Glossary of Swim Terms


Lower Mainland Regional (LMR) Championships 

For athletes who have not yet qualified for age-group or provincial competitions. To participate, you must have an LMR Qualified Time in the 200 IM.


Age Group

The classification of swimmers by age and gender. Girls compete in the following Swim BC Age Group divisions: 10&Under, 11, 12, 14&Under, 15-18, and 19&Over.

Boys - 11&Under, 12, 13, 15&Under, 16-18, 19&Over.


Divisional Swimming Championships in BC

A provincial championship for younger age groups that is held by Swim BC clubs across the province. Divisional Championships are always short course metres and are held twice per season - in February and June, hosted by CDSC in the winter and the summer TBC. The Meetings occur at the conclusion of both the short course and long course seasons. Participants must have reached the time standard for their age group in the 200 IM and one other qualifying event.


Provincial Championships for BC

The fastest swimmers in British Columbia compete twice a year in provincial championships organized by Swim BC clubs. One Championship is contested in March and the other in July, and both are long-course events. Competitors must have attained one provincial standard in British Columbia.


Western Canadian Championships

Each April, the best athletes from the western half of Canada compete in a national-level age group competition. To participate, swimmers must have at least one Western qualifying time in their age category.


Canadian Junior Championship Qualification

Premier national competition for swimmers under the age of 18 in Canada, organized by Swimming Canada. Held in July, this long course meet is hosted by a Canadian team with suitable facilities that have won the bid for the event. Swimmers aiming to participate in this prestigious national-level competition must attain at least one CJC standard in their age group.


Canadian Swimming Championships (CSC's)

The National Championship meet is held annually in the summer, usually at the end of July or early August. It represents the highest level of competition for swimmers in Canada, with the possibility of a CSC meet also taking place in April, depending on the year. To participate in the event, swimmers must meet at least one qualifying standard in their age group.




After determining the finalists in a Prelims/Finals competition, the next two quickest swimmers who are not finalists are named as alternates. The speedier of the two is the first alternate, while the slower is the second. If a finalist is absent, the alternates are summoned to fill their place. The alternates are obligated to withdraw if they are unable to attend the finals once the finalists have been decided.



The final participant in a relay.


Approved Meet

A competition with sufficient officials to certify compliance with Swim BC swimming rules and SNC's sanctioning guidelines. The competition may include non-Swim BC members (e.g., US teams) who are linked with FINA.



Backstroke is one of the four competitive strokes used in swimming races. Backstroke is the first stroke of the Medley Relay and the second stroke of the Individual Medley. There are three race distances: 50 metres, 100 metres, and 200 metres.


Bell Lap

The portion of a freestyle distance race (800 metres or longer) in which there are two lengths and five metres remaining. When a swimmer reaches the backstroke flags, the stroke & turn lane judge sounds a bell over that swimmer's lane.



The platforms positioned behind each lane's starting line. There are a multitude of block designs.



One of the four strokes used in competitive racing. In the Medley Relay, breaststroke is the second stroke and the third stroke in the Individual Medley. The distances for the races are 50 metres, 100 metres, and 200 metres.



A wall designed to split a pool into multiple courses, for example, a 50-meter pool into two 25-meter courses.



One of the four strokes used in competitive racing. Butterfly (also known as fly) is the third stroke in the Medley Relay and the first stroke of the Individual Medley. There are three race distances: 50 metres, 100 metres, and 200 metres.




A swimming event hosted by Swim BC, swim clubs, or independent swim training organizations. There are numerous sorts of camps for nearly all levels of swimmers. While choosing a camp for a swimmer, get the coach's advice on what will be most beneficial.



The primary source of nutritional energy for athletics. For further information, consult a nutrition manual or the parent drop box on the Otters website.


Championship Finals

The best eight (or ten in a 10-lane pool; predetermined by the sanction) swimmers in a Prelims/Finals meet who qualify to return to the finals after swimming in the preliminaries. The quickest heat in timed finals swum either at the beginning or end of slow-to-fast or fast-to-slow swimming.



The job of parent volunteers who accompany the swim team to team travel meets and are overseen by the accompanying head coach. These volunteers must have a current criminal background check on file with the club and are responsible for safeguarding the safety of swimmers in the hotel and during travel to and from the pool. Chaperones also organize (food-safe) refreshments and water for the swimmers, such as deck-side munchies. Lastly, chaperones do bed checks to ensure that all swimmers are there and that lights are out at the hour specified by the coach.


