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Glossary

 GLOSSARY OF SWIM TERMS

A/B/C Meet:

Meet that has three categories of racing: swimmers who have achieved A times, swimmers who have achieved B times and C swimmers, who have not yet achieved B times in the event(s) they wish to race.

Age Group:

Division of swimmers according to age. The National Age Group divisions are: 10-under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18. Some LSCs have divided the swimmers into more convenient divisions specific to their situations: (i.e.) 8-under, 13-Over, 15-Over, Junior, Senior.

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 cannot participate, the alternates are called to take their place.

Anchor:

The final swimmer in a relay

Attached:

Status of an athlete member who represents a member club in competition

Backstroke:

The primary rule is that swimmers must remain on their back for the entire race, with the exception of the last stroke before a flip turn. The stroke is a backward circular strokes of each arm alternately and a flutter kick.. This is the only stroke that requires an in-water start.

Backstroke Flags:

Pennants that are suspended over the width of each end of the pool approximately 15 feet from the wall. Used as a warning to swimmer the wall is approaching.  Swimmer usually obtain a stroke count to determine when to start their turn

Backstroke Start:

In Backstroke and Medley Relay events, swimmers start the race in the pool, facing the start end, with both hands in contact with the end of the pool or the start block and both feet on the wall with toes below the gutter.

Bell Lap: 

Last 2 lengths of a distance event typically indicated by the Starter ringing a bell or horn.

Bilateral Breathing:

Breathing to both the left and the right in freestyle

Breaststroke:

A swimming stroke in which a person lies face down in the water and extends the arms in front of the head, then sweeps them both back laterally under the surface of the water while performing a frog kick.  Swimmer must touch the wall with two hands simultaneously.

Block(s):

The platform(s) at the end of each lane used to dive from at the start of a race. Blocks come in a variety of shapes and styles, some permanent and some movable. Most have either a horizontal bar or a cutout to use as a handhold on the backstroke start.

Brief:

Swimsuit style for men, short and small

Build:

To increase intensity and speed over the course of a swim. Can refer to one repeat or an entire set

Butterfly:

Frequently called "fly" for short, in which the feet must stay together while performing a dolphin style kick, and both arms recover over the water simultaneously. Swimmers must touch the wall with two hands simultaneously.

Button:

Part of a computerized, electronic timing system. Every lane has buttons used by timing officials for manual timing of races.

Cap:

Silicone or Latex skull covering used to reduce drag due to hair

Check In:

The indication that a swimmer intends to participate in an event

Circle Swim:

When there are more than two swimmers in a lane during practice/warm ups, swimmers swim up on the right side, staying close to the lane line always staying to the right of the black centerline

Consolation Finals:

The race that determines final places and times for the next fastest swimmers who failed to qualify for the finals. Swimmers in a consolation final may not place ahead of swimmers in the final heat regardless of their time. Generally this heat determines places 9 through 16.

Converted Time:

A swimmer's time in an event from one course converted to an equivalent time in that event in another course (e.g., SCY times converted to LCM times), often done at the beginning of a season for seeding purposes when swimmers don't have recent times in the new course.  There are several "accepted" conversion formulas available for coaches to use.

Crazy Swim Parent:

At any swim meet look to your left and right.  It is definitely not you.....how can it - you are the only normal one?

Cut:

A qualifying time for championship meets (e.g., Age Group Sectionals, State Meet, Senior Sectionals, US Nationals).

Deck:

The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches.  No one but an 'authorized' person may be on the deck during a swim competition.  If you want on deck, volunteer.

Deck-Entered meet:

A meet where all entries are accepted on the first or a later day of that meet and subsequently seeded into events

Declared False Start:

An option for swimmers in championship meets to opt out of a swim without penalty.  A swimmer notifies the Referee prior to the event that he/she will declare a false start.  The swimmer is disqualified and reports behind the blocks but does not swim. 

Disqualification (DQ):

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.

