Frequently Asked Questions

We appreciate if you’re new to the sport, or new to our club, that you’re likely to have many questions. We’ve had a go at answering what we think they might be below.

If you can’t find the answer to your question here, then please ask one of the committee members in person, or send us your question via our contact form.

1. What equipment do I need for training?
a. @ Learn To Swim 
b. @ C & D Squad
c. @ A & B Squad
2. What to expect at your first gala
a. What events will I be swimming in and who chooses?
b. Is there a cost to swimming at galas?
c. When is it, where is it and how do I get there?
d. What time to arrive?
e. What do I need to take to a gala?
i. Swimming Kit
ii. Food & Drink
iii. The Right Attitude
f. How will I know when to go up for my race?
g. Starting your race
3. Where do I find the results of the events at galas? 
4. Different levels of galas and what they mean
5. How do I pay my fees?
6. How do I speak with a coach?
7. How do I know what nights my child’s training sessions are on?
8. How do I know where to find information about where the different training venues are?
9. How do I get involved in the swimming club committee?
10. How can I find more information about improving my diet to help my swimming?
11. What can I do to better support my child with their swimming career?
12. What standards need to be achieved for a swimmer to become accepted into the Scottish Swimming National Programme?

What equipment do I need?     ^

When you’re new to swimming, or a club, it can be confusing to know what equipment you’ll need for training, and what each piece of equipment is used for.

As a general rule of thumb the more advanced you become the more equipment you’ll need. The following information should be used as a guide, in discussion with your coach.

Taking guidance from your coach will potentially save you money by ensuring you buy the appropriate equipment for your child.

Learn To Swim     ^

In these classes typically all equipment such as floats and kick boards will be provided.

If your child has some confidence issues with water, or you need to discuss the use of buoyancy aids, please take this up with your Learn To Swim teacher.

Squads C & D     ^

Typically by this stage our young swimmers will need:

  • Goggles (comfortable, well fitting, junior size)
  • Kick Board (proportional to the swimmers size)
  • Pull Buoy (junior size)
  • Fins / Flippers

Some items of equipment, such as kick boards and pull buoys, are available at the pool, so do check with your coach first, before deciding whether buying all of these items is necessary.

Fins (or flippers) are typically used for two reasons:

1. To periodically relieve pressure on the shoulders when swimming for longer periods of time or in conjunction with harder training sets

2. To assist with elements of kick technique

Regarding pull buoys for younger swimmers or swimmers with a smaller frame, we’d advise discussing the appropriate size of pull buoy with your coach before making a purchases. This is because if the pull buoy is too big or too buoyant for your child, it can lead to lower back pain or injury.

 Squads A & B     ^

By this stage our swimmers are becoming more advanced and so may benefit from some advanced training aids, but only if the swimmer is ready physically and the coach believes they’ll be of benefit. 

In addition to the items listed for the C & D squads, and again in discussion with your coach, you may consider purchasing the following additional pieces of equipment:

  • Hand / Finger Paddles
  • Training Snorkel

Hand or finger paddles create additional resistance for the shoulders / arms / chest when pulling through the water, and consequently help to develop strength in these parts of the body. We’d recommend that this equipment is only used under the supervision of your coach, as its important to make sure the swimmers are physically strong enough to withstand the additional strain.

When buying hand or finger paddles, do make sure they are the appropriate size for your child’s hands and not too big. Most reputable retailers will provide some guidance on correct sizing. If in doubt please ask your coach.

Training snorkels allow swimmers to breathe while keeping their head in the water. This allows a longer period, uninterrupted, to concentrate on elements of their stroke technique. Training snorkels are typically used when practicing front crawl.

If you’re thinking of buying a training snorkel it’s recommended to go for one with a purge value, which allows any water that gets into the snorkel to escape, so it doesn’t choke the swimmer.

What to expect at your first gala     ^

We know that your first gala can be a nervy, often confusing occasion. Most parents and swimmers have a plethora of questions about the event. While there’s no substitute for asking people in the club who’ve been before you, we hope the following information will help.

