Information and Help

Frequently Asked Questions

The majority of the questions we receive fall into the following categories. If you have a question not covered below or need further clarification on something, please feel free to get in touch.

Contact Us


Entry Requirements

Our entry level require that your swimmer has completed at least Stage 6 on the Swimming Development Programme and ideally be aged between 7 and 9 years old. We typically expect the ability to fall in line with their age, with older swimmers starting in a higher training group. The taster sessions allow our coaches to assess the fit of the swimmer capability with the squads, softer factors coaches look for are listening and communication in a training environment, and the ability and willingness to adapt after coaching. Important to note that how fast a swimmer is, is not important. More important is that the swimmer enjoys swimming, is technically capable, and is willing to learn and improve.


As we are affiliated with Swim England, this means all swimmers are required to become swim England members, this results in payment of an annual fee of £38 (2023 prices) for swimmers aged 9 or above, payable on joining and in January of each year thereafter. This covers the cost of Fees at National, regional and county level.

As a club we have four tiers of squad fee payable each month.

  • Tier 1: Lower Teaching squads

  • Tier 2: Upper Teaching, Blue Fins and Enduro squads 

  • Tier 3: Competition squad

  • Tier 4: Performance Squad


As swimmers progress through the club structure the type of Kit we use expands.


  • Swim suit for training

  • Googles

  • Swim Hat

  • Towel

  • Waterbottle

Great White Sharks & Above

  • Kickboard

  • Pull Bouy

  • Fins

Gala Entry

  • Alnwick Dolphins Team Swim Hat

  • Alnwick Dolphins Team Shirt

Tiger Sharks & Above

  • Snorkel


  • Hand Paddles

  • Team Swim Suit for Galas (Optional)

  • Exercise Mat (Optional)


  • Heart Rate Monitor (Optional)



A Gala is a name given to a swimming competition. It is an opportunity to put all your skills into practice whilst racing and having fun.


Swimmers spend many hours in training perfecting their swimming technique and skills, and improving their endurance, strength and speed. Racing is an opportunity to put all this together and compete against other competitors, the clock and yourself.


Galas take place at Willowburn in Alnwick and also locally in Morpeth. They are also in pools throughout the region such as Tynemouth, South Shields, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and at Regional level, in Leeds and Sheffield.

How Many?

Our youngest swimmers aged 7 and 8 years only compete in time trials at Willowburn and at Shrimps galas .

Swimmers who are 9 years and over compete as part of a team in Junior League (9-12 years) which has 2 or 3 rounds and a final. They also compete in the Alnwick galas, of which there are 3 every year, and in external galas depending on which squad they are in ( usually 1-4 per year) Swimmers aged 11 years and over who qualify for the County, Regional or National Championships also compete at these higher level galas.

Shrimp Meet

A fantastic gala for our youngest developing swimmers aged 8-12 years. These are informal and fun with lots of opportunities to win medals and get personal best times.

Junior League

A swimming league for 9-12 years olds (age at 31st December) which has 3 divisions and includes clubs from all over the county. There are 2-3 rounds and a final. The team travels together on a coach and the team spirit is fantastic with lots of cheering for their friends. The swimmers compete in 25m for 9 years and 50m for 10-12 years and in relays. Everybody’s contribution is important as there are points for everyone taking part. This is a really great introduction to racing for our youngest swimmers.

N & Ds

Northumberland and Durham County Championships.

Our county championships includes swimmers from all over Northumberland, Durham and Tyne and Wear. Every year swimmers aged 11 years and over (age on 31st December) strive to achieve the tough qualifying times and compete against the best in the county. The competition is held over 2 weekends in February at the 50m pool in Sunderland, and times have to be achieved before the deadline in the middle of January. It is worth having a look at the N&D qualifying times to see how close you are!

N & D Teams

A very exciting gala where relay teams from all over the county compete against each other to get in finals and win medals. The teams are made up of swimmers aged from 9 years (age on 31st December) all the way up to our senior swimmers aged 18 and 19 years. It is important to try and be available for this gala as we are a small club and can only make up teams where we have enough swimmers of each age. This is held at Sunderland pool.


North East Regional Championships

This is the level up from the N&Ds. The regional championships take in swimmers from all over the North East including Leeds and Sheffield. It is for swimmers aged 12 years and over (age on 31st December) and having qualifying times is a big achievement. There is a short course championship held in a 25m pool in November and a long course championship held over 3 weekends in April and May in a 50m pool. (Usually Leeds, Sheffield or Sunderland)


There are Winter National Short Course Championships in December, British National Championships in April, British Summer Championships and English National Championships in July and August. There are also Scottish National Short Course Championships in December and Scottish National Age Group Championships in April.

To qualify is a tremendous achievement. For the summer championships there is a 3 month qualification window when times are posted and the top swimmers are invited to compete. 

Which Level?

Level 1 galas are the highest level competitions. They are held in long course, 50m pools eg N&Ds and NERs

Level 2 galas are also high level galas but can be held in 25m pools

Level 3 galas are standard galas which are held in 25m pools and the times count as qualifying times for NERs and N&Ds. Swimmers must be 9 years or over.

Level 4 galas are low level galas held in 25m pools with less officials present. Swimmers from aged 8 can compete. These times count towards N&D qualification times.

Ready to Join?

To take advantage of Alnwick’s best swimming coaches and start a journey toward competitive swimming, click below to find out how to join.

Join Us