A parent’s guide to Maldon Sharks.....


It can be a daunting and confusing experience when a child joins a swimming club. Everything’s new and it can be a bit of a steep learning curve - mainly for the parents. Here are a few helpful words which should hopefully alleviate any concerns – plus answer any of those nagging questions you’ve wanted to ask.

Swimmers can take part in competitive swimming galas from the age of 9 and Maldon Sharks regulary enters teams in the Essex Mini League, as well as the Essex County Championships, ASA East Region Championships. The club also holds an annual Club Championship giving members the chance to compete.

Maldon Sharks is a small friendly competitive club that  encourages its swimmers reach their full potential. All our officials are also parents of swimmers at the club and all are willing to lend and ear and answer any questions from parents. Competition swimming is fun, it creates team spirit and is very rewarding. It involves a certain amount of commitment from both the parents and the swimmers alike whilst keeping them fit and healthy.


The training times and locations can be found on the website click here It’s worth remembering how little pool time swimmers get, therefore swimmers are encouraged to be ready and changed so that they can get in the pool as soon as the session starts. During training swimmers are split by lane, so that swimmers of roughly equal ability/speed are in the same lane. This is so that faster swimmers are not constantly stopping or overtaking the slower swimmer. As their ability and speed increases there is the opportunity of moving up to a faster lane.

Swim Training Aids

Although not compulsory, your child may be encouraged to get some swimming aids for use in training in order to help improve strength, stamina and certain areas of their technique. These can include some of the following:

Pull Bouy: Typically a high density foam float that goes between the legs allowing the swimmers to work on their upper-body technique and strength. Price range £5-£10

Kick Board: Typically made from high density foam. Kick boards allow swimmers to use only their legs as they swim. Price range £5 - £15

Training Fins: These are short fins used to help perfect body position and strengthen leg muscles. Price range £10 - £20

Hand Paddles: Used to help perfect the hand position and strengthen the arm and shoulder muscles. Price range £5-£15

These can all be purchased from Yours in Sport, Maldon

Different Types of Swimming Galas

Team galas: where the club competes as a team against other clubs.

Open galas: where the swimmer competes individually.

Team Galas

Maldon Sharks compete in the Essex Mini League with five galas spread between February – October taking place on a Saturday evening. The main purpose of these galas is to give the novice swimmers a taste of competition. A meet will consist of individual sprint races and team relays against other clubs in the league. The club will endeavor to give everyone at least one race throughout the evening – sometimes more. One of the characteristics of these galas is that if a swimmer swims faster than a designated time for a particular event then the swimmer is time faulted and no points are scored for the team – although the times are still recorded. This discourages stronger swimmers competing in what is essentially a gala for novice swimmers. Points are scored throughout the evening to give an overall total team score. This type of gala has a good atmosphere and generates real team spirit, with swimmers cheering their fellow club members on and offering support.

To help Emma and Carly with the planning of the team please let her know as soon as possible if your child is unavailable for a particular gala date. Dates can be found here


Open Galas

Open galas are those galas where the competitor is swimming for themselves, although the entry for these are still made through the club and still has a team spirit feel. They come in various standards and have qualifying times for each individual event. Details of open galas are distributed via emails by the gala secretary. Emma and Carly will help with suggesting the events that the swimmer would do well in. Individual entry is done through the Club Organiser Login and details of galas and eligability can be found under the heading Fixturers.The completed entries and then automaticley sent to the gala secretary. Payment for individual races is done at time of entry via the payment system on Club Organiser. The club will then submit all the entries to the club hosting the gala.

Open galas can be an all-day event and can sometimes span a weekend. At most open galas each event is ranked in the order of the swimmers entry time. If it’s the first gala then Emma or Carly would have recorded the swimming time during a training session and given them an appropriate entry time. The event is then swum in heats starting with the slowest, irrespective of age. As a result swimmers of similar ability will swim in each heat – it is unlikely that a swimmer will be completely outclassed  (or outclass other swimmers) in their particular heat. Once the event is complete the recorded times and swimmers are sorted into their age groups and the results posted – at which time you will find out where your child came in their age group and whether you may have a medal winner. (Medals are usually given to the top 6 swimmers in each age group but this will vary according to the host clubs rules).

What to take to a Gala


Swimming costume, goggles, Club swim cap, towels x 2 and a Maldon Sharks T Shirt to wear between races. Spares of each are advisable in case of any last minute hitches.

Swimmers also need to drink plenty (non-fizzy is best) also food for the longer events  ( strictly NO Nuts)- they will be poolside for about 2 – 3 hours per session. See the notes on Nutrition .


You will need something to drink – it is usually very warm and humid at a swimming pool. Dress in such a way that you can cope with the hotter conditions. Make sure you have a few layers to peel off as it can be uncomfortable if unprepared. Something to read can come in handy, especially if you can’t get a seat next to a familiar face and possibly come prepared with a small cushion, in case the seating is a bit on the basic side. There is usually a small charge to spectators and don’t forget the raffle. This is how clubs try to raise funds.

At the Gala

Once at the gala the swimmers go off and change (after signing in first for the open meets) they usually then go poolside by themselves – parents are not allowed poolside unless they are one of the volunteers helping to manage the team. This can be a bit daunting especially for the younger swimmer in the first couple of galas, but there is usually lots of familiar faces to help them out. A more experienced Shark can be relied upon to look after the younger swimmer and once poolside, Emma or Carly and othemembers of the coaching team are there to greet them.

First will be the warm-up, this usually takes anything from half to one hour depending on the size of the gala, with the children split into club or age groups. Then it is into the races, once the gala gets going the races happen very quickly. There will be a lot of noise with parents and children all routing for their child/team. You will be able to purchase a programme so take a pencil then you can record your child’s time, they and you will want to know if they have achieved a PB. (Personal Best)


Personal Best - no matter their ability, each swimmer soon becomes passionate with beating their previous time for each event and stroke. The times are recorded at all galas and the club keeps records of all the swimmers best times, see time records on the members login page. The ASA holds a database of all official times recorded at licensed open galas. ASA .