Devonport Royal Swimming Association

Established 1863

Devon County Club of the Year 2018

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FAQs

 Frequently Asked Questions

If you have additional questions please send these in by email (gensecdrsa@gmail.com) and where appropriate we will post the answers here for all.

Q. Do I have to be a good swimmer to join the club?
Q. When do swimmers move between squads?
Q. Can I pay monthly?
Q. What equipment will I need?
Q. What swimming kit do you recommend for competition?
Q. Can I buy equipment through the club?
Q. What are the club colours?
Q. What are BAGCATS?
Q. What does age on 31st December mean?
Q. What does U12, U14 U16, Open mean?
Q. How are teams selected for galas?
Q. How do I find out what times I have achieved?
Q. Can I have a password?
Q. What is a PB?
Q. What do you mean by a logbook?
Q. What Competitions can I enter?
Q. What is the National Arena Swimming League?
Q. What does 'Licensed meet' mean?
Q. What times can I use for entry into Open Meets?
Q. What does 'Short course' mean?
Q. What does Heat Declared Winner (HDW) mean?
Q. What does 'sign in' mean?
Q. My name is on a result list but has DQ by the side, what does this mean?
Q. What does DNC or DNF mean?
Q. Why does the official time on the results sheet differ from that recorded by the timekeeper?
Q. Swim 21: What is it?
Q. Why have qualified Officials?
Q. What types of Officials are there?
Q. How do I go about becoming an Official?
Q. What is a warm up at a gala?
Q. Should I warm up/stretch before training?
Q. Where can I get nutritional advice?
Q. Should I do land training?


Q. Do I have to be a good swimmer to join the club?
We are a Swim21 development swimming club and as you move up the squads more is expected of you. Swimming lessons for beginners of any age are provided by Plymouth Life centre. Once you have achieved level 8 you can join us whatever your age. If you want to try us out then contact us for an assessment. You will be given the chance to have two free sessions. More details re joining are on the ‘Join Us’ page of our website.

Q. When do swimmers move between squads?
This depends on several things: Age, Maturity, Success in Competition, attitude, attendance, commitment at training and at competition. We have a swimming strategy, which ensures that coaches have a clear understanding of progression through the sessions. If you feel that it is time to progress then ask the coach that knows you best for their opinion. We know it can be difficult for families with a number of children swimming and we will try to have them swimming at similar times but it is not fair on them if they are in an inappropriate session.  

Q. Can I pay monthly?
You need to pay membership of DRSA and ASA fees in one lump sum (renewal is every Jan) and the squad/session fees can be paid by monthly standing order.
Any queries can be directed to the
DRSA Treasurer.  

Q. What equipment will I need?
To get the most out of swimming you need:
          Swimming costume
          Swimming hat –at competitions you need a DRSA hat
          Goggles plus a spare
          Towel
          Short blade training fins (short flippers)
          Kick board
          Pull buoy
          Hand paddles .
          Drinks bottle 1L+

Please note club hats and club 'T-shirts must be worn at all events in which the club takes part. It helps to wear club colours (
red and white) at galas as spectators can see which lane you're in more easily. Swimming hats are compulsory for girls and for boys with long hair. We do have a club shop which provides most of the above and a few other things too.  

Q. What swimming kit do you recommend for competition?
Once your children become club swimmers and are in the water more than twice a week you need to think about what they are wearing in the water.

Training
They will probably have worn a LYCRA suit for swimming lessons which will have lasted perhaps 9 to 12 months.  LYCRA is very comfortable to wear, nice and stretchy and, for the girls, usually has very pretty patterns printed on it - the trouble is it degrades in chlorine so the more they swim the quicker the fabric will become see through. GOOD TO CHECK OCCASIONALLY!

For swimming training they need a good chlorine resistant suit or trunks, either Speedo ENDURANCE or Maru PACER. This material will not degrade at all in chlorine, your children will probably grow out of it before it becomes worn. Leaving a chlorine resistant suit or trunks in the bottom of a swimming bag soaking wet for days on end will not harm the fabric, and you'll probably find this happens occassionally! But do take note - chlorine resistant fabric doesn't stretch so it can't be worn tight, it must be comfortable. Go up a size from the existing suit/trunks and ensure the child is comfortable in it, particularly the girls, making sure they can put their arms up vertically and not feel the straps cutting their shoulders.

