Participating in Galas

Here, you'll find everything you need to know about participating and attending swim galas!

We have 3 squads. 'Evolution' for new club swimmers. These swimmers will be invited to Imps and Fun Gala including our Club Champs which everyone must attend. 'Development' is the next squad up and these swimmers will be swimming more than one weekly session. The top squad is County Development for swimmers reaching for County and Regional times.

There are two kinds of galas:

Imps or Fun galas

These are held against local clubs. We take a team of up to about 30 swimmers, up to 13 years of age. The competition is individual races in age groups and team relays. It's great fun, exciting and noisy! These galas are normally about two hours long.    

Team galas

Such as Arena League. Swimmers from age nine all the way up to Seniors and Masters can participate. Relay teams and individual racing – against teams from within the Southwest region.

And five levels of swim meets:

Level 4

One club entry (not open to other clubs), i.e., Club Championships. Qualifying times are not required to enter this level meet, but swimmers can gain official times for other meets. All our junior members are expected to compete in our yearly Club Champs.

Level 2

These are usually County Championships and Open Meets. They're always held in 25M pools and qualifying times are required. Times achieved at these meets can be used for regional and national qualification

Level 3

Can be a development meet for young and new swimmers. These meets usually require a qualifying time and have upper time limits (to keep all swimmers in the same range). Some meets will allow unlicensed times submitted by a coach during training. 


Level 1

These are the same as Level 2 but take place in a long form pool (50M).


Open Meets

Open Meets are usually licensed by Swim England (ASA).


Strokes and terminology:

Freestyle - means the swimmer can select the stroke. Front Crawl is fastest and swimmers usually pick it, so most people think they're the same thing, but they're not! In a Freestyle race any stroke is acceptable.

Individual Medley (IM) - a individual race where one swimmer swims all four strokes over equal distances totalling 100M, 200M or 400M; Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Front Crawl.

Medley Relay - this is a team race where each of four swimmers swims one stroke. The strokes are in a different order to the IM; Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, Front Crawl.

Short Course - races swum in 25M pools

Long Course - races swum in 50M pools

Splits - race times broken down over 25M and 50M

ASA Rankings - British swimming licensed meets are entered into a ranking system, so clubs can see how their swimmers rank at the country level, regionally, and nationally. If you train at two clubs you must choose which club is for rankings. You can do this by logging into your Swim England account.

County qualifying times - these are the minimum times needed to compete in the Devon County Championships held in January and February each year. Times must be achieved from 1 March in the preceding year (e.g., to enter the 2023 Championships you must have achieved a qualifying time after 1 March 2022).

Personal Best times (PBs) - these are personal measures of achievement, rather than against other swimmers.

What you need to bring to a gala:

- A suitable swimsuit, fast drying towel and waterproof bag
- Your club t-shirt and hat
- A water bottle and snacks
- Your energy and enthusiasm!

It is advisable to leave your towel in your waterproof bag. Bags and towels get wet straight away and then swimmers can be left sitting on cold wet towels. Our club kit is designed to dry quickly and keep swimmers warm whilst they are poolside.

Gala invites will be emailed out along with details of the meet. The meet info will also be on the club noticeboard in the viewing gallery of the Dartmouth Indoor Pool. Please read the invite carefully. Check what the race time and date is, as some meets take place over more than one day and are normally split into 2 sessions per day. Each session has a warm up time. Swimmers must be swim ready before the warm up time. Most swim meets charge per race. This money must be paid to Dartmouth Swimming Club on the same day you accept an invitation as we have to pay the meet providers. Any swimmer cancelling will not be refunded.

On joining Dartmouth Swimming Club. You will be charged a yearly Swim England fee for membership and insurance. Club Train is approx £13.65 a year. If you compete you will be charged a yearly Club Compete Fee of approx £30. All Swim England fees are renewed in January.

 'Meet the Coach' Dates can also be found on the noticeboard and on Swim Club Manager. A yearly calendar is on the noticeboard along with an explanation of squads.

If you have been invited to a gala, may we remind you to familiarise yourself with the below. We will try and help as much as possible. It is a learning curve. 

