Galas for beginners

Tory Batten Craddock has put together a really useful guide to Galas for new parents.

Gala emails
Any gala your rep sends you information about is appropriate for members of your squad. The information sent will include details about when, where, distances and strokes of events, qualifying times by age-group, cost per event etc, plus the entry form. Most of this will be in the attachment. The key information that will be in the email is the date by which to submit the form to the Chair or your coach. If you miss the closing date, your child cannot swim in the gala.

The entry process
It is up to you to enter your child for a gala, not to wait for the coach to advise you to do so. You complete the form for your child, write a cheque according to the number of events (i.e. races) and hand it in on time. When you enter your child, I suggest you keep a copy of the entry form. Otherwise, many months on, it’s easy to forget what they have entered for.

Before the club’s entry is submitted, you will be asked to check the information registered for your child and advise of any errors. There is a very small window within which to do this so please respond promptly. Otherwise your child might miss an event, or be entered with the wrong time.

Qualifying times (QTs)
Your child’s time must be on the entry form or it can’t be submitted. Level 3 and above galas have lower and upper limits to make sure that swimmers are not too fast or too slow for the event. Getting the time right is important as swimmers race in time order so that they swim with others of the same standard. Level 4 galas (like our club champs) do not have limits, but you still need to enter a time – level 4 is the only level where you can enter NT (no time) as a time. This, however, will mean that they race with any other NTs and with the slowest swimmers.

If you are unsure of your child’s time for an event then, at the beginning, ask Dave for advice. Don’t be tempted to enter them with a faster time than they can do – it will leave them very demoralised and usually in tears at the end of the race. Once they have competed in a gala, your child’s times are logged on the ASA website, so you will be able to access their QTs for future gala entries without difficulty at – all you do is enter your child’s ASA number or surname.

Every child in Bronze squad or above will automatically get an ASA number. It takes some time for these to come through, so please bear with us if you haven’t yet received one for your child.

Which galas to enter?
Its up to you which galas your child should enter out of the ones your squad rep tells you about. Some are one day (e.g. Rising Stars), some are an entire weekend (e.g. Black Swan), but you don’t have to attend the whole weekend or even every session on a day. You don’t have to enter your child for everything they qualify for, but need to pick sensibly. I tend to choose a session, or two, that includes a couple of favourite events and also fits with family life.

Not entering any galas will mean that your child misses out on a key element of the club. Rising Stars and Black Swan are also nice pools and ideal for this age-group. If you have missed the closing date, don’t worry – Leander club champs (December and June, I think) and the Wandsworths (November and June usually) are both local, quite small scale and fun and there are always more galas around the corner. We have an online list of the next few galas, though not all may be suitable for younger swimmers.

At the gala
Facilities at galas vary hugely, so you may need to take food and drink for you as well as your child. See the gala guides on the Leander website (under the Parents and Swimmers tabs) for how to prepare and other information. Expect to pay for a programme for entry to each session as a spectator – it’s how the organising club pays for the pool etc. The only way to avoid this is to join the throng of trainee judges on poolside – no entry fee, food and drink and the time passes a lot quicker when you are busy!

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