Competition
So they come to their first competition - this is when they will need something LYCRA to wear as it is faster in the water. They don't need to go into the top of the range racing suits that cost a hundred pounds and upwards, all they need is something tight fitting to keep the water out and make them feel they can go faster - for the boys, a £12 pair of lycra jammers, for the girls a £16 or £17 lycra suit. If these are kept solely for competitions they should last a year.  Lycra stretches so if they go down a size it will still be tight after it has stretched. If they start with a basic suit, as they progress through to obtaining County times, Regional times and National times they can have better, faster suits that will give them that extra confidence boost.

Goggles
We have always found a pair of Speedo Futura Junior with split headstrap are the best goggles to start with as they have good suction and will hopefully stay in place as they learn to dive competitively. As they progress and will probably want mirror goggles (like the top swimmers in the club!) Maru Pulse mirror and Speedo Opals are the best to go on to as they are still quite large and sit comfortably on the bone around the eye rather than in the eye socket (and they look good!). Proper racing goggles are much smaller and many young swimmers will find them very uncomfortable until they have been wearing goggles for 3 or 4 years.
For the rest of the equipment advice should be sought from the club coach as to which kickboard/pull buoy/hand paddles/fins etc. are generally used by the club. Once they start collecting the necessary equipment a mesh sack to keep it all in is a good investment - this will stop the equipment going mouldy as it allows it to dry after each session. Don't forget look at the DRSA ‘Shop’ page on the website by buying in bulk we keep our prices low.    

Q. Can I buy equipment through the club?
Yes, you can buy a variety of swim wear and accessories such as club costumes, hats, tracksuits, sweatshirts, club kit bags and so on through the club shop. Ask a coach or email the shop contact on the webpage.  

Q. What are the club colours?
The club colours are
red and white.  

Q. What are BAGCATS?
The BAGCATs stand for the British Age Group CATegories, which introduce a points system to measure and compare swimmers' performance. The latest thinking is that swimmers at an early stage of their development should compete to win an overall category award rather than specialising in a particular event. The BAGCATs therefore define four different categories, sprint, form, distance and medley. The BAG Points are calculated from a set of age-related tables for each of the above categories as follows:
Sprint - best 50m-sprint performance (i.e. 50m back, breast, butterfly and freestyle)
Form - best form stroke performance (i.e. form strokes are those with a defined form according to ASA Law) thus best performance at 200m back, breast or butterfly)
Distance - best performance at 200m, 400m or 1500m Freestyle)
Medley - best performance at 100m, 200m or 400 Individual Medley)

To work out the BAGCAT points for an individual swimmer, you must complete at least one swim from each of the categories and the points for the best performance in each are totalled to give a single score. A useful BAGCAT points calculator can be found on PullBouy.com  

Q. What does age on 31st December mean?
Most galas are run for swimmers of different age groups such as Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Open. If a gala is run on an 'age on 31st December' basis, it refers to how old the swimmer must be on the 31st December in the year of competition. It does not necessarily mean the age of the swimmer on the day of the competition. Thus under 12 on 31st December 2007, means no older than 11 on that date and so the swimmer must be born in or after 1996. Similarly, Under 11 on 31st December 2007 means no older than 10 and so the swimmer must be born in 1997 or later. Some events are 'age on the day' and this is self explanatory.

Q. What does U12, U14 U16, Open mean?
Most galas are run for swimmers of different age groups such as Under 12, Under 14, Under 16 and Open (16+)

Q. How are teams selected for galas?
The Head Coach selects the teams galas, this decision is not simply based on times. Whilst speed or time is very important, attitude, experience and behavior all play their part. Once the coach has selected a team they will all be emailed and a quick response asked for so that substitutes can be found where needed. The website has a ‘Calendar’ of events for the year so you can plan in case you are selected.

Q. How do I find out what times I have achieved?
After each gala or club event, individual times and positions of each swimmer will be displayed on the Results Archive of the members section of our web site.

Q. Can I have a password?
Yes of course if you are a club member. You can access the majority of the website without it but to look at the members area you need a username (ID) and password. Please email the
DRSA Secretary, and a username and password will be emailed to you. If you subsequently leave the club, your username and password will be deleted.  

Q. What is a PB?
PB stands for personal best. It is the best time an individual has achieved for a particular stroke at a given distance. The club does its best to record swimmers times and PBs though swimmers are encouraged to keep their own times too, PBs in Licensed Meets are recorded on the National Rankings Database. Each swimmer’s ranking in their County, Region or Nationally can be found for each event.
Click here for the link to the current year's ranking on the British Swimming website.

Please remember that swimmers cannot get PBs every time they swim and sometimes they achieve significant PBs which they might not better for several competitions. This can be down to numerous things but for all swimmers there are troughs and plateaus as well as peaks and certainly the former should not be viewed as a lack of effort either in competition or training.

