Parent Handbook

USA Swimming

USA Swimming (
USA Swimming is the national governing body for competitive swimming in the United States.  USA Swimming was conceived in 1978 as United States Swimming (USS) when Congress passed the Amateur Sports Act.  In 1998 the name was changed to USA Swimming.  The USA Swimming Headquarters is located in Colorado Springs at the United States Olympic Training Center.

As the National Governing Body, USA Swimming is responsible for the conduct and administration of swimming in the United States.  USA Swimming formulates the rules, implements policies and procedures, and selects the athletes to represent the United States in international competition.

Southern California Swimming-SCS (
The Local Swimming Committee (LSC) is the governing body for swimming at the local level. There are 59 Local Swimming Committees in the United SatesThe LSC is responsible for setting standardized guidelines under which all member teams operate.  The LSC sanctions meets, certifies officials, establishes the time standards, and publishes the SWIM GUIDE and meet schedules.  The RST’s LSC is Southern California Swimming (SCS).

Eastern Committee
Southern California Swimming (SCS) is divided into seven committees.  RST is in the Eastern Committee.  There are approximately 30 teams in the Eastern Committee.  Multiply this by 7 committees and you have an idea of the scope of swimming in Southern California.

Redlands Swim Team

Redlands Swim Team (RST) is a non-profit organization working with youth in our community.  We are a year-round highly competitive swim program that offers instruction and training for swimmers of all levels and abilities. We are committed to promoting the sport of swimming, because of its potential to help individuals achieve excellence, not just in sports, but in life.  RST has coached athletes that competed in local meets, Junior National competitions and the Olympics.  We continue to produce swimmers who gain recognition in Spring and Summer Junior Olympic meets as well as achieve national rankings. 

Board of Directors – The RST Board of Directors is comprised of 4 officers and members at large.  The board members are parent volunteers who are voted onto the board at the annual RST banquet/general meeting held in the fall.  The board members are charged with the ultimate responsibility for directing the financial affairs, pool rental and supervising the management of RST.    

RST Mission The mission of RST is to empower every swimmer, regardless of age or ability, to reach his or her highest personal potential, both as an athlete and as a person.

RST Pool Facilities: 

Redlands High School (RHS) -  840 E Citrus Ave, Redlands, CA 92374

Redlands East Valley (REV) -  31000 Colton Ave, Redlands, CA 9237 4

Citrus Valley High School (CVHS)   -   800 W. Pioneer, Redlands, CA 92374   

Crafton Hills College (Crafton) - 11711 Sand Canyon Rd, Yucaipa CA 92399


Suits & Equipment:

The following equipment is recommended for practice: 

  • Girls - nylon, lycra or polyester one-piece, racing style suit
  • Boys – jammers or brief style suit
  • Goggles and swim cap
  • Large towel
  • Paddles and fins 
  • Parka, sweats, sheep skin boots, etc. for winter months

Note: RST Team parka orders are placed at end of summer to be received by winter. (Turn around time is typically 6-8 weeks.)

When competing in meets, the following equipment is recommended

  • RST team suit  (Purchased through team)
  • RST team swim cap  (Purchased through team)

Note: Competitive swim gear (goggles, work out suits, practice caps, parkas, etc) can be purchased through swim vendors at meets.

RST Programs Offered:

Each swim groups’ criteria are set by the head coach. The standards for these groups may change as the team grows.  All group changes are approved by the head coach. As swimmers move up to a new group there will be an adjustment period to allow them to acclimate to the increased work load.

Swim Groups are as follow:

Age group Bronze
Age group Silver
Age group Gold
Senior Bronze
Senior Silver
Senior Gold

Attendance & Attitude – Swim practice is the most important facet of the program.  Although competition is the test of a swimmer’s ability, practice is where the potential and foundation for achievement is established.  Practice schedules vary by group.  Swimmers must attend practice on a regular basis in order to give themselves a chance to achieve their potential as a swimmer.

Swim practice provides the swimmer the opportunity to improve and “fine tune” stroke and turn technique and to increase endurance.  The swimmer’s attitude towards practice will determine to what extent he or she will benefit.  Attitude is also important when it comes to competition.  Some swimmers may be intimidated when competing against faster swimmers.  They may also react adversely to the psychological stress of competing in a major meet or traveling to unfamiliar facilities.  Communicate concerns with your swimmer’s coach.

Swimmers can expect to have “plateaus”, or periods during which their times may not improve or even regress.  These plateaus can be discouraging at best and lead to a swimmer wanting to quit swimming.  Plateaus in performance are common and talking with other parents and swimmers on the pool deck may help. Once again communication between parent, swimmer, and coach is very important.

Health and Diet - Swimming and training are strenuous and the body utilizes a significant amount of calories.  Proper nutrition can improve performance.  As a swimmer moves from one level to the next and workouts are harder and longer, expect an increase in appetite. 

