers who are competing at galas apply the following procedure. This is a generic warm up but is applicable to most competitors across most distances and events. If a special case arises the coach and the swimmers / swimmers concerned will discuss the modified warm up / cool down.

  1. Use the full period of the official warm up to get all the energy systems and the nervous system kick started.
  2. Work aerobically in the main and include swim, pull, kick and skull. If practicable do fast turns though you are swimming aerobically.
  3. Do a few anaerobic swims / kick over 50 m.
  4. Always do a few dive starts and sprints for 15 to 20m.

If the warm up is more than 30 minutes before your race, it strongly suggested that you use the dive pool / warm down pool to keep your energy systems and nervous system in tune for your forthcoming race / races. This may require you to visit this pool a few times between the official warm up and your race. This requires you to be AWARE of your race schedule and programme progression / situation while with your friends on poolside.

It is recommended that you do at least 10 squat jumps or deep knee bends and some shoulder rotations while waiting to approach the start.

It is imperative that you focus on the race ahead and mentally go through the race preparing yourself for the effort required. Also believe in your ability, control your expectations AND do not concern yourself about other swimmers. Keep your body warm by wearing at least a t-shirt –preferably a sweatshirt / tracksuit, shorts and runners.

Food at gala. Hydrate constantly with water or water very mildly flavoured with cordial. Eat small amounts of bread, banana, fruit, nuts, yoghurt etc. regularly during the gala.


On completing your race go to your coach / squad manager and debrief them on your race. Talk about technical aspects, propulsion feel during race, fitness / fatigue onset – when and effect, areas needing work. Receive feedback for improvement or future goals / challenges and accept and enjoy well-earned praise. If you are qualifying for a final, analysis of your performance and your competitors can be very useful.

Then do warm down if there is a warm down pool available. This to include almost race pace speed reducing to steady pace over the same distance as you just swam. If a very short race, you need to do this 3 times. Then do 200m kick at steady pace. Remember the warm down gets you ready for the next race and is critical in aiding your recovery. Fluid and appropriate food are also vital elements and need planning.

Swim Ulster:  Gala Fines Structure

The following fines will be implemented by Swim Ulster where:

  • A swimmer who does not achieve the qualifying time at a meet and does not provide proof within one week of where is was achieved will be fined £5
  • No Show Heats A swimmer who does not withdraw from heats 1 hour before the start of the session will be fined £5
  • No Show Final A swimmer who fails to withdraw from a final within 30 mins of the heat results being posted / announced will be fined £10

All fines will be invoiced to clubs by the Swim Office after the Gala Qualifying times for each meet are in the Competition Handbook

If you have any queries contact the Swim Office 028 90667546 or email