HSC Galas  – Competitive Swimming

Most children enjoy swimming against other children. The club provides the opportunity for all members to taste competition.

Our swimmers are involved in 4 types of gala:

  1. Club Championship Galas: Open to all swimmers. Parents can enter children into any races for which they’re eligible.
  2. Mini League Galas: Swimmers are selected by our gala committee. We use times from recent galas or time trials as well as coaches’ recommendations to field the strongest team we can (but due to the ‘standard times’ system, a child might be too fast to swim in their age group at these galas). Find out more about the selection process.
  3. Essex League Galas: Age group and Open swimmers are selected by our gala committee. You can’t be ‘too fast’ for this gala – there are no standard times in this league. Find out more about the selection process.
  4. Essex Qualifying Galas: For age group swimmers who are able to achieve the Essex Qualifying Times. Arranged individually, or together with the coaches.


Club Championship Galas

The club organises four main championship galas a year, plus an extra one for fun. They run on Friday evenings at Harrow Lodge Pool in lieu of normal training.

Swimmers compete within their ability group (for those in our Improver Width groups) or by age group (for our squad swimmers).

Boys and girls have separate events, but may swim at the same time to keep the gala running efficiently. Events are usually ‘heat declared’ i.e. everyone swims once per event, then winners are decided based on the recorded times, rather than running heats and a final.

We have several types of event (explained in more detail here) including events decided on the night, and aggregate events where points are accumulated over the course of the year.

Club championship galas are publicised by our Friday evening table team, all coaches, and parents on our social media channels. Parents are reminded to complete entry forms over several weeks before the entry deadline. We regret that no late entries can be accepted.

The gala dates, closing dates and summary of the events for this year are provided in the gala schedule. The schedule for next year will appear around the end of the year.

Swimmers pay per event when completing the entry form, rather than paying for their training session on the night.

League Galas

The club enters a team in three leagues. Each of the leagues are aimed at various standard and age of swimmers. 

The Essex Mini League (for ages 9 – Open*, standard times are set), the East London Mini League (for ages 10 -14, standard times are set), and the Essex League (for ages 10 – Open*, no standard times).

Swimmers are not normally allowed to swim in league events until the calendar year in which they turn nine. In this year they are only allowed to swim in relays. They become eligible to swim in individual events in the calendar year in which they turn ten.

* Open events have no age limit. You’ll often see masters swimmers lined up on the blocks. There are many reasons for this… Sometimes they’re filling in for younger swimmers who have recently left for University. Sometimes they’re making up the numbers so the three 16+ swimmers in the club get to have a relay team. Sometimes they’re the fastest swimmers over that distance and so they’re in the races! Look out for Danny in the line up for our Open relays!

Team Selection Process

The club selection committee attempt to select a balanced team based on the known standard of club swimmers.

We usually take 5 swimmers for each each group. We need a minimum of 4 per age group to swim the relays.

Every time a swimmer takes part in a race or time trial, their time is recorded and used by the selection committee. Most swimmers record their first times at the club championships.

You can use our personal best tables to see whether your child is among the fastest in their age group. The tables don’t dictate whether your child will be selected, or which races they’ll end up doing, but they give you an idea of how fast your child swims relative to other members of the club.

Swimmers are often switched between events, or asked to swim up an age group to stay within the standard times, or to give them a couple of races each. Each league also has its own set of rules on how many individual events and / or relays a child can swim in one gala, so we juggle the teams accordingly.

What Happens If You’re Selected

If your child is selected for a gala, they might swim a couple of relays, or one individual and one relay, or possibly three races. 

Teams are normally selected about three weeks before the gala date and the team are notified by email.

Please reply to the email indicating whether or not your child can swim.

Tickets for each swimmer are also put out in the foyer on Friday nights. These tickets specify the date and the venue and a telephone number. It is important that these tickets are picked up as soon as possible and even more important that the club is notified if the swimmer is not able to swim.

Regular team members should keep future gala dates in mind when organising other events and warn the selection committee in advance if they will not be available for selection. The latest fixtures can be found in the current fixture list.

The club covers the cost of league galas; swimmers do not need to pay an individual entry fee.


Open Galas 

Various clubs organise galas for individuals to enter.

These normally provide events in all four strokes aimed at specifically aged swimmers. Some of the galas are one length races others are 100 meter races.

To take part in these events the swimmers must be registered as competitive swimmers with the ASA.

The club normally co-ordinates entries into these events but it is the individual’s responsibility to enter.

Costs are per event and will be detailed on the entry form.