There are a number of opportunities for swimmers to take part in competitive swimming opportunities. The first taste of competition though is likely to be the Club Championships.


City of Lincoln Pentaqua operates its Club Championships in a similar way to other galas so what is outlined here will be comparable to galas elsewhere.


Differences you might find are outlined in section 2.  


1.1 How do I enter?


Before the Club Championships, the gala will be advertised on the Club website and on the Notice board at Lincoln Christ's Hospital School and sent to your most recent email address.


On receipt of your entry form select the competition(s) that you want to take part in. If you are not sure then please see your coach or teacher. There is a charge for each swim that you select -details will be found on the entry forms. Check on the website and notice boards for details of "warm up" times.


Have a look on the website for advice on what to eat and drink before competitions. You should bring a drink but food is not allowed or necessary. 


1.2 What do I do on the day?


Pack your swimming kit well. You should have a race costume which needs to be a tight fit as baggy swimwear will slow you down considerably. You need a good pair of goggles (and a spare pair) well adjusted so they do not come off when you dive in. (although only those who have passed the Competitive Start Award will be allowed to dive, others will start their races in the water) You also need drinks (and healthy snacks) 2 x towels, 1 x CLP hat and ideally 2 x club colours t-shirts to keep you warm when you are not racing and flip flops for the poolside area.


Arrive before the "warm up" time. Go to the changing rooms and get changed into your swimming costume, put on a t-shirt and flip flops and go on to pool side. Remember to either take your belonging with you onto pool side or lock them in a locker. Do not under any circumstances leave personal belonging in the cubicles in the changing rooms. Once you have got changed report to the Team Manager on pool side. Parents are not encouraged to accompany their children on to poolside, as there is limited space available.


For many meets, including the Club Championships there will be an admission charge to cover entry into the viewing area and for programme of events. Please note parents will not be allowed to watch from poolside or the changing room areas.


In line with the ASA guidelines parents wishing to take photographs have to register.


If it is a carded meet, (Blue cards for boys, Pink cards for girls) you will need to deposit your cards in the appropriate card box. There will be one card for each race you have entered. Do not lose these as you will need to hand them in. 


1.3 What happens at the pool?


There will be a "warm up" for everyone before the racing can start. You will be called by age group, and often girls and boys may be in different lanes during the "warm up". You are expected to swim constantly for a period of time, starting slowly and gradually increasing your speed as you get warmer and used to the exercise. Be careful not to set off too fast. As its name suggests a "warm up" is intended to give your body a chance to get prepared for hard exercise. It is very important to do this before racing or training. Towards the end of your warm up you should do a few short fast bursts to again get used to swimming fast. You may also get a chance to dive and sprint which means you can test the fit of your goggles as you dive.


After the warm up, find your team mates, dry yourself and put on a T-shirt and listen carefully for instructions from the Team Manager. You will be called before your race to stand in lines at the side of the pool in race and lane order. This mans that we do not miss anyone out, nor have to try and find swimmers who are in the wrong place. You may will need to have your race card with you for that race. (if a carded meet and not already posted in the designated box))


You will be asked to keep moving as a group along the poolside as the races take place. Eventually you will be called to take your place behind the numbered starting blocks that you have been allocated. Yours will be the next race.


When your race is about to begin, you hand in your card ( if a carded meet and not already posted in the designated box) to the timekeeper who is looking after your lane. The time keeper will put your time onto your card( if being used) or on a time slip when you have finished your race, and this is passed to the time recorders who will officially record your time and position.


You will be called to the blocks when it is your time to race. 


1.4 What happens before the race(s)?


You will be told to get ready by the Referee by 3 or 4 short whistle blasts. This is followed by a long blast when you should either get onto the blocks or you may dive from the poolside or even start in the water (if you haven't got your Competitive Start Award). If you are doing backstroke you must start in the water.


When told to "take your marks" you must take up your starting position but then DO NOT MOVE until the starting signal otherwise you will be disqualified. You do not get a second chance in a swimming start!


The starting signal could be a gun, whistle or an electronic bleep so listen out before your race and be sure you know the starting sound. When you hear the starting signal, the race is on!!


There are a number of rules which you need to remember for each stroke but your coach/teacher should have taught you these before your race. At times you might break these rules. You must find out which rule you have broken by asking your coach so you do not repeat your mistake next time by asking your coach.


