Welcome to the St. Thomas Jumbo Jets Swim Team and the exciting world of swimming! This section has been prepared with the goal of acquainting you with the sport of competitive swimming and the club policies and commitments.
Please always keep in mind that this swim club is run by parent volunteers and we appreciate your patience. If you have further questions, suggestions for additions to this section and/or would like to volunteer your time to help run the club, please contact us.
There are many benefits to participating in the sport of swimming:
Meeting terrific people and building lifelong friendships
- Incredible fitness levels – core strength, exceptional cardiovascular and overall fitness
- Life skills – time management, self-discipline and sportsmanship
- Fun- competitive swimming is fun, exciting and rewarding.
Not every swimmer becomes an Olympic champion, but everyone can benefit from his or her swimming experience!
Competitive Swimming Basics
Like all sports, swimming has rules unique to the sport. The following is a general overview of the basics. Familiarizing yourself with the basics will not only help you understand the focus our coaches need while they work with your swimmer, but will also help you as you begin your officials’ training.
The official and specific rules of swimming can be learned with the completion of the Strokes and Turns Judges Clinic.
Four Competitive Swimming Strokes
The four competitive swimming strokes are freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. The combination of all four strokes is called individual medley.
In the freestyle, the competitor may swim any stroke he or she wishes. Most swim the front crawl, as it is traditionally the fastest stroke. It is characterized by the alternate stroking of the arms over the surface of the water surface and an alternating (up-and-down) flutter kick.
In the backstroke, the swimmer must stay on his or her back at all times. The stroke is an alternating motion of the arms. On turns, swimmers may rotate to the stomach and perform a flip turn and the swimmer must touch the wall with some part of the body.
Swimmers must surface within 15 meters after the start and each turn.
Perhaps one of the most difficult strokes to master, the breaststroke requires simultaneous movements of the arms on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pushed forward from the breast on or under the surface of the water and brought backward 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 butterfly kicking is allowed. At each turn a swimmer must touch with both hands at the same time.
One of the most challenging stroke, the butterfly features the simultaneous overhead stroke of the arms combined with the butterfly kick. The butterfly kick features both legs moving up and down together. No flutter kicking is allowed. Both hands must touch the wall simultaneously on the turns and the finish. The butterfly was born in 1930s due to a loophole in the breaststroke rules and became an Olympic event in Melbourne, Australia in 1956.
The individual medley, commonly referred to as the I.M., features all four competitive strokes. In the I.M., a swimmer begins with the butterfly, changes to the backstroke after one-fourth of the race, then the breaststroke for another quarter and finally finishes with the freestyle.
Freestyle Relay – 4 swimmers participate taking turns swimming a particular distance (50m, 100m and sometimes 200m) of front crawl each.
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 in backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle order.
Starts and Turns
Many races are won or lost in starts and turns. In the start, the swimmer is called to the starting position by the starter who visually checks that all swimmers are still. Then, once the starter is satisfied, the race is started by an electronic tone.
Quick turns are essential to a good race. In all events the swimmer must touch the wall, but in the freestyle and backstroke the swimmer may somersault (flip turn) as he or she reaches the wall, touching only with the feet. In breaststroke and butterfly, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands before executing the turn.
As your swimmer progresses, time standards begin to play an important role in setting goals, not only to qualify for specific meets, but to also move up the group ladder. Success depends solely on self-improvement, hard work and achievement of your child’s personal goals.
Getting Involved – Club Commitments
Swimming is different from many other sports. Unlike other activities that might only require parents to bring snacks, drive to team events and/or help out coaching, swimming is traditionally managed entirely by parents. When you watch an international swimming meet, the people holding stopwatches or judging were likely all at one time a parent (or still a parent) of a young competitive swimmer.
The St. Thomas Jumbo Jets are a non-profit organization run by volunteers and salaried/hourly coaches. There are many ways in which you can volunteer your time to help the club. Some of these positions are filled for the current season but if you have any questions or would like to volunteer, please contact us.
