One of the four competitive racing strokes, basically any
style of swimming on your back. Backstroke is swum as the first
stroke in the Medley Relay and second stroke in the I.M. Racing
distances are 50 yards/meter, 100 yards/meter, and 200 yards/meter
(LSCs with 8-under divisions offer the 25 yd back).
The starting sound from an electronic, computerized timing
The starting platforms located behind each lane. Some pools have
blocks at the deeper end of the pool, and some pools have blocks at
both ends. Blocks have a variety of designs and can be permanent or
of Directors of the Local Swim Committee (LSC) or USA Swimming
heat held during the finals session of a Prelims/Finals meet that
is slower than the swimmers participating in Big Finals. The Bonus
Heat may refer to Consolation Finals or an extra heat in addition
to Consolation finals.
floor of the pool. Bottom depths are usually marked on the walls or
sides of the pool.
One of the four competitive racing strokes. Breaststroke is
swam as the second stroke in the Medley Relay and the third stroke
in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100 yards/meter,
and 200 yards/meter. (LSCs with 8-under divisions offer the 25 yd
The staging area where swimmers wait to receive their lane and heat
assignments for a swimming event. Area is usually away from the
pool and has rows of chairs for the swimmers to sit. The Clerk of
the Course is in charge of the Bull Pen.
One of the most important communication devices for a swim club.
Bulletin boards are usually in the entrance Board ways of
pools and have timely information posted for swimmers and parents
One of the four competitive racing strokes. Butterfly
(nicknamed FLY) is swam as the third stroke in the Medley Relay and
first stroke in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100
yards/meter, and 200 yards/meter (LSCs with 8-under divisions offer
the 25 yard fly).
The manual Timing System stopping device that records a back-up
time in case the touch pad malfunctioned. The button is at the end
of a wire, plugged into a deck terminal box. There are usually 3
buttons per lane. It is the timers responsibility to push the
button as the swimmer finishes the race.
A swimming function offered by USA-S, your LSC, or a USA-S coach.
There are many types of camps for just about every level of
swimmer. When selecting a camp, ask for your coach’s advice
as to what will be the best for the swimmer, or call USA-S swimming
for details on the many camps they
latex or lycra covering worn on the head of swimmers. The colors
and team logo’s adorning these caps are limitless. National
Caps, State Team Caps, award caps, plain practice caps,
The major transportation service provided by parents of a swim
club, to shuttle swimmers to and from
A card that may either be handed to the swimmer in the bull
pen or given to the timer behind the lane. Cards usually list the
swimmers name, USA-S number, seed time, event number, event
description, and the lane and heat number the swimmer will swim in.
Backup times are written on these cards. Each event may have a
The main source of food energy used by athletes. Refer to a
Nutritional Manual for more information.
Championship Meet The meet held at the
end of a season. Qualification times are usually necessary to enter
Championship Finals The top six
or eight swimmers (depending on the number of pool lanes) in a
Prelims/Finals meet who, after the prelims are swum, qualify
to return to the Finals. The fastest heat of finals when multiple
heats are held.
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
The parent’s job at the motel. This is listed here to remind
parents to request "Late Check Out" times if offered at no charge
by the motel. This makes the last day of the meet a little less
The chemical used by most pools to kill the bacteria in water and
keep it clear and safe to swim in.
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. (i.e.) Lane 4 in the final three heats. See rule book
for exact method for seeding depending on the lanes in the
A scheduled meeting for the purpose of instruction. (i.e.)
Official’s clinic, Coach’s
Closed Competition Swim meet which is
only open to the members of an organization or group. Summer club
swim meets are considered to be "Closed Competition."
registered swim team that is a dues-paying member of USA-S and the
A set of rules that have been officially
A Code of Conduct that both swimmers and coaches are required to
sign at certain USA-S/LSC sponsored events. The Code is not strict
and involves common sense and proper
A brand of automatic timing system.
Finals After the fastest six
or eight swimmers, the next six or eight swimmers
(depending on the number of pool lanes) in a Prelims/Finals
meet who, after the prelims are swum, 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
United States Aquatic Sports annual, week long, meeting where all
rules changes are decided and working committees are established.
Representatives are sent by each LSC to make up the voting
Designated distance (length of pool) for swimming competition. (Ie)
Long Course = 50 meters / Short Course = 25 yards or 25
date meet entries must be "postmarked" by, to be accepted by the
meet host. Making the meet deadline does not guarantee acceptance
into a meet since many meets are "full" weeks before the entry
The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials,
and coaches. No one but an "authorized" USA Swimming member may be
on the deck during a swim competition.
