Whether you are competing in Club time trials, galas and championships, or at Borough, County or National level, you still need to know what to do and when to do it. Preparation is everything and the better informed you are the more likely it is the competition will go smoothly.
Different galas are aimed at different levels of swimmers – Level 1 galas are aimed at the elite swimmers and usually have tough qualifying times, they must be held in a 50m pool. Level 2 galas have slightly easier times and must be held in a 25m pool. Level 3 galas are held in either 25m or 50m pools and are aimed at swimmers who’re not so used to competing or who have slower times – Level 3 galas usually have an upper qualifying time as well as a lower qualifying time. Level 4 galas are events like the Leander Club Championships and the Wandsworth Borough Championships – they can be held in 25m or 33m pools and don’t have to have electronic timing. Times from Level 4 meets are eligible for entry to the Surreys, but not to the London Regionals.
It’s a good idea to check your times against those held on the British Swimming rankings list. Your coach will tell you which galas you should enter – if you have any questions about the form, please ask your coach or squad rep.
Getting there on time means arriving in time for the warm up, so enabling you to practise your strokes before the event begins. So always check warm up and start times.
You warm up to get your muscles stretched and ready for competition. You then need to keep warm and standing around in a wet towel and costume is no way to do this. You will need to have in your bag:
- Two costumes (one for warm up, another for competition). Leander costumes are available but not compulsory.
- Hat (may be worth having a few just in case of tearing)
- Goggles – take a spare pair just in case you have a last minute breakage. However make sure you are comfortable with both pairs.
- T-bag and/or T-shirt (a Leander one is good for team image);
- Track suit trousers;
- Sweatshirt or track suit top;
- Pool shoes, clean trainers or flip-flops;
- Two towels
What about eating?
- Eat plenty for at least 2 days before an event, especially the night before. Lots of pasta, bread, rice and potatoes (carbohydrate rich food is best).
- Eat little and often during the day if the event is in the evening.
- Take a drink of water or diluted squash with you for sipping during the gala, as most pools are very warm and it’s easy to get dehydrated.
- Bring a snack with you for after the event. You have used up energy and need to replace it with something like a cereal bar, biscuit, sandwich, banana or chocolate bar.
Foods to avoid
- Greasy foods (burgers, chips and doughnuts)
- Highly seasoned foods (pizza, curries and chillies)
- Fizzy drinks
Above all enjoy yourself!