If it is your first gala – don’t worry or panic. Coaches will be there to guide you through the event and to make sure you have a great day. We also encourage the senior swimmers to act as mentors for the younger swimmers at galas.
To ensure your day goes without problems we recommend you pack your bag the night before you swim with everything you might need:
- At least 2 swimming costumes (1 for warm-up / Dry 1 for competition)
- Goggles plus a spare pair
- Club Swim Hat and a spare
- 2 Towels
- Club T shirt
- Clothes to keep your body heat in on the poolside – poolshirt, shorts or tracksuit bottoms, hoodie etc
- Enough food to last the day or evening
- Money in case of emergency
- Something to occupy yourself on poolside – books, pens a paper, etc
- A suitable drink – at least two litres for a whole day
Do not include glass packaging or anything else that could break and be a danger to your child and others.
Ensure your name is on all items. Galas can be hectic, and sometimes swimmers accidentally pick up the wrong belongings or leave them behind.
Arrival at a swimming gala
When you arrive at a swimming pool for the Gala, make sure you do so in plenty of time (at least 15 minutes before your warm-up time). Report to the coach or person in charge if you have not travelled on a team coach. For each team gala there will be a changing room chaperone (usually one of the older swimmers) for both boys and girls. You will be told who this is – make sure that you know who they are and if you have any problems please ask them – they have all been in your position so know how you will be feeling.
Once you have been told to go and get changed, ensure that you take all your belongings on to poolside in one bag for the event. Familiarise yourself with where the toilets are.
Check with the Coach or Team Manager which warm-up is yours and be on time for it. Ensure that you have your hat and goggles on ready to enter the water. When you warm up make sure you get the most out of it – this is an opportunity for you to familiarise yourself with the pool. Don’t stop and talk to your friends as you will have plenty of time to do this throughout the day. Your Coach will advise what warm up to do, but also ask what strokes you will be swimming, and ensure you practice the appropriate stroke technique and turns. If you have any questions about specific techniques or rules, then please just ask one of the coaches or helpers. There will also be an opportunity to practice your starts during the warm up. You must keep going and warm up your muscles properly to avoid injury.
Your coach will let you know when it is time to go to the marshalling area for your swim. When you get to race time remember the starters signals:
- Series short sharp whistles means get ready
- Long whistle means stand onto block
- Starter says: “Take your marks” Followed by starting sound.
At the end of race: wait for all competitors to complete the race before leaving the pool when told to do so.
After your race go and see the coach or person in charge first. The coach will tell you how you did and what you can do to improve next time.
Swimming workouts help you perfect your technique and endurance, which will improve your performance. With training and dry land exercises, strength will increase which will also contribute to improved performance. The benefits of good nutrition are not as easily seen, as are the results from conditioning and training. However, nutrition can be the weak link in keeping you from reaching and fulfilling your potential, or it can be a factor that enhances your performances at a swim meet. The nutrition programme should involve a plan for what to eat before, during and after a swim meet. Eating meals high in carbohydrates 48 hours prior to an event is recommended for high energy levels for competition. Examples include pasta, bread and potatoes.
Before the competition
Nervous tension is usually part of any swimming competition. Your stomach feels unsettled and eating is not attractive at the time. Stress and tension cause a decrease in your blood flow to your stomach and small intestine, slowing down activity and increasing the acid levels in your stomach. This may be likened to butterflies in your stomach, or feeling that it’s tied in knots. Since individuals have different feelings and reactions to the same food, it is difficult to issue a specific menu. However, there are some general guidelines to follow:
- Choose food that is high in carbohydrates since the stomach can break this down quite easily and readily (potatoes, breads, cereal, rice etc). We strongly recommend that chips, potato crisps or any fried food are not included in your diet before a meet.
- Choose foods that are low in fat and protein. Avoid bacon, sugary cereals, croissants, too much butter or margarine.
- Choose fresh fruit, canned fruits in their own juice and dried fruits like raisins, figs, apples and apricots.
- Drink water. It is absolutely vital for maximal performance because hydration causes fatigue, drowsiness and muscle cramps. Drink approximately one cup of water every hour before you race and sip water between races. Water or diluted squash for optimal performance. Do not drink fizzy drinks.
- Try to eat a small meal 2 to 4 hours before a swim meet so as to have an empty stomach when competing.
- Avoid greasy foods as your stomach cannot break down the fat fast enough and there will still be food in your stomach when competing.
During the competition
During the competition, the main aim is to stay hydrated and maintain energy levels. Over the hours at a meet, you need to supply energy from carbohydrates to maintain energy stores required. Foods such as muffins, fruit bread, small sandwiches, bagels, pasta, fresh fruit, canned fruit in its own juices and dried fruit can replenish energy supplies.
Foods like chips, cheese, fizzy drinks, doughnuts and sweets go against what your body requires. Salt reduces water levels in the body during the meet. Fizzy drinks, coffee and tea contain caffeine, which dehydrate the body. Evening galas require only drinks and a couple of small snacks (cereals bars, fruit) – no sweets.
After the competition
After the meet it is very important to eat properly. You have to replace the fluid lost during the meet, and you must replace the carbohydrates or glycogen stored in your muscles and liver. Remember, if you don’t replace your energy stores you will feel like nothing on earth when you get up the next day to continue racing or getting back in the training pool. Eat your way to a great meet!
The most important things to remember – have fun, make new friends and do your best!