The best pre-practice or pre-meet meal should contain primarily carbohydrates.  Carb-rich foods like pasta, breads and cereal are easily digested and absorbed.  Rule of thumb: 0.5 – 2.0 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight, one to four hours prior to exercise.  Try to avoid simple sugars and limit the amount of fat intake.  After completing workout, try to eat a healthy snack or meal within 20 minutes.

Examples of meals that provide 100 grams of carbohydrates:

  • 1 bagel w/peanut butter and 2/3 cups of raisins
  • 1 cup of low-fat yogurt, 1 banana, 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 turkey sandwich and 1 cup of applesauce
  • 2 cups of spaghetti w/meat sauce and 1 piece of garlic bread

Drink plenty of fluids!  Drink adequate water.  (The recommended intake is 6-8 glasses per day plus extra water to replace body fluid lost during workout.)  Some quick tips to replace fluids:

  • Keep a fluid bottle by the side of the pool when working out and drink between sets
  • Choose sports drinks or WATER that stimulate fluid absorption and provide energy to the working muscles
  • Avoid carbonated drinks
  • Avoid caffeine-filled beverages

Swimmers are an extremely healthy group of individuals.  They general level of physical fitness makes them less susceptible to infections than other children.  Still, health problems do occur.  Colds, eye irritations, and ear infections are some of the minor problems your child might encounter as swimmer.

Swimmer’s Ear – Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the external ear canal as opposed to Otitis Media or middle ear infection.  An external ear infection is usually caused by constant wetting of the ear canal or water pooling in the ear canal.  This type of an ear infection can be very painful.  The ear becomes sensitive to touch.  The best medicine is prevention.  Using over the counter swimmer’s ear solutions, which can be purchased at any local drug store, can help dry out the ear canal between swims.  A homemade solution can be made by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol and placing 5 drops of this solution in each ear before and after swimming and at bed time.   When in doubt—see your physician.

Eyes – Goggles are always a good idea for workouts and meets.  If eyes do become irritated from the chlorine, some swimmers find relief from a few drops of milk dropped in each eye.  Always pull down the lower eyelid and place drops there and blinking will spread the drops.

Hair Care Tips – Chlorine can be very damaging to the hair.  Wetting the hair before entering the pool will help absorption of chlorine to the hair shaft.  Another hair tip, mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda to one gallon of water and use as a rinse before shampooing to restore pH balance.

Swimming: The Sport

The Course Competition pools may be short course (25 yards or 25 meters), or long course (50 meters).  The international standard (as used in the Olympics) is 50 meters.  World records are accomplished in 25 and 50 meter pools.  USA Swimming maintains records for the 25 yards, 25 meters, and 50 meters.

The RHS, REV and CVHS pools where RST swimmers work out are 25-yard pools.  The pool at Crafton Hills College can be used as both a 50-meter pool or as a 25-yard pool.  RST swimmers compete in short course (25-yard) meets and long course (50-meter) meets.  Typically, short course season is September through January and  long course season is February through July.

The Strokes There are five competitive strokes:

1.     Freestyle – The competitor may swim any stroke he or she wishes.  The stroke most commonly used is the crawl, which is characterized by the alternating overhand motion of the arms and an alternating (up & down) flutter kick.  On turns, some part of the swimmer must touch the wall.  Most swimmers do a flip turn and touch the wall with their feet.

2.     Backstroke – This stroke consists of an alternating motion of the arms with a flutter kick while on the back.  On turns, the swimmer must touch the wall while on their back.  This may be executed by doing a back flip turn (touching with their feet) or simple by staying on the back, touching with their hand, and then turning.

3.     Breaststroke – This stroke requires simultaneous movement of the arms in the same horizontal plane.  The hands are pressed out from the breast in a heart shaped pattern and recovered under or on the surface of the water.  The kick is a simultaneous thrust of the legs called a “frog” or breaststroke kick.  No Flutter or dolphin kicking is allowed.  On turns and at the finish, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously.  Swimmers are allowed only one underwater pull off the start and turn.

4.     Butterfly – This stroke requires simultaneous overhead stroke of the arms combined with a dolphin kick.  In the kick, the swimmer must keep both legs together and may not flutter, scissors, or use the breaststroke kick.  On turns and at the finish, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously.

5.     The Individual Medley – commonly referred to as the I.M.  This race features all four strokes.  In the I.M., the swimmer begins with the butterfly, then changes after one-fourth of the race to the backstroke, then the breaststroke and finally freestyle.  The swimmer must touch the wall with their hand for the backstroke to breaststroke transition.


1.     Freestyle Relay This event consists of four freestylers, each swimming one quarter of the total distance of the race.

2.     Medley Relay – All four strokes are swum by a different swimmer.  The first swimmer swims backstroke, the second breaststroke, the third butterfly and the final swimmer anchors the relay with freestyle.

Starts, Turns and Finishes: Many races are won or lost by swimmer’s performance in the start, turn or finish.  At the start, the swimmer is called to the starting position by the official/starter who visually checks that all swimmers are motionless.  When all swimmers are set, the gun or starting horn is sounded to start the race.  If a swimmer has moved or left too early, that swimmer may be disqualified after the race for a false start.  Under the USA Swimming rules, one false start disqualifies the swimmer.Fast flip turns, quick touch-and-goes and tight stream-lines can improve a swimmer’s race times.  Finishing strong to the wall and not gliding will also help improve race times.