Chase Meet (Double ended)

On occasion, 100m and longer races in long-course meets may be conducted as "chase meets." There are starting blocks at both ends of the pool (usually referred to as the shallow-end blocks and the deep-end blocks). The swimmers in the shallow end race begin at the shallow end blocks, swim to the opposite side, and then return to the shallow end to finish. The swimmers of the subsequent race at the deep end ascend to the blocks after the swimmers in the current race complete their turn. As the swimmers in the shallow end near the final quarter or so of their race, officials will start the swimmers at the deep end. There are currently two swimmers in the water, with one "chasing" the other. The swimmers in the shallow end finish their race and swiftly leave the pool. The swimmer in the deep end resumes the race. Another group of swimmers from the shallow end will begin their race before the swimmer in the deep end finishes.


Circle Swimming

When swimming in a lane, staying to the right of the black line enables more swimmers to fit in each lane. During practises, lanes typically alternate between (right-left or left-right) for a more unified flow.


Circle Seeding

A method for seeding swimmers participating in preliminaries and finals. The 18 to 24 quickest swimmers are often seeded in the final three heats, with the fastest swimmers occupying Lane 4 in the final three heats.



A meeting arranged for the purpose of instruction, such as an official's clinic or a coach's clinic.


Closed Competition

A swim competition that is restricted to the designated members of an organization or group depending who hosts the event. For instance, summer club swim meets qualify as "Closed Competition."



A registered swim team that pays membership dues to Swim BC.


Code of Ethics

At the beginning of the swim season, swimmers and parents are expected to sign a Code of Conduct. The Code stipulates proper behaviour, especially for out-of-town, team travel and daily pool deck activity.


Consolation Matches (B Finals)

After the fastest eight or four swimmers in a Prelims/Finals competition, the next eight or sixteen swimmers who qualify for the Finals after the prelims are completed. Consolations differ based on facts about the competition and the number of heats held prior to the Championship (fastest) finals heat.



The designated distance (pool length) for competitive swimming. (i.e.) Long Course (LC) = 50 metres / Short Course (SC) = 25 metres. SCY stands for short course yards.



The Swim Coaches Association of Canada. The national professional organization for swimming coaches. Certification of coaches and provision of numerous services for the education and career progress of coaches. Coaches are required to have a minimum level of NCCP certification and may also be Chartered Professional Coaches registered with the Canadian Association of Coaches (CAC).



The date by which meet entries must be received for the host to accept them. Many events are "full" weeks before the entry deadline, so meeting the entry deadline does not ensure entrance into a meet. There is also a deadline for the submission of meet consent forms to team coaches; failing to reach this deadline will result in the swimmer not being admitted into the meet, as determined by the host club's entries deadline. The deadline may also include the scratch deadline for meets. Hence, a club has a time limit to declare scratches for finals following morning heats. If the swimmer fails to show up for finals and has not scratched by the deadline, he or she may be fined or scratched from the remaining finals, including relays, for the night or the entire meet!



The perimeter of the pool that is allocated for swimmers, officials, and coaches. During a swim competition, only "approved" Swim BC members may be on the deck. Parents who are not officiating or chaperoning are not permitted on deck at any point during a recognised meet.


Deck Entries

Accepting submissions for swimming competitions on the first day or later if permitted.



An abnormal loss of bodily fluids (water). The most prevalent cause of cramping and nausea among swimmers. Water is the best hydration source and should be consumed 30 minutes prior to competition. It contributes to the body's ability to eliminate toxins and sustain blood circulation.


Developmental (PASS or LMR meets)

A category of competition or meet that is typically conducted early in the season. A developmental meet allows swimmers of all skill levels to participate in a low-pressure environment.



A swimmer's performance is disregarded due to a rule violation. A Swim BC-trained official records a disqualification and submits it to the Referee for approval. Swimmers are typically disqualified for an illegal stroke, turn, or finish. Always give the benefit of the doubt to the swimmer.


Dive Tank

A separate or adjacent pool to the competition pool. This swimming pool features deeper water and diving boards or platforms. With proper supervision, this space may be designated as a warm-down pool during a competition.



Extra clothing used by swimmers to create resistance during training, typically consisting of shorts, t-shirts, or multilayered suits.



