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Vocabulary

SWIMMING VOCABULARY & COACHING LANGUAGE 

The Camillus Swim Club is dedicated to using the same vocabulary for swimmers of all ages and stages of development. We use the same terms whether instructing a novice or national swimmer. Utilization of the following vocabulary to convey common drills and techniques helps with consistency and progression through the different swim levels that the CSC offers.

PDF VOCABULARY SHEET

 

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. 

 

Alternate Breathing: in freestyle swimming, breathing to the right side then swimming three strokes and breathing to the left side, then swimming three strokes and breathing the to right side, etc.

Anaerobic Training: training that improves your efficiency of your body's energy producing systems that do not require oxygen and can increase your muscular strength and tolerance for acid-base imbalances (such as the production of lactic acid) during high intensity effort.

Anchor: The final swimmer in a relay.

Anchor: the point in the stroke pattern where the hand feels the most resistance and begins effective propulsive movement. A  term coaches use for the beginning of all four strokes indicating the “high elbow”, “catch,” or “early vertical forearm.” 

Angle of Attack: the position or degree of angle that the hand enters the water.

Approved Meet:  A meet conducted with sufficient USA Swimming officials to certify conformance to USA Swimming rules. The meet may include competitors who are not USA Swimming members. The meet may be a competition sanctioned at the LSC level with the added approval of USA Swimming because both member and non-member athletes will be competing. 

 

ASCA: The American Swim Coaches Association. The professional organization for swim coaches throughout the nation. Certifying coaches and offering many services for coaches' education and career advancement. 

 

Ascending: intervals or swims that increase in repeat time or decrease in speed

Backstroke: 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). 

Balance: refers to body position. Proper balance implies that your hips and head position are equally close to the surface of the water as you swim, as well as rolling equally to each side during the freestyle and backstroke.

Beep: The starting sound from an electronic timing system.

Bilateral Breathing: in freestyle swimming, breathing to the right side then swimming three strokes and breathing to the left side, then swimming three strokes and breathing the to right side, etc.

Blocks: The starting platforms located behind each lane. Blocks have a variety of designs and can be permanent or removable, but also incorporate a bar to allow swimmers to perform backstroke starts. Minimum water depth for use of starting blocks is 4 feet.

BOD: Board of Directors of the Local Swim Committee (LSC) or USA Swimming (USA-S). 

 

Body Position: the way your body sits in the water during swimming. Ideal body position requires that your body is as straight and long and as close the surface of the water as possible.

Body Roll: refers to freestyle and backstroke swimming. Rolling from the left of your body to the right side and back again, etc. Swimming "flat" would be the sensation of swimming directly on your stomach all the time.

Bottom: The floor of the pool. In some pools these re movable to allow variation in the depth and use of the pool.

Breaststroke: 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 breast) 

Butterfly: 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). 

Camp:  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 offer. 

Cap: The silicone or latex covering worn on the head of swimmers. The colors and team logos adorning these caps are limitless. National Caps, award caps, plain practice caps, etc.

Carbohydrates: The main source of food energy used by athletes.

Catch: the point in the stroke pattern where the hand feels the most resistance and begins effective propulsive movement.

Championship Meet: The meet held at the end of a season. Qualification times are usually necessary to enter meet. 

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. 

Check-In: 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 host. 

Circle Seeding: A 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 pool. 

 

Chlorine: The chemical used by most pools to kill the bacteria in water and keep it clear and safe to swim in.

Circle Swim: Done when there are more than two swimmers in a lane. Swimmers swim up on the right side staying close to the lane line and return on the other in the same fashion. Always stay to the right of the black centre line. Each swimmer leaves 5 seconds apart so there is space between each person in the lane. This is referred to as lane etiquette, which includes other matters involving common courtesy.

Clinic: A scheduled meeting for the purpose of instruction. (i.e.) Official's clinic, Coach's clinic. 

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." 

 

Clock: The big clock on the wall or deck is used for interval training. The red hand goes around every minute (60 seconds). The 60 is sometimes referred to as the "top" and the 30 as the "bottom." Learn to calculate your times. Swimmers who watch the clock and know their times improve the most: they get feedback, learn pace, and improve technique.