You do not need to be an experienced swim parent to be a valuable help to the club. The best way to learn about the club and the sport is to roll up your sleeves and dive in.
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about swim meets but were afraid to ask!
So you have signed up and are ready for your first meet. But what should you bring?
For the swimmer
1. Team shirt, cap, deck suit (see our STJJ team clothing page)
2. Swim suit for racing and a backup suit
3. Well-fitting goggles (an extra pair is a good idea too in case one pair breaks)
4. Towels (take 2 – 3 towels depending on the length of the meet)
5. Flip flops or non-slip deck shoes
6. A refillable water bottle
7. Nutritious snacks (i.e. oatmeal bars, raisins, grapes etc.), nothing too heavy to digest and nothing fatty (no junk food!)
For the parents/spectators
1. Money for the meet program. These cost $2-$6 and are available at the pool. They show all the races and you can check which races your child is in (and what lanes).
2. Colourful highlighter pen so you can mark off your child’s races.
3. As a spectator keep in mind that the indoor pool can get very hot inside so dress accordingly!
4. Viewing is often limited – arrive early.
5. Snacks and water – some meets have a shop with food but others don’t.
Teams warm up in the pool, usually an hour before the first race begins. Please leave home in plenty of time to be on deck and stretching the at least 15 mins before the start of warm-ups.
When you arrive at the pool:
1. Ensure your swimmer is changed and on the deck. A STJJ coach will already be there.
2. Look for other STJJ swimmers/parents. If seating permits, it is best to sit together as a team. Parents will not be allowed on deck. Swim Canada only permits registered coaches on deck.
3. Buy a heat sheet (program) and look for your child’s name. Highlight the races he/she will be swimming in while he/she is in warm ups. Most meets we attend will be swum slowest to fastest. Kids with no times (NT) will usually swim in the first heat. Once they have swum that event they will get an official time so that subsequently, they will be seeded accordingly.
4. Encourage your child to cheer for their team mates!
5. When the meet is over, please ensure that your swimmer helps to clean up any garbage around the team area. It’s a lot of work for the meet organizers to clean up the mess left at the end of a meet.
Encourage your swimmer to do their best and to have fun. Results are usually posted on a wall at the meet as they become available. For some meets, live results are available on the host team’s website. Results will show their official time and place for each event. The coaches usually get their times too and will tell them how they did. Following the meet you can find all the results on the Swim Canada web site. Go to www.swimming.ca. This web site shows results of all the meets nationwide.
If your child places in an event, ribbons are often given out. These ribbons, however, are only given out at the end of a meet and usually to the coach who will award them to swimmers later on. Sometimes these ribbons are mailed out so it could be a few days before they get them to you.
Swim Meet FAQs
What is and where do I find the meet package?
You can find the meet package on our website swim meet page or on Swim Canada website meet list. The meet package will include the warm up times, events and all information regarding the meet.
How do I know which events my swimmer is participating in?
Meet entries will be sent to parents per email.
What are psych sheets?
Psych sheets are a rank ordering of the swimmers entered per event at a particular meet.
How is a swimmer seeded if he/she has never competed in an event?
Most often swimmers are entered NT (no time) and seeded in the slowest heat. This means that they will swim in the first heats of an event. Sometimes swimmers are given estimated times by the coaches.
A meet is “sanctioned” when Swim Ontario has given its stamp of approval on the competition or time trial.
What is a DQ?
This is a disqualification. Sometimes, the swimmer may be disqualified and an official will tell the swimmer at the end of the race. Although this is done to help the swimmer learn the rules of the strokes, it is often a very emotional event for the young swimmer so it is important that you let them know that this happens to most swimmers when they are starting out – even some of the world champions get disqualified.
Are my child’s times recorded anywhere on a website?
There is the “Power Rankings” provided by Swim Canada. https://www.swimming.ca/PowerRankings.aspx
If swimmers are not fast enough to be ranked nationally their performances are recorded in the athlete search page. http://rankings.swimming.ca/index.php?page=athleteSelect&nationId=62&selectPage=SEARCH&language=en
What is the difference between short course and long course and what time of year is which season?
