Our Swimming Pathway in 5 Squads

We have developed a system of squads that feed into each other, providing clear routes for swimmers of all ages and aspirations, be these competition or fitness.

We also continue to be a hub for para swimmers in the region. Our timetable is divided into defined sections giving swimmers a flexible choice of training nights, whilst incorporating a certain training ethos for swimmers in the competitive squads, including Masters who wish to train to compete.

There is no compulsory attendance, but rather a strongly recommended number of training sessions for each squad with appropriate attendance at galas encouraged. Coaches will cover various squads and the standardised structure will mean coaching and expectations will be uniform across sessions and coaches. The club has five swimming squads to which individuals are allocated dependent upon ability. Only the masters, squad 5, is age dependent. Regular meetings between coaches, and time trials within sessions, are used to assess development and allow progression within lanes and transition between squads. Structuring training this way ensures that the skills of the swimmer are compatible with the squad and a lively training regime that all can enjoy.

Para Pathway

There is a Para Pathway from Plymouth Life Centre to DRSA as the club is the Hub for Para swimmers, and as such we welcome Para swimmers from other sources too. DRSA prides itself on a long-standing track record developing very successful Para swimmers, past and present.

Swimming Calendar

Squad 1 (Club) –  Entry point

Squad 1 is our club's most junior squad and provides an entry point for swimmers making the step up from swimming lessons to the club training environment and learning technical aspects. A key focus for squad 1 is to prepare our young swimmers to progress through our swimming pathway, this means primarily focusing on core skills, technique and good habits.

Swimmers train once or twice a week and follow a rolling weekly schedule in which each session focuses on developing a different stroke or skill. Swimmers are allocated to a lane according to their ability which means that they will always be swimming at a similar speed to the others in their lane.

Squad 1 (Club) –  Regular assessment

Test set nights are held every term and allow the swimmers to put their new skills into practice. These events are usually timed where we try to emulate proper racing conditions. As well as instructing swimmers on racing etiquette, test set nights also provide an opportunity for swimmers and coaches to review progress and develop short- and longer-term goals.

As a coaching group we regularly assess those swimmers that we consider ready for further progression in the club and have reached a required standard in all strokes. But it is important to understand that swimming fast is not the primary focus at this stage. We are looking at a number of factors when considering a swimmers progression, such as attendance, attitude and technique. When the time is right we will invite swimmers to attend an additional session on Wednesdays 7:00pm - 8:30pm to start the process of transitioning to squad 2, the swimmers will also benefit from training alongside Squads 2, 3 and 4.

Squad 1 (Club) –  Competitions

We often get asked about whether squad 1 swimmers can enter galas, and the short answer is absolutely they can if they have reached the minimum age (usually 9 for official competitions). There are various levels of galas available for our younger swimmers to enter and we encourage all our squad 1 swimmers to enter our own Club Championships and Club Gala (the Sizzler) these can provide a really fun and friendly environment to put some the skills and techniques they learn in training into practice. We know that not all our swimmers will want to compete and many will not have experienced a gala before, so if you have any questions or would like to discuss anything to do with competitions please speak with one of the coaches.

Two free taster sessions

If you would like to join our club, we offer two free trial sessions, this enables coaches and swimmers to identify the best squad for you. Due to our contract with the Life Centre, the minimum standard for trialists is to swim three stroke techniques and to swim 200m without stopping.

Squad 2 (Fitness and Development)

Squad 2 has the broadest range of swimmers, in relation to age, ability and aspirations. It is a guided route for development of younger swimmers into competition and equally a positive environment supporting swimmers of any age who wish to pursue swimming mainly for fitness.

Squads 3 & 4 (Competitive and Performance)

Squads 3 & 4 are for swimmers who wish to compete regularly, and we will support them up to whatever level they aspire to reach. This requires a certain level of commitment from the swimmer, so there are more defined expectations in terms of times, attitude and goals. Squad 3 is for any swimmer aspiring to county times or older swimmers who wish to train to compete. Squad 4 is for swimmers who are (or in the opinion of the coaches are likely to be) of regional standard and above.

Our club records

Click here to view our championship club records.

The Sizzler

The Sizzler is our very popular annual summer swim meet held at the Plymouth Life Centre.

Please visit our Sizzler page for further information.

Squad 5 (Masters) –  Friendly, cohesive squad

Whether you wish to be involved with competitive swimming or just fitness, our relaxed, friendly, cohesive Masters squad has universal appeal. There is only so much that can be achieved by undertaking repetitive lengths alone in a local swimming pool. DRSA will ensure that your individual goals are facilitated and your motivation nurtured.

Our Masters squad provides an opportunity for adult swimmers with a range of abilities from those who just want to improve or maintain fitness, those who want to supplement their triathlon training, open water swimmers and even medallists who compete at the British Swimming Master's championships. The ages of our Masters swimmers range from 18 years to post retirement.

DRSA embraces Swim England's 'cradle to grave' policy where we ensure that individuals of all ages can enjoy both the social and health benefits associated with swimming. The club provides coaching for all masters swimmers who can demonstrate a minimum ability of being able to swim at least two recognised strokes over a distance of 300 meters minimum without stopping. This will be assessed at your first free taster session.

Squad 5 (Masters) –  Integrated training model

Ideally the Friday and Monday sessions provide skills and technique coaching for swimmers who can demonstrate the above minimum and swimmers who aspire to improve their other strokes and existing abilities. In addition to that, the stronger Masters swimmers have the opportunity to train on a Wednesday as well. The club promotes an integrated training model where the Masters squad follows much of the Senior programme but specifically adapted to meet the needs of the mature swimmer. The more competitive swimmers can also rotate between the Senior and Masters squad according to their individual requirements.

Our Masters sessions are on:-
Monday 8.30-9.30pm
Wednesday 8.30-10.00pm
Friday 8.30-9.30pm

In addition to this, some of our stronger Masters swim with our Senior Competitive swimmers and in our Sunday long-course training sessions where the pool is in 50 metre format. These sessions will be by invitation only.

All squads train on a Monday and Friday

All squads train on a Monday and Friday. Additional sessions are available on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. For more information have a look at the Timetable page on this website. The fee structure for sessions is available on the Join us page. We do not dictate how many sessions per week you do.

Land training

Currently we have two land training sessions, Sunday morning and Wednesday afternoon, open to all 12+.

Dedicated coaches

We have a team of excellent, truly dedicated volunteer coaches who are led by our professional Lead Coach, James Lake (pictured above). If you are interested in joining our team of swimming coaches, please contact the club's Swim Secretary at

We continue to support the development of trainee coaches and young volunteers on poolside with close mentoring by more experienced coaches. This ensures consistent coaching for swimmers and aids the progression of the next generation of coaches.

A beginner's guide to entering swimming competitions

There are lots of types of swimming galas you/your child can attend, but they tend to follow a development pathway. There are licensed and unlicensed meets. Unlicensed meets do not have to follow the same Swim England meet rules and the results are not listed on the Swim England Rankings database. They can nonetheless be used to enter low level galas (Level 3 and 4).

Click here to find out more.