Districts:

Championship swim meet for the eastern portion of Pennsylvania, qualifying times are required

Dolphin Kick:

An undulating, simultaneous kick used in Butterfly.  It is also used in Backstroke and Freestyle during the kick-out phase off the walls on starts and turns.

Drag Suit:

A second, loose fitting swimsuit worn by swimmers in workout and warm-up that adds weight and resistance to the flow of the water around the swimmer.  These change the body position in the water so should only be used if the coach thinks it is a good idea.

Dual Confirmation:
Used for starts and relay take-offs - requirement to have 2 officials observe a false start or early take-off to initiate a disqualification or the swimmer or relay

Dual Meet:

Type of meet where two teams/clubs compete against each other

Dry Land:

The exercises and various strength programs swimmers do out of the water.

Early Take-Off:

In relays, an early take-off occurs in an exchange when a relay team member leaves the starting block before the previous team member in the water touches the wall.  The relay team is disqualified and notified of the disqualification after the end of the race.

Electronic Timing:

Timing system operated automatically.  The timing system usually has touch pads in the water, buttons for backup timing, and a computer type console that prints out the results of each race. Some systems are linked to a scoreboard that displays the swimmers’ times.

Entry:

An individual, relay team, or club roster's event list in a swim competition.

Entry Times:

Times filed with an entry, as having been previously achieved.

Event:

Any race or series of races (heats) in a given stroke and distance. For competitive limits, one event equals one preliminary or one timed final, or one preliminary plus the corresponding final.

Exchange

In a relay, when one swimmer touches the wall and the next leaves the blocks.

False Start:

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 circumstances.

False Start 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 down the a pool

15-Meter Mark:

Marks on the sides of the pool and on the lane lines 15 meters from the ends of the pool.  In Freestyle, Backstroke, and Butterfly events the swimmers head must surface at or before these marks.

Fins:

Equipment used at practice: placed on the feet to aid development of kick, ankle flexibility, stroke mechanics, and speed.

Final:

Any single race that determines the final places and times in an event.

Finals:

The concluding session of each day of a preliminaries and finals meet in which the fastest qualifiers in each event compete

Flip Turn:

One type of turn used in Freestyle and Backstroke.  Just as the swimmer approaches the wall, they tuck their body into a somersault, quickly roll toward the wall and push off with their feet.   

Flutter Kick:

The alternating kick used in freestyle and backstroke.  

Fly-Over Starts:

Start procedures at a meet in which swimmers of the previous heat remain in the water, close to the wall, during the start of the next heat.  Usually used in senior sessions/meets to save time and/or allow swimmers to rest before exiting the pool

Forward Start:

In Freestyle, Breaststroke, and Butterfly events swimmers start from the start blocks, the edge of the pool, or in the water with a forward dive or push off.

Freestyle:

The stroke is typically performed using forward circular strokes of each arm alternately and a flutter kick. But it is "freestyle" so any method or stroke can be performed except in medley events.

Freestyle Relay:

A freestyle race in which four swimmers each swim one-fourth the total distance of the race

Gallery:

Viewing area for meet spectators

Goggles:

Protective covering worn over the eyes. Goggles come in many styles and sizes, and can be made with corrective lenses

Heat:

A division of an event used when there are too many swimmers to compete simultaneously.

Heat Sheet (Meet Program):

A form used for listing swimmers entered in an event, which designates the swimmer's seeded heat and lane for the event.

Horizontal:

Parallel to the surface of the water

Individual Medley (IM):

Athletes swim lengths of all four strokes in a specific order: butterfly, backstroke, breastroke, freestyle.

Invitational Competition:

For those swimmers, organizations and clubs invited by the host

Jammer:

Swimsuit for men ending above the knees

Junior Olympics (JO's):

An age group championship meet offered and run by USA Swimming's local swimming committees (LSCs).  Times Standards required.

Kneeskin:

Racing suit made of specific technical material.  Suit can not be past the knees.

Lactic Acid:

When training or racing the body will breakdown muscle sugar (glycogen) using a process that produces an acidic by-product waste called lactate acid.  The muscles may start to burn or ache as lactic acid accumulates and your body can’t keep up with removing it from your muscle stores.

