Swim Meet Terminology 

  • Age Groups – division of swimmers by age that determines the events in which they are eligible to participate.  PWSL rules specify the following age groups:  8 & Under; 9-10; 11-12; 13-14; 15-18. 
  • Deck - the area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches  
  • Competitive Strokes - the four competitive strokes are (1) freestyle, (2) backstroke, (3) breaststroke, and (4) butterfly.  Events are held in all of the competitive strokes at varying distances depending on the age group of the swimmer.  
  • Course - designated distance over which the competition is conducted. The standard is 25 Meters for summer league meets, 50 Meters for Olympic competition, and 25 Yards for regular year-round and college competition.   PWSL courses are 25 Meters. 
  • Event - any race or series of races in a given stroke and distance for a specific age group and sex.   For example, the following are three different events: 1. Girls 8 & Under 25 meter freestyle; 2. Boys 8 & Under 25 meter freestyle; 3. Girls 9-10 50-meter breaststroke. (See also heats.) 
  • False Start - When a swimmer leaves the starting block before the horn or gun.  PWSL rules permit a swimmer one unintentional false start without disqualification.  At the referee’s discretion, a false start may be disallowed due to unusual circumstances. 
  • Forward Start - a forward entry facing the course. 
  • Heats - the division of an event in which there are too many swimmers to compete at one time.  For example, an event with thirty swimmers in a six-lane pool would require five heats. 
  • Individual Medley (IM) – four laps of the pool swam in the following order: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle. 
  • Lane - a specific area in which the swimmer is assigned to swim (lane 1, lane 2, etc.). 
  • Lane Line - continuous floating markers attached to a line stretched from the starting end to the turning end for the purpose of separating each lane. 
  • Lane Markings - guidelines at the bottom of the pool in the center of each lane, running from the starting end to the turning end. 
  • Leg - (relay) the part of the relay event swum by one swimmer. 
  • Manual Start - the start of a timing device by an individual in response to the same starting signal given to the swimmers. 
  • Mark - (take your) the swimmer’s starting position.  PWSL rules require at least one foot at the front of the coping when a forward start is required. 
  • Meet - the complete series of events between two or more teams.  PWSL meets are conducted on Saturdays, competed between two and four teams, and usually completed in a single day.  Dual Competition (Dual Meet) - competition between two teams.      
  • Tri Competition (Tri Meet) - competition between three teams.  Quad Competition (Quad Meet) - competition between four teams. 
  • On Line - the swimmer’s position immediately prior to taking their mark.  PWSL rules specify, the swimmer must have both feet placed so their toes are at the back of the coping. 
  • Referee - the official in charge of the meet. The referee is the final authority in all matters concerning the conduct of the meet. 
  • Relay – A race consisting of four legs, each swum by one swimmer.  Swimmers age thirteen and older swim two laps each. There are two types of relays:  1) Medley – each swimmer swims a different stroke. The order is backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.  2) Freestyle – each swimmer swims a freestyle leg. 
  • Scratch - withdraw from an event. 
  • Seed - distribute the swimmers among the heats and lanes according to their times. 
  • Seeding (Seeded On Deck) - swimmers are called to report to the clerk of course for their event.  After scratches are determined, they are seeded in the proper heats. 
  • Split Time - time from a start to some part of the distance within a longer event. 
  • Stroke And Turn Judge - trained, certified swim officials, assigned by and working for the referee to judge swimmers’ conformance with the rules for the event being swum.  Nonconformance (a.k.a. disqualification or DQ) is reported to the referee.  The swimmer is not disqualified until the referee accepts the stroke and turn judge’s report.