Swim Club Manager - this is our membership software. There is a desktop version and an app. You will have all used this software to fill in membership details such as address and medical details. This app has a calendar, tells you what squad you belong to, swim times, pb's etc We do try to remind our members to use this app as it is helpful. You also need to update any change of address or medical details on this software so that we have correct details. 

 Gala Invites - Most swim meets we are invited to, the meet provider will send us a file (called hytek) which we load onto our system (swim club manager) On the whole this works well, occasionally it doesn't, so if links etc are broken or don't work, please do email us. Normally on the Thursday night before a weekend swim meet, the meet provider will send us a warm up times and a printable sheet of the heats. This will be emailed to you and put on the Gala WhatsApp Group.

Meet Packs - We cannot stress this one enough - With nearly all meets, you will be sent a Meet Pack. Please read it. Go to the very bottom. Lots of meets are over several days and weekends. Most meets have 2 sessions a day. They mostly start at lunch time but check first. Check the dates, check the sessions, try and choose races that are not hours apart, this is your responsibility but we will help and advise. Please be very aware that some meets go on for hours, plan this properly to avoid surprises and having to remove your child because you need to go. Seek advice before entering your child to a gala. Sometimes the Name of the meet with relation to the location can be confusing. So a Swimming Club from Dawlish may put on a gala but the location might be Plymouth Life. 

 Meet Mobile - this is a payable app showing live swim meet programs and results. It is nothing to do with the club but a lot of swim meets are on this app and most members entering galas use the app. Sometimes the swim meet won't show up on the app til a couple of days before. Sometimes the app updates immediately, sometimes it can be slow.  (Can be found on App Store or wherever you get your apps)

Expectations - Sometimes juniors want medals which we understand, but actually it's about individual times and having a good experience. It is not about being first in the their heat. There can be several heats and they are not in age order but the results are. 

Invites - If your child has not been invited to a swim meet, don't be disheartened. They are ready when they are ready. Their hard work in the pool and doing multiple sessions will give them the confidence in their ability. The way their body and mind develops is individual to them. 

Kit - Swim caps are for sale £7. All competitors must have a DSC swim cap and we would like our team to arrive in a club shirt. The Swimzi shop opens at certain times during the year. The Kit Secretary tries to open and close the shop pre gala. If you have missed that opportunity we do have a few shirts being delivered for stock. I will let you know when they arrive. We also have a few quick drying towels with our logo for sale. More details to follow when they arrive. These are ideal for galas. Swimmers poolside must keep warm to prevent injury. Shivering also uses up essential energy. Normal towels used once will stay wet all day and become useless. Therefore we recommend these quick drying towels and the shirts which are also moisture wicking. Please bring waterproof bags. All bags are kept on the floor. 

Poolside - We have team managers and Coaches. These are the only people allowed poolside. Parents are not permitted poolside. Swimmers must meet the team managers at a pre agreed location and time (normally the changing rooms). Everyone will then go poolside together in plenty of time for warm ups. Any swimmer late will not be allowed poolside until the next session. The warm up is an essential part of the gala and prevents injury. Swimmers are reminded to stay with their team on poolside and must not leave the area without permission from the Team Manager. Please respect the Team Managers, do not send them instructions or attempt to come poolside. Bring water and healthy snacks. We have two club captains, Robin Tompson and Jesse Geen. They are at quite a few meets and help and support their peers as do all our members at galas. They are all great team members cheering on their team. Your code of conduct can be found on swim club manager - you would have signed this on joining the club. We encourage our swimmers to bring games and they are allowed their phones poolside but not in the changing room. We do encourage them to support each other when swimming and be part of the team. If they spend too long on their phones, they tend to stop supporting each other and become isolated during the gala.

Payment - Please pay for your gala entries as soon as you enter. We have to pay the meet provider and we do not make any profit. 

Menstruation - Attending swimming and galas during menstruation. Please refer to for 'Training and competition when having your period' which has new guidance. We also recommend you talk to other parents who will happily help. Ask us and we will point you in the right direction.


Marine Boat Sales -

Dartmouth Indoor Pool Trust -

Blackness Marine -

Yoga Field & Sea -

RGC Building Supplies -

New Inn Morleigh -

4 Paws Dog Walking -

Pencils 4 Artists -

Equipsme Health Insurance -

Rowena Mynott Silversmith -

Compass Books Dartmouth -

Am I a Pressure Parent?