The exercises and other strength-building regimens that swimmers perform on land under their coach's supervision.




An event list for an individual, relay team, or club in a swimming tournament.


Entry Fees

The amount charged each event to swimmers and relay teams by the Meet's host. Depending on the type of Met, this changes. Moreover, there may be Swim BC fees or facility improvement fees.


Entry Limit

Each competition will typically have a maximum number of participants (depending on its sanction) or a maximum time limit that cannot be exceeded. After the entry limit has been reached, a meet will be closed and the remaining entries will be returned. A meet may also impose an entry limit on swimmers, allowing them to compete in only a specified number of events.


Electronic Timing

The timing system typically consists of touchpads in the water, junction boxes (plungers) on the deck with link up cables, buttons for backup timing, and a computer-like panel that publishes the race results. Some systems are connected to a scoreboard that displays lane number, position, and time.



A competition over a specified distance. An event consists of either 1 preliminary and its final or 1 timed final.


False Start

When a swimmer advances on the starting platform prior to the horn. One false start will result in disqualification for a swimmer or relay team, unless the starter or referee disallows it due to exceptional circumstances.


False Start Rope (Recall Rope)

A recall rope across the width of the race pool to stop swimmers in the event of an official error or when judged necessary by the referee. The rope is approximately 50 feet away from the beginning of the pool.


Fastest to Slowest

A form of seeding utilized for the longer events held at the conclusion of a session. The first heats consist of the fastest seeded swimmers, followed by the next quickest, and so on.



Money paid by swimmers for services, such as swimming lessons. Training fees, registration fees, membership fees for Swim BC, etc.




Federation Internationale de Natation - the international organization responsible for regulating the sport of swimming.


FINA Points

Each swimmer earns FINA points for each event completed in a sanctioned meet. The FINA Point scoring system awards point values to swimming performances: greater points for world-class performances (usually 1000) and fewer points for slower performances. Canada Senior National Times average approximately 700 points. The FINA Point system allows for the comparison of results across events. Each year, point values are awarded to Long Course and Short Course events.



The last race of each event.


Final Results

After approval by the meet officials, the results of each race of a swim meet.



Large rubber devices that fit on the feet of swimmers. Used for training, not competition.



In SCY meets, backstroke flags are set 5 metres or 5 yards from the end of the pool. They assist backstrokers to perform a turn more efficiently by allowing them to count the number of strokes to the turn rather than turning around to see.


Flutter Kick


The kick utilized in freestyle swimming. The legs alternately move up and down.



One of the four strokes used in competitive racing. Freestyle (also known as Free) is the fourth stroke in the Medley Relay and the fourth stroke of the Individual Medley. Race distances include 50 metre, 100 metre, 200 metre, 400 metre, 800 metre and 1500 metres.



The short- and long-term goals that swimmers set to achieve success in the water, as well as the daily goals that swimmers should set for training, including stroke counts, kick counts, breathing patterns, and split timings to ensure goal times during swim meets.



Swimming goggles are made of plastic and are worn by swimmers to protect their eyes from the chlorine in the water.




All participants in the event are separated into heats or groups of swimmers. After all heats of the event have been finished, the results are produced based on the times swum.


Heat Sheet (Program)

The pre-meet printed listing of swimmers' seed times for each race at a swim meet. They are provided at the start of the meet and are often for sale. They may also be downloaded to phone applications when permitted and you may also download the Meet Mobile app.


High Point

An award presented to the swimmer in a specific age category who scored the most points during a swim meet. Not all competitions give high point rewards; consult the meet packages for details.



A device used primarily in conjunction with a fully automatic timing system.


IM (Individual Medley)

A swimming competition in which all four competitive strokes are utilized on consecutive lengths. The order of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle must be followed. Each stroke distance must be the same. 100 metres (SCO), 200 metres, and 400 metres are available.


Invitational Meet

A gathering in which members of multiple clubs are invited to attend. There is typically no limit on the number of swimmers that clubs can enter; however, there are limits on admission, and the overall number of entries admitted is controlled by the number authorized by the Swim BC sanction. Each event's number of heats is decided by the number of participants in that event.



An illegal start by the second, third, or fourth relay team member. The swimmer on the block separates from the block before the swimmer in the water makes contact with the wall. This results in disqualification for the team.


Kick Board

A buoyancy aid utilized by swimmers during practice



The designated region in which a swimmer must swim. (ie) Lane 1 or Lane 2.