Lane:

The specific area in which a swimmer is assigned to swim. (ie) Lane 1 or Lane 2

Lane Lines:

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.

Lane Markings:

The black lines at the bottom of the pool marking the middle of each lane and end in a T at both ends to indicate that the wall is near

Lap:

One length of the course. Sometimes may also mean down and back (2 lengths) of the course.

Lap Counter:

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.
 

Lead-off:

The first swimmer (leg) in a relay


Leg:

The part of a relay event swum by a single team member. A single stroke in the IM
 

Legal:

A race or stroke swim according to the current YMCA / USA rules.


Long Course:

50-meter pool

 

LCM - Abbreviation for long course meters. .

LSC (Local Swimming Committee):

An administrative division of USA Swimming with supervisory responsibilities within certain geographic boundaries designated by USA Swimming

Mako Sharks:

Name for Summer Swim Team

Medley Relay:

A race in which four swimmers each swim one-fourth the total distance. Each swimmer swims a different stroke, and the strokes must swum in this order: backstroke, breastroke, butterfly, freestyle.

Meet:

A series of events held in one program.

Mini-Meet:

For swimmers eight years old and under only

Negative Split:

The second half of the swim is swum faster than the first half (e.g.,100- yard swim negative splitting:  if the first 50 yards is swum around 30 seconds, then the second 50 yards must be swum faster than 30 seconds).  

Non-Conforming Times:

In championship meets, the qualifying times are often listed for each course (LCM, SCY, SCM).  The meet is seeded using entry times conforming to the course for the meet (e.g., LCM) first, then non-conforming entry times (e.g., SCM/SCY) in the first heats.

Nose Clip:

Clip used to "squeeze" the nose closed during backstroke

Novice:

A beginning swimmer or one who has limited experience  

No-Show:

Failure of a swimmer to report to the blocks and compete after checking in

No Time (NT):

Used on a heat sheet to designate that the swimmer has not swum that event before

Observed 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.

Observed Swim:

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.

Officials:

The certified adult volunteers who operate the many facets of a swim competition

Official Time (OT):

The swimmer’s time in a given event, recorded to hundredth of a second (.01).  The OT usually comes from the automatic timing system.

Official Results:

After all Official Times and Disqualifications for an event are determined/recorded, the final Order of Finish (places) is published.

On the Back:

Position of the body when the shoulders are at or past vertical towards the back

On the Breast:

Position of the body when the shoulders are at or past vertical towards the breast

Open:

A meet is an "open meet” when it is open to all swimmers.

Open Competition:

Competition which any qualified club, organization or individual may enter.

Open Water:

Any non-pool swimming locale, typically oceans, lakes, and rivers

Out Touch:

To win a race by a tenth or hundredths of a second; to just barely beat a competitor to the wall.

Pace Clock:

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 practice.

Paddle:

A flat piece of plastic worn on the hands, and held in place by rubber cords that fit over the middle finger (and sometimes also the wrist). Paddles can be used to build strength and practice correct swimming technique.

Penn Del Swim League:

Winter swim league formed of Y teams segregated in divisions by size, strength, and location of each team.  Each meet is divided into the following age group categories:

            Mini:                8 & Under

            Cadet:             9-10

            Prep:               11-12

            Junior:            13-14

            Open:              15& Over

Positive Check In: 

The procedure required before a swimmer swims an event in a deck seeded or pre seeded meet. The swimmer or coach must indicate the swimmer is present and will compete.

Proof of Time:

A requirement at some meets (usually AA and above) to make certain that all swimmers have legally met the time standards for that meet.

Psych Sheet:

A list of the swimmers in each event of a meet in ascending or descending order of entry times

Pull Buoy:

Equipment used at practice: a piece of foam shaped like a figure-8 that is held between the legs to keep them afloat while swimmer practices arm strokes.

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: Medley relay and Freestyle relay

Qualifying Heats (Preliminaries):

A competition in which a number of heats are swum to qualify the fastest swimmers for the finals, where final placing for that event are determined

Qualifying Times:

Published times necessary to enter certain meets, or the times necessary to achieve a specific category of swimmer

Ready Room:

A room pool side for the swimmers to relax before they compete in finals.