  1. Is winning more important to you than it is for your child?
  2. When your child has a poor swim, is your disappointment obvious, such as through body language or vocal tones?
  3. Do you feel you are the one to psyche your child up before competition?
  4. Do you conduct “post-mortems” immediately after competition or practice?
  5. Do you wait for the privacy of your car during the journey home to conduct your post-mortem?
  6. Do you feel that winning is the only way your child can enjoy the sport?
  7. Do you feel that you have to force your child to have to go training?
  8. If you did not achieve any sporting excellence yourself, are you living your life through the achievements of your child?
  9. Are your child’s goals more important to you than they are to your child?
  10. Do you find yourself wanting to interfere with coaching and instructions during practice or competition, thinking that you could do better?
  11. Do you find yourself disliking your child’s opponents?
  12. Do you provide material rewards for performance i.e. do you pay for PB’s etc?


The 10 Commandments for Swimming Parents:

1. Thou shalt not impose thy ambitions on thy child.
Remember that swimming is your youngster’s activity. Improvement occurs at different rates for each individual. Do not judge your child’s progress on the performance of other athletes and don’t push them based on what YOU think they should be doing. The nice thing about swimming is that youngsters can strive to do their personal best and therefore benefit from the progress of competitive swimming.

2. Thou shalt be supportive no matter what.
There is only one question to ask your youngster after a practice or a competition – “Did you enjoy it”. If competitions or practices are not fun your youngsters should not be forced to participate. Plus your youngster should be applauded for any good effort ….. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th even 34th – They are all a case of “WELL DONE!”

3. Thou shalt not coach thy child.
You are involved in one of the few youth sports that offer professional coaching. Do not undermine the professional coach by trying to coach your youngster on the side. Your job is to supply love and support and a safe place to return to at the end of the day. Love and hug your youngster no matter what. The coach is responsible for the technical part of the job. You should avoid offering advice on technique or race strategy or any other area which is not yours. Above all – never pay your youngster for a performance. This will only serve to confuse your child concerning the reasons to strive for excellence and will weaken the swimmer-coach bond.

4. Thou shalt only say positive things at a race meet.
If you are going to show up at a swimming meet, you should be encouraging, but never criticise your youngster or the coach. Both of them know if mistakes have been made. Remember yelling at is not the same as cheering for.

5. Thou shalt acknowledge thy child’s fears.
A first swimming competition, 1500m swim or 200m Individual Medley can be a stressful situation. It is totally acceptable for your child to be scared. Do not shout or belittle, just assure your child that the coach would not have suggested the event if he were not ready to compete in it. Remember your job is to love and support your child through all of the swimming experience.

6. Thou shalt not criticise the officials.
If you do not care to devote the time or do not have the desire to volunteer as an official, do not criticise those who are doing the best they can.

7. Honour thy child’s coach.
 The bond between a coach and your child is a special one, and one which contributes to your child’s success as well as enjoyment. Do not criticise the coach in the presence of your child as this will only serve to hurt your child’s swimming.

8. Thou shalt be loyal and supportive of your team.
It is not wise for parents to move their children from club to club (unless to one with considerably more pooltime). The water is not necessarily bluer in another pool. Every club has its own internal problems, even teams that build champions. Children who switch from team to team are often ostracised for a long time by the team mates they leave behind and are slowly received by new team-mates. Indeed, swimmers who switch teams often do no better than at their previous club.

9. Thy child shall have goals besides winning.
Most successful swimmers are those who have learned to focus on the process and not the outcome. Giving 100% effort is more important than winning. One Olympian said “My goal was to set a world record. Well I did that, but someone else did it too – a little faster than I did. I achieved my goal and I lost. Does this make me a failure? No, in fact I am very proud of that swim”. That is the outlook to carry though life.

10. Thou shalt not expect thy child to become an Olympian.
There are 250,000 registered competitive swimmers and another 150,000 in learn to swim lessons. There are only a maximum of 52 places available for the Olympic squad ….. Every four years. Your child’s odds of becoming an Olympian are less than 4 out of 10,000 or 0.04%!