Before arriving at the gala, make sure you know which races you are in – not just the stroke but the number of lengths! A list of entrants will be shown on the Notice Board just prior to the competition.


Make sure you have all your equipment:


Costume or trunks

Swimming Hat


T-shirt or Hoodie


Water Bottle and Healthy Snacks



On Arrival:


Arrive in plenty of time! Once changed, go onto the poolside taking your equipment with you. There should be a “whip” (usually a parent-helper) looking after each age group who will guide you to each event you are swimming in. Make sure you let the whip know that you are here and then sit quietly until you are told to line up.


Galas are very noisy and people can get very excited and stressed. Try to remain calm and enjoy the excitement. It is important to keep quiet – especially at the beginning of each heat – so that swimmers can hear when to start.


There is also a lot of waiting around in between swims. You may like to bring a book or kindle to read. Always, try to keep quiet and away from the edge of the pool. No messing around!



Heats and Events:


There are different age groups, male and female swimmers and different strokes, and everyone cannot swim at once. So each stroke is split by age group, sex and length of race, into 'Events'.


Within each event, there are several 'Heats' which are organised by the swimmers latest times.


For Example, the Event might be the Boys u9 Freestyle. All the boys cant swim at once as there may only be 6 lanes in the pool, so they will all be separated into groups of 6, depending upon their fastest times.



The Start of the Gala:


All galas are run to strict ASA rules and these will be read out at the beginning of the gala. At some galas there may be a demonstration so that every swimmer is clear about how to dive in and how to touch at the end. Be quiet during the announcement and listen carefully!



The warm-up:


Before the gala starts, you are allowed some time in the pool to warm up. This is a good opportunity to swim a few lengths and get your muscles warm. Remember, this is a warm up - not a race!


After the warm-up, put  on your T-shirt to keep warm. Your whip will line you up into the right order for each of your races. Listen carefully in case your name is called out. If you need to leave the poolside at any time, always ask the whip.



Before each event:


Your whip will line you up with others in your age-group in the order that you will swim in.


Keep in this order as you move around the pool – you will be guided by your whip


Make sure you know what stroke you are swimming – and the length of the race.


You can keep your T-Shirt on until the last minute.


At the start of the heat before yours, you will be asked to stand near the lane you will be swimming in.


Wait for instructions before taking your place at the end of the pool /on the blocks.



After each event:


After you have swum, wait until you are told to get out of the pool, then return to your whip and put on your T-Shirt. When you’ve finished all your races, you may leave but please let your whip know first. Make sure you rehydrate and fuel between your events.





All galas are held under strict ASA guidelines. Unfortunately there are a number of reasons why swimmers can be disqualified – for example for not touching with two hands in Breaststroke or for an incorrect leg kick. Don’t worry if you are disqualified – it's all a learning process.



Galas: basic rules for the start, the strokes and the finish




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 take up their position at the edge of the pool (on the blocks, the side of the pool or in the water - as appropriate). Swimmers who have not achieved the standard of the ASA Competitive Start Award must start in the water if the start is at the shallow end. Backstroke starts are always in the water.


When the swimmers are ready the Starter gives the command “Take Your Marks” followed by the signal to “Go”, which may be by shot, whistle, klaxon or command. Under the One Start Rule now in operation, any swimmer starting before the signal is disqualified at the end of the race. There is no recall of swimmers for a second start. However, if a faulty start occurs (e.g. there is a disturbance) the swimmers may be recalled by blasts on the whistle, and a rope is dropped into the water across the pool.


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!).




Movements 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 the swimmer must remain on the back.


Individual Medley:


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


All of the above stroke rules apply. However, 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:


The ASA laws have changed recently to allow swimmers to leave the water if they have finished their swim before other swimmers have completed their race. Although this law has changed it is advisable to stay in the pool unless told otherwise by the referee!


General Considerations: All swimmers and spectators should be silent for the start of each race.


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


ASA Laws and Rules


1. All NCDSC Swimming Competitions are conducted under Amateur Swimming Association Laws and Technical Rules.


2. All the Poolside Officials displaying a Middlesex County or Southern Counties badge on the blazer or T-shirt have qualified by attending tuition and passing a written and practical examination on the ASA Swimming Laws.


 3. Poolside Officials. The diagram below indicates where poolside officials are normally positioned. It is essential that they are able to work without obstruction by swimmers or spectators: especially in the area near the start and close to the edges of the pool. This layout is for a one length race, for two length races, and multiples of two, the timekeepers and the finish would be at the other end.



Gala Officials:


The ASA laws and rules dictate the number and type of officials that should be officiating at a gala. All these officials ensure that galas are run smoothly and fairly. This list describes briefly the role of the various officials.




Has complete control of the competition, the venue and the other officials in all matters of the swimming laws, moral conduct and security.


If judges disagree, then THE REFEREE’S DECISION IS FINAL.



Starts each event, has certain powers of disqualification.


Stroke Judge

Patrol the side of the pool to observe the swimmers conform to the Laws of strokes.


Place Judge

Stand at the finish of each event to decide the official places, may also act as Turn Judge.


Turn Judge

Observe the swimmers conform to A.S.A. Law regarding turns and relay take-overs.


Chief Timekeeper

Records official time from each Timekeeper, if necessary adjusts them to suit the places with the supervision of the Referee.



Take and record the time of the swimmer in the lane allotted. This is the official time, which may be adjusted in accordance with A.S.A. Law to suit the official places, which take precedence over times.



Record the places and times on a master sheet, arrange the Finalists, or in the case of an Inter-Club Gala allocate the points gained by each swimmer on behalf of their club.



Announce results after they have been recorded, provides security awareness and any other relevant information.


Chief Whip

Arranges the swimmers in each event into appropriate heats.



Organise swimmers for the events and supervise the conduct of competitors.