Trident Tigers: Galas Explained
National (and regional and international galas hosted by Zambia) are run by ZASU, the Zambia Swimming Union.
For those new to swimming in Zambia, here is a brief explanation of how the national galas are run, including answers to frequently asked questions.
We also strongly urge you to read the ZASU handbook, as well of course as the Trident Tigers handbook. Both handbooks can be found on the Handouts page.
- As a team registered with ZASU, Trident Tigers is eligible to compete in national swimming galas conducted by ZASU during the course of the Zambia swimming season.
- The swimming season opens in September and runs through to March/April of each year. The galas are held either in Lusaka or on the Copperbelt (Ndola or Mufulira). The galas alternate between long course (LCM/50m) and short course (SCM/25m) swimming pools.
- The swimming season generally consists of the following national galas:
- Jubilee gala (a one-day ‘season opener’ event, with age-group medals being awarded on the day. This gala is usually held in September)
- 4 league galas, generally held in October, November, January and February (these are 2-day events with swimmers competing in up to 8 individual events, and there are also team relay events)
- National Age Group gala (“NAG”, a two-day stand-alone event, with swimmers competing for age-group trophies. Swimmers compete based on their age on the first day of the gala.)
- North-South gala (a one-day event in which a team of swimmers from the South of Zambia competes against a team of swimmers from the North of Zambia)
- When selecting swimmers to compete in the galas, team or club coaches must be satisfied that the swimmers are able to swim the strokes in the approved manner as outlined by FINA and further, they must be able to achieve or be very close to achieving, ZASU Standard Times (times which ZASU expects swimmers to be able to achieve).
- The galas are a fantastic forum for swimmers to test themselves; to achieve personal goals, and to build relationships with other team members. Generally the team travels and stays together, and the swimmers have a great weekend together, supported by enthusiastic parents and siblings.
- Designated national galas also act as selection galas whereby swimmers are selected on the basis of merit to represent Zambia at regional and international events such as regional open galas, CANA Zone 3&4 competitions, Zone 6 Games, All Africa Games, Youth Olympics, FINA Championships and of course the Olympics. ZASU has in place specific selection criteria applicable to these regional and international competitions.
- For most swimmers, these are the most important national galas on the swimming calendar because:
- Swimmers have the chance to accumulate league gala points in their respective age groups, with prizes being awarded at the end of the season to the top three placed swimmers in each age group. Traditionally ZASU holds an Awards Evening at the end of the season.
- Teams/clubs have the chance to accumulate league gala points and compete for places at the end of the season
- Swimmers have the chance to be selected for regional and international events on the basis of times achieved in the league galas
- How the League galas work:
- The league galas are two-day events, running all day Saturday and up until about 13h00 on Sunday
- There are generally about 15 different individual events offered, with 50m, 100m and 200m events being offered in all four swimming strokes, plus 100m, 200m and 400m in Individual Medley and 400m, 800m and 1500m in freestyle.
- Swimmers may enter into a maximum of 8 individual events, - 5 events on Day 1 of the gala and 3 on Day 2. There are also relay events in freestyle and individual medley.
- Swimmers compete according to their age as at 1st January of the current swimming season. They compete in the following age groups: 7yrs & under, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, 11-11, 12-12, 13-13, 14-14, 15-15, 16-16 and 17yrs & over.
- Events are swum in male and female categories and in the following two age categories – 11yrs and under, and 12yrs and over. There are several heats swum in each event, with the first heat consisting of swimmers with the slowest times up to the final heat which consists of swimmers with the fastest times.
- As the races are completed, results are then categorised according to the specific age groups (7yrs and under, 8-8 and so on). It is therefore not unusual for an 11yr old who has never swum a particular event before, to be swimming in the slowest heat of the 11&under event, whilst a particularly speedy 9yr old swimmer might swim in the fastest heat of that event alongside other 11 and under aged swimmers with similar times.
- ZASU sets in place Standard Times, or times which swimmers are expected to achieve, according to their age. Swimmers who fail to make Standard Times, cannot qualify for league points or placings.
- Provided that they have achieved Standard Times, swimmers can earn points for 1st to 8th position (10 points for 1st place, 8 for 2nd place, 6 for 3rd place, 5 for 4th place, 4 for 5th place, 3 for 6th place, 2 for 7th place and 1 for 8th place.)
- Points awarded to individuals are also credited to the team or club for which the individual swims.
- Relays qualify for double points, with 20 points being awarded to the 1st placed relay team and so on.
- 10-point penalties are charged for “No Shows”, where a swimmer fails to swim an event and has not provided a medical note to excuse him or herself, and monetary fines are charged for No Shows and Below Standard Times.
The remainder of this page takes the format of a FAQ page, but if you still have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.
- What's so special about being selected for a ZASU gala?
It means that the coaches believe your swimmer now has the ability to swim specific strokes correctly and has a good chance of achieving "Standard Times". Standard Times are the times which swimmers competing at this level should be able to achieve, according to their age. You can find these times in the Handouts page. Not every swimmer is ready to swim at ZASU level, and it is an achievement and a privilege to be selected for a gala.
