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Swim Glossary

Below is a brief list of commonly used swimming terms:


  • Aggregated Medals: The top three male and top three female swimmers belonging to each ASSA age group who accumulated the most points based on their individual event swim at a meet. 
  • Alternate:  In a Prelims/Finals meet, after the finalists are decided, the next two fastest swimmers other than the finalists are designated as alternates. The faster of the two being the first alternate and the next being second alternate. If a finalist does not participate, the alternates are called to take their place. Alternates are required to scratch if not attending finals after finalists have been determined.
  • Anchor:  The final swimmer in a relay.
  • ASSA: Alberta Summer Swimming Association
  • Blocks:  The starting platforms located behind each lane. 
  • Deck:  The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials and coaches. No one but an "authorized" member may be on the deck during a swim competition.
  • Disqualified:  A swimmer's performance is not counted because of a rules infraction. A disqualification is recorded by a trained official and submitted to the Referee for approval. Typically, swimmers are disqualified for an illegal stroke, turn, or finish. The benefit of the doubt is always given to the swimmer.          .
  • Dryland:  The exercises and various strength building programs swimmers do out of the water under supervision of their coach.
  • Entry:  An individual, relay team or club roster's event list in a swim competition.
  • Entry Fees:  The amount per event a swimmer or relay is charged by the host of the Meet. WOSC covers all of the entry fees for their members.
  • Entry Limit:  An entry limit placed on swimmers which allows them to enter only a prescribed number of events in the meet.
  • Event :  A race or stroke over a given distance. 
  • False Start:  When a swimmer makes a forward motion on the stating platform before the horn. One false start will disqualify a swimmer or a relay team, although the starter or referee may disallow the false start due to unusual circumstances.
  • FINA:  Federation Internationale de Natation - the international rules-making organization for the sport of swimming.
  • Fins:  Large rubber flipper-type devices that fit on a swimmer’s feet. Used in swim practice, not competition.
  • Flags:  Backstroke flags placed 5 meters from the end of the pool. They enable backstrokers to execute a turn more efficiently by counting their strokes to the turn instead of turning around to look.
  • Flutter Kick:  The kick used in the freestyle stroke. The legs alternate, moving up and down.
  • Goggles:  Plastic type devices worn by swimmers to keep their eyes from being irritated by the chlorine in the water.
  • Heats:  All of the swimmers entered in the event are divided into heats or groups of swimmers. The results are compiled by the times swum, after all heats of the event are completed.
  • Heat Sheet:  The pre-meet printed listings of swimmers' seed times in the various events at a swim meet. These are available at the beginning of the meet and are usually offered for sale.
  • Lane Ropes:  Continuous floating markers attached to a cable stretched from the starting end to the turning end for the purpose of separating each lane and quieting the waves caused by racing swimmers.
  • Lap: Distance swum up and back in any given pool.
  • Marshalling: The area where swimmers check-in at a swim meet and are sent in their heats to the deck for their race.
  • NT (No Time):  The abbreviation used on a heat sheet to designate that the swimmer has not swum that event before.
  • Paddles: Plastic hand-disks used to maximize an upper-body pulling workout..
  • Pull Buoy:  A flotation device used for pulling by swimmers in practice.
  • Qualifying Times:  Published times necessary to enter certain meets or the times necessary to achieve a specific category of swimmer.
  • Relays:   A swimming event in which four swimmers participate as a team. Each swimmer completes an equal distance of the race. There are two types of relays: 1) Medley relay - one swimmer swims Backstroke, one swimmer swims Breaststroke, one swimmer swims Butterfly, one swimmer swims Freestyle, in that order.  2) Freestyle relay - Each swimmer swims freestyle. 
  • Set: A grouping of distances composing part of a workout or drill.
  • Split:  A portion of an event that is shorter than the total distance and is timed. (i.e.) a swimmer's first 50 time is taken as the swimmer swims the 100 race. It is common to take multiple splits for the longer distances.
  • Unofficial Time:  The time displayed on a read out board or read over the intercom by the announcer immediately after the race. After the time has been checked, it will become the official time.
  • Warm-down:  This is usually low intensity swimming used by swimmers after a race or main practice to rid the body of excess lactic acid and to gradually reduce heart rate and respiration.  This usually would include hydration and eating to allow the body to draw stores from the proper area of the body and not the muscle.
  • Warm-up:  The practice and "loosening-up" session a swimmer does before the meet or their event is swum.
  • WOSC: Wetaskiwin Olympian Swim Club