Accepting entries into swimming events on the first day or later
day of a meet.
Swimmers report to a bull pen or staging area and receive their
lane and heat assignments for the
The abnormal depletion of body fluids (water). The most common
cause of swimmers cramps and sick
A classification of meet or competition that is usually held early
in the season. The purpose of a developmental meet is to allow all
levels of swimmers to compete in a low-pressure
How far a swimmer swims. Distances for short course are: 25
yards (1 length), 50 yards (2 lengths), 100 yards (4 lengths), 200
yards (8 lengths), 400 yards (16 lengths), 500 yards (20 lengths),
1000 yards (40 lengths), 1650 yards (66 lengths). Distances for
long course are: 50 meters (1 length), 100 meters (2 lengths), 200
meters (4 lengths), 400 meters (8 lengths), 800 meters (16
lengths), 1500 meters (30 lengths).
A swimmer’s performance is not counted because of a rules
infraction. A disqualification is shown by an official raising one
arm with open hand above their head.
Entering the water head first. Diving is not allowed during warmups
except at the designated time, in specific lanes that are monitored
by the swimmer’s coach.
A separate pool or a pool set off to the side of the competition
pool. This pool has deeper water and diving boards/platforms.
During a meet, this area may be designated as a warm-down pool with
I-II-III NCAA member
colleges and universities are assigned divisions to compete in,
depending on the school’s total enrollment. Division I being
the large universities and Division III being the smaller
Type of swim meet where three teams compete in dual meets against
each other at the same time. Separate meet scores would be kept for
Team A vs. Team B, Team A vs. Team C, and Team B vs. Team
Type of meet where two teams/clubs compete against each
Random selection by chance.
When a swimmer goes faster than the previous performance they have
"dropped their time."
The exercises and various strength programs swimmers do out of the
That part of the Code book (rule book) that deals with the
"Administrative" Regulations of
An individual, relay team, or club roster’s event list in a
Chairperson The host club’s
designated person who is responsible for receiving, and making sure
the entries have met the deadline, or returning the entries if the
meet is full. This person usually will find discrepancies in the
meet entries and notify the entering club to correct any
The amount per event a swimmer or relay is charged. This varies
depending on the LSC and type of meet.
Each meet will usually have a limit of total swimmers they can
accept, or a time limit they cannot exceed. Once an entry limit has
been reached, a meet will be closed and all other entries
Timing Timing system operated on DC
current (battery). The timing system usually has touchpads in the
water, junction boxes on the deck with hook up cables, buttons for
backup timing, and a computer-type console that prints out the
results of each race. Some systems are hooked up to a scoreboard
that displays swimmers.
Eligible to compete The status of a
member swimmer that means they are registered and have met all the
The items necessary to operate a swim practice or conduct a swim
A race or stroke over a given distance. An event equals 1
preliminary with its final, or 1 timed
When a swimmer leaves the starting block before the horn or gun.
One false start will disqualify a swimmer or a relay team, although
the starter or referee may disallow the false start due to unusual
Rope A recall rope across the
width of the racing pool for the purpose of stopping swimmers who
were not aware of a false start. The rope is about 1/2 way on yard
pools and about 50 feet from the starting end on meter
Slowest A seeding method used on the longer
events held 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 will alternate one girls heat and one
boys heat until all swimmers have
paid by swimmers for services. (i.e.) Practice fees, registration
fee, USA-S membership fee, etc.
The international rules-making organization for the sport of
The final race of each event. See "Consolation Finals", "Timed
The printed copy of the results of each race of a swim
The monetary penalty assessed a swimmer or club when a swimmer does
not achieve the necessary time required to swim in an event, and
cannot prove they have done the time
Large rubber flipper-type devices that fit on a swimmers feet. Used
in swim practice, not competition.
Pennants that are suspended over the width of each end of the pool
approximately 15 feet from the wall.
The order of events and type of swim meet being
A money making endeavor by a swim team/club usually involving both
parents and swimmers.
One of the four competitive racing strokes. Freestyle (nicknamed
Free) is swum as the fourth stroke in the Medley Relay and fourth
stroke in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100
yards/meter, 200 yards/meter, 400 mtr/500, yd 800 mtr/1000 yds,
1500 mtr/1650 yds (LSCs with 8-under divisions offer the 25 yd
The viewing area for spectators during the swimming
The short- and long-range targets for swimmers to aim
Glasses-type devices worn by swimmers to keep their eyes from being
irritated by the chlorine in the water.
