Good Advice

We hope both parents and swimmers will find this advice section a valuable resource. The content of advisory notes is taken from reliable sources but it is necessarily written in terms of general principles and adapted for Wey Valley. You should apply the knowledge in a way that is appropriate for your individual circumstances. Please tell us about any topics that you would like to see covered and if you have specialist knowledge yourself, then send in your material to us.

To see the club's various policy documents, go to the Constitution and Policies page.

Introduction to Lane Training

All juniors must be accompanied by an adult who is responsible for ensuring familiarity and compliance with all the health, safety & welfare regulations of the pool operator and club rules. Read all notices posted at each pool including parking arrangements. Notify the club of changes in contact details and medical information promptly. Talk to teacher/coach about your swimmer's progress.


Most sessions are 1 hour in the water. Arrive 15 minutes before start time so as to be changed and on pool side in time for registration. Changing rooms are not supervised by teaching staff.


A list of required equipment can be found in the Shop section under Club Kit. These can be bought on poolside from our kit lady, Sharon Giles, or ordered online from the Shop under Club Kit.

If you suffer from asthma you must have your inhaler on pool side.

See how to fit your goggles correctly here.

Programme of Work

Each session within a given week concentrates on one stroke. The strokes rotate on a four week cycle as follows Frontcrawl, Breastroke, Backstroke, Butterfly.

Individual Medley practices are integrated throughout.

Session Plan

Each session is made up of three elements Warm Up, Stroke Practices & Drills, Skills (starts, turns, finishes). The work is made up of sets which vary in format between sessions and through the program to facilitate progressive development of stamina and technique.

Sets of work are defined by time, distance, repetitions.
e.g. 8 x 50m 30 sec rest.
e.g. 4 x 100m 1.45 min.
e.g. 12 x 25m walk back

Common Issues

  1. Swimmers arriving late still need to warm-up. This disrupts the work of all other swimmers in the lane.
  2. Swimmers who don't drink water during a session will dehydrate and need more rest.
  3. Swimmers who have skipped a meal tire quickly and can't complete session.
  4. Swimmers who have been ill will take time to get back their fitness and may be moved position in lane / lane in session to accommodate.
  5. Swimmers are put in a lane or a lane position by the coach according to a variety of factors. Changes in position of a swimmer occur often to optimize the session for the benefit of the swimmer(s).
  6. Swimmers are given personal teaching points on efficient technique and may be asked to carry out corrective practices.
  7. Warm up is essential to avoid injury. Don't swim breast stroke and don't use fins for warm up.
  8. Bring plastic bottle with plain water or diluted squash.
  9. Don't skip breakfast and/or lunch.
  10. Don't swim if you are ill, especially not if you have an open wound or a stomach upset.
  11. If a swimmer is moved this doesn't mean they are being promoted (or demoted).
  12. Don't submerge under water when being instructed - you won't know what to do!

Guide to Swimming Events

The Wey Valley Parents Guide to Swimming Events will give you more information about the types of events, Q&As and Common Terms. This will be epecially useful for parents of swimmers who are just starting to swim in competitions.

A summary of the information in the parents guide can be found under Galas and Events, Guide to Events.

Coach Jo Weston has put together her Top Tips for Winners to help prepare the younger swimmers competing in their first galas or competing with the senior swimmers in Club Championships for the first time.

Getting Ready for Racing

Warming up is something all swimmers do to prepare to swim fast.

Why warm up?

From a scientific standpoint we know that an effective warm up:

  • Increases body temperature
  • Increases heart rate
  • Increases blood pressure
  • Increases energy producing enzyme activity

As coaches we observe that an effective warm up:

  • Increases confidence by giving swimmers a feel for the pool, the water temperature, wall, flags, blocks and general conditions, (increases familiarity with the race conditions).
  • Increases race readiness through the opportunity to rehearse specific pacing and stroking strategies.

The overall aim of warm up is to get your mind and body "READY" to race fast. How many times has your coach or your swim team friends asked "So, are you ready?"

But what does "READY" feel like? What's "ready" for you may not be "ready" for someone else.

  • Some swimmers like to sit with friends and family, laughing and joking to help them feel ready.
  • Some swimmers prefer to do just the opposite - they need peace and quiet to perform at their best.
  • Others like to listen to music, some read, a few walk, others talk, some jog ...there are many ways that swimmers prepare to get the best out of themselves.