The short course season (25 m pool) is traditionally September to March and the long course (50 m pool) season April to August. Long Course meets can be held during the SC season and vice versa.
10 Commandments for Swimming Parents
by Rose Snyder, Managing Director Coaching Division, USOC – Former Director of Club Services, USA Swimming (adapted from Ed Clendaniel’s 10 Commandments for Little League Parents)
I. Thou shalt not impose thy ambitions on thy child.
Remember that swimming is your child’s activity. Improvements and progress occur at different rates for each individual. Don’t judge your child’s progress based on the performance of other athletes and don’t push him based on what you think he should be doing. The nice thing about swimming is every person can strive to do his personal best and benefit from the process of competitive swimming.
II. Thou shalt be supportive no matter what.
There is only one question to ask your child after a practice or a competition – “Did you have fun?” If meets and practices are not fun, your child should not be forced to participate.
III. Thou shalt not coach thy child.
You are involved in one of the few youth sports programs that offers professional coaching. Do not undermine the professional coach by trying to coach your child on the side. Your job is to provide love and support. The coach is responsible for the technical part of the job. You should not offer advice on technique or race strategy. Never pay your child for a performance. This will only serve to confuse your child concerning the reasons to strive for excellence and weaken the swimmer/coach bond.
IV. Thou shalt only have positive things to say at a swimming meet.
You should be encouraging and never criticize your child or the coach. Both of them know when mistakes have been made. Remember “yelling at” is not the same as “cheering for”.
V. Thou shalt acknowledge thy child’s fears.
New experiences can be stressful situations. It is totally appropriate for your child to be scared. Don’t yell or belittle, just assure your child that the coach would not have suggested the event or meet if your child was not ready. Remember your job is to love and support your child through all of the swimming experience.
VI. Thou shalt not criticize the officials.
Please don’t criticize those who are doing the best they can in purely voluntary positions.
VII. Honor thy child’s coach.
The bond between coach and swimmer is special. It contributes to your child’s success as well as fun. Do not criticize the coach in the presence of your child.
VIII. Thou shalt be loyal and supportive of thy team
It is not wise for parents to take swimmers and to jump from team to team. The water isn’t necessarily bluer in another team’s pool. Every team has its own internal problems, even teams that build champions. Children who switch from team to team find that it can be a difficult emotional experience. Often swimmers who do switch teams don’t do better than they did before they sought the bluer water.
IX. Thy child shalt have goals besides winning.
Most successful swimmers have learned to focus on the process and not the outcome. Giving an honest effort regardless of what the outcome is, is much more important than winning. One Olympian said, “My goal was to set a world record. Well, I did that, but someone else did it too, just a little faster than I did. I achieved my goal and I lost. Does this make me a failure? No, in fact I am very proud of that swim.” What a tremendous outlook to carry on through life.
X. Thou shalt not expect thy child to become an Olympian.
There are 250,000 athletes in USA Swimming. There are only 52 spots available for the Olympic Team every four years. Your child’s odds of becoming an Olympian are about .0002%. In Canada, there are 18824 registered amateur athletes thereby making your child’s chances .0027%.
Swim Speak – Glossary of Swimming Terms
Alternate: In a prelims/finals meet, after the finalists are decided, the next fastest swimmers other than the finalists are designated as alternates. The faster of the two being the first alternate and the next being the second.
Anchor: The final swimmer in a relay.
Backstroke: Once of the four competitive racing strokes, basically any style of swimming on your back. Backstroke is swam as the first stroke of the Medley Relay and the second stroke of the Individual Medley. This stroke is offered provincially at 50 meter, 100 meter, and 200 meter distances.
Block: The starting platform located behind each lane.
Breaststroke: One of the four competitive racing strokes. Breaststroke is swum as the second stroke in the Medley Relay and the third stroke in the Individual Medley. Offered provincially, racing distances are 50 meters, 100 meters, and 200 meters.
Bulkhead: A wall constructed to divide a pool into different courses, such as a 50m pool into two 25m pools.
