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Swimming Glossary
Parents Pages

Helpful Glossary

ANCHOR:
The final swimmer in a relay.
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 Individual Medley.
BLOCKS:
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 removable.
BREASTSTROKE:
One of the four competitive racing strokes. Breaststroke is swum as the second stroke in the Medley Relay and the third stroke in the Individual Medley.
BUTTERFLY:
One of the four competitive racing strokes. Butterfly (nicknamed "fly") is swum as the third stroke in the Medley Relay and the first stroke in the Individual Medley.
CAP:
The latex, lycra or silicone covering worn on the head of swimmers. The colors and team logos adorning these caps are limitless.
CARDS:
A card that is either handed to the swimmer in the ready area or given to the timer behind the lane. Cards usually list the swimmer's name, event number, event description, and the lane heat numbers the swimmer will swim in. Backup times are written on these cards. Each event has a separate card.
CHAMPIONSHIPS:
The meet held at the end of a season where all the teams in the league compete.
CHECK-IN:
The procedure required before a swimmer swims in a meet. A swimmer must check in before all meets with their team parent or coach.
DECK:
The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches.
DISTANCE:
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).
DISQUALIFIED:
A swimmer's performance is not counted because of a rules infraction. An official raising one arm with open hand above their head shows a disqualification.
DIVE:
Entering the water headfirst. Diving is not allowed during warmups except at the designated time/lane monitored by the swimmer's coach.
DROPPED TIME:
When a swimmer goes faster than the previous performance, they have "dropped their time."
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.
ENTRY:
An individual, relay team, or club roster's events list into a swim competition.
EQUIPMENT:
The items necessary to operate a swim practice or conduct a swim competition.
EVENT:
A race or stroke over a given distance.
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 placed about halfway in yard pools.
FINAL RESULTS:
The printed copy of the results of each race of a swim meet.
FLAGS:
Pennants that are suspended over the width of each end of the pool approximately 15 feet from the wall.
FORMAT:
The order of events and type of swim meet being conducted.
FREESTYLE:
One of the four competitive racing strokes. Freestyle (nicknamed "free") is swum as the fourth stroke in the Medley Relay and the fourth stroke in the Individual Medley.
GALLERY:
The viewing area for spectators during the swimming competition.
GOALS:
The short- and long-range targets for swimmers to aim for.
GOGGLES:
Devices worn by swimmers to keep their eyes from being irritated by the chlorine in the water.
HEATS:
A division of an event when there are too many swimmers to compete at the same time. These divisions are called "heats".
ILLEGAL:
Doing something against the rules that is cause for disqualification.
INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY:
A swimming event using all four of the competitive strokes on consecutive lengths of the race. The order must be the following: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Equal distances of each stroke must be swum.
INTERVAL:
A specific elapsed time for swimming or rest used during swim practice.
JUMP:
An illegal start done by the second, third or fourth member of a relay team. The swimmer on the block breaks contact with the block before the swimmer in the water touches the wall.
LANE:
The specific area in which a swimmer is assigned to swim.
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.
LAP:
One length of the course.
LEG:
The part of a relay event that is swum by a single team member.
MARK:
The command to take your starting position.
MARSHALLS:
The adult officials who control the crowd and flow of swimmers at a swim meet.
MEDALS:
Awards given to swimmers.
MEET:
A series of swimming events held in one program.
MEET DIRECTOR:
The official in charge of the administration or "dry side" of the meet.
OFFICIALS:
The certified adult volunteers who operate the many facets of a swim competition.
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 warmups or swim practice.
PRACTICE:
The scheduled workouts a swimmer attends with their swim team/club.
READY AREA:
Place where swimmers go prior to their swimming event. The ready area organizes swimmers by event and lane.
REFEREE:
The head official at a swim meet in charge of all of the "wet side" administration and decisions.
RELAYS:
A swimming event in which four 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. 2) Freestyle relay - Each swimmer swims freestyle.
RIBBONS:
Awards in a variety of sizes, styles, and colors given at swim meets.
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, swimmers can be disqualified from remaining events
SPLIT:
A portion of an event shorter than the total distance that is timed.
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 ensuring that all swimmers have a fair takeoff.
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.
STROKE:
There are four competitive strokes: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle.
STROKE & TURN JUDGE:
The official who is positioned at the side of the pool and walks the length of the course as the swimmers race. If the Stroke & Turn Judge sees something illegal, they report to the referee; and the swimmer, in turn, may be disqualified.
TIMER:
The volunteers sitting behind the starting blocks/finish end of the pool who are responsible for getting watch times on events and activating the backup buttons for the timing distance.
TIME TRIAL:
An event where a swimmer may achieve or better a required time standard.