Lane Ropes


Continuous floating markers attached to a cable extending from the starting end to the turning end for the purpose of separating each lane and dampening the waves generated by swimming competitors.



One length of the course. Sometimes also refers to the down and back (2 lengths) of the course.



The portion of a relay race completed by a single swimmer. An individual stroke in the IM.


Lowest Mainland Region (LMR) Qualification Time

This is the first qualifying time a swimmer must attain in order to be eligible to compete at "LMR" Meetings. Under 4 minutes is the time for 200 IM (short course metres).


Log Book

A book in which swimmers record their times at each practice or competition, as well as their goals and training regimens. Log books are useful for swimmers because they allow them to reflect on past events. It allows them to reflect on specific weeks, sessions, or sets that may have contributed to improved performances.



A succession of events contained within a single program.


Negative Split

The second half of the race was completed at the same or a quicker rate than the first half.


Non-conforming Time

A short course time submitted to qualify for a long course competition, or vice versa.


NS (No Show)

A swimmer fails to show up to their race and is automatically disqualified.


NT (No Time)

On a heat sheet, this abbreviation indicates that the swimmer has never competed in that event.



Volunteers who are certified by Swim BC to manage the numerous aspects of a swim competition.


Olympic Trials

The SNC-sanctioned long course swimming competition held in the year of the Olympic Games to determine which swimmers will represent Canada. Qualification times are often Senior National Qualifying times, and swimmers who just meet the 50-meter breast, fly, or backstroke time standard are typically not permitted to compete, as this only applies to those who have qualified for Olympic events.


Open Competition

Any eligible group, organization, or individual may enter a competition.


Pace Clock

Positioned at the ends or sides of a swimming pool so that swimmers can read their times during warm-ups or practise, the electronic clocks or huge clocks with highly visible numbers and second hands.


Hand Paddle

During swim practice, coloured plastic devices are worn on the hands of swimmers to assist in perfecting their stroke.


PB (Personal Best)

Individual best time is the fastest time a swimmer has ever achieved in an event.


Positive Check-In

The protocol required prior to a swimmer participating in an event in a pre-seeded or deck-seeded meet. The swimmer or coach must indicate that he or she will compete and is present. In most cases, a swimmer must check in for an event within a specific time frame; otherwise, he or she will be scratched from that event.



The organized workouts that swimmers participate in with their swim club or team.



Session of a Prelims/Finals competition in which qualification heats take place.


Prelims - Semis - Finals

Type of meet consisting of two or three sessions. Morning session is reserved for preliminary heats. In the evening, the eight fastest swimmers (Championship Heat) and the next eight fastest swimmers (Consolation Heat) return to compete in the Finals. Even if their finals time qualifies them for the Championship Finals, a swimmer who has qualified for the Consolation Finals cannot place. The contrary is also true.



A competition in which a swimmer can determine their lane and heat by viewing the heat sheet or posted program.


Psych Sheet


A list of all swimmers entered in each individual event, ordered from fastest to slowest by their entry time.


Pull Buoy

A flotation device used by swimmers for pulling in practice.


Qualification Times

Published timings required to enter certain competitions or to qualify for a specific category of swimmer. Check 'Age Group Times' or 'Provincial Times' for more information.



A competition in which four swimmers compete as a team. Each swimmer swims the same distance during the race. There are two types of relays: 1) the Medley relay, in which one swimmer performs Backstroke, one performs Breaststroke, one performs Butterfly, and one performs Freestyle. The distances for medley relays are 200 metres and 400 metres. 2) Freestyle relay - Every participant swims freestyle. Free relays are run over distances of 200 metres, 400 metres, and 800 metres.



Permission granted by Swim BC to a member club to host a sanctioned competition.


Sanctioned Meet

The competition must be run in accordance with Swim BC's regulations. All participants must be members of Swim BC, including coaches, athletes, and officials.



List of meets from Swim BC or WVOSC including dates, meet host, meet venue, and meet type. There may also be out-of-province and out-of-country invitational swim meets where the coach deems it essential for swimmers to compete against others to improve their abilities to race while traveling or to compete against different and quicker swimmers from other nations.



To withdraw from an event after having previously indicated participation. Certain meets have specific scratch deadlines and rules, and if they are not fulfilled, the swimmer may be disqualified from the remaining events. If a swimmer withdraws after the entry deadline and after the "scratch deadline," he or she must typically pay the entry costs unless a valid doctor's note is presented (if allowed).