Butterfly: One of the four competitive racing strokes. Butterfly (nicknamed fly) is swum as the third stroke in the Medley Relay and the first stroke in the Individual Medley. Offered provincially, racing distances are 50 meters, 100 meters, and 200 meters.
Cap: The latex or lycra covering worn on the head of swimmers.
Championship Meet: The meet held at the end of the short and long course seasons. Qualification times are necessary to enter meets.
Check In: The procedure required before a swimmer swims an event in a deck seeded meet. Sometimes referred to as positive check in, the swimmer must mark their name on a list posted by the meet host.
Circle Seeding: A method of seeding swimmers when they are participating in a prelims/finals event. The fastest 18 to 24 swimmers are seeded in the last three heats, with the fastest swimmers being in the inside lanes.
Circle Swimming: Performed by staying to the right of the black line when swimming in a lane to enable more swimmers to swim in each lane.
Closed Competition: Swim meet which is open to a specific number of invitees.
Club: A registered swim team that is a member in good standing with Swim Ontario
Coach: A person who trains and teaches athletes in the sport of swimming.
Colorado: A brand of automatic timing system.
Consolation Finals: After the fastest 8 or 10 swimmers, the next 8 or 10 swimmers in a prelims/finals meet who, after the prelims swim, qualify to return to the finals. Consolations are the second fastest heat of finals when multiple heats are held and are conducted before the championship heat.
Course: Designated distance (length of pool) for swimming competition. Long course = 50 metres, short course = 25 metres.
Cut: Slang for qualifying time. A time standard necessary to attend a particular meet or event.
Deadline: The date meet entries must be postmarked by, to be accepted by the meet host. Making the meet deadline does not guarantee entry into a meet since many meets are full prior to the deadline.
Deck: The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches. No one but authorised persons may be on deck during a swim meet or practice.
Deck Entries: Accepting entries into events on the first day or later days of a meet.
Distance Event: Term used to refer to events over 400 metres.
DQ (Disqualified): This occurs when a swimmer has committed an infraction of some kind (e.g. one-handed touch in breaststroke). A disqualified swimmer is not eligible to receive an award, nor will there be an official time in that event.
Dive: Entering the water head first. Diving is not allowed during warm up except at the designated time, in specific lanes that are monitored by the swimmers coach.
Drill: An exercise involving a part of a stroke, used to improve technique.
Dropped Time: When a swimmer goes faster than the previous performance they have “dropped their time.”
Dry-land Training: Training done out of the water that aids and enhances swimming performance; usually includes stretching, calisthenics, and/or weight training.
Dual Meet: Type of meet where two teams compete against each other.
Entry: An individual or relay team roster/event list for a swim competition.
Entry Fees: The amount per event a swimmer or relay is charged to compete.
Entry Limit: Each meet will have a limit of total swimmers they can accept, or a time limit they cannot exceed. Once an entry limit is reached a meet will be closed and all other entries returned.
Electronic Timing: Timing system usually has touchpads in the water, junction boxes on the deck with hook up cables, button for backup timing, and a computer console that prints out the results of each race. Some timing systems are hooked up to a scoreboard that displays swimmers times.
Eligible to compete: The status of a member swimmer that means they are registered and have met all the requirements.
Event: A race or stroke over a given distance. An event equals one preliminary with final or one timed final.
False Start: Occurs when a swimmer is moving at the start prior to the signal.
Fastest to Slowest: A seeding method used on the longer events at the end of a session. The fastest seeded swimmers participate in the first heats followed by the next fastest and so on. Many times these events alternate one female heat and one male heat until all swimmers have competed.
FINA: The international, rules making organisation, for the sport of swimming.
Final: The championship heat of an event in which the top six or eight swimmers from the preliminaries compete for awards, depending on the number of lanes in the pool.
Final Results: The printed copy of the results of each race of a swim meet.
Fins: Large rubber fin type devices that fit on swimmers fees. Used in practice only.
Finish: The final phase of the race – the touch at the end of the race.