Recovery:

The part of the training cycle or a workout where intensity is reduced to allow the body to repair itself. This is the critical part of a training plan where the swimmer/athlete actually becomes stronger.

Relay:

A race in which four swimmers compete as a team. All the swimmers must swim an equal distance in the race

Relay Lead-Off Split:

An officially recorded time for the swimmer on the 1st leg of a relay. Official splits must be requested from the meet referee.

Relay Start:

Dive done by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th swimmers in a relay, in which the swimmer is allowed to "wind up" or carry some momentum into their dive, so long as they do not leave the block before the swimmer in the water touches the wall. Usually this is done by taking one step from the back to the front of the blocks and swinging the arms forward.

Rulebook: 

Refers to the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations

SCM:

Abbreviation for Short Course Meters

SCY:

Abbreviation for Short Course Yards

Sanction:

A permit issued by an LSC to conduct an event or meet.

(Note: All athletes participating in any USA Swimming sanctioned swim meet must be registered USA Swimming members.)

Scratch:

To withdraw an entry from competition in an event

Session:

Portion of meet distinctly separated from other portions by locale, time, type of competition, or age group.

Sectionals:

Nickname for Speedo Championship Series

Seed:

A way in which swimmers are divided into the required number of heats and /or lanes, according to their entry or preliminary times

Seeding:

Pre-Seeded Heats:

Swimmers are arranged in heats in each event according to entry times. Heat sheets listing the lane and heat assignments are prepared prior to the day of competition.

Deck-Seeded Heats:

Swimmers are called to report to the Meet Director for their event on the day of the meet. After scratches are determined, the remaining swimmers are seeded into the proper heats and lanes. Swimmers are notified of their heat and lane assignment by means of individual cards or posted heat sheets.

Vertical (Circle) Seeded Heats:

A method of seeding swimmers when they are participating in a prelims/finals event. The fastest swimmers are seeded in the last three heats, with the fastest swimmer being seeded in the Heat 1, next fastest in Heat 2, next fastest in Heat 3.  Then the next fastest will be seeded in Heat 1, next fastest in Heat 2, next fastest in Heat 3.....and so on until the last 3 heats are full.

Horizontal Seeded Heats:

A method of seeding swimmers when they are participating in typically timed finals event. Seeding method is slowest to fastest.  Meaning the slowest swimmers (or No Time swimmers) swim in the first heat while the faster swim in the last heat.

Fastest to Slowest Seeding:

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.

Set:

Swim workouts are divided into sets of swims in a particular stroke, style, and distance, such as kick sets, pull sets, distance sets, sprint sets, IM sets, etc with a particular purpose.  Sets are given in terms of the distance to be swum, calculated in yards or meters, depending on the pool.  Therefore, a "set" of "25’s" means swimming one length of the pool before resting; "50's" means two lengths, and so on.  

Senior 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.

Short Course:

25-yard or 25-meter pool

Simultaneously:

Occurring at the same time

Snorkel:

Equipment used at practice: a device used to allow the swimmer to swim without removing head from water to breath

Split Time:

Time recorded from an official start to completion of an initial distance within a longer event.

Stand By:

When an event is full a swimmer can sit near to the referee and if an open lane occurs in a heat (because of a no show) that swimmer can swim in the open lane

Stand-Up:

The command given by the Starter or Referee to release the swimmers from their starting position

States:

End of the season swim meet for Y swim teams in Pennsylvania, must qualify at districts

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 everything is not right for the race to start.

Streamline:  

It often refers to making the body long and narrow (arms/hands together and outstretched, head down between arms, feet together pointed back) in the glide off the starts and walls, but it also applies to all aspects of the strokes.   The more swimmers can create a streamlined effect with their bodies, the more efficient they will be in the water

Stroke:

There are four competitive techniques (strokes):  Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.