What events will I be swimming in and who chooses?     ^

Our head coach Tom Sievewright will select the events for swimmers and submit the relevant entry applications. You will simply need to inform Tom as to whether you and your child are available to swim at the competition.

Tom selects the events as he has an objective view on the swimmer’s development needs, relative to his/her goals.

With inter-club galas, such as the Forth Valley Junior League, the Team Manager will select the squad and tell your child what events they’ll be swimming in.

What does it cost to swim in the competition?     ^

Typically only ‘open’ competitions have a fee for each event or race your child is accepted for. Fees relevant for each event can be found via our event calendar or via the Swim Scotland website.

Fees can be paid by following the instructions here.

Inter-club competition, such as the Forth Valley Junior League, are free.

When is it, where is it and how do I get there?     ^

You’ll find information about the gala and the venue in our events calendar. If you click on a specific competition or gala more detail will appear including; the date and start time, the venue address as well as a Google map of the venue. For some competitions you will also gain access to the competition programme via a link in the calendar event.

Alternatively, visit the Swim Scotland website directly.

Getting there is down to you; unfortunately it’s too expensive to organise and hire a team bus for all competitions.

What time to arrive?     ^

All competitions and galas start with a warm up 1 hour or sometimes 30 minutes before the competition starts. 

So, always check what time the warm up is, and get there in plenty of time to take part in it. All start times quoted in our events calendar will be warm up times, to the best of our knowledge.

Open galas are often all day or even all weekend affairs, with a session in the morning and a session in the afternoon. Each session has a warm up, so, remember to check which sessions your events fall into and plan your arrival accordingly.

As the car parks attached to the swimming pools generally don’t have enough capacity for all the cars when there’s a gala on, it’s a good idea to anticipate this and plan to arrive 30 minutes or so before the warm up and bag one of the coveted spaces! Planning to arrive in plenty of time for the warm up can help prevent more anxiety being added into the mix – for example, in case there’s a hold up on your journey or you have trouble finding the venue.

What should I take to a gala?     ^

In summary there are 3 things you will need to take with you:

  1. Swimming Kit
  2. Food & Drink
  3. The Right Attitude!

Swimming Kit     ^

The amount of kit you take with you really depends on a) how long you’ll be there and b) your preferences. The following is advice, based on experience, but don’t feel the need to stick to it completely.

Inter-Club Galas (Forth Valley Junior League)

Typical duration: 2 hours

Towels x 2
– 1 for Poolside
– 1 for Post Gala
T-Shirt / Top & Shorts for Poolside
– For staying warm between events
Pool Shoes / Flip-Flops
Swimming Costume
Swimming Cap (if worn)
Goggles (+ a spare pair – just in case)
£1 coin for a locker

Open Galas / Competitions

Typical Duration / Session: 3 Hours

The following is advice on the kit to take per session, remembering that you may be swimming in 2 sessions across the day.

Towels x 2
– 1 for Poolside
– 1 for Post Gala
T-Shirt / Top & Shorts for Poolside
– For staying warm between events
Pool Shoes / Flip-Flops
Swimming Costumes x 2
Swimming Cap (if worn)
Goggles (+ a spare pair – just in case)
£1 coin for a locker

While you’ll probably want to leave some stuff in a locker, remember you’ll need most of your things on poolside with you. Swimmers do take their swimming bags on pool side during events.

Food & Drink     ^

The type of food eaten during a gala should reflect the swimmers needs:

  • Provide appropriate fuel pre and post race
  • Snacks so as not to cause indigestion / stitch

The following link allows you to download some good advice from Scottish Swimming:

Eating For Competing

Good examples of food to be eaten during galas are bananas, cereal bars or dried fruit. Conversely, we do not advocate sweets of any nature to be eaten during competitions.

During competitions remember to take on board sufficient water or alternatively isotonic sports drinks – depending on the level and duration of the competition. Typically, water will be fine.

Of course, if you’re at a competition all day you might want to take a packed lunch with you. If not, check out whether the venue has a café / restaurant or whether there’s one near by!