Flags: Backstroke flags placed 5 metres from the end of the pool. They enable backstrokers to execute a backstroke turn more efficiently through being able to count the number of strokes into each wall.
Freestyle: One of the four competitive racing events. Freestyle is swam as the forth stroke in the Medley Relay and in the Individual Medley. Offered provincially, distances are 50 metres, 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, 800 metres, or 1500 metres.
Gallery: The viewing area for spectators during the swimming competition.
Heats: A division of an event when there are too many swimmers to compete at the same time. The results are compiled by swimmers time swam after all heats of the event are completed.
Heat Sheet/Program: The pre-meet printing listings of swimmers seed times in events at a competition. These sheets vary in accuracy since coaches submit swimmers times many weeks before the meet. Heat sheets are usually sold at the admissions table and are used to mainly make sure the swimmer has been properly entered in all the events they signed up for. Parents enjoy looking at the seedings prior to the race plus swimmers can tell the order the events will be conducted and get a rough idea how long the meet sessions will last.
I.M.: Slang for individual medley, an event in which the swimmer uses all four strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle.
Invitational: Type of meet that requires a club to request an invitation to attend.
Jump: An illegal start done by the second, third, or fourth member of a relay team. The swimmer on the blocks breaks contact with the block before the swimmer in the water touches the wall.
Kick: The leg movements of a swimmer. A popular word to yell to encourage swimmers during a race.
Kick Board: A floatation device used by swimmers during a practice. A light weight object used with great accuracy by coaches.
Lane: The specific area in which a swimmer is assigned to swim. Lanes are numbered from right (lane 1) to left (Lane 6 or 8).
Lane Ropes: Continuous floating markers attached to a cable attached from the starting end to the turning end for the purpose of separating each lane and quieting waves caused by racing swimmers.
Lap: One length of the course (sometimes means down and back).
Lap Counter: A set of plastic display numbers used to keep track of laps during a distance race. The person, who counts for the swimmer, is stationed at the opposite end from the start.
Late Entries: Meet entries from a club that are received by the meet host after the entry deadline. These entries are usually returned or can be accepted at double the published entry fee.
Leg: The part of a relay event swam by a single team member or a single stroke in the IM.
Length: The extent of the competitive course from end to end.
Long Course or LC: A 50 metre long pool.
Mark: The command to take your starting position.
Marshall: The official who controls the crowd and swimmer flow at the swim meet.
Medals: Awards given to the swimmers at meets. They vary in size, design, and method of presentation.
Meet: Competition designed to be a measure of progress and a learning experience. By implementing what has been learned in practice, the swimmers test themselves against the clock to see how they are progressing.
Meet Chair: The person in charge of the administration of the meet.
Negative Split: Swimming the second half of the race faster than the first half.
No Time (NT): The abbreviation used on a heat sheet to designate that the swimmer has not swam that event before.
Official: A judge on the deck of the pool at a sanctioned competition who enforces SNC rules.
Official Time: A time achieved in a race during a duly sanctioned competition.
Omega: A type of automatic timing system.
Open Competition: Competition which any qualified club or swimmer may enter.
Open Water: Any freestyle event over 1500 metres, normally conducted in a natural body of water, such as a lake, river, or ocean.
Outside Smoke – while the fastest swimmers are placed in the centre lanes of the pool, sometimes a swimmer from the outside lane surpasses the fastest to win the heat. This swimmer is affectionately referred to as the “outside smoke”.
Pace: The often pre-determined speed with which a swimmer completes each segment of a race (e.g. 25m, 50m)
Pace Clock: Large clock with a large second hand and a smaller minute had, used to check pace or maintain intervals in practice (may also be digital).
Paddle: Coloured plastic devices worn on the swimmers hands during swim practices.
Positive Check In: The procedure required before a swimmer swims an event in a deck seeded or pre seeded meet. The swimmer must mark their name on a list posted by the meet host.
Prelim: Slang for preliminaries, also called heats – those races in which swimmers qualify for the championship and consolation finals in an event.
