Killarney Swimming Club takes part in galas throughout the south west – Tralee, Askeaton, Tipperary, Ennis, Cork, Mallow, University of Limerick, etc. At the start of each swimming season, Swim Munster prepare a schedule of events. (The provisional list for 2019/2020 can be found here.) Our coaches then choose the galas that our swimmers will attend. The swimmers are informed and an information pack and the entry report for each upcoming gala are posted here. Galas are graded as follows:
• Munster Development 1 Galas
• Munster Development 2 Meets
• Regional Short Course Qualifying Meets
• Regional Long Course Qualifying Meets
• Open or Invitational Galas
• Division 2
• Division 1
For the 2019/2020 season, Munster Swimming issued a comprehensive information pack, together with a full list of “cut-off” times which set out the general rules and times to be achieved for each competition in Munster. Both are well worth reading before attending any gala.
Before the gala
Each of our squads will aim to attend three or four galas through the swimming season. The squad coach will choose the events for each swimmer (freestyle, backstroke etc.) – typically four events. Some events are compulsory and the coach will advise the swimmers on this. The cost for each gala is about €20.00 for each swimmer, which will be billed in advance by the club. As we are a competitive swimming club, swimmers are expected to attend. Galas are usually on Saturdays but sometimes on Sundays and generally run from 9 am to 5 pm. The coach will pick the swimmers events about two weeks before the gala. If you cannot attend, please tell your coach and your squad co-ordinator at this stage. If you find out that you cannot attend a gala at a later stage, please tell your squad co-ordinator and your coach immediately as otherwise the club is penalised for each “no show”.
Galas, and particularly Development Galas and Meets, are hugely exciting for the swimmers. Pressure should never be put on a child to achieve a particular time – they will get there of their own accord. All swimmers will be nervous and there will be some disqualifications and false starts. The coach or team manager will offer support and an explanation at this stage. It is important to keep things in perspective. As one Clare farmer put it after Munster lost a Heineken Cup – “No cow died.”
A coach and a team manager will be appointed for all galas. All clubs are expected to provide parents to help in the timekeeping, usually two. This is easy, good fun and guarantees you a seat!
For a checklist of what you should bring with you to a gala, please click here.
In the days before the gala, swimmers should rest and save their energy for the pool. Food should be low in fat and high in carbohydrates. A good nights sleep is important and some clubs (the cruel, mean clubs) recommend no TV, computers or iPads the night before the gala – I’m only saying, that’s all!
The day of the gala (OMG!)
Usually swimmers travel to the galas with their parent(s) and sit together as a team at the gala. Sometimes a bus will be hired to bring swimmers and, if this is planned, you will be told in advance.
Arriving at the Pool
- Warm-ups for most galas begin at 9 am
- Enter the building 20-30 minutes early
- Swimmers must present for the warm-up. Report on deck to the team area 15 minutes early, so that the coach can confirm the swimmers attendance, swimmers and team can establish the area, coaches can run and inform swimmers of warm up procedures, and swimmers can get into the warm up on time.
- Late swimmers are usually distressed and it’s a distraction for coaches to individually update each late swimmer as to the proceedings.
During the gala
For parents, a programme is on sale at each gala (about €3.00) Bring a pencil or highlighter so that you can identify your swimmers races. This will help you make sure they are prepared and have eaten etc.
All new swimmers will be Development gala swimmers for their first competitive swim. At their first gala, each swimmer will have the letters “NT” after their name for each event on the programme. Once the swimmer gets a valid time, this changes. NT swimmers swim first, then the swimmers with the slower times then all the way through to the fastest times. The swimmers are put into heats on the morning of the gala and the coach is given a copy of the heat order. Swimmers swim with swimmers of a similar time, regardless of age – try saying that out loud and quickly!
Swimmers should also check with the coach the heat and lane they are in before each event. Even if you are experienced with galas, listen to the format of the first few heats so you are familiar with the starting whistle/beep etc.
Organised parents should consider light clothes/shorts and flip/flops for themselves. Staying Warm – it is important that the swimmers keep their muscles, from head to toes, warm. Cold muscles don’t perform as well as warm muscles. Swimmers should wear a pair of shorts poolside (board-shorts with side pockets are great for holding hats and goggles between races). Also, the club top should be worn poolside and flip-flops or Crocs are crucial. The club hat must be worn for each race (so we can cheer you on) and should be put on (with your googles) as you near the start area.
Galas start with the freestyle event and, for each event, girls always go first.
Swimmers are asked to gather in a call area about 15 minutes before each event. There they are grouped in heat and lane order. Regardless of this, when swimmers are instructed to go to their lane for the swim, they should check with the timekeepers behind the lane that they have your name – if not you could be in the wrong lane or heat.
After the heats, the swimmers are put into age groups for results and medals. Results are posted on a window at the poolside at intervals throughout the day. Be sure to write down your swimmers time.
On the day of the gala, the coach may also decide to choose relay teams. (There is no extra charge for these events.) Please do not go home before checking with the coach that your swimmer is not on a relay team.
After the gala
Once a swimmer reaches the criteria set for the galas by Swim Ireland, they must move up to the next gala grade and can no longer compete in the lower grade. To see the criteria for each grade, please click here.
Finally, all galas are a lesson in organised chaos. Excited swimmers, constant noise, cold rubbery pasta in Tubberware boxes and overheated parents. Despite this, they always work – sometimes even to schedule. They are exhausting and you could/should be somewhere else. But, listen to the chatter on the way home in the car or the bus. The truth is, kids love galas and, at the end of the day, a very long day, that’s what it’s all about.