Age Group: Program through which
USA Swimming provides fair and open competition for its younger
members. It is designed to encourage maximum participation, provide
an educational experience, enhance physical and mental
conditioning, and develop a rich base of swimming talent.
Recognized age groups are 10 & Under, 11-12, 13-14, 15 &
Over (Open). Local events may also include 8 & Under.
Aggregate Time: Times achieved by
four individuals in separate starts which are added together to
arrive at a relay time for entry purposes.
Swimming coach Association
Set: Training set where repeat
times get progressively slower each time the set is swum.
Backstroke: The swimmer must stay on
his/her back, except during turns. The stroke is an alternation
motion of the arms – much like the crawl stroke with a
Bands: Surgical tubing can be used
both in the water and as a part of a dry land training program. In
the water, the tubing is attached to the swimmer to allow assisted
and resisted training can be accomplished. On land the tubing
provides a strength-training tool while mimicking actual swimming
Block: The starting platform
Breaststroke: The arms move
simultaneously on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pushed
forward from the breast on or under the surface of the water and
brought backwards in the propulsive stage of the stroke
simultaneously. The kick is a simultaneous thrust of the legs
called a “frog” or breaststroke kick. No flutter or
dolphin kicking is allowed. Swimmers must touch the wall with
both hands at the same time before executing their turn. Swimmers
are allowed only one underwater pull and kick off the start and
Broken Swims: Interval training
where a race is broken into swims with a specific rest interval
between each segment. This allows the swimmer to swim at race
speed. These swims are motivational for the swimmer and gives a
coach an idea of a swimmers potential.
Bulkhead: A wall constructed to
divide a pool into different courses, such as a 50 meter pool to
enable maximum use of pool space.
Butterfly Stroke: This is the most
physically demanding stroke, the butterfly features the
simultaneous overhead stroke of the arms combined with the dolphin
kick. The dolphin kick features both legs moving up and down
together. No flutter or frog kick is allowed. As in breaststroke,
the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands before turning.
Carbohydrate: Primary source of
energy used by athletes in workouts and meets. Foods such as
cereal, fruits, bread, pasta and vegetables are excellent sources
Circle Swimming: Swimmers stay on
the right of the black line when swimming in a lane effectively
swimming up and back in a circle. This allows more swimmers in a
Closed: A meet is “closed
meet” when it is only open to swimmers from specified teams.
Coach: A person who trains and
teaches athletes in the sport of swimming.
Code of Conduct: An agreement
signed by a swimmer/parent prior to participation stating that the
swimmer/parent will abide by certain behavioral guidelines.
Consolation: Consolation finals is
the competition for the fastest swimmers who did not qualify for
Cut (aka Qualifying Time): Time
standard qualifying times necessary to attend a particular meet or
Deck Entry: A meet where entries are
accepted on the first, or later day of the meet and swimmers are
subsequently seeded into events. Some meets do not allow any deck
Deck Seeding: A procedure of
assigning swimmers to proper lanes and heats immediately before
each event by the clerk of course or by the referee on deck.
Descending Set: Training set where
repeat times get progressively faster each time the set is swum
Distance: Term used to refer to
events 400 meter/500 yard and longer.
Disqualification (DQ): Occurs
when an official observes a rule violation by the swimmer. A
disqualified swimmer cannot receive awards or use the result
as an official time.
Drag Suit: A second loose-fitting suit
worn by swimmers in a workout and during warm-up to add weight and
resistance to the water. This concept is similar to a batter
swinging with two or three bats while on deck
Drill: A portion, or part of a
stroke, which works on a specific part of the stroke and to perfect
Dry Land Training: Training done
out of the water and aids and enhances swimmer’s performance.
This usually includes stretching, calisthenics or weightlifting
Endurance Training: Endurance
is best achieved when training at speeds approximately 70-80%
of MAX Vol
Energy: Fuel, heat. Fuel for work.
Conversion of carbohydrates and fats to actual fuel which enables
the body to work.