Healthy snacks and drinks for the journey home may also be a good idea.

The Right Attitude     ^

Let us say up-front that every swimmer gets nervous before a competition. If they don’t there’s either something wrong with them or they don’t care about what they’re about to do! So, it’s completely natural to feel how you’re feeling.

And, if its your child swimming, then your nerves are also completely normal Mum & Dad!

A few nerves and a little adrenaline helps the athlete’s body raise its performance level in the race. However, how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking are likely to play a significant role in your performance.

Competing is why most people choose to take up competitive swimming – it is the opportunity to validate the progress you’re making through all the hard work you do in training.

To that end, try to find some time before the gala and the event to think about what you’re about to do. Visualisation can be a good method to do this. Visualisation means simply going through the race in your head, stage by stage – mentally rehearsing what to expect, what you’re going to do and even how you want to feel.

First, think about the things that you and your coach have been working on (starts / turns / stroke technique). Then, in your mind, mentally rehearse the race; starting from just before the race, the atmosphere, getting on to the blocks, the start, your dive and entering the water, your first strokes, the first length, your turn, how you’re going to pace the race and so on. Specifically, think about applying what you’ve been working on in training.

The more you practice visualisation the more elements you can build in, such as preparing your emotions for optimal performance.

Visualisation should do two things 1) make you more likely to execute these things well in the race and 2) reduce your nerves, a little, by concentrating on what you will do, and not what might happen.

How will I know when to go up for my race?     ^

It’s your responsibility to find out before the competition, where possible, what events or races you’ll be swimming in. So, if you know you’ve been entered into a competition, keep an eye on the club notice board to check what events you’ve been accepted for. Once you know this,  check the events against the gala programme – this will tell you which sessions your events are in.

With some galas such as Forth Valley Junior League its not always possible to inform you of the event prior to the gala simply because of variations in swimmer attendance right up until the start of the gala.

Once at the gala either your coach or the team manager will inform you, approximately 4 heats (or races) before your event, when to attend the marshalling area. Marshalling is where you’ll be organised into your appropriate heat with other swimmers and informed what lane you’ll be swimming in.

From there you’ll be instructed to make your way to some seats or a bench, with the other swimmers in you heat (keeping in your lane order). As each heat / race before you is completed you’ll typically move to a new sets of seats / bench, each time moving closer to the starting blocks, until it’s your turn to race.

It’s advisable to keep at least your t-shirt on throughout marshalling in order to stay warm. You can take it off before your race and leave it on the chairs behind the starting blocks.

In some galas, such as the Forth Valley Junior League, you may be sent directly to an adult, (typically someone from our club) who is marshalling directly behind the lane that our club is swimming in.

Once you’re behind the blocks, waiting for your race, the starting officials will typically confirm your name with you. This is to make sure they have the right person in their lane, and the time they record is given to the correct swimmer.

Starting your race     ^

Understanding what all the whistles and procedures mean right before your race can be confusing to most people, especially if you’re already nervous about the race.

The person who blows all the whistles is the competition referee. He or she is in charge of officiating the whole competition.

There are two types of whistle blow that you need to listen out for before your race:

1. Rapid or repeated short whistles

This is the referee signalling to everyone that the race is about to begin. If you’re swimming the race it means ‘get ready’. To everyone else it means keep quite and stop moving about on poolside – out of respect to the swimmers who are about to start their race.

2. A long / sustained whistle

This is directly for the swimmers about to start the race, and it means either get up on the blocks, or in the case of backstroke, climb over the blocks and jump in the water. Once on the blocks or in the water you need to get yourself ready to start.

At this point the referee hands over to the starting official. The starting official will then tell you to, “Take your marks”. This means take up your position and be as ready as you can be to start the race. There’ll be a short pause while the starting official makes sure everyone is ready and not moving around on the blocks – the next sound you’ll hear will be the starting beep.

You’re aim at this part of the race is to start as quickly as you can, as soon as you hear this starting beep – valuable time can be gained or lost at this point in the race. The rest is over to you!

