Pine Richland Aquatics Swimming Glossary of Terms

This glossary is aplit into 2 sections, the first section are general swimming terms, and the second section are terms used by the coaches in practices and meetings.

General Swimming Terms

AMS (Allegheny Mountain Swimming)
AMS is one of the 59 Local Swim Committees;s) comprising USA Swimming. 
Geographically, it includes Western Pennsylvania and a few counties in Ohio and West Virginia.

USA Swimming
USA Swimming is the governing body of the sport of swimming within the United States.  USA Swimming is a National Governing Body (NGB) and one of the sports comprising the United States Aquatic Sports (USAS). 

USAS is the organization that communicates with Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA - French for International Swimming Federation) the International Governing body for all aquatic sports. USAS is made up of the four aquatic sports- swimming, synchronized swimming, diving and water polo.  USA Swimming is a Group A member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and has voting representation in the USOC House of Delegates.

Long Course
A Long Course (LC) competition is held in a 50-meter pool.  The LC season is held during the summer months because most of the 50-meter pools are outdoors.

Short Course
A Short Course (SC) competition is held in a 25-yard pool.  Most of the SC pools in the area belong to High Schools and Colleges because they all swim SC events.  The SC season runs from September through March.  It is interesting to note that the USA is the only country in the world that swims SC competitions.  All of the other countries swim LC events.

JO's/Age Group Champs
These are two examples of "qualifying meets".  Swimmers must have swum qualifying times in order to be permitted to swim in qualifying meets.  The qualifying times are contained within the Meet Announcement (MA) or meet invitation.

USA Swimming is divided into four separate zones – central, eastern, southern and western.  We are in the Eastern Zone.  Each zone elects two representatives to the national Board of Directors.  Each Zone holds a competition commonly called "Zones" (short for "Zone Championship Age Group meet") that is used to showcase some of the best swimmers in its Zone.  There are both minimal qualifying times as well as not-faster-than times for competition at these meets.

Another zone-related meet having minimum qualifying times.  Some Zones have multiple Sectional meets during each season - SC and LC.

Dry Land
Refers to all activities, routines and exercises performed out of the water.  Some of these include stretching routines, running, resistance and weight training.

Starts and Turns
Every now and then, an entire practice session will be devoted to "starts and turns".  This means that Coaches and swimmers will be working to perfect forward and backward starts as well as all the different types of turns that a swimmer may be expected to perform during their events.

IM Stroke Order
IM (Individual Medley) stroke order is: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle.  

Medley Relay Order
The order of strokes in a Medley Relay is: Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly and Freestyle.  

Heat Sheet vs Psych Sheet
When you attend a meet and want to follow each event, or just want to know when your swimmer(s) will be swimming, you may purchase a Heat sheet or look at the Heat sheet that is typically posted somewhere in the meet venue.  Heat sheets will contain, in order, each event and heat being swum at that session.  It also details which swimmer has been seeded into each lane.
A Psych sheet is just a listing of swimmers entered into each event sorted by their entry times- fastest being first.  A Psych sheet doesn't contain any heat-related information.  If you are familiar with seeding protocols, you may be able to extract the seeded heats from a Psych sheet, but there may be scratches that will affect the final seeding order.

These letters are used to describe what are officially referred to as "Motivational Times".  They refer to times in decreasing (faster) order- a "BB" time is faster than a "B" time and slower than an "A" time.  These time standards are set every four years (a quadrennial) right after an Olympic Games season has completed.  They are set by USA Swimming's Times and Recognition Committee. Their reason for existence is to provide motivation to swimmers to "get to that next level" in an achievable manner rather than focus on winning a race.  One of USA Swimming's goals is to "broaden the base" of its athletes by encouraging swimming faster each year and increasing the number of events swam.

Within the United States, there are fifty-nine (59) Local Swimming Committees (LSC's). Each LSC is responsible for administering USA Swimming activities in a defined geographical area and has its own set of bylaws under which it operates. A House of Delegates with representation of athletes, coaches, members of the Board of Directors and clubs is responsible for managing the business affairs of the LSC.  Our LSC is Allegheny Mountain. 

The House of Delegates (HOD) meetings are the business operations meetings of an LSC.  Each member Club of an LSC may send a certain number of voting representatives to the meeting.

The process of a swimmer's requirement to circle-in for specified events.  The Meet invitation will define which events need circled-in.  Most distance events require that a swimmer circle-in if they wish to actually swim that event.  Events may be entered for a meet, but if any events requiring circle-in are not circled-in, then the swimmer will not be seeded for those events.  Yes, you will still be charged whether or not the swimmer swims those events.  There are penalties for circling-in for an event and then not swimming it.  Those penalties are defined in the Meet invitation.  The reason for the circle-in procedure is to eliminate empty lanes in events, possibly resulting in fewer heats and a shorter session.  By their nature, events requiring circle-in are deck-seeded.

Seeded Meet (Deck and Pre)
Meets can be either pre-seeded, meaning that all of the heats for the meet have been seeded- every swimmer can see in what heat and lane they will be swimming for all of their events.  Preseeded meets take all of the entered events and seeds the entire meet.  Most SC meets, except possibly for the distance events, are pre-seeded.  Deck-seeding is normally done for LC meets.  When a meet is advertised as deck-seeded, swimmers must circle-in for all of their events to ensure that they will be seeded into each event.  The main reason for deck-seeding is to virtually eliminate empty lanes from all heats of deck-seeded events.  You will not get a heat sheet for deck-seeded events because the events are not seeded until a few minutes prior to the event being swum.

