About Competing

About Competing2019-10-18T10:53:42+01:00

WNSC is a competitive swimming club and actively encourages members to enter galas regularly. Galas are a fun and social experience and help develop team spirit within the club. Swimming is one of the most competitive sports in the UK. Please try to bear in mind you child’s age, experience and stage of physical development as these will all have a big impact on performance.

In the younger age groups the difference in times can be significant. Focusing on enjoying the experience, improving your technique and skills in competition and aiming for personal best times is far more productive than worrying about medals.

As you settle into training and progress through the age groups the gaps tend to narrow and hard work and effort are rewarded. Progression through the club takes into account attendance and attitude at training and galas.


West Norfolk Swimming Club participates in several different types of galas. Some galas will be open to all swimmers whereas others will be determined by qualifying or cut off times. Galas that will be supported by the club will be listed on the fixtures list and selections sent out via email / Swim Manager.

It is important that when selected, swimmers try to ensure that they are available for galas (indicate by 'confirming' or 'declining' your selection on Swim Manager) to give the team the best chance at doing as well as possible.


Open Meets

West Norfolk Swimming Club hosts an open meet annually and participates in others around the country. Open meets supported by the club will be listed on the fixtures list and available for entry on Swim Manager. Licensed open meets will have ranges of times that swimmers must meet to enter, these can be found on the entry packs of each open meet, uploaded onto Swim Manager.  Be sure to check the deadlines for entries as late entries cannot be accepted.

We encourage swimmers to enter open meets to practice racing, compete in a range of events and to qualify for County, Regional and National competitions.

Top Tips for Competitive Swimming

Dealing with nerves

If you are new to competing, it’s very likely that you’ll be nervous. All swimmers get nervous – from the youngest up to our experienced senior squad members. Nerves are not a bad thing, and often help swimmers prepare for a race. The really important thing is not to let the nerves take over, and turn into fear. Keep busy and active supporting your team mates, and don’t spend time thinking about your race until the very last few minutes. Enjoy the challenge, and just try to be the best you can be.

Preparation – equipment, food and drink

Swimmers should be encouraged to pack their own equipment for meets, including a costume (and a spare), racing costume (if required), WNSC hat (and a spare), two pairs of goggles, pool shoes, two towels, WNSC t-shirt, tracksuit (or a pair of shorts/tracksuit bottoms), a change of clothes for after the competition, plenty of drinks (normally water), and healthy snacks (cereal/energy bars, rice cakes, fruit and raw vegetables etc). See the nutrition section on the website for great nutritional advice for swimmers.


Swimmers should be well rested – so going to bed early the night before is a very good idea. They should also be nutritionally well-prepared and hydrated.

Swimmers should know what races they are competing in, and make themselves familiar with the programme BEFORE the event, so that they are aware of how the day will unfold. All parents should have checked the confirmed entries posted on the website and emailed out to make sure the swimmer appears in the events entered.

Meets start early, so if you are due at the first session set two alarm clocks then you won’t oversleep (or lie awake worrying that you might!). If the meet is not held at our pools, make sure that you know the route, leave plenty of time for the journey and arrive at the time set by the coach – this will normally be at least 30 minutes before the start of the pool warm-up session. This may seem early, but this time is important for the poolside team to confirm the WNSC entry for events and inform the meet officials of any withdrawals before the deadline. This time is also used for completing pre-pool exercises before the warm-up as the swimmers progress through the club.

Meet types

Most meets use start sheets, to allow swimmers to know what heat/lane they are in. Sometimes, however, swimmers are required to register on arrival. The coaches will know the format and will provide guidance in the pre-meet info email they send out. Any withdrawals on the day must be discussed with the coach immediately upon arrival at the meet, and then made according to meet procedure.


Proper warm-ups are essential and are intended to protect from injury and improve the swimmer’s performance at the meet by increasing body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and energy producing enzyme activity. They also give swimmers the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the diving blocks, water temperature and depths, position of the turn flags and feel of the end walls. Warm-ups are strictly organised and swimmers must follow the instructions of the WNSC coaches and the meet officials.

When instructed to leave the pool, swimmers should immediately dry off, take a loo break if necessary, change into their racing costume (known as skinning-up!), t-shirt and keep warm. Swimmers should not warm up in a racing suit, as it defeats the purpose of the fabric and will reduce their life. Swimmers should remain on poolside with their team mates throughout the session, supporting each other and building team spirit. If a swimmer should need to leave the poolside they should always seek the permission of their coach or poolside manager. Due to child welfare regulations, under no circumstances are parents to come onto poolside, unless sanctioned to do so.

Race preparation

Prior to racing, swimmers should listen carefully to any instruction from their coach. Swimmers must also listen out for instructions to report to poolside stewards, the officials responsible for gathering swimmers together and organising them into the correct heats and lanes. The stewards will check you off and tell you which heat and lane you are swimming in.

It is the swimmer’s responsibility to report to the steward for their event. As meets are run to very tight schedules, the stewards and Referees are not obliged to wait for a swimmer to arrive for their heat or to fit them into a later heat if they miss their designated heat.