False Start: Occurs when a swimmer is
moving at the start signal. In USA Swimming, one false start will
generally result in disqualification.
Fat: The second source of energy used by
athletes. It takes up to 20-30 minutes to tap into this source.
Most swimmers, however, consume to much fat.
Final: The championship heat of an event
in which the top swimmers from the preliminaries compete
Finals: The session of a meet where
qualifying rounds were held previously to determine the finalists
(6 to 16 depending on the pool size and whether there are
consolation finals). The finalists compete to determine the winner.
Finish: The final phase of the race or
touching the wall at the end of the race.
Flags: Pennants strung across the
pool 5 yards or meters from the end of the pool. They enable
swimmers who are competing in the backstroke to execute a turn more
efficiently by counting their strokes from the flags to the wall.
Freestyle Stroke: The competitor
may swim any stroke he/she wishes. The usual stroke is the
Australian Front Crawl. This stroke is characterized by the
alternate motion of the arms and a flutter kick.
Freestyle Relay: Each of the four
swimmers swim freestyle for one-fourth of the relay distance. No
swimmer may swim more than one leg.
Goal: A specific time or achievement a
swimmer sets and strives for. Can be short term or long term.
Gutter: The area along the edge of the
pool in which water overflows during a race and re-circulates
through the filtration system.
Heats: An event is divided in to heats
when there are too may swimmers to swim at one time. The slowest
swimmers are in the first heat and the fastest swimmers are in the
Individual Medley (IM): An event in
which one swimmer swims equal distances of each stroke in the
following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and
Interval: The measure of time in which
the swimmer has to complete a repeat, and rest, before going again
Interval Training: Involves
completing a specific number of repeats at a specified speed with a
specified rest period between swims. These are four variables to
consider: 1) Number of repeats, 2) Distance of each repeat, 3)
Average speed of the repeat, 4) Rest interval between repeats. This
is the most widely used method of swim training.
Lap Counter: A set of plastic
display numbers used to keep track of laps during a race 500 yards
or longer. Also, the person who stands a the opposite end from the
start and counts for the swimmer.
Legal: A race or stroke swim
according to current USA rules
Log Book: A book in which swimmers
record their time achieved at any given meet or time trial
Long course: A pool 50 meters in
length. USA Swimming conducts most summer swimming in long course.
Medley Relay: All four strokes are
swum by four different swimmers. No swimmer may swim more than one
leg of the relay, which is swum backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly
and freestyle order.
Meet: Competition designed to be a
learning experience. By implementing what has been learned in
practice, swimmers test themselves against the clock to mark
Middle Distance: Term used to refer
to events of 200 yards/meters to 500 yards/400 meters in length.
Negative Split: Swimming the second
half of the race, either equal to or faster than the first half.
Nutrition: The process by which a living
organism assimilates food and uses it for growth and replacement of
Official: A pool deck judge, at
sanctioned competitions who enforces USA rules. There are
stroke and turn judges, administrative officials, starters, timers
Open: A meet is an “open
meet” when it is open to all swimmers
Pace: The time a swimmer holds for each
segment of a race.
Pace Clock: Large clock with a large
second hand and a smaller minute hand, used to check pace or
maintain intervals in practice. May also be digital.
Prelims: The qualifying round of heats
held for each event to determine the finalists.
Proof of Time: A requirement at
some meets (usually AA and above) to make certain that all swimmers
have legally met the time standard for that meet.
Protein: Found throughout the body and
is necessary to build all body cells. Only during starvation or
extreme malnutrition is protean used as an energy source.
Psyche Sheet: A ranking by seeding
times of all the swimmers entered in each race of a meet sometimes
used at meets in place of a heat sheet.
Pull Buoy: Styrofoam devices put between
the legs to isolate the use of arms and keep legs afloat in pulling
Qualifying Time: Qualifying time
necessary to compete in a particular event and/or
Race Pace: Swimming at speeds comparable
to race speeds.