Allocate heats and lanes to the swimmers based on their submitted or preliminary times.


Deck Seeding


Swimmers are instructed to report to the Course Clerk. Following the determination of scratches, the event is seeded.


Pre Seeding

According to times submitted prior to the competition, swimmers are grouped into heats.


Senior Meet

A competition for senior-level swimmers that is not segregated by age. Qualifying times are typically required and vary based on the competition's level.



A component of a competition that is isolated from other segments by locale, time, competition, or age group.



A specific portion of daily practice that coaches frequently employ to teach the notion of pace.


SNC (Swim Canada)

The Canadian governing body of swimming.



Refers to a timed segment of a race that is shorter than the total distance of the event. For instance, during a 100-meter race, a swimmer's first 50-meter time is taken as a split. In longer events, such as the 400-meter or 800-meter races, it is typical to take multiple splits throughout the event to monitor a swimmer's performance at different stages of the race.



The term "sprint" in swimming is commonly used to refer to shorter events such as the 50-meter and 100-meter races. During training, sprinting involves swimming as quickly as possible for a brief distance, usually in intervals or repetitions. This type of training helps to improve a swimmer's speed, explosiveness, and anaerobic capacity.



The starting point of a race. The dive initiates the start of a race.



The command sent by the Starter or Referee to release the swimmers from the starting position.



The command given by the Starter or Referee for the swimmers to step away the starting blocks. Often, this command is a signal that race conditions are not optimal for the race to start.




Refers to a specific body position that swimmers adopt to reduce drag and increase their speed through the water. To streamline, swimmers extend their arms above their head, pressing their biceps against their ears, and straightening their elbows. They then press their palms together and point their toes, creating a tight and streamlined body position. This technique is often used during the start and turns of a race, as well as during underwater dolphin kicking, to minimize drag and maintain momentum. The streamline position is a fundamental skill in competitive swimming and is often practiced in swim drills and training sessions.



Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle are the four competitive strokes.


Submitted Time

Swim times used to enter swimmers into competitions. The swimmer must have earned these times in previous competitions or club-sanctioned time trials.



A fundraiser involving all swimmers that swim clubs use to collect funds.


Swim BC

Swimming's governing body in British Columbia.


Swim BC ID Number

A nine-digit number provided to a swimmer upon completion of the necessary paperwork and payment of annual dues. The ID number will remain with the swimmer throughout his or her career in British Columbia.



A race held after the planned event to break a tie in a Prelims/Finals-style competition. The only case where a swim-off is necessary is to determine which swimmer advances to the finals or serves as an alternate; otherwise, ties stand.



The process of resting while training. Before a big competition, training is performed in a state of rest.


TAS Power Rankings

A list created by Team Aquatic Supply that identifies the top 50 swimmers in each single age group (boys & girls) by each event and distance, provincially and nationally.


Team Records

The records maintained by a team detailing the fastest swimmer in the club's history for each age group/event.


Timed Finals

Just heats are swum in this competition, and the final standings are determined by heat times.


Time Standard

A time established by a meet, Swim BC, or SNC that a swimmer must achieve in order to qualify or be recognised.


Time Trial

A race-like event in which swimmers compete against the clock rather than other swimmers. During a time trial, each swimmer races individually and is timed, typically with electronic timing equipment. The purpose of a time trial is to provide swimmers with an opportunity to set personal best times or achieve qualifying standards for upcoming meets or competitions. Time trials are also used in training to monitor a swimmer's progress, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas for improvement. Time trials can be organized by coaches, teams, or swimming organizations and can take place in a variety of settings, such as a competition pool, a training pool, or an open water venue.


Touch Pad

A component of an electronic timing system that is submerged in the water at the end of each lane. As the pad is touched, the time is recorded electronically.



The act of moving from one club to another.


Unofficial Hours

The time displayed on a read out board or announced over the intercom immediately following the race. After checking the time, it will become the official time.



This is often low-intensity swimming performed by swimmers after a race or practice to flush the body of excess lactic acid and gradually slow the heart rate and respiration. This typically entails hydration and nutrition to allow the body to draw reserves from the appropriate location of the body rather than the muscle.



A swimmer's final practice and "loosening up" session before a competition or event.