- What do I need to do if my swimmer has been selected to swim in a ZASU gala?
The main thing is to read and respond to the e mails sent to you about the gala by the Team Manager or Head of Sports! You will be asked to respond to queries regarding the availability of your swimmer, and transport and accommodation requirements or plans.
- Will I need to buy any swimming kit?
You will need to purchase Trident Tigers gala kit for your child according to the kit list provided and according to what stocks are available.
- Why has my swimmer been selected to swim only one or two events whilst others swimmers are swimming more events?
It's not unusual for a first time gala swimmer to be selected to swim only one event, and you have to weigh up the benefits of him/her participating in the gala, or waiting a little longer until he/she is ready to swim more events. Although it can seem a lot of time and expense to invest in only one or two races, this is how all swimmers begin. It's a big deal for a swimmer to take part in his or her first ZASU gala, and participating will help the swimmer gain confidence and experience. Generally new gala swimmers start with the 50m back or 50m free events, and build from there according to how their swimming is progressing. Before long, your swimmer will be participating in more and more events. You can rely on the coaches to select what is best for your swimmer. Generally coaches discuss events with the swimmers.
- I don't understand how the races are swum - when they line up for a race, some swimmers look much older and bigger than other swimmers?
Your swimmer competes in most ZASU galas according to his or her age on JANUARY 1ST of the CURRENT swimming season (the January that falls in the middle of the September to May swimming season). Your swimmer will compete in either an 11yrs and under heat, or a 12yrs and over heat. For instance, in a 50m freestyle event, all the swimmers who are 11 and under will compete in a series of heats relating to that particular event. The swimmers with no previous recorded times, or the slower times, will compete in the first heats, while the fastest swimmers will compete in the last heats. It might therefore happen that an 11 year old will compete in the same heat as an 8 year old. When the results come out, however, these will be according to your swimmer's age on 1st January. This explains why you might see your swimmer come 1st or 2nd in his particular 'race' (his heat) but he might come 5th in his actual age group, depending on the actual time he swam compared to other swimmers of his age.
- How does my swimmer earn points?
Swimmers earn points if they place 1st - 8th in their age group, AND if they meet ZASU standard times for their age group. If you notice a * next to your swimmer's name on the results sheet, it means he/she did not swim within standard times, so he/she is not eligible to earn points. (There is also a restriction on the number of swimmers from the same team who can make points in any one event - this might also explain why he/she did not earn points even when making standard times.) Please don't get too concerned about points in any case...just encourage and congratulate your swimmer no matter what! The goal should be to improve his/her own swimming time (his 'personal best'). Also note that swimmers won't always make 'personal bests' – please don't criticise them if they don't, but continue to encourage them.
- What happens when my swimmer gets to the gala?
If you are taking your child to the gala yourself, look for where the Trident Tigers team is located at the pool venue and base yourself there. Swimmers may sit with their parents but must be alert to being called when needed by coaches and marshalls. All swimmers are required to arrive at the pool one hour before the official starting time. This is for 'warm ups', when the coaches will get the swimmers to do some stretching, and also swim a few laps to warm up and do a little practice. This also helps them to get used to unfamiliar pools. After that, the swimmers can return to the team area to wait to be called for their races. When called, they should check with the coach who may have some pre-race instructions for them. (Resist the urge to 'coach' your own child - you will only confuse him or her!) Make sure your swimmer has his/her cap, googles and towel. The swimmers will be able to leave their towel, shirt and shorts in a basket near the starting blocks, which they can collect after the race. The swimmers will be called to a Marshalling Area, to wait to swim their race. After each race, your swimmer must first go straight to the coaches for feedback, before coming to sit with the team again.
- Will my swimmer take part in the relay events?
Swimmers are selected to swim team relays on the basis of ability. All swimmers are expected to make themselves available to swim relays. However the relays are generally held the end of the day and some parents prefer to leave the gala early. If this applies to you, please notify us well in advance that your swimmer will NOT be available to swim the relay events. Obviously, we would prefer that you support your team and help to gain valuable points.
- What happens if my swimmer falls sick during or before a gala?
If your swimmer falls sick before a gala, you need to notify the Team Manager in advance and provide him with a doctor's medical note. Failure to provide a medical note will result in your team being penalised, and you will also be required to pay a financial penalty. If your child falls sick during a gala and can no longer compete, ZASU also requires that a doctor's medical note be provided at the gala.
- What happens if my swimmer misses a race?
Unless you have provided a valid medical note, your team will be penalised by the loss of points, and will also be penalised financially - so please don't let the team down! Make sure your swimmer stays with the team at the pool venue so he or she does not miss being called up for an event.
- How do I get my child's results?
ZASU uses an excellent application called Meet Mobile which you can use on your smartphone or Android device. Enter the gala name and you will be able to find your child's details - you can use this app before, during and after each gala. This means that even if you are not able to attend the gala, you will be able to follow the gala in almost real time. Full results are also posted on the website a few days after the gala.
- Will I get to see pictures of my child swimming?
Yes - hopefully! We try to take pictures of the swimmers at all galas and we post these up on the website soon after the gala. You are also welcome to send pictures in to be included on the site.