Ready Bench (aka Clerk of Course):
An area at the meet where swimmers report before their even to be
arranged into their heats and lane assignment.
Recovery: Swimming at sub-maximum speeds
to allow the swimmer to recover back to pre-race heart rates and
lactate levels more quickly. This is used as active recovery
between hard repeats as well as races at a meet.
Referee: The USA official who has the
authority over a final decision and sees that the meet is run
Relay: An event in which four swimmers
compete together as a team to achieve one time.
Relay Meet: A meet of relays only
Repeat: The actual distance used in a
set. For example, a 10 X 50 (tem fifty’s), the 50 would
be the repeat distance and the 10 would be the number of time the
50 is repeated. Sometimes a repeat time to hold is given.
Scratch: To withdraw from an event of a
Set: A specific segment of practice, and
example is 10 x 100
Session: Any portion of a meet
distinctly separated from other portions by locale, time or
type of competition. There are preliminary and final sessions,
morning and afternoon sessions, age group and senior sessions.
Shave: Prior to major competitions a
swimmer will shave his /her entire body to reduce drag (resistance)
and heighten the sensation of moving faster through the water.
Short Course: A 25 yard pool.
Split: A per lap (or length) time,
recorded by coaches for a swimmer. Splits are used to teach the
concept of pacing. A swimmer’s time for a 100 yard event is
broken into 25 yard splits.
Start: The swimmer is called onto the
block by a whistle blow. Then the swimmer is called into position
“take your mark” by the starter. The starter visually
checks that the swimmers are in the down position and still. Once
the starter is satisfied, the race is started by a whistle, gun or
electronic tone. If the starter and the referee agree that a
swimmer has started early, the offending swimmer will be
disqualified at the completion of the race.
Starter: The USA official at a meet who
is responsible for starting each heat and calling the next heat to
Streamline: The position used to gain
maximum distance during a start and / or push off from the wall.
The swimmer’s body is a tight as it can be forming a
pencil-like position with the hands forming the point.
Stroke Judge: A certified USA
official, who determines the legality of a swimmer’s stroke
and disqualifies any swimmer who does not conform to USA rules.
Swim-A-Thon: A marathon swim used
to raise funds. Each team member solicits per length sponsors for a
200 length (maximum) swim. A portion of the proceeds goes to USA
Swimming and the rest goes to the team hosting the marathon.
Swim Venue: The physical area for a swim
meet, located on the sides and ends of the pool, spectator’s
area, team areas within the pool facility, locker rooms and other
areas that may be specifically designated by the host club or
organization, meet director or referee.
Taper: The resting process of training.
Prior to major competition training is tapered off to allow the
swimmers to compete in a rested state (sometimes referred to as
super-compensation). When rested properly a swimmer will usually
achieve lifetime best times.
Time Trials: An event or series of
events where swimmers may achieve or better a required time
standard. Time Trials are sometimes conducted after regular
swimming sessions to try and achieve a valid qualifying time.
Timed Finals: Swim meets where
there are no preliminaries. The final places for each event are
determined by the times preformed in the heat.
Touch Pad: The part of an electronic
timing system that rest in the water at the end of each lane.
Swimmer’s times are recorded when they touch the pad.
Turns: Quick turns are essential in a
good race. In all events, the swimmer must touch the wall. In
freestyle and backstroke the swimmer may do a flip turn as he or
she reaches the wall, touching only with their feet. In
breaststroke and butterfly, the swimmer must touch the wall with
both hands before executing a turn.
USA Swimming: The National
governing body for swimming in the United States and is responsible
for the conduct and administration of swimming in the United
Card Number: The number
given to a swimmer when they join USA. No two swimmers can
have the same number. This card number is required at any
Warm Down: Used by a swimmer to rid the
body of excess lactic acid generated during a race or workout.
Warm Up: Used by a swimmer, prior
to the main workout set or race, to get muscles loose and warm
prior to competing.
Work/Rest Ratio: This
ratio compares the actual work to how much rest the swimmer is