When you finally touch to finish, stay in the water until told to leave the pool by the Referee. You may be disqualified if you do not do follow instructions as it can be dangerous if other swimmers are still swimming.  Where timing pads are in place at the end of lanes, it is usual for swimmers to be asked to leave the pool by the nearest side and not climb out over the starting pads as this can damage them. 


1.5 What happens afterwards?


Your time will be recorded by the Timekeeper and the Referee will decide the finish order with the assistance of the Placing Judges unless the pool is fitted with electronic timing which will be used first.


There may be a final for the fastest swimmers, so listen carefully to announcements.


As soon as possible your times will be posted on the noticeboard at Lincoln Christ's Hospital School and we encourage swimmers to record these times in their log book or training diary - it helps if parents too record these times taking note of the date, name and venue of meet, length of pool (50m or 25m) as well as the stroke and distance.


All club events are licensed meets and the times achieved at these for all competitive (ASA Category 2 swimmers) will appear on the British Swimming website. 


2. Non-Pentaqua Galas


The club supports swimmers to enter a number of Open Meets throughout the year. Dates of these meets are listed on the club calender. he Open Meet Secretary will provide information and entry forms together with qualifying times and any accommodation options should overnight stays be involved.


The completed paperwork and fees should be returned to the Open meet Secretary as entries are sent in as an entire club. Exactly as above, CLP open meet entry forms can be found on the Club website 


2.2 What happens before the gala day?


If it is a gala that uses entry cards, you may receive them in the post before the gala - these will be handed out by the Open Meet Secretary prior to the open meet, it is advisable to check these carefully, e.g. date of birth dates of swims and times of swims and put the cards in a safe place - but don't forget to take them to the gala otherwise you wont be allowed to swim if you haven't got your cards!


On arrival at the pool "post" your cards in a box provided by the organisers. Again check you are putting the correct card for the correct day / session


Some galas/open meets do not use cards so it is advisable you make a note of what you entered. 


2.3 How are teams selected for galas/league meets?


Pentaqua has two teams Red and Black - and they swim in the Lincolnshire Junior League and the Lincolnshire League, and one team competes in the National Arena League. These teams are selected by the coaching team. If you are selected for a gala you must tick the team sheet on the notice board at LCHS to indicate if you are available to swim or not. All meets are listed on the club calendar and it is requested that all attempts are made to keep these days free for those swimmers who are in the competitive squads.


Individuals are selected for teams on their current form and we try very hard to ensure everyone is given the chance to compete in some galas throughout the year. Some friendly galas are defined as 'B' galas and these give us the chance to try out swimmers who may not normally get a swim.


League galas are very important to the club as relegation and promotion depends on performance. At these galas we try our best to take the strongest possible team and sometimes we hold time trials to help selection.


2.4 What do I do on poolside?


Swimmers will be expected to remain on poolside and cheer on their team mates. If you need to leave the poolside for some reason to see your parents, please tell the team manager or coach of your whereabouts. Please make sure you wear flip flops and a T-shirt if you leave poolside. 


2.4 Punctuality for Galas


Please ensure that you always arrive at the pool where a gala is taking place at least 15 minutes before the warm up starts.  


2.5 Types of Open Meets


There will be four tiers of structured competition. Open Meets will be licensed according to the purpose of their competition as Level 1, 2, 3 or 4.


Level 1 is aimed at National qualifiers, or swimmers close to National qualification, looking for opportunities to achieve National qualifying times. These meets will have qualifying times for entry, which will be just below the national times. (See Section on Qualifying Times and Upper Limit Times in the entry information pack)


Level 2 is aimed at District qualifiers and will have qualifying times and upper limit times. Access to the ASA ranking information could be used to enable meet organisers to verify that entry times submitted by swimmers fall within the stated range.


Level 3 is for Club swimmers who looking for County qualifying times and again would have qualifying and upper limit times set at an appropriate level. These meets would provide a programme throughout the year to support the requirements of swimmers below regional level.


Level 4 is for Club swimmers looking for County qualifying times and may apply qualifying times to entries


These have dates set between which qualification times can be gained.


The Club is almost entirely run by volunteers, and for many of them this will be their first gala also, so don't be afraid to ask!! 


Finally - Swimmers, do your best and enjoy yourself!