Q. What do you mean by a logbook?
Some swimmers find it useful to keep individual logbooks to record their own times. This helps swimmers maintain a record of individual progress; encourages personal achievement. You can keep these in a diary or on a computer spreadsheet. It is a good idea to keep a note of your training sessions and what sets you made to record your improvement. In February 2014 we are re-inventing our DRSA logbook for all swimmers so look out for the new logbooks and use them well.  

Q. What Competitions can I enter?
All swimmers are expected to enter our yearly club championships (October-November). This is the opportunity for you to compete with your teammates and also achieve an official time for other events you may enter. These times will be very important, as when entering any gala you will be asked to submit times for each event, the Club Championships are the starting block to achieve your first entry times to build on. Every gala will sort swimmers based on their entry time. Entering an up-to-date time will place you in a more competitive heat for your ability.
There are various levels of galas aimed at different levels of swimmer. Here is a list of galas we enter during the year:
City of Plymouth Championships
Devon County Championships
Cornwall and West Devon League
Arena League (this is normally three galas and requires the most travelling)
We may also have some friendly galas with local clubs.
Additionally, for the hardy, we are allowed a few swimmers at both the open water Breakwater event and Devon event normally near Oddicombe.
We also organise the Plymouth schools gala every March.  

Q. What is the "National Arena Swimming League"?
As the name implies, it is a National Swimming League sponsored by the swimwear company, Arena. Approximately 400 Clubs throughout England and Wales compete in 7 regional competitions. Within each region there are a number of divisions with promotion and relegation between those divisions. Points are awarded for the performance in each gala so that the final gala in December is seeded so that the top teams ‘points wise’ swim to decide who will progress to the National Club finals or who will be promoted depending on the division they are in whilst the lowest points scorers swim against each other to decide relegation.   

Q. What does 'Licensed meet' mean?
Licensed Meets are Open Meets which have been sanctioned by the ASA as being either a Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 or Level 4 Meet. To be licensed the Meet organisers have to meet certain criteria imposed by the ASA. The Meet is licensed by a Regional Licensing Authority.

The most obvious benefit of licensing is that all times recorded will be shown in the National Rankings. Consequently, if a swimmer needs to prove a time for entry into a certain Meet, he can do so by reference to the National Rankings, which are open to everyone to see. This is particularly important for qualification into Regional or National Events, where qualification can only be achieved at certain Levels of Meet, e.g. for Regional events only times at Levels 1, 2 or 3 Meets are acceptable.

The criteria include the following:
Pools used for licensed meets should be a minimum of 25 metres long.
Electronic timing must be used for Meets at Levels 1, 2 and 3.
Anti-turbulence lane lines, starting blocks and turning flags must be provided.
Adequate provision must be made for swimmers to warm up.
Ages shall be at the last day of the meet/series of meets.
A maximum of 7½ hours swimming can take place in any competition day.
The minimum requirements for officials at each Level of Meet.

Q. What times can I use for entry into Open Meets?
When filling in a form to enter an Open Meet one has to be careful to ensure that the time entered is a valid time. The first thing to note is the only time which is acceptable for most Meets is an official time. This can either be a time recorded at a Licensed Meet which is recorded in the National Rankings or a time recorded by the official timekeeper at an Unlicensed Meet such as a team gala. After most team galas the Club receives a result sheet and these times can therefore be validated. Sometimes especially in Novice Events it may be acceptable to enter an estimated time particularly if a swimmer has no previous time for that event but this is only rarely the case and should be done in full consultation with swimmer’s Squad Coach.

Times recorded by parents in the stands or even by the Coaches on poolside are not official times. Only the official timekeeper can see when exactly a touch has been made. Relay splits cannot be used as entry times except the lead off legs of a freestyle or medley relay. Please remember that putting in a time faster than a swimmer’s PB is unlikely to help a swimmer unless this has been specifically agreed by the Coaches where for instance a swimmer has not swum an event for some time and other circumstances indicate that he or she is capable of going significantly faster.

Many meets will require a time from another Meet within a certain period or at a certain Level e.g. Regional Times can only be achieved at Level 1, 2 or 3 Meets so the Club Championships as Level 4 Meets would not be sufficient. Often the entry forms will require the date and name of the Meet to be entered on the entry form so that the organisers can check whether the times are acceptable for their Meet. Failure to meet the requirements will most likely result in rejection of the swimmer’s entry.  