The part of a freestyle distance race (400 meters or longer) when
the swimmer has two lengths plus five yards to go. The
starter fires a gun shot over the lane of the lead swimmer when the
swimmer is at the backstroke flags.
A reference manual published by teams/clubs and LSCs or other
The motel designated by the meet host. Usually, hospitality rooms
and meetings relating to the meet will be held at this location.
Many times this motel is one of the sponsors of the
A division of an event when there are too many swimmers to compete
at the same time. The results are compiled by swimmers time swum,
after all heats of the event are
A ribbon or coupon given to the winner of a single heat at an age
group swim meet.
The pre-meet printed listings of swimmers’ seed times in the
various events at a swim meet. These sheets vary in accuracy, since
the coaches submit swimmers times many weeks before the meet. Heat
sheets are sold at the admissions table and are used mainly to 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
An award given to the swimmer scoring the most points in a given
age group at a swim meet. All meets do not offer high point awards;
check the pre meet information.
House of Delegates. The ruling body of an LSC composed of the
designated representative of each club plus the board of directors
(BOD) of the LSC. One vote per club and board
A sounding device used in place of a gun. Used mainly with a fully
automatic timing system.
Doing something against the rules that is cause for
Medley. A swimming event using all four of the competitive
strokes on consecutive lengths of the race. The order must be:
Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle. Equal distances
must be swam of each stroke. Distances offered: 100 yards, 200
yards/meters, 400 yards/meter.
Swimming offers "accident insurance coverage," which is automatic
when a swimmer, coach, or official pays their USA-S membership
fee. Many restrictions apply, so check with your club for detailed
specific elapsed time for swimming or rest used during swim
of meet that requires a club to request an invitation to attend the
Olympics. An age group championship meet conducted by the
An illegal start done by the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th member of a relay
team. The swimmer on the block breaks contact with the block before
the swimmer in the water touches the
A USA-S Championship meet for swimmers 18 years old or less.
Qualification times are necessary.
The leg movements of a swimmer. A popular word to "yell" to
encourage swimmers during a race.
A flotation device used by swimmers during practice. A lightweight
object used with great accuracy by
The specific area in which a swimmer is assigned to swim. (ie) Lane
1 or Lane 2. Pools with starting blocks at only one end: As the
swimmers stand behind the blocks, lanes are numbered from Right
(lane 1) to Left (Lane 6).
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
One length of the course. Sometimes may also mean down and back (2
lengths) of the course.
The large numbered cards (or the person turning the cards) used
during the freestyle events 500 yards or longer. Counting is done
from the end opposite the starting end. The numbers on the cards
are "odd numbers" only with the final lap being designated by a
bright orange card.
Meet entries from a club or individual that are received by the
meet host after the entry deadline. These entries are usually not
accepted and are returned to sender.
The part of a relay event swum by a single team member. A single
stroke in the IM.
The extent of the competitive course from end to end. See
A 50-meter pool.
Local Swim Committee. The local level administrative division of
the corporation (USA-S) with supervisory responsibilities within
certain geographic boundaries designated by the
A stretch material used to make competitive swim suits and swim
mechanical or electronic failure.
The command to take your starting
The official who control the crowd and swimmer-flow at a swim
A series of events held in one program.
official in charge of the administration of the meet. The person
directing the "dry side" of the meet.
measurement of the length of a swimming pool that was built per
specs using the metric system. Long course meters is 50 meters,
short course meters is 25 meters.
The slang referring to the 1500 meter or the 1650 yard freestyle,
both of which are slightly short of a
National Association of Intercollegiate
National Age Group Time Standards - the list of "C" through "AAAA"
times published each year.
USA Swimming National Championship meet conducted in March/April
A building constructed for the purpose of housing a swimming pool
and related equipment.
National Collegiate Athletic Association
National Governing Body
National Club Swimming Association, Inc. is a private nonprofit
organization for professionally coached swimming clubs and their
coaches. The clubs are independently owned and operated and
not under the direct control of any other institution.
Time A short course time submitted to qualify for
a long course meet, or vice versa.