Club: A registered swim team that is a dues-paying member of USA-S and the local LSC. 

Code of Conduct: 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 behavior. 

 

Colorado: A brand of automatic timing system.

Consolation: Finals After the fastest 6 or 8 or 10 swimmers, the next 6 or 8 or 10 swimmers (depending on the number of pool lanes) in a heat/finals meet who, after the heat swim, qualify to return to the finals. Consolation or B finals are the second fastest heat of finals when multiple heats are held and are conducted before the Championship heat. These have largely been replaced at major meets by semi-finals.

Course: Designated distance (length of pool) for swimming competition. (i.e.) Long Course = 50 meters / Short Course = 25 meters.

CQ Meet: Swim meet which includes people who have accomplished CQ qualifying times.   

Deadline: The date meet entries must be 'post marked' or 'in' by, to be accepted by the meet host/club. Making the meet deadline may not guarantee acceptance into a meet since many meets are 'full' weeks before the entry deadline.

Deck Level: a system of recirculating water in a pool where the side of the pool is at or just below the level of the water. This generated a continuous flow out of the pool and into the filtration system. This design is very successful at preventing waves reflecting off the side of the pool.

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.

Deck Entries: Accepting entries into swimming events on the first day or later day of a meet. 

Deck Seeding: Heat and lane assignments are posted after swimmers have checked in have “scratched” (indicated they will not participate in the event.) 

 

Dehydration: The abnormal depletion of body fluids (water). The most common cause of swimmers cramps and sick feelings.

Descending: intervals or swims that decrease in time (1:15, 1:10, 1:05, 1:00, :55).

Descend: To swim each repeat in a faster time than the previous. Ex. 4 x 50 yard on a 1 minute interval. Do #1 in 50 seconds, #2 in 48 seconds, #3 in 46 seconds and #4 faster than 46 seconds

Development: A classification of meet or competition. The purpose of a developmental meet is to allow all levels of swimmers to compete in a lower pressure environment.

Disqualified: A swimmers performance is not counted because of a rules infraction.

Distance Free: Distance freestyle, mostly distances greater than 200 yards/meters

Distance: How far a swimmer swims. 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). 

Disqualified: 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. 

Dive: Entering the water head first at the start of the race.

Diving Well/Pit: 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 swim-down pool with proper supervision.

Division 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 colleges. 
 

Drag suit: a second loose fitting swim suit worn by swimmers in workout and warm-up to add a certain amount of weight and resistance to the flow of the water around the swimmer.

Dropped Elbow: would be the opposite of the high elbow and ineffective for powerful propulsion through the water.

Dropped: Time When a swimmer goes faster than the previous performance they have 'dropped their time' or PBs

Dry Side: That part of the Code book (rule book) that deals with the "Administrative" Regulations of Competition. 

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

Dual Meet: Type of meet where two teams/clubs compete against each other. 

Electronic Timing: Timing system operated electronically. The timing system usually has touchpads in the water, junction boxes on the pool side with hook up cables, 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 swimmers time.

Eligible to compete: The status of a member swimmer that means they are registered and have met all the requirements. Must be USA Registered to Compete

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. This varies depending on the type of meet.

Entry Limit: Each meet will usually have a limit of total swimmers they can accept before the meet will be closed and all other entries returned.

Entry: dealing with how the hand enters the water at the beginning of the stroke (freestyle, backstroke and butterfly).

Event: A race or stroke over a given distance. An event equals 1 heat with its final, or 1 timed final.

FINA: The international, rules making organization, for the sport of swimming.

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.

False start: occurs when a swimmer leaves the starting block, or is moving on the block, before the starter starts the race.

Final Results: The printed copy of the results of each race of a swim meet.

Finals: The final race of each event to determine the overall classification.

Final: the championship final of an event in which the fastest eight swimmers from the heats or semi-finals compete.

Finish: the final propulsive phase of the arm stroke before the hand leaves the water.