Q. What does 'Short course' mean?
Events held in a 25m pool. (LONG COURSE IS A 50m POOL)  

Q. What does Heat Declared Winner (HDW) mean?
If a gala states HDW, (Heat Declared Winner) this means there are no finals, Therefore if you have 30 swimmers competing in a 50 metre freestyle race the winner will be the swimmer with the fastest time regardless if the swimmer swam in the first or last heat.

At many meets including our Club Championships all the swimmers in a given event will swim in heats together regardless of age, starting usually with slowest in the first heat and the fastest in the last heat. This does not mean that the 9 year olds are actually competing against 16 year olds or older as once all the heats are swum the swimmers times are sorted into the individual age groups and medals awarded accordingly.

Q. What does 'sign in' mean?
The majority of galas require the swimmer to sign in once you have arrived at the pool before the warm up. On arriving the swimmer should ask where the signing in desk is, check their name against the lists on the desk and sign, if your name is not on the list and should be see your coach immediately. If a swimmer does not sign in they will not be able to compete.  

Q. My name is on a result list but has DQ by the side, what does this mean?

Unfortunately many competitive swimmers are DQ'd sometimes, this means disqualified. At the end of a pool will be time keepers, recording a final time achieved by the swimmer, by the side of the pool walking up and down are judges. If a judge feels that the swimmer has not touched properly, performed a stroke incorrectly or made a false start, i.e. entered the water before the starter gun/whistle, this will result in a DQ.

If a swimmer is disqualified, he will be given no time on the results. Any time recorded by the timekeeper will not be treated as an official time and cannot be used as a qualifying time for any event.

The disqualification codes used in results represent the best effort of the person encoding the infraction reported by the judge or other official. Sometimes this requires the use of a code which doesn't exactly match the infraction, but has been chosen as being in some sense 'near'. The code is made up of three parts:

The disqualification reason. This can be one of T (turn), FI (finish), S (stroke), ST (start), O (takeover), FO (fouling), L (wrong lane), M (midconduct) or E (equipment). Reason S has variants SA, SH and SL for faults in arms, head and legs respectively, while reason O has variant OM for an error in stroke change.
The appeal status. This is usually blank, but may be A for appeal made and X for appeal disallowed.
The length code. This is the number of the length on which the infraction occurred, followed by "L". In theory code "1L" should be used where the length is not known, but the length code is often omitted.

When it happens to you, ask the coach or team manager what it means and treat it as a learning exercise, not a failure.

Q. What does DNC or DNF mean?
If a swimmer's name at the bottom of a result sheet has DNC or DNF next to to it, this means that the swimmer DNC (Did Not Compete) or DNF (Did Not Finish).

Q. Why does the official time on the results sheet differ from that recorded by the timekeeper?
At a Meet where there is no electronic timing (AOE), such as the Club Championships, the only official times are those decided on by the referee, having first considered the time recorded by the timekeepers. The placing recorded by the finish judges and the referee and approved by the referee take precedence over the manual times of the timekeepers and as a result it may be necessary to adjust the times to fit in with the placings. Often one will see two or more swimmers with official times which are identical but this does not (unless the result sheet specifically states) mean that the swimmers finished tied with the same time. It merely means that the manual times recorded by the timekeeper showed the swimmer who finished ahead of the other as having a slower time - so in order to make sense of the placing the difference between the times is averaged so that the faster swimmer will be placed ahead of the slower swimmer, albeit with same time.  

Q. Swim 21: What is it?
Swim 21 is a 'Quality mark' and an important part of the ASA's Club Development model - a planning tool, based on the principles of Long Term Athlete Development, enabling clubs to help athletes, teachers, coaches and administrators to achieve their full potential. It focuses particularly on the needs of athletes - striving to provide them with the best possible support and environment. DRSA strives to maintain this quality mark and we need your continual support to maintain it. Visit the ASA website for more information.  

Q. Why have qualified Officials?
At the fundamental level, the officials are there to ensure that a competition between swimmers is safe and fair. Health & Safety as with all aspects of life is fundamentally important. The promoter of a swimming event has the overall responsibility for Health & Safety, but due to its importance, all officials on pool side must also keep their eyes peeled to try to prevent any accidents occurring. Fair play is achieved by following the laws and technical rules of the various swimming bodies, which leads to consistency not only within a single event, but also across all events in a league or championship. We always need more officials/volunteers in DRSA so please ask for more information.  