Stroke Count:

Number of stroke during a swim

Submitted Times:

Times filed with an entry; as having been previously achieved.

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 ties stand.

SWIMS (SWIMMING WEB-BASED INTERACTIVE MEMBERSHIP SYSTEM):

A single integrated database system which includes USA Swimming membership data and a databank of achieved times that are considered official and are recognized for proof of entry and recognition programs.

T-30:

A test set used to determine a swimmer's threshold pace. After a complete warm-up, the swimmer swims their fastest sustainable pace for thirty minutes (can be other lengths of time)

Taper:

The resting process during training for swimming competition.  Reduced training volume and intensity gives the body and mind a break from the rigors of intense training.  Coupled with quality rest, it allows the swimmer’s body time to repair itself and to restore its energy reserves to prepare for major competition.  Studies have found tapering to produce a marked increase in muscle strength. Tapers depend on the level of training the prior 3- 9 months  A perfectly designed taper will enable the swimmer to compete at their peak capability and is one of the most difficult aspects of swim coaching.   It is not magic but is designed to allow the body to gradually rest to help it over-compensate for the prior work loads.  Rest and more rest.

Times:

Touch Pad Time:

Time recorded by the electronic timing system when any part of the swimmer touches the touch pad - when used this will be the primary time

Button Time:

Time recorded by the electronic timing system when any part of the swimmer touches the wall/touch pad and the timer presses the button - when used this could be the primary or secondary time depending if touch pads are utilized

Watch Time:

Handheld watch used by timers to record a swimmer's time in an event. In meets with electronic timing, timers will still use stopwatches to record back-up times, in case the electronic timing system fails.

Timed Final Heat: 

A competition in which only heats are swum and final placing is determined by the times performed in the heats.

Time Standard:

The time standard for an event in a meet is the time a swimmer must have previously achieved to enter that event.

Time Trials:

An event or series of events separate from the main competition at which swimmers may achieve or better a required time standard

Tired Times:

Most swimmers, in particular, the older swimmers will be swimming most of the season tired and their times should be compared to swims during the same time of season/ month as swims from the previous year.  Best times will not normally be achieved by swimmers training effectively and hard as occurs during mid season.

Touch:

At the end of the prescribed distance, the finish of the race.

Touch Pad:

The part of an electronic timing system that rest in the water at the end of each

lane. Swimmer's times are recorded when they touch the pad.

Transition:

In the Individual Medley event, refers to the turn where the swimmer finishes one stroke and begins the next stroke (e.g., the transition from Butterfly to Backstroke) (as opposed to the intermediate turns during each stroke/leg).

Turnover:

The number of times a swimmer's arms pull/recover (cycle) in a given distance or time during a race.   It can also be used in describing a DQ in backstroke, ie: the swimmer turned over to the breast during the race.

Unattached (UN):

An athlete member who competes, but does not represent a club or team

Underwater Recovery:

In Butterfly, a violation of the stroke rules when the arms fail to recover over the water.  Usually seen at the walls in the turns and the finish when the swimmer miscalculates the distance to the wall and during the swim by younger, inexperienced swimmers. It is also the legal means to recover on breaststroke.

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.

USA-S:

The governing body of swimming--USA Swimming


USA Swimming:

The national governing body of the sport headquartered in Colorado Springs.

USA-S ID Number: 

A 14-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 birth date: Month/Day/2-Digit 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.

Vertical:

Perpendicular to the water surface

Warm-Down:

The recovery swimming a swimmer does after a race when pool space is available.

Warm-Up:

The practice and "loosening-up" session a swimmer does before the meet or their event is swum.

Whistles:

A series of whistles the referee does to announce the starting commands before each race. 

Multiple Short Whistles: means the race will star shortly and to be ready. 

One Long Whistle: means get onto the block to receive the starting commands for freestyle, breaststroke, and butterfly.  For backstroke it means to enter the water

Second Long Whistle: this is for backstroke only and after the swimmer enters the water it is the command to get into starting position

Yardage:  
The distance a swimmer races or swims in practice. Total yardage can be calculated for each practice session.