Fins: Large rubber or other material fin type devices that fit on a swimmers feet. Used in training to aid development of kick and ankle flexibility

Flags: Pennants that are suspended over the width of each end of the pool approximately 5 meters/yards from the wall. to allow backstroke swimmers to determine where the end of the pool is

Four Beat Kick: 4 leg movements per arm stroke in freestyle. Similarly 2 and 6 beat kicks may be used.

Freestyle: One of the 4 competitive racing strokes. Freestyle (or Free) is swum as the fourth stroke in the Medley Relay and fourth stroke in the I.M. There are no rules governing the form of the stroke.

Gallery: The viewing area for spectators during the swimming competition.

Goals: Short and Long range targets set by swimmers, and agreed by the coaches, to aim for.

Goggles: eyewear worn by swimmers in the pool to protect the swimmers' eyes from the effects of chorine in the water. Also improves vision underwater considerably!

Gravity wave: wave action caused by the swimmers' bodies moving through the water. Gravity wave move down and forward from the swimmer, bounce off the bottom of the pool and return to the surface in the form of turbulence.

Gun (of Bell) Lap: 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 (or rings a bell) over the lane of the lead swimmer when the swimmer is at the backstroke flags. 

Gutter: the area at the edges of the pool in which water overflows and is recirculated into the pool. Deep gutters catch surface wave and don't allow them to wash back into the pool and affect races. Alternatively a pool may have no gutter and be deck level

Heats: 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 completed.

Heat Award: A ribbon, coupon, or other prize given to the winner of a single heat at an age group swim meet. 

Heat Sheet: The pre-meet printed listings of swimmers' seed times in the various events at a swim meet. 

High Point: 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. 

HOD:  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 member. Also refers to the national USAS convention meeting

 

High Elbow: may refer to keeping a high elbow in the recovery phase of freestyle which encourages better balance and body roll. High elbow can refer the pull phase of freestyle where the elbow remains in a higher position over the hand, giving the sensation of reaching over a barrel when pulling through the water.

Horn: A sounding device used in place of a gun. Used mainly with a fully automatic timing system.

Hypoxia (Hypoxic) Training (breath control): training with a decreased concentration of oxygen that causes the constriction of blood vessels which, in turn, help muscles work more efficiently with what oxygen is available.

Illegal: Doing something against the rules that is cause for disqualification. 

I.M.: Individual 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.

IM: short for individual medley, an event in which the swimmer uses all four competitive strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.

IMX:  IMX is a motivational program that allows swimmers across the nation to compare themselves to the thousands of other athletes in their age group. All you have to do is swim a combination of events, at least one time per season, and USA Swimming will automatically give you your ranking.

Interval Training: consists of repeated bouts of moderate- to high- intensity activity separated by brief rest periods of approximately 20-40 seconds.

Interval: A specific elapsed time for swimming and rest used during swim practice.

Interval: The time given to complete a given distance, plus rest. For example

Kick Board: A flotation device used by swimmers during training when swimming with legs only.

Kick: The leg movements of a swimmer.

Lactic (Lactate) Acid: in the absence of oxygen, as with anaerobic training, your body will breakdown muscle sugar (glycogen) using a process that produces an acidic by-product waste called lactate acid. Your muscles may start to burn or ache as lactate acid accumulates and your body can't keep up with removing it from your muscle stores.

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.

Lane Ropes: the dividers used to delineate the individual lanes. These are made of individual finned disks strung on a cable which rotate on the cable when hit by a wave. The rotating disks dissipate surface tension waves in a competitive pool.

Lane: The specific area in which a swimmer is assigned to swim. (i.e.) Lane 1 or Lane 2. Pools with starting blocks at only one end: As the swimmers stand behind the blocks, lanes should be numbered from Right (lane 1) to Left (lane 6).

Lap Counter: The large numbered cards (or the person turning the cards) used during the freestyle events 400 meters/500 yards or longer. Counting is done from the starting end.

Lap: One length of the course.

Late Entries: 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.

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

Length: Technically, a length is once across the pool; a lap is across and back. However most coaches use the terms interchangeably to mean simply once across the pool. Thus, 4 lengths in a 25 yard pool would be swimming across the pool 4 times, totaling 100 yards.