A common practice technique used by Coaches whereby the training volume of a swimmer is drastically reduced 7-21 days before a targeted championship-level meet.  Tapering allows restoration of muscular power while maintaining the endurance-related metabolic benefits gained through earlier, hard practices. 

Circle Seeding
Circle Seeding is only used in the prelims of Championship meets with events which have "prelims & finals". This affects only the fastest three heats of swimmers- 24 in an 8-lane pool, 18 in a 6-lane pool. All other heats are seeded normally- slowest to fastest. Circle seeding goes like this: The fastest seeded swimmer will be in the last heat in lane 4. The second fastest swimmer will be in the second to last heat lane 4. The third fastest swimmer will be in the third to last heat lane 4. The fourth fastest swimmer will be in the last heat lane 5 and so on. The finals are seeded like a regular meet as are any events that are swum as timed finals such as relays, distance freestyles and other events most often held on Friday evening as a timed finals session.  The idea behind circle seeding is to seed the fastest swimmers into the middle of the pool.


Coach Speak

Training characterized by mostly low-intensity (low heart-rate), endurance-building workouts.

Workouts or sets designed to stress/strengthen the body's anaerobic system. This training is characterized by short work intervals (typically less than two minutes) of maximum effort.

Best Average
Holding the best time possible for the number of repeats on the given interval. Usually a best average set will allow for a more rest, so you can swim at a faster pace. Your pace on a best average set should be faster than when you swim threshold, but not as fast as sprint pace.

To increase intensity and speed over the course of a swim.

The moment when the hand enters the water and begins to pull the body forward. Also called the anchor or catch point.

A key part of the body used in all aspects of Swimming. This is the  midsection of the torso, from the lower hips to the rib cage, encompassing the hip cavity, “Glutes”, main abdomen, (upper & lower), Right – Left Oblique’s and spinus erecters in the lower back.

Term used at practice to indicate that a swimmer's speed and/or the interval will get faster throughout a set. (Their time will descend.) 

Distance per stroke
How far a swimmer travels with each stroke

There is Surface drag or frictional drag, and mechanical drag (what we eliminate with better technique).

Dropped Elbow
When the elbow drops below the wrist in the catch phase of freestyle. This is the opposite of EVF, or early vertical forearm.

Dry Side
USA Swimming term for the part of their rule book that addresses the administrative rules for a meet.

Strength and flexibility exercises that swimmers do on land to complement their in-water training. Examples of dryland include: core-exercises, weight lifting, and cross-training activities such as running or cycling.

Early vertical forearm
Having a vertical forearm (by keeping the elbow above the wrist and fingertips) as early as possible in the stroke, ideally in front of the shoulders at the catch. Also called EVF, this is thought by many to be a critical component of fast freestyle technique.

Entry (hand)
How the hand enters the water on each stroke.

Even split
To swim the first and last halves of a race in the same amount of time. Or, in a longer race, to swim each segment (usually 50s or 100s) of the race in approximately the same amount of time.

High elbow
In freestyle, keeping the elbow above the wrist and fingertips. Maintaining a high elbow on both the recovery and the power phase of the pull is an important aspect of fast freestyle, and a necessary component of "early vertical forearm" freestyle technique.

Interval Training
A training method that includes "active" and "recovery" intervals, or bouts of intense exercise followed by less-intense exercise. Interval training switches between anaerobic activity and aerobic activity repeatedly throughout the workout.

Blood lactate is the result of several fast-acting chemical reactions in the blood stream. Those reactions begin when lactic acid releases hydrogen ions. Lactate is what physiologists typically measure in the lab when testing lactate threshold. Lactate is not the same as lactic acid.

Lactate Threshold
During a period of intense physical activity, the point at which lactic acid builds up in an athlete's blood faster than their body can process/remove it.

Lactic Acid
A by-product of the body's process of using energy (glucose) anaerobically (without oxygen), which it does during high-intensity activity.

An imaginary line running down a swimmer's spine, from head to toe. Rotation around this axis is a fundamental component of freestyle and backstroke technique.

Long-term Goals
Goals or achievements that a swimmer hopes to realize over a longer period of time, such as one year, four years, or several seasons. Goal setting is an important part of the mental training an athlete undertakes. Achieving long-term goals requires setting and achieving short-term goals along the way.

Negative Split
Swimming a race so that the second half of the race is faster than the first half.

The part of the training cycle or a workout where intensity is reduced to allow the body to repair itself. This is the critical part of a training plan where the swimmer/athlete actually becomes stronger.

An imaginary horizontal line drawn across a swimmer's midsection. Butterfly and breaststroke are called "short-axis" strokes because propulsion comes from movement around this imaginary line.

Short-term goals
A swimmer's goals for the next day, week or month.

The most hydro-dynamic position a swimmer can have in the water. Arms are straight above the head, squeezing the ears; hands are sandwiched one on top of the other; legs and feet are pressed together, with toes pointed.

Stroke Cycle
One complete cycle of the stroke. In freestyle and backstroke, one stroke cycle is two pulls: one with the left arm and one with the right arm. In butterfly, the stroke cycle begins and ends when the hands enter the water. In breaststroke, the stroke cycle begins and ends with the glide.

Stroke Rate
The amount of time it takes for a swimmer to complete one stroke cycle.

A test set used to determine a swimmer's threshold pace. After a complete warm-up, the swimmer swims their fastest sustainable pace for fifteen minutes.

The speed of a swimmer's arm stokes. Turnover can be measured by stroke rate.

To race without representing a team. Represented by "UN" or "UNAT" in the meet program.

VO2 Max
The maximum volume of oxygen a person's body can transport and utilize. VO2 Max is thought of as an athlete's aerobic capacity. Training can improve an athlete's VO2 Max, which is an athletic performance limiter.