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Swim Terms/Strokes

Common Swim Terms:

  • Backstroke (Back) - one of the four competitive racing strokes, basically any style of swimming on your back.
  • Blocks - the starting platforms located behind each lane.
  • Breaststroke (Breast) - one of the four competitive racing strokes.
  • Butterfly (Fly) - One of the four competitive racing strokes.
  • Check-In - The procedure required before a swimmer swims an event in a deck-seeded meet.
  • Deck - area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmer, officials, and coaches.
  • Disqualified (D/Q) - A swimmer's performance is not counted because of a rule infraction. A disqualification is shown by an official raising one arm with open had above their head.
  • Dual Meet - type of meet where two teams/clubs compete against each other.
  • Entry - an individual, relay team, or club roster's event list into a swim competition.
  • Entry Fees - the amount per even a swimmer or relay is charged. This varies depending on the type of meet.
  • False Start - when a swimmer leaves the starting block before the horn or gun.
  • Free Relay - a swimming event in which four swimmers participate as a relay team, each swimmer swimming an equal distance of the freestyle stroke.

  • Freestyle (Free) - one of the four competitive racing strokes.

  • Heats - a division of an event when there are too many swimmers to compete at the same time.
  • Heat Sheet - the pre-meet printed listings of swimmers seed times in the various events at a swim meet.
  • IM (Individual Medley) - swimming event using all four of the competitive strokes on consecutive lengths of the race.
  • Long Course - a 50 meter pool.
  • Medley Relay - a swimming event in which four swimmers participate as a relay team, each swimmer swimming an equal distance of a different competitive stroke.
  • Relays - a swimming event in which four swimmers participate as a relay team, each swimmer swimming an equal distance of the race.

    Touch Pad - The removable plate that is connected to an automatic timing system. A swimmer must properly touch the touchpad to register an official time in a race.

 

THE FOUR STROKES

The four competitive swimming strokes are freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. The combination of all four strokes is called individual medley (or IM). 

 In Freestyle events, the competitor may swim any stroke. The stroke most commonly used is sometimes called the crawl, which is characterized by the alternate stroking of the arms over the surface of the water surface and an alternating (up-and-down) flutter kick.

Backstroke consists of an alternating motion of the arms with a flut­ter kick while on the back. On turns, swimmers may rotate to the stomach and perform a flip turn and some part of the swimmer must touch the wall. The swimmer must finish on the back. 

The Breaststroke requires simultaneous movements of the arms on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pressed out from in front of the breast in a heart shaped pattern and recovered under or on the surface of the water. The kick is a simultaneous somewhat circular motion similar to the action of a frog. On turns and at the finish, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously at, above or below the water surface.

Some consider the Butterfly to be the most beautiful of the strokes. It features a simultaneous recovery of the arms over the water combined with an undulating dolphin kick. In the kick, the swimmer must keep both legs together and may not flutter, scissors or use the breaststroke kick. Both hands must touch the wall simultaneously on the turns and the finish.

 The individual medley, commonly referred to as the I.M., features all four strokes. In the IM, the swimmer begins with the butterfly, then changes after one-fourth of the race to backstroke, then breaststroke and finally freestyle.