Length: The extent of the competitive course from end to end.

Log Book: A log of everything to do with swimming, including all training sessions and event best times. To be kept by the swimmer him/herself.

Long Course: a 50 meter long pool. The Olympic Games as well as all major international competitions are conducted long course. See also short course

LSC: Local Swim Committee. The local level administrative division of the corporation (USA-S) with supervisory responsibilities within certain geographic boundaries designated by the Corporation. There are 59 LSCs.

 

Lycra: A stretch material used to make competitive swim suits and swim hats.

Marks: The command to take your starting position.

Marshall(s): The adult(s) (official) who control(s) the crowd and swimmer flow at a swim meet.

Medals: Awards given to the swimmers at meets. They vary in size and design and method of presentation.

Meet Director/Promoter: The person in charge of the administration of the meet.

Meet: A series of events held in one program.

Meters: The 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

 

Mid Fr: Middle distance freestyle, mostly distances between 100 yards/meters and 300

Mile: The slang referring to the 1500 meter or the 1650 yard freestyle, both of which are slightly short of a mile.

NAGTS 
National Age Group Time Standards - the list of "C" through "AAAA" times published each year. 

Nationals 
USA Swimming National Championship meet conducted in March/April and August. 

Natatorium 
A building constructed for the purpose of housing a swimming pool and related equipment. 

NCAA 
National Collegiate Athletic Association 

NGB 
National Governing Body 

 

NQT: National Qualifying Time

Negative Split: The second half of the swim is swum faster than the first half. Ex. 100 yard swim negative splitting-if the first 50 yards is swum around 60 seconds, then the second 50 must be swum faster than 60 seconds.

Negative split: a race strategy in the distance freestyle events in which a swimmer covers the second half of the race faster than the first half.

Neurological System Training: training that focuses on improving the reaction time at the site at which the motor neuron communicates with the muscle fiber. Super short sprints or spin drills help train this system.

Novice: A beginner or someone who does not have experience.

Non-Conforming Time: A short course time submitted to qualify for a long course meet, or vice versa. 

NT: No Time. The abbreviation 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. 

OT Official Time: The swimmers event time recorded to one hundredth of a second (.01).

Officials: The certified or qualified adult volunteers, who operate the many facets of a swim competition.

Official: a judge on the poolside. Various judges watch the swimmer's strokes, turns and finishes or are timers and starters.

Olympic Trials: The sanctioned long course swim meet held the year of the Olympic Games to decide which swimmers will represent the USA on our Olympic Team. Qualification times are faster than Senior Nationals.

Omega: A brand of automatic timing system.

Open Competition: Meet Competition which any qualified club, organisation, or individual may enter.

PB: 'Personal Best' - The best time a swimmer has done so far in a particular stroke/event

Pace Clock: The 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 warm-ups or swim practice.

Paddle: Hand paddles are colored plastic devices worn on the swimmers hands during swim practice.

Plaque: A type of award (wall plaque) given to swimmers at a meet.

Pool: The facility in which swimming competition is conducted.

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. 

Practice: Training. The scheduled work-outs a swimmers attends with their swim team/club.

Prelim: short for preliminary, also called heats. Those races in which swimmers qualify for the championship and consolation finals in the events.

Prelims-Finals: 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 applies. 

Pre-seeded: 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. 

 

Psyche Sheet: 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 in. 

 

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. See CQT, NQT etc.

Race: Any single swimming competition. (i.e.) preliminary, final, timed final.

Recall Rope: A rope across the width of the racing pool for the purpose of stopping swimmers who were not aware of a false start.

Recovery: the phase the arm stroke where the arm travels over the water.

Referee: The head official at a swim meet.

Registered: It is necessary for all swimmers to be registered if racing in any meets.

Relay exchange: the exchange between the swimmer in the water and the next swimmer on the relay team. A perfect exchange will simultaneously have the finishing swimmer's hand on the touch pad and the sorting swimmer's feet just touching the starting block with the rest of the starting swimmer's body extended over the water.