Prelim/Final: Type of meet with two sessions. The preliminary heats are usually held in the morning session.
Pre-seeded: A meet conducted without a bull pen in which a swimmer knows what lane and heat they are in by looking at the heat sheet or meet programme.
Proof of Time: An official meet result. Swimmers/Coaches must present proof of time with some entries.
Psych Sheet: An entry sheet showing all swimmers entered into each individual event. Sometimes referred to as a heat sheet or meet programme.
Pull Buoy: A floatation device used for pulling by swimmers in practice.
Qualifying Time: Qualifying time necessary to compete in a particular event and/or competition.
Race: A single swimming competition event.
Referee: The head official in charge of a swim meet.
Registered: Enrolled and paid member of Swim Ontario.
Relay: An event in which 4 swimmers compete together as a team to achieve on time.
Ribbons: Awards in a variety of sizes, styles, and colours given at some swim meets.
Sanctioned Meet: All competitions in which records may be set and official times may be obtained, must be sanctioned (= approved officially) by Swim Ontario.
Scratch: To withdraw from an event in a competition.
Seed: Assign the swimmers to heats and lanes according to their submitted or preliminary times.
Session: Portion of a meet distinctly separated from other portions by time.
Short Course or SC: A 25 metre long pool in which most competitions during the winter are held.
Split: A swimmer’s intermediate time in a race. Splits are registered every 50m and are used to determine if a swimmer is on a planned pace. Under certain conditions, initial splits may also be used as official times.
Sprint: Describes the shorter events (50 and 100m); in training, to swim as fast as possible for a short distance.
Start: The beginning of a race. The dive used to begin a race.
Starter: The official in charge of signaling the beginning of a race and insuring that all swimmers have a fair takeoff.
Stand up: The command given by the starter or referee to release the swimmers from their starting position.
Step down: The command given by the starter or referee to have the swimmers move off the blocks. Usually this command is a good indication that everything is not right for the race to start.
Streamline: The position used to gain maximum distance during a start and/or push-off from the wall in which the swimmer’s body is as tight and straight as it can be.
Stroke: There are four competitive strokes, butterfly, backstroke, freestyle, breaststroke.
Stroke Judge: The official positioned at the side of the pool, walking the length of the course as the swimmers race. If the stroke judge sees something illegal they report to the referee and the swimmer may be disqualified.
Swim-off: In a prelims/finals type competition a race after the scheduled event to break a tie. The only circumstance that warrants a swim-off is to determine which swimmer makes finals or an alternate, otherwise the tie stands.
Team Records: The statistics a team keeps, listing the fastest swimmer in the clubs history for each age group/each event.
Taper: The final preparation phase. As part of this phase, and prior to major competitions, older and more experienced swimmers will shave their entire body to reduce resistance and heighten sensation in the water.
Time Card: The card issued to each swimmer prior to each race, on which splits and the final time are recorded.
Timed Final: Competition in which only heats are swum and final placings are determined by those times.
Time Standard: A time set by a provincial association that a swimmer must achieve for qualification or recognition.
Time Trial: A practice race which is not part of a regular competition. Time trials may be sanctioned and used to qualify for specific meets.
Timer: The volunteers sitting behind the starting block/finish end of the pool, who are responsible for getting watch times on events and activating the backup buttons for the timing system.
Touch Out: To reach the touch pad and finish first in a race.
Touch Pad: A large sensitive board at the end of each lane where a swimmer’s touch is registered and sent electronically to the timing system.
Transfer: The act of leaving one club and going to another.
Unofficial Time: The time displayed on a read out board or read over the intercom by the announcer immediately after a race. After the time has been checked, it will become official.
Warm-down: Low intensity swimming used by swimmer after a race or main practice set to rid the body of excess lactic acid, and to gradually reduce heart rate and respiration.
Warm-up: Low-intensity swimming used by swimmers prior to a main practice set or a race to get muscles loose and warm, and to gradually increase heart rate and respiration.
Watches: Stopwatches used to time swimmers during a competition. When totally automatic timing equipment is used, watches serve as a back-up method.