Swim Glossary

Common Swimming Terms

A or B Finals:  at championship or meets where points are being scored for top swimmers in each event, there may be either A finals (with the top 6-8 swimmers going through to finals or A and B finals with the top 12-16 swimmers going through to finals.  Scoring for each place in the finals is dependent on where the finalist places in their heat.

Age Group swimming:  division of swimmers according to age.  Commonly 10 and under, 11-12,13-14, 15 and over.  

Alternate:  in a meet with prelims and finals, the alternate swimmers will be the next 2 fastest swimmers other than the qualified finalists.  

Anchor:  the final swimmer in a relay.

Backstroke flags:  the pennants suspended above the ends of the pool 5 meters from the walls signal to a backstroker how far they are before the reach the wall for the turn

Block:  the starting platform at the head of each lane

Check-in:  the procedure used at some meets where a swimmer has to check in with the Clerk of Course before the meet starts (often done for distance events so no empty lanes are swum)

Circle Seeding:  the method of organizing swimmers in the final 2 or 3 heat of prelims.  The fastest 18 swimmers are seeded in the middle lanes of the last 3 heats.  This allows slower swimmers to be challenged against the fastest swimmers in the event.

Course:  short course, long course.  In Canada we swim meets either 25 meters (short course) or 50 meters (long course).  Short course season usually runs until Feb or March and long course to the summers.

Deadline:  all meets have an entry deadline beyond which new swimmers cannot be entered as well as a scratch deadline (usually the same day as the entry deadline) beyond which the swimmer/club will be charged for the entry whether the swimmer competes or not

Deck:  the pool area is referred to as the deck

Development meet: this is a meet where swimmers are trying out new skills or new events or new racing strategies.  The purpose is generally to see if swimmers can execute skills with no emphasis on winning or getting a particular time.  There are no points awarded at development meets.

Distance:  how far a swimmer swims for a particular event.  The shortest being 25 meters and the longest being 1500 meters.

DQ:  a swimmer will be disqualified if they commit a rule infraction for that particular stroke.  It can be an illegal turn, an incorrect touch, a false start, etc

Dryland:  the exercises and strength programs swimmers do out of the water to help overall conditioning and prevent injury

Entry Fees:  all meets have fees that attach to each individual swimmer for that meet.  

False Start:  if a swimmer dives in before the starting signal it is a false start and a disqualification

Heat Sheets:  the program of events for swimmers and coaches to follow so they know in what order they swim

High Point:  and award given to the swimmer scoring the most points in a given age group generally at a championship meet

IM:  an event in which all 4 strokes are swum in a standard order (fly,back,breast,free)

Marshall:  the official who controls the crowd and swimmer flow on deck at a meet

Meet Manager:  the official who puts the meet together from start to finish

NT:  no time meaning a swimmer is given this time in a program when they have not swum the event in the past

Pace Clock:  the electronic clocks with highly visible numbers and sweep hands so swimmers can read their times during practice and swim at a certain pace

Prelims-Finals:  a meet swum with preliminary heats and top finishers in the heats coming back to a second session to swim a final.  In Ontario, only 13 and over swimmers can participate in prelims and finals.  12 and unders swim "Time Finals"

Qualifying time standards:  published times which swimmers entering a meet need to have in order to swim certain events

Referee: the head official at a swim meet in charge of the deck side at a meet

Sanction:  necessary to run a meet for which the times will be official

Seeding:  lanes and heat assignments by the swimmer's time in that event.

Split:  a portion of a race that is shorter than the total of the event distance

Taper:  the resting phase of a swimmer before the major meet of the season

Time Standard: a time set by an organizational body tht a swimmer must achieve for qualification to certain meet. (NEOR regional A, Swim Ontario Festival, Age group provincial, Age Group national, Senior national)