Relays: A swimming event in which 4 swimmers participate as a relay team each swimmer swimming 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 200m and 400m distances. 2.) Freestyle relay - Each swimmer swims freestyle. Free relays are conducted over 200m, 400m, and 800m distances.

Rest Area: A designated area (such as a gymnasium) that is set aside for swimmers to rest during a meet.

Ribbons: Awards in a variety of sizes, styles, and colours, sometimes given at swim meets.

Roll: to move on the starting blocks prior to the starting signal. A roll is usually caught by the starter and called a false start, but swimmers will often try to guess the starter's l cadence and get a good start. Similar to illegal procedure in football.

S-Pull Pattern: a method of pulling in freestyle swimming that encourages and outward and inward sweeping motion of the hand and arms rather then a straight back (point A to point B) motion. Allows for the arms to travel a greater distance through the water and results in greater distance per stroke. The "S" pull pattern also encourages better body roll.

Safety: The responsible and careful actions of those participating in a swim meet. Listen to the safety notices read out at galas.

Sanction: A permit issued by an LSC to a USA-S group member to conduct an event or meet. 

Sanction Fee: The amount paid by a USA-S group member to an LSC for issuing a sanction. 

Sanctioned 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 members. 

Schedule: USA-S or LSC list of meets with dates, meet host, meet location, type of meet, and contacts address and phone.

 

Scratch: 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 remaining events. 

Sectionals: Nickname for Speedo Championship Series (see below). 

 

Scratch: To withdraw from an event after having declared an intention to participate. This practice should be avoided, it does not reflect well on either the swimmer or the Club.

Seed: Assign the swimmers heats and lanes according to their submitted or preliminary times.

Seeding: 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. 

 

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.

Senior Nationals: Long and Short courses are held each year.

Session: Portion of meet distinctly separated from other portions by time.

Set: Swim workouts are divided up into sets of swims in a particular stroke, style, and distance, such as kick sets, pull sets, Distance sets, sprint sets, I.M. sets, etc. 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. Learn to think of your swimming in terms of yards or meters and not in terms of laps or lengths.

Shave: The process of removing all arm, leg, and exposed torso hair, to decrease the 'drag' or resistance of the body moving through the water. Usually used only at very important meets.

Shave: prior to a major competition a swimmer will shave his or her entire body. The removal of the hair provides less resistance between shin and water and heightens a swimmer's sensations in the water. A degree of psychological advantage may also be gained.

Short Course: A 25 yard or sometimes a 25 meter pool.

Simultaneously: A term used in the rules of butterfly and breaststroke, meaning at the same time.

Six Beat Kick: 6 leg movements during 1 freestyle stroke (both arms) for racing.

Skinsuit: a slang term for a swimsuit designed to have minimum drag in the water. While many swimmers use the traditional knitted lycra, the newest suit is woven lycra, called a "paper" suit because of its texture. There are continually new styles and fabrics put out on the market.

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. 

 

Splash: The USA Swimming magazine that is mailed bi-monthly. A benefit of being a member of USA Swimming. 

 

Split: A portion of an event, shorter than the total distance, that is timed. (i.e.) A swimmers first 25 or 50 time is taken as the swimmer swims the 100 race. It is common to take multiple splits for the longer distances.

Split: a swimmer's intermediate time in a race. Splits are registered every 50 meters (or 25 yards depending on the pool and the equipment on hand) and are used to determine if a swimmer is on record pace.

Sports Medicine and Science: a comprehensive use of science and technology to develop better training methods for athletes. In U.S. Swimming, the sports medicine and science program deals with everything from blood and respiratory condition to the biomechanics of the swimmer to proper nutrition.

Stand-up: The command given by the Starter or Referee to release the swimmers from their starting position.

Starter: The official in charge of signaling the beginning of a race and insuring that all swimmers have a fair take-off.

Start: The beginning of a race. The dive used to begin a race.

Starter: The official in charge of signaling the beginning of a race and insuring that all swimmers have a fair takeoff. 

Stand-up: The command given by the Starter or Referee to release the swimmers from their starting position.

 

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. 