The key to an effective warm up is to know what your own personal "READY" feels like before you get to a gala.

  • It doesn't make sense to prepare for months, commit yourself to training and working hard, eating the right foods and so on then not knowing what actually gets you "ready to race".
  • One simple way to learn what your "ready" is all about is to write down everything you can about your race day routine. Simple things like the quality and quantity of sleep, your breakfast, your stretches and your pool warm up can have a real impact on your racing performance.
  • At your next gala, try to remember "what ready feels like for me" write it down afterwards in your log book and then discuss it with your coach.

In this way, if you swim well, you will know exactly what makes you "ready" and if you don't swim well, you'll know what to do better (or to avoid) next time.

A few little tips to help you get ready on race day:

  1. The gala Program tells you only two things - what lane you are in and what race you are in. All other information is relatively unimportant. Many swimmers get "freaked out" when they look at a program and see the entry times listed by the other swimmers or see a swimmer who you think is fast. It doesn't matter who you are racing or what times they may have claimed to have done, your job is the same - swim to the best of your ability. If Michael Klim is on one side of you and Alex Popov on the other side, you still have to swim the same race distance, in the same water, in a lane that is the same length and width. The race credentials of other swimmers have no bearing on your own swimming performance.
  2. If you are not ready to race, do something about it before the race. Going to your coach at the end of the day and saying "I really wasn't ready to swim fast" is not an excuse for a poor performance. If you are not ready - do something to get ready.
  3. Being ready is an individual thing. If you are not feeling ready to swim fast and your swim team friends are off to the showers, don't go with them just to be sociable. If you are not ready to do your best, do more warm up, or rest, or go for a jog, or skip, or eat something, or sleep, or talk to your coach - just do it! You can catch up with friends later.
  4. Pack in your swim bag all the things you need to get ready to race. If you are a reader, pack a few books. If you like music, pack your favourite tapes or CD's. If you like to sleep, pack your own pillow. Take what you need to get the job done.
  5. Ignore 90% of what you hear said in the changing rooms and marshalling area. Every competitive swimmer has heard questions like "What time do you do?" or "How many sessions a week do you swim?" Would you like to know a little secret? Most of it is 100% pure rubbish. The swimmers who try this cheap attempt at "psyching out" are usually the ones who have not prepared for the meet themselves and are looking to make up for their poor preparation by making you feel less confident. Do not listen to them. Don�t respond with a clever answer for them. If you get asked "What's your best time", answer "I'll tell you after this race".
  6. A good "get ready" trick if you haven't had time to practice race starts as part of your pool warm up is to do a few dry starts. Find a clear, flat space (ideally on grass) somewhere around the pool area where you can hear the starter. A good time to do this is around 15-20 minutes before your race. When the starter says "Take Your Marks" to the swimmers on the blocks about to race, drop into your race start position on the grass and when the gun (or horn) goes, jump forward fast with explosive speed and power. This is a great exercise to get your brain and muscles firing and prepares you to explode off the blocks when it is your time to race.

Learn how to get ready to race. It is a skill that will make the difference.

Eating and Drinking

Keeping your energy levels high

Your body can only store a limited amount of fuel and if it gets low when you are training or racing your performance will get worse. You need to keep your energy levels up by eating carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are your main food source for energy used in training and racing. Your body starts to restock on fuel fastest, immediately after training. Therefore, you should eat within 30 mins of completing a training session. It is normally better to eat a small high-energy snack after training combined with breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is very important that you don�t miss breakfast and lunch and then go training after school. Also you should eat medium portions of the right carbohydrate at each meal, rather than rely on one big portion of carbohydrate at dinner.

There are a number of different forms of carbohydrate and these can be split into 2 main groups.

Complex Carbohydrates (polysaccharides)

Complex carbohydrates are made up of long chains of glucose. They are normally associated with starchy foods and release a steady stream of energy as the body breaks down the chains. Potatoes, rice, cereals, bread and pasta are examples of complex carbohydrates. These are the carbohydrates that should be eaten as part of the main meals of the day.

