Glossary of Swimming Terms


BCY – General Terms and Definitions


Age Groups division of swimmers into age groups using a given cut-off date. Our cutoff date for each year is December 1. The age groups are 8-and-hunder, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-and-up.


Anchor the final swimmer in a relay


Blocks the starting platforms behind each lane


Champs/Championship Meet meet held at the end of a season.


Check-In verifying your presence and ability to swim in a meet


Course designated length of pool for swimming competitions, noted as Short Course (SC) at 25 yards, Long Course (LC) at 50 yards, and Meter at 25 meters.  Our pool is a 25 meter pool.  Most pools will be 25 yards.


Deck area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches


Flags pennant/triangular-shaped flats located 15 feet from either end of the pool. Generally used by backstroke swimmers to identify distance to the wall, as they cannot see behind them while swimming


Heat/Heats in racing, when more than 6 swimmers are registered to swim in an event, the


event is broken into separate races or “heats”. Heats are typically arranged in order from slowest swimmers to fastest (i.e. heat 1 times are longer than heat 2 times, and so-on). Lane assignment in each heat is based on fastest times in the middle two lanes (lanes 3&4), the next slowest in lanes 2 & 5, and the slowest times in lanes 1 and 6 (the outermost lanes)


Heat Sheet a listing of all events, heats, and swimmers. These are typically given to the officials and coaches to keep track of event, swimmer, and heat, and are often sold at the meet so that parents and swimmers can follow along.


Individual Medley (aka “IM”) a swimming event where a single swimmer uses all 4 of the competitive strokes in a single race. The order must be Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle.


Invitational type of meet that requires an invitation from the host to compete. These are not regular season meets, but the times count so long as the YMCA rules are followed and officials are on-hand.


Lanes designated area for each swimmer to occupy in an event/heat.


Lane Lines floating markers that separate the lanes. Lane lines also help keep waves made by swimmers in their own lane (prevents turbulence for other swimmers)


Lap one length of the course


Leg part of a relay swum by an individual team member Meet individual swim event held in a season.


o   Dual or Bi Meet Meet where two teams compete against each other


o   Tri Meet meet where three (or more) teams compete


Officials adult volunteers certified by the YMCA to oversee the meet and determine if swimmers are following the rules of YMCA Swim.


Relay Event where 4 individual swimmers each complete an equal portion of the race (i.e. a Leg of the event). There are 2 types of relays, both are typically conducted over 100 yards, 200 yards, or 400 yards:


o   Freestyle Relay each swimmer completes a leg of the relay utilizing only the freestyle stroke


o   Medley Relay each swimmer competes a leg of the relay using a unique stroke, done in the following order; Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, and Freestyle


Seeding arranging of the swimmers according to their submitted best times. This is typically done before the meet


o   On-Deck Seeding – in our organization, we “seed” swimmers prior to an event by placing the swimmer in the correct lane, behind the block before their race. When the announcement is made “we are now seeding up to event 40” (for example), swimmers up to and including event 40 should report in with the coaches/ or parent volunteer behind the blocks. They will be placed in the appropriate location by the coach/parent volunteer so that they are in the correct event, heat, and lane when their time comes to swim.


Seed Time the swimmers best officially recorded time, used to rank and place them in the appropriate event, heat, and lane


Timer volunteers that record time via stopwatch, usually as a backup to the timing system


Touchpad submerged panel on wall under starting block that registers swimmers touch at end of race