First Competition


Before arriving at the gala make sure you know which races you are in and when sign-in closes.
Make sure you have all your equipment and that it is clearly marked:

• Swimming costume x 2
• Goggles x 2
• Swan swimming cap
• Swan T-Shirt
• Towel
• Water bottle and healthy snack (see Nutrition)

On Arrival

The first thing you do is check in with your coach.

You will find that most of the swimmers and parents gather together in one area – ask
your coach or buddy in the club. After you put your gear down near the team, find your
coaches and let them know you have arrived.


Before the races start you will be allowed some time to warm up. This is a good opportunity to get your muscles warm, please discuss with your coach the warm-up routine you should be doing.
Near the end of your warm-up time some of the lanes will be set aside for practicing your starts.
After the warm-up put your Swan swimming pool T-shirt back on to keep warm.


For each event there will be a number of heats. Swimmers are seeded based on their entry time, not their age. At the end of the event the swimmers will be classified in their respective age group based on the time that they achieved in their heat.

Before each event

Listen out for the announcement to go to the marshalling area for your event.
Once you hear the announcement tell your swim coach that you have gone to the marshalling area.
At the marshalling area there will be marshalls (usually parent helpers) who will organise all the swimmers for an event.

The marshalls will:
• line you up with others in your heat in lane order
• keep in this order as you move around the pool – the marshall will guide you
• make sure you know what event you are swimming and the number of lengths in your race
• keep your Swan Swimming T-shirt on until the last minute
• At the start of the heat before yours, you will be asked to stand behind the lane you will be swimming in
• It is very important you are quiet at the start of all races
• wait for instructions before taking your place at the side of the starting block

Start of the event

The Referee signals that a race is about to start by a series of blasts on a whistle, followed, when the swimmers and officials are ready, by a single long blast. At this point the swimmers step up onto the blocks or get into the water if it is backstroke.
When the swimmers are ready the Starter gives the command “Take Your Marks” followed by the signal to “Go”, which may be by shot, klaxon or command.

All swimmers and spectators should be silent for the start of each race

After each event

After you have swum, hold onto the lane rope until the next race starts at which stage you will be instructed by the officials to leave the pool by the side. Do not climb over the touchpads as you may damage them. Collect your belongings, put on your Swan Swimming T-shirt and then go to your swim coach to discuss your race.
After your discussion with your coach re-hydrate and have a healthy snack before your next event (see Nutrition)


The one-start rule

Any movement on the blocks is interpreted as the swimmer trying to gain an advantage. Therefore, all swimmers must remain “completely still” once they are in the starting position. Any movement at this time will disqualify the swimmer (even to adjust goggles!)


Movement of hands and feet must be simultaneous and in the same horizontal plane. At some point during each stroke the head must break the surface of the water. At the start and turn only one complete stroke may be made under the water (i.e. one arm pull followed by one leg kick) before the head breaks the surface. At the turns and at the finish, the two hands must touch at the same time. Elbows should remain in the water at all times except on the turn.


Movements of hands and feet must be simultaneous. Arms must be brought forward above the surface, and back on or below the surface. At the turns and at the finish, hands must touch at the same time at the same level. One or more leg kicks and one arm pull are permitted under the water at the start and turns.


Swimmers must remain on their back during the race except when executing a turn. During the turn the shoulders may turn over the vertical to the breast but the swimmer must have returned to a position on the back when leaving the wall. Gliding into the turn is disqualifiable. At the turn a touch must be made by some part of the swimmers body. At the finish, the touch may be made by hand, arm, shoulder or head and some part of the swimmers body must be above the water and the swimmer must remain on their back.

The flags across the pool are to assist backstroke swimmers and indicate 5m to the wall.

Individual Medley

Order of the swim – Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle

All of the above stroke rules apply. In addition, during the Backstroke to Breaststroke Turn swimmers must touch the wall on their backs and then can push off on their front.

The Finish

Stay in the water and hold onto the lane ropes until advised to leave by the side by an official.

Gala Types

Fun, friendly galas held by clubs, intended to introduce young swimmers to galas. The emphasis is very much on participation and familiarizing the swimmer with the format of a gala. These are generally “age-group” galas- swimmers swim with other swimmers in their age group and medals awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each group.

Leinster Swimming organises 2 Graded Galas each year. Swimmers are seeded according to their times in each event and swim against swimmers of similar ability rather than in the same age group. Where a swimmer has not entered a particular event before, they may enter with “No Time” or more preferably an estimated time based on training. Medals are awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd in defined grades 1 to 7, the times for which are on the Leinster website. The great benefit of the graded gala is that it allows swimmers of all levels the opportunity to win a Leinster medal.

A number of clubs hold galas throughout the year and coaches decide which ones are most suitable for our club to attend. Consideration or qualifying times are generally less restrictive than major provincial and national galas, thereby allowing most of our swimmers to participate.

Leinster Swimming holds 2 Distance Galas each year. Swimmers may enter 200m races in all strokes as well as 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle. These galas offer swimmers the opportunity to attempt more challenging races and achieve times required to enter these events at major provincial and national galas.

2 Senior swimmers who have not achieved times for Leinster Division 1 may take part in The Leinster Division 2 gala. There are no qualifying times for this gala. Some swimmers from the junior club may also be advised by the coaches to participate in this gala. It is held each year around April/May and is the first of the major provincial and national galas to take place each summer. It is an age group gala, swimmers swim in heats seeded by times, with the top 10 in each age group qualifying for finals.

1 All senior swimmers should familiarise themselves with the qualifying times for Leinster Division 1- available on Swim Leinster Website. This gala is generally held on the last weekend in May. The format is the same as Leinster Division 2- heats based on times, with top 10 in each age group qualifying for finals. This is a long course gala i.e. the pool is in 50m format

Held each year in Limerick on the last weekend in June, this gala is open to age-groups up to 16 plus an open category for over 17 year olds. Swimmers should familiarise themselves with qualifying times- available on Swim Ireland website.

Held every year in mid July for girls up to 14 years and boys up to 15 years. Qualifying times must be achieved. Swimmers over these age groups must enter the Irish Youths/ Seniors gala at end of July

A number of Open Galas are held at provincial and National Level throughout the year. They include Leinster Short Course, Irish Short Course, Leinster Long Course, Irish Long Course, Dave Mc Cullough Gala. Dates and Qualifying times for these galas may be found in the Swim Ireland Handbook.