Swimming Terminology

If your swimmer comes home and tells you "I swam seven 200 's freestyle descending one to seven on 5 minutes" and you have no idea what this means, it may be time to brush up on your swimming terminology. The e-News will include some swim terms that you will find useful. For those new to the sport, we’ll start with the basics:

Freestyle: in freestyle events, swimmers may swim any stroke, but the stroke most commonly used is sometimes called the crawl, which is characterized by the alternate stroking of the arms over the surface of the water and an alternating (up-and-down) flutter kick.

Heats: all of the swimmers entered in the event are divided into heats or groups of swimmers. The results are compiled by the times swum after all heats of the event are complete.

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

Circle Seeding: A method of seeding swimmers when they are participating in a prelim/finals event. The fastest 18 to 24 swimmers are seeded in the last 3 heats, with the fastest swimmers being in the inside lanes (i.e. Lane 4) in the final three heats.

Short Course/ Long Course: the terms short course and long course (abbreviated SC and LC) are used to identify pool length; a short course pool is 25 meters (or 25 yards) in length and a long course pool is 50 meters in length. The terms are also often included in meet names. Long course is the primary pool length, and both the Olympic and the World Championships are conducted in a long course pool. Short course is the second type of pool configuration currently recognized by FINA  (the International Federation of Swimming). Typically, meets held from the start of the swim season in September up until the end of February are held in a short course pool, and meets held from March to the end of the swim season are held in a long course pool.  

(As a side note, we are very fortunate that Thunder Bay has not one, but two 50-meter pools (one at the Canada Games Complex and one at Lakehead University). Most municipalities have only 25-meter pools.)