A meet that does not fall into a specific category because of
limited events, sessions, or age
National Reportable Time. A time list published once a year, which
if a swimmer equals or betters the time on the list, they may
submit their time in that event for consideration for national
National Swim School Association
No Time. The abbreviation used on a heat sheet to designate that
the swimmer has not swum that event
National Times Verification. A certificate verifying a national
qualifying time achieved by a swimmer and issued only by a
verification official of the location where the meet was
Meet A meet that is not
conducted according to USA Swimming rules (high school, YMCA) where
a request for observation has been processed and approved in
advance. Sufficient USA Swimming officials are present to
certify that the athletes’ swims are in compliance with USA
Swimming technical rules.
A swim observed by assigned USA Swimming officials for conformance
with USA Swimming technical rules in a meet conducted under other
than USA Swimming rules.
The certified adult volunteers who operate the many facets of a
The USA-S sanctioned long course swim meet held the year of the
Olympic Games to decide what swimmers will represent the USA on our
Olympic Team. Qualification times are faster than Senior
A brand of automatic timing system.
Official Time. The swimmers event time recorded to one hundredth of
a second (.01).
Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs,
Competition Competition which any qualified
club, organization, or individual may
Large 3/4 length fur lined coats worn by swimmers. Usually are in
team colors with logo or team name.
The electronic clocks or large clocks with highly visible numbers
and second hands, positioned at the ends or sides of a swimming
pool so the swimmers can read their times during warmups or swim
plastic devices worn on the swimmers hands during swim
The facility in which swimming competition is
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.
The scheduled workouts swimmers attend with their swim
Session of a Prelims/Finals meet in which the qualification heats
Type of meet with two sessions. The preliminary heats are usually
held in the morning session. The fastest six or eight
(Championship Heat) swimmers, and the next fastest six
or eight swimmers (Consolation Heat) return in the evening to
compete in the Finals. A swimmer who has qualified in the
Consolation Finals may not place in the Championship Finals even if
their finals time would place them so. The converse also
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
posted meet program.
An official meet result, OVC, or other accepted form.
Swimmers/Coaches must supply proof of time with some meet entries,
and other meets it is not required unless a swimmer misses a cut of
time at the meet.
An entry sheet showing all swimmers entered into each individual
event. Sometimes referred to as a "Heat Sheet" or meet program.
However, a “heat sheet” would show not only every
swimmer in an event, but also what heat and lane they are swimming
A flotation device used for pulling by swimmers in
Times Published times necessary
to enter certain meets, or the times necessary to achieve a
specific category of swimmer. See "A", "AA" (etc.)
A room pool side for the swimmers to relax before they compete in
A rope across the width of the racing pool for the purpose of
stopping swimmers who were not aware of a false start. The rope is
about 1/2 way on yard pools and about 50 feet from the starting end
on meter pools.
The head official at a swim meet in charge of all of the "Wet Side"
administration and decisions.
Enrolled and paid as a member of USA-S and the
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. Medley
relays are conducted over 200 yd/mtr and 400 yd/mtr distances. 2.)
Freestyle relay - Each swimmer swims freestyle. Free relays are
conducted over 200 yd/mtr, 400 yd/mtr, and 800 yd/mtr
A designated area (such as a gymnasium) that is set aside for
swimmers to rest during a meet.
The responsible and careful actions of those participating in a
swim meet. USA-S and each LSC now have a "Safety Coordinator" and
each meet must have "Marshalls" in charge of
A permit issued by an LSC to a USA-S group member to conduct an
event or meet.
The amount paid by a USA-S group member to an LSC for issuing a
Meet A meet that is approved by
the LSC in which it is held. Meet must be conducted
according to USA Swimming rules. All participants, including
coaches, athletes and officials, must be USA Swimming
USA-S or LSC list of meets with dates, meet host, meet location,
type of meet, and contacts address and
To withdraw from an event after having declared an intention to
participate. Some meets have scratch deadlines and specific scratch
rules, and if not followed, swimmer can be disqualified from
Nickname for Speedo Championship Series (see below).
Assign the swimmers heats and lanes according to their submitted or
Deck Seeding - swimmers are called to report to the Clerk of the
Course. After scratches are determined, the event is seeded. Pre
Seeding - swimmers are arranged in heats according to submitted
times, usually a day prior to the meet.
A meet that is for senior level swimmers and is not divided into
age groups. Qualification times are usually necessary and will vary
depending on the level of the meet.
Senior Nationals A
USA-S National Championship meet for swimmers of any age as long as
the qualification times are met.
Portion of meet distinctly separated from other portions by locale,
time, type of competition, or age group.
The process of removing all arm, leg, and exposed torso hair, to
decrease the "drag" or resistance of the body moving through the
water. Used only by Seniors at very important (Championship)
A 25-yard or 25-meter pool.