 

Stations: Separate portions of a dryland or weight circuit.

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.

Still Water: Water that has no current caused by a filter system or no waves caused by swimmers.

Stroke Judge: The official positioned at the side of the pool, walking the length of the course as the swimmers race. The stroke judge is required to determine that each swimmer is carrying out his or her stroke within the rules, and will disqualify any who aren't.

Stroke: There are 4 competitive strokes: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.

Submitted Time: Times used to enter swimmers in meets. These times must have been achieved by the swimmer at previous meets. For national championships they must be achieved in Designated Meets

Suit: The racing costume worn by the swimmer, in the water, during competition. These have developed form trunks to full body suits in recent years.

Swim-A-Thon: The "Fund Raiser" trademarked by USA Swimming for local clubs to use to make money. 

Swim-off: In a Heat/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.

SWIMS: USA Swimming system that keeps track of every time swum by all swimmers. Available through the USA-S website.

Taper: The resting phase of a senior swimmer at the end of the season before a big meet.

Taper: reducing training volume and intensity to allow your body and mind a break from the rigors of intense training. This coupled with quality rest allow your body time to repair itself and to restore its energy reserves to prepare you for competition. Studies have found tapering to produce a marked increase in muscle strength.

Taper: the resting process in training for swimming competition. During the middle of the swimming season a swimmer may work out 10 to 15 thousand meters (8 to 10 miles) each day. As major competition draws near, the swimmer will "taper" off the distances swum each day. 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.

Team Records: The statistics a team keeps, listing the fastest swimmer in the clubs history for each age group/each event. 

Timed Finals: Competition in which only heats are swum and final placings are determined by those times. 

Time Standard: A time set by a meet or LSC or USA-S (etc) that a swimmer must achieve for qualification or recognition. 

 

Time Trial: An event or series of events where a swimmer may achieve or better a required qualifying time.

Timer: 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 system.

Touch Pad: 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.

Touchpad: the area at the end of each lane in the pool where a swimmer's time is registered and sent electronically to the timing system then the scoreboard.

Touch: the finish of the race.

Transfer: 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. 

Travel Fund: A sum of money set aside for a swimmer to use for travel expenses and entry fees to specified meets.

Trophy: Type of award given to teams and swimmers at meets.

Turnover: the number of times a swimmer's arms turn over (cycle) in a given distance or time during a race.

Two Beat Kick: used for distance events, 800m plus for training and racing.

Unattached: An athlete member who competes, but does not represent a club or team. (abbr. UN) 

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 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 birthdate: 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. 

USS: United States Swimming, Inc., the national governing body for amateur competitive swimming in America.

Uniform: The various parts of clothing a swimmer wears at a meet. May include: Parka, Warm-up jacket, Team bag, track suit, hat, goggles, T-shirt, etc.

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.

VCC: Virtual Club Championships. The VCC recognizes and highlight clubs that are developing athletes and achieving success at multiple levels emphasizing the team element in club swimming. This program serves as a key part of the Athlete Development & Performance component of the Club Recognition Program.

 

Vertical: At right angle to the normal water level.

Vitamins: The building blocks of the body. Vitamins do not supply energy, but are necessary for proper health.

Warm down: used by the swimmer to rid the body of excess lactic acid generated during a race.

Warm-down: The loosening a swimmer does after a race when pool space is available. Essential to avoid injury.

Warm-up: The practice and loosening session a swimmer does before the meet or their event is swam. Essential to avoid injury.

Warm-up: used by the swimmer before the race to get their muscles loose and ready to race.

Watch: The hand held device used by timers and coaches for timing a swimmers races and taking splits.

Water: For the purpose of filling swimming pools and swimmers drinking to properly hydrate themselves.

Weights: The various barbells, benches, machines used by swimmers during their dryland program. Training sessions in the 'Weights Room' (aka weights)

Whistle: The sound a starter/referee makes to signal for quiet before they give the command to start the race.

Work Out: The practice sessions a swimmer attends.

Yards: 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. 

 

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

Zoomers: A special fin used for swimming and kicking.

Zones: 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 meet