Where do I find the results of the events at galas?     ^ 

Typically, there are 3 places you can find the results of races at galas:

  1. Stuck to a wall at the event (often close the spectator area exit)
  2. On the Swim Scotland website
  3. Via the Meet Mobile – Swim Meet App (subscription required)

Please note that while a lot of competitions do post live results to the Meet Mobile App, not all competitions do. So, for complete access to all results you’ll may need to work across a variety of methods.

Different levels of galas and what they mean

Without stating the obvious, not all galas are the same. Differences in galas may affect which swimmers are eligible to swim at them – these differences can usually be linked to the type of license that a gala has been accredited with.

Some types of galas will not have, and do not need, a license in order to operate.

In general terms there are the two types of swimming gala:

  1. Open meets
  2. Inter-club or league galas

Open meets will typically last all day or weekend, whereas league galas will run for 2-3 hours. Open galas will run different heats for each event based on the time and rankings of the accepted swimmers. They also allow many swimmers to compete in each event; with some meets then holding finals for the fastest swimmers. League galas will have one race per event, with a selected swimmer from each of the represented clubs, swimming against each other.

Galas who have been granted a license will typically have the license number quoted on the front page of the programme, The first two digits of the license will give you some indication of the level of the gala:

L1 – Typically but not exclusively: International, National level events

L2 – Typically but not exclusively: District & Club, Long Course Meets with swimmers needing to meet certain time standards to enter.

L3 – Typically but not exclusively: Development meets or galas not seeking accreditation

The two main factors that will affect eligibility for galas will be the times swimmers have been officially recorded as achieving and their age.

Remember also that the coaching team will identify which galas the club will attend through the swimming season, as they need to be present at the galas to support the swimmers. This means you’ll need to check the event schedule each season to understand which galas you could be swimming at.

How do I pay my fees?     ^

Whether it’s your monthly clubs fees, competition fees or S.A.S.A. fees please visit our Fees page for information on paying your fees.

Alternatively, direct any questions to Lynn MacNeill, our club treasurer.

How do I speak with a coach?     ^

Often the best way to speak with a coach is to find 5 minutes after swimming training. If you need to have a private word, they’ll normally be a side office / room available that you can step into with the coach.

Alternatively, you could send your question in via e-mail using the contact form on our Contact Us page. By selecting the appropriate topic your question will be directed to the correct person.

How do I know what nights my child’s training sessions are on?  ^

You’ll find all the information about what times and nights each squad train on via our Training Times page.

How do I know where to find information about where the different training venues are?     ^

You’ll find all the information about the different training venues we use at the bottom of our Training Times page.

How do I get involved in the swimming club committee?     ^

All parents / guardians connected with the club are welcome to join our committee. As a small club, run by volunteers, we’re grateful for all the help we can get. We hold committee meetings at Fauldhouse Partnership Centre once a month.

Details of these meetings can be found via our events calendar. We’d be delighted to see you there – if you’re genuinely interesting in actively helping please come along.

How can I find more information about improving my diet to help my swimming?     ^

There is a variety of information on diet and nutrition, available to download, via our Useful Information Page.

It’s always best that you also discuss this subject with your coach, so feel free to ask them about it too.

What can I do to better support my child with their swimming career?     ^

For a parent or guardian whose child is involved in competitive swimming, like all things involved with raising children, it can be difficult to know when to be supportive and when to challenge them appropriately.

A central theme is to be to aligned with your child’s coach. If a child is receiving one set of advice from their coach and something different from their parents – then you can only imagine how confusing and difficult this would be for them. Do also remember that the coach’s experience will allow them to see things that maybe you don’t immediately appreciate. That aside, there is a guide for parent’s on our Useful Information page.

If there are any questions you’d like to discuss, speaking with your child’s coach is always a good first move.

What standards need to be achieved for a swimmer to become accepted into the Scottish Swimming National Programme?     ^

The National Squad selection criteria and policy can be found by clicking on the National Selection Policy link, in the ‘Useful Links’ section, at the top right of our Useful Information page.

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