Q. What types of Officials are there?
There are 5 basic levels of qualification for a technical swimming official:
Timekeeper: Competent with a stop watch and able to act as a Chief Timekeeper at an event.
Judge: Knows the laws of the various strokes and is able to place the finishing order of an event.
Starter: Nice loud clear voice with the ability to settle the swimmers and start them fairly.
Race Results: Knows how to determine the result of a race using electronic timing. Qualified to act as a Deputy Referee.
Referee: Responsible for running the event safely and fairly.
There are also other "non-technical" officials such as recorders and announcers. These do not require any particular qualification, but are still vital for the successful running of an event and include:
Announcer: Reads out safety announcements prior to gala and then announces each race and any other information as directed by the referee. Poolside Job.
Recorders: Record results of each race from slips provided by judges. Normally two recorders required, with both writing down results and cross-checking them throughout the evening. Poolside Job.
Runners: Throughout the gala getting results sheets from the Recorders and displaying them in the gallery, behind the spectators.
Door Money and Programme: Man a table in reception area to give out programmes and collect fee per adult spectator. For some galas there may also be raffle tickets to sell.
Door Sign In/Registration: For certain Galas, including Club Champs, swimmers need to register that they have turned up to swim. Minimum of two people required, one to sign in boy swimmers and another the girls.
Marshals/Whips/Stewards: To make sure swimmers know what and when they are swimming (from lists provided) and guide them towards the starting blocks at the appropriate time.  

Q. How do I go about becoming an Official?
Each level of technical official consists of some training, a short examination and a practical evaluation of the skills required. Examples of the examinations and other helpful material can be found on the British Swimming Web site. If you are interested,
speak to us about it. Most of the officials at an event are also approachable, so why not ask them about their experiences. A good place to start is as a timekeeper for our club championships. To represent the club at all other events you would need to be a Judge 1 (Timekeeping and Turns) or Judge 2 (Stroke and Judging of finishing places and turns at ends from Judge 1) ask any of the committee or coaches if you are interested.

Remember, the officials are all volunteers and give up their time freely so that swimmers can enjoy their competition. Without them there would be no competitions.   

Q. What is a warm up at a gala?
Before any gala there will be a warm up period (registrations are done BEFORE the warm up, not during) normally females first then males for approximately 15mins each. Entry into the water is only by jumping or lowering yourself down into the lane NO diving. There could be up to 25 swimmers/lane so this is not a race! We will try to have all our swimmers in the same lane but this is not always possible. Swimming in a warm up is a very easy swim it is not to heat you up! The main aim is to get the muscles moving, get over the stiffness caused by the excitement of competition and in a strange pool practicing your turns. Do not exert yourself and do not try to overtake or race the other lanes. Only swim the strokes that you are doing in this session and if the swimmer in front is in the way when you turn it is not their fault but is yours –back off to give you room to turn. Do not hang about at the ends as it stops other swimmers turning. After about 10mins there will be sprint lanes which may be a couple of lanes –normally the end lanes or could be all lanes. A sprint lane gives you the chance to practice your dive especially important in a strange pool. You queue up to dive if possible the coach will start you but frequently that is not possible so you safely start yourself and practice all aspects of the dive do a couple of fast strong strokes and then swim to the other end easily to get out and walk back to the blocks. Occasionally it is possible to get out half way down the length –watch what others are doing. In some galas there is a warm/up swim down pool available all the way through the gala. This is especially useful for the swim down but also if your event is an hour or more after the warm up it gives you another chance to stretch out, but may not be useful for practicing turns as it could be a very different pool.

Q. What is a swim down?
After even a sprint swim (short distance event) you will be breathing hard and recovering. So you are at least partly anaerobic so you have an oxygen debt which means that lactic acid is in your muscles stiffening the muscles and possibly leading to cramp. By getting out of the event you have just swam and going straight to a swim down lane and doing just a few lengths easy that lactic acid is dispersed enabling a much better recovery. If there is no swim down lane then do stretches for at least 5mins after your event.

Q. Should I warm up/stretch before training?
YES ask your coach for advice.

Q Where can I get nutritional advice?
There is some already on our website in the members area under ‘Gala Information’.

Q Should I do land training?
Yes but sensibly. Land training for swimming is not for building muscle that you then have to drag through the water but it is to increase endurance, improve your cardiovascular system and strengthen some of your more important swimming muscles. Different ages, gender, body builds, strokes and own fitness levels all require different training. The core body strength is vital for good swimming technique so the use of fitball and light weights, high repetition are all useful. In 2014 we are developing a series of land training documents to help you on your way. Start with pressups as all strokes will benefit from that exercise then move on to burpees.