Simple Carbohydrates (monosaccharides and disaccharides)

Simple carbohydrates have far shorter chains or even single units that do not require much breaking down by the body. They therefore release immediate energy. Sugar (sucrose) and dextrosol (glucose) tablets are simple carbohydrates. The problem with simple carbohydrates is that when they are very quickly absorbed into the body it can upset the body�s balance and cause a reaction that reduces available energy. A very special simple sugar that is absorbed well but doesn�t usually cause a bad reaction is called fructose. Fructose is found in fruit, one reason why fruit is a good choice for snacking. In fact fruit is ideal for eating immediately after a training session.

Keeping Hydrated

Performance can suffer when a swimmer loses as little as 2% of body weight as sweat. It may seem like you're not sweating because of the water keeping you cool, but you are. Making sure you drink sufficient fluid is essential. You must bring a water bottle to every swim session, and drink constantly between sets taking small sips. This is because when you are exercising you stomach can only let though a restricted amount of fluid because your blood has been diverted away from your stomach to feed your working muscles. You should be drinking steadily throughout the day because you need at least the equivalent of 8 sports bottles of fluid per day to keep properly hydrated!! It is best if most of this is ordinary tap water or tap water with a small amount of squash or fresh fruit juice added. Some of your fluid can be in the form of high-energy sports drinks (the best are Gatorade, High 5, Maxim, PSP22 because they contain complex carbohydrates that breakdown slowly and can help to conserve your energy stores). However, be careful when choosing drinks, there is a difference between a sports high-energy drink, an electrolyte replacement drink and a recovery drink. Look on the labels and avoid drinks with stimulants such as caffeine.

Above all, never wait to get thirsty before you drink because by then it is already too late!! Headaches during or after training are a sure sign of dehydration and the cure is not a pain killer, it is water in regular small quantities, day in day out!

What should I eat the day before a competition?

The day before competing it is especially important to ensure your body has restocked its energy reserves. It is therefore advisable to increase the amount of carbohydrate eaten without increasing the overall amount of calories. It is best to choose lower fat food options such as those below:

  • A noodle dish (e.g. chow mein)
  • A pasta based dish i.e. spaghetti
  • Jacket potato with low fat filling
  • Deep pan pizza (ham and pineapple / vegetarian)
  • Beans on toast
  • Chunky vegetable/bean based soup and sandwiches
  • Breakfast cereal and toast
  • Boiled or mashed potato dish with lots of potato and smaller portions of meat/fish.

What should I eat the day of a competition?

If there's food still lying in your stomach, energy will be taken away from your muscles to help break down and digest that food. You must avoid fatty foods such as chips, donuts, and pastries as these will take longer to digest, and provide little energy during racing. Also protein foods are much more slowly digested and meat can take 4 hours to digest. Try not to eat and drink new things you have not already tried whilst training in case they upset your stomach.

Some suggestions for 2 - 4 Hours before racing

  • Breakfast cereal and low fat milk
  • Porridge with syrup and raisins
  • Toast (scraping of fat) with honey/Jam
  • Bagels/muffins/crumpets with jam/honey/pancakes and syrup
  • Currant buns/tea-cakes
  • Scones/scotch pancakes
  • Beans on toast
  • Pasta with tomato based sauce
  • Jacket potato with low fat filling.
  • Sandwiches, try honey, jam or banana
  • Muesli bars
  • Malt Loaf
  • Raisin Bread
  • Cereal/Rusks
  • Pop Tarts
  • Fig Rolls
  • Popcorn
  • Low fat yoghurt
  • Fresh, canned or dried fruit
  • Low fat rice pudding
  • Pastas & tomato type sauce
  • Jacket potatos
  • Rice and low fat sauce

What about between races?

If it's less than one hour to your race be very careful. Ideally just try to drink but the list below gives some suggestions for small snacks.

(in small amounts)

  • Bananas & raisins
  • Dried fruit snacks
  • Winders/schoolbars
  • Energy bars/Nutrigen bars
  • Confectionary
  • Jelly cubes
  • Sweets (e.g. Jelly babies/jelly beans/Liquorice Allsorts)
  • Plain biscuits eg Rich Tea, Digestives
  • Rice cakes

Upcoming Events

23 SepRother League round 2
30 SepJunior Cup
14 OctNational Arena League round 1