Speedo Championship Series
Open "senior level" meets held in the spring and summer. Each
Zone may hold up to four meets. Meets are commonly called
"Sectionals." Qualifying times, sites, dates and meet rules
are determined locally.
The USA Swimming magazine that is mailed bi-monthly. A benefit of
being a member of USA Swimming.
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.
Swimming Tracking and Recognition System. National Times Database
of meet results provided by tabulators appointed by each
Separate portions of a dryland or weight
The beginning of a race. The dive used to begin a race.
The official in charge of signaling the beginning of a race and
insuring that all swimmers have a fair
Water that has no current caused by a filter system or no waves
caused by swimmers.
A meet held twice a year (Short Course and Long Course) sponsored
by the LSC. In larger LSCs it is common to hold a Championship
Senior meet and Age Group meet separately. Qualification times are
The command given by the Starter or Referee to release the swimmers
from their starting position.
The command given by the Starter or Referee to have the swimmers
move off the blocks. Usually this command is a good indication
everything is not right for the race to
There are 4 competitive strokes: Butterfly, Backstroke,
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
Time Times used to enter
swimmers in meets. These times must have been achieved by the
swimmer at previous meets.
The racing uniform worn by the swimmer, in the water, during
competition. The four most popular styles/types of suits worn are:
Nylon, Lycra, Paper, and Fastskin.
The "Fund Raiser" trademarked by USA Swimming for local clubs to
use to make money.
professional swim lesson program administrated by the American Swim
Coaches Association licensed to coaches.
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 ties stand.
World A paid-subscription
Swimming system that keeps track of every time swum by all
swimmers. Available through the USA-S website.
The resting phase of a swimmer at the end of the season before the
USA-S Registered club that has the right to compete for
The statistics a team keeps, listing the fastest swimmer in the
clubs history for each age group/each
Competition in which only heats are swum and final placings are
determined by those times.
time set by a meet or LSC or USA-S (etc) that a swimmer must
achieve for qualification or
The volunteers sitting behind the starting blocks/finish end of
pool, who are responsible for getting watch times on events and
activating the backup buttons for the timing
An event or series of events where a swimmer may achieve or better
a required time standard.
A list of times compiled by the LSC or USA-S that recognizes the
top 16 swimmers in each age group (boys & girls) by each event
and distance. The number 16 was arbitrarily chosen because it would
normally fill the finals and consoles heats at a swim
To reach the touchpad and finish first in a close
The removable plate (on the end of pools) that is connected to an
automatic timing system. A swimmer must properly touch the touchpad
to register an official time in a race.
The act of leaving one club or LSC and going to another. Usually
120 days of unattached competition is required before swimmer can
represent another USA-S club.
A sum of money set aside for a swimmer to use for travel expenses
and entry fees to specified meets.
A meet with three teams competing for points to see who places
An athlete member who competes, but does not represent a club or
team. (abbr. UN)
The various parts of clothing a swimmer wears at a meet. May
include: parka, Warm-up jacket, team duffel bag, sweat pants,
suits, hat, goggles, T-shirt, etc.
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
The governing body of swimming--USA
national governing body of the sport headquartered in Colorado
Number A 16-part number assigned to a
swimmer after they have filled out the proper forms and paid their
annual dues. The first 6 parts are numbers of a swimmer’s
birthdate: Day/Month/Year using zeros as place holders. The next
three spaces are the first three letters of the athlete’s
legal first name. The next letter is the middle initial, followed
by the first four letters of the swimmer’s last name. For
example: USA-S ID# for swimmer Suzanne Eileen Nelson and born
Aug.27, 1976 = 082776SUZENELS.
United States Olympic Training Center located in Colorado Springs,
At right angle to the normal water
Warm-down The recovery
swimming a swimmer does after a race when pool space is
The practice and "loosening-up" session a swimmer does before
the meet or their event is swum.
The hand held device used by timers and coaches for timing a
swimmers races and taking splits.
The various barbells, benches, machines, etc. used by swimmers
during their dryland program.
The sound a starter/referee makes to signal for quiet before they
give the command to start the race.
The measurement of the length of a swimming pool that was built per
specs using the American system. A short course yard pool is 25
yards (75 feet) in length.
The distance a swimmer races or swims in practice. Total yardage
can be calculated for each practice
The country is divided up into 4 major zones: Eastern - Southern -
Central - Western. At the end of the long course season (in August)
the Zone Administration sponsors a championship age group