GLOSSARY OF SWIMMING TERMS
Block: The starting platform.
Bulkhead: A wall constructed to divide a pool into different courses, such as a 50 meter pool into two 25 yard pools.
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.
Cut: Slang for qualifying time. A time standard necessary to attend a particular meet or event.
Distance Event: Term used to refer to events over 400 meters or 500 yards.
DQ (Disqualified): This occurs when a swimmer has committed an infraction of some kind (such as a 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.
Drill: An exercise involving a part of a stroke, used to improve technique.
Dry-land Training: Training done out of the water that aids and enhances swimming
performance; usually includes stretching, calisthenics, and/or weight training.
False Start: Occurs when a swimmer is moving at the start prior to the signal.
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.
Finish: The final phase of the race – the touch at the end of the race.
Flags: Backstroke flags placed 5 meters 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.
Goal: A specific time achievement a swimmer sets and strives for; can be short or long term.
I.M.: Slang for individual medley, an event in which the swimmer uses all four strokes in the
following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle.
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.
Long Course or LC: a 50 meter long pool.
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.
Middle Distance: Term used to refer to events of 200 to 500 yards in length. Negative Split: Swimming the second half of the race faster than the first half.
Official: A judge on the deck of the pool at a sanctioned competition who enforces USA Swimming rules.
Official Time: A time achieved in a race during a duly sanctioned competition.
Pace: The often pre-determined speed with which a swimmer completes each segment of a
race (e.g. 25 yards, 50 yards).
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).
Prelim: Slang for preliminaries, also called heats – those races in which swimmers qualify for the championship and consolation finals in an event.
Qualifying Time: Time necessary to compete in a particular event and/or competition.
Relay: An event in which 4 swimmers compete together as a team to achieve one time.
Sanctioned Meet: All competitions in which records may be set and official times may be obtained, must be sanctioned (= approved officially) by Missouri Valley Swimming.
Scratch: To withdraw from an event in a competition.
Seed Time: A swimmer’s previous personal best time used to place him/her in the correct heat
for each event.
Short Course or SC: A 25 yard long pool in which most competitions during the winter are held.
Split: A swimmer’s intermediate time in a race. Splits are registered every 25 yards or 50 yards, depending on the race, 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 100 yards); in training, to swim as fast as possible for a short distance.
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.
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 Trial: A practice race which is not part of a regular competitions. Time trials may be sanctioned and used to qualify for specific meets.
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.
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.