The start of the race

Competitors should leave their tracksuits, t-shirts etc, on until just before a race. When approaching the starting blocks take care not to walk in front of the officials who may be checking the finish of a race, observing the turns or starting the preceding heat. It’s a good idea to put on your hat and prepare your goggles just before the steward sends you to the blocks. Top swimmers will also carry spare hat and goggles with them, in case they break! Once you get there, you should take your warm clothing off and put them on the chair or in the box if there’s one provided. The referee blows a short series of whistles to signal that the swimmers should stand behind the starting block, and everyone else should be quiet.

When the referee blows a long blast on the whistle you should either: stand on the block or drop into the water if it is a backstroke race.

It does not matter where on the block you stand but when the starter gives the command, “Take your marks”, you must quickly take up a position with at least one foot at the front of the block with your toes wrapped over the edge and remain completely still, until the starting signal is given. Ensure you know what that signal is – it could be a whistle or an electronic beep. If a swimmer starts before, or is moving at the time the signal is given, they are deemed to have started before the start signal. A “one start rule” is applied, which means swimmers do not have a second chance – they are immediately disqualified (DQ’d).

After the event

At the end of a race swimmers must remain in the water until asked to leave by an official, usually the referee.

Congratulations, a good job done! When you’ve finished your swim, collect your warm clothes and go straight to see your coach for feedback about your swim. Discussion and analysis will help you to improve your technique and race tactics. If you feel you’ve had a bad race, find out if your coach agrees (they may not) and if so, why; learn from the experience, stay positive, and move on.

Depending on facilities and when your next event is, you may be told to swim down, or to dry off and get your warm clothes back on.

The key thing for younger swimmers is to practise and improve their stroke technique and learn racing skills. This may mean that in the short term they need to slow down a little and focus more on getting their technique right. In the longer term, once good technique has become natural to them, they can focus on maximum speed.


Swimmers can be disqualified for a number of reasons, including: delaying the start, making a false start, faulty turn, faulty stroke, faulty finish, or leaving the water before being told to do so. It helps if swimmers know the basic rules. If you are disqualified don’t be too upset. It happens to everyone at some point, even world champions! Find out why you were DQ’d, discuss it with your coach, and try not to make the same mistake again. Swimmers who are DQ’d do not have a time recorded for their swim.


At some events, particularly level 1 and 2 meets, there will be swim down facilities. A swim down is to allow the swimmer’s body to recover after the race by helping to reduce lactic acid build up in the muscles- a build of lactic acid can cause muscle stiffness and tiredness – which will help swimmers to perform well later in the meet. The coach will advise you on what to swim in the swim-down – you should make sure you stick to the programme.


Some or all events, especially the longer ones, may be heat declared (with results based solely on times achieved in the heats) but others have finals, with the fastest swimmers from the heats going forward.

Finals are normally held at the end of the session, but do check, at Regional and National level separate finals sessions are held at the end of the day. Swimmers are spearheaded, with the fastest swimmers in the centre lanes and the slowest in the outside lanes. In a 10-lane pool the swimmers will occupy the lanes as follows: 4,5,3,6,2,7,1,8,0,9 in fastest to slowest order.

Advice for parents

Preparation is everything. Get everything possible ready the night before. Most take a cool bag with a large supply of drinks, snacks and healthy high carbohydrate lunch items – see advice on the nutrition page of the website. Don’t rely on suitable food being available at the venue – very few pools, if any, have adequate facilities! If there is food available, there’ll often be a huge queue and then you’ll have difficulty finding a seat. Take a book, ipod / tablet, newspaper to occupy you – there can be long waits between events. Oh, and dress for a Mediterranean holiday, even in winter pools get very hot.

Watching your child compete is exciting but it can also be nerve-wracking, and everyone reacts to the situation differently. Once the race is underway some parents shout hysterically, much to the amusement of other parents, officials and swimmers! Enthusiasm is great, but your child won’t be able to hear you and is likely to thank you more if you stay calm. Give them a reassuring hug and wish them luck prior to the meet, but please don’t offer them any technical or tactical advice; congratulate them after their swim, and console them if they are disappointed with their performance, but without any well-meant analysis. Leave this to the coach, as mixed messages will only confuse the swimmer and can cause unnecessary bad feeling.

Enjoy yourself and help your swimmer to appreciate the highs (and occasional lows) of the sport, and that sometimes losing, is the best way to learn how to win. Don’t expect them to achieve a personal best every time they race, as training is cyclical. This means that there will be times of the season were the main focus is base fitness and skills, and at these times, the swimmers’ times will be inconsistent, and they may not be at top speed. There will be focus meets during the season where swimmers will hopefully swim personal bests. The other meets are for practice and build-up competitions, to help teach the swimmers the pacing and skills necessary to perform at their best in the “big one!”

As always, if you have any questions, please come forward and ask your child’s coach – someone will be able to help.



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