A few hints and tips for Junior Gala new swimmers.

The Boys High School is in Forest Road East, opposite the Forest Rec. Ground. Look for the tall gateposts with big balls on the top. The way to the pool is far side of the car park, right hand corner.

Arrive before 1.30, so you can be changed and on poolside by 1.30pm.

Swimmers can go straight into the changing rooms to get changed and then make their way onto poolside. Parents please make your way up to the balcony to watch – there is a small entry fee of £2 per adult which includes a raffle ticket and a programme.


All swimmers will be invited to warm-up in the pool, starting at 1.30. Separate times for boys and girls. Use this time but remember the aim is to warm up, not tire yourself out. Practice starting off the starting blocks, and being balanced on them.


There are ‘Team Managers’ allocated for new swimmers to help you. For boys its Sonja Harris-Burton, for the girls its Jo Bailey. Ask who they are if in doubt, many swimmers and parents know them – Sonja and Jo will meet swimmers as they arrive on poolside.

The Team Managers will get swimmers lined up in the order they will be swimming in (in groups of 5 as its a 5-lane pool), usually boys along the far side of the pool, girls the nearside. They will usher you to the correct lane for your races. If you have not swum before you will be swimming first.

When you get to your lane, give your name to the timekeepers there.


The Referee (see below) will blow a few short whistles. This is to get your attention! Then she will blow a single long blast. This is your signal to get on the blocks or get into the water for backstroke races. Get yourself in the right place. You can dive off the side or start in the water too. When you hear this whistle (and it is not your turn to swim) please be quiet for the start.

The Starter (see below) then takes over. He will say “take your marks” – make sure you are ready and keep still. Do not overbalance as you will not get another chance if you fall in. There is no other call except the hooter to start. This will be quickly after the take your marks. Go!! Swim hard – all the way to the end.

NB if you have ‘no time’ you are swimming against the clock, so go as fast as you can and do not worry about your place in your heat.


(these are the frequent things – every gala)

  • Make sure you know what stroke you are doing when you go up to race, and do nothing else.
  • Don’t experiment. If you are unsure about the breaststroke start, just dive in and swim. (You cannot be disqualified for doing too little but you can if you do too much)
  • On Breaststroke and Butterfly, finish (or touch before turning if its 50m) with both hands at the same time.
  • On Backstroke, stay on your back until you touch. (on 50m races if you cannot manage a correct turn you must touch on your back for that too)
  • Make sure that you actually finish – the race is not over until you touch the end (and, swim hard to the end; use your hand(s) to stop yourself)
  • A top to put on after the warmup/between races.

  • A drink (non-sugary please!)

  • Pool shoes

  • Avoid eating if possible but if you must take a cereal bar not choccy things.

  • Please ensure all rubbish goes in the bin.


The Referees are in charge of the whole thing. They will call you onto the blocks, advise and instruct everyone and make sure everything is safe and fair.

Timekeepers – er – time your swim! There are two per lane. There is a chief timekeeper to collate their records and sort out any problems.

Judges check that you do the stroke correctly, that you turn correctly, that you finish correctly and (with the Referee) the order you finish in. Note the race order is decided on what the referee/judges see not what the timekeepers get.

The starter – er – starts the race! He/she will not say “take your marks” if swimmers are not clearly ready. The most common delay is that on backstroke your toes have to be under the water. He will demonstrate the starting hooter before the gala starts.

Don’t look at the starter, look in front of you. Listen for the hooter.

Stay on the poolside. Know when your next race is. Have fun. Make friends.


Wear something cool, even when it is snowing outside it still gets hot after an hour or so on the balcony! We do have bottles of water for sale on the balcony but feel free to bring your own. Please ensure all rubbish on the balcony goes into the bins provided.

Photographs – You are welcome to take photographs during the gala, however please ensure that you sign the photo book which will be at the entrance when you arrive.

Please DO NOT take any photographs in the changing rooms under any circumstances.

Cheering on your swimmer – Go for it, make as much noise as you like, however please keep quiet for the start of each race.

Club kit – You can place orders for poolside shirts/hoodies/bags/hats etc at Junior gala, there will be someone on the balcony taking orders.


Every effort will be made to publish provisional results at the gala – we usually put a copy upstairs on the balcony and another for the swimmers on poolside.

Whilst swimmers swim in ‘entry time’ order, the results are in age group order when they are published (so do not worry which heat your swimmer is in).

Final results will be published on the Nottingham Leander website after a few days.