The Rules: The technical rules of swimming are designed to provide fair and equal conditions for competition and to promote uniformity in the sport.  Each stroke has specific rules designed to ensure that no swimmer gets an unfair advantage.  Trained officials observe the swimmers during each event to ensure compliance of the rules.  If a swimmer breaks any of the rules, he/she will be disqualified.  This means that the swimmer will not receive an official time and will not be eligible for an award for that event.   

Disqualifications (DQ) are a result of technical rules violations.  They include but are not limited to:

Freestyle: pulling on the lane line; not touching the wall on a turn

Backstroke: pulling on the lane line; too many pulls into the wall once a swimmer has turned passed the vertical onto the breast; turning onto the breast before touching the wall with the hand at the finish of the race

Breaststroke: an illegal kick such as a flutter or dolphin kick; shoulders not level; alternating movements of the arms; taking two arm strokes or two leg kicks while head is underwater; head not breaking water during each stroke cycle; hands going back past the hips during the race; touching with only one hand at the turns or finish; touch not simultaneous

Butterfly: alternating movements of the arms or legs; pushing the arms forward instead of over the water surface (underwater recovery); a breaststroke style of kick; touching with only one hand at the turns or finish; touch not simultaneous

Other: not finishing in the same lane as he/she started; not touching the wall on at a turn; swimming past the 15m mark (marked yellow on the lane line) underwater

Swim Meets

Time Standards:

Southern California Swimming (SCS) has compiled time standards which identify each swimmers level of expertise.  These time standards are used to determine swim meet entry levels.  There are several time standards for swimmers to achieve based on performance at meets.  Some meets may require minimum or maximum swim times in order to enter certain events.  Standards are broken down by gender and age group.  Swimmers are awarded based on the time standard level that they swim.  In other words, a beginning swimmer is awarded at one level and a more advanced swimmer is awarded under another level.  The SCS Time Standards are re-evaluated each year.  See your SCS Swim Guide for current listing of the time standards.

Where to find the meet form:

Meet entry can be found on our home page under Meets/Events.  If you click on the red title of the meet or event it will open a link to more information including the link to download the meet form.  Meet forms are also posted on line on the Southern California swimming web site (  Meet forms are usually posted 4-6 weeks prior to the swim meet.  The deadline for team electronical entries is typically 2 weeks prior to the meet.

Where to locate your swimmer’s best times/results:

Your swimmer's times can be found on our RST website when you log into your account.

Swimmer’s times are also posted on line at the USA Swimming website.
( Look for USA Swimming Times/Time Standards and follow the link to Individual Times. 

During swim meets, swimmer’s results for each event are posted on the posting wall for the duration of each swim session. Results are also placed in a result book which is kept at the admin table throughout the entire meet.  After the meet, results are posted on-line at the Southern California Swimming website. (

How to fill out meet entry card

An entry card can be submitted one of two ways:

1.     Electronic Team Entries:  To electronically enter a meet, you need to complete the SCS meet entry card and submit it to RST with an attached check made out to RST.  Meet forms can be dropped off in the meet box in the RHS pool office or given to a coach. Please pay careful attention to due dates! RST has a parent volunteer who electronically submits the entries.

2.     You can mail the swimmers entry.  Make sure that it is post marked by the due date posted on the front of the meet form.When submitting by mail, it is important to fill out the SCS meet entry card correctly and completely. You will attach a check made payable toSCS.

An example of a Southern California Swimming (SCS) entry card is on the next page.  It is important to provide the correct information on the entry card whether you enter electronically or by mail.  Below are the steps:

  • Enter swimmer’s last name, first name, middle initial
  • Enter swimmer’s age as of the 1st day of the meet entering
  • Mark swimmer’s sex
  • Enter swimmer’s events that he/she will be swimming
  • Enter the event number from the meet form in the

EVT NO. column next to the appropriate distance

  • Enter the swimmer’s personal best time for each event (The times must be an established time that is swam at a meet.  Times swum during practice do not count.)
  • For a new swimmer with no times established – some meets allow you to enter a NT or no time other meets require you to submit the minimum time listed on the meet form.  This information is stated on the front of the meet form. 
  • Note: The swimmer’s coach should help determine which events a swimmer should swim. 
  • Enter the swimmer’s SCS number.  This number is the swimmer’s birth date in the form of mmddyy, the first 3 letters of the first name, the first letter of the middle initial, and the first four letters of the last name.
  • Enter the name of the meet stated on the front of the entry form
  • Enter the team abbreviation (RST) and coach’s name
  • Print parent/guardian name, phone number and e-mail to contact if there are questions about the meet entry card.
  • The event fees are stated on the front of the entry form.  The per event fee is multiplied by the number of events the swimmer will be swimming and then added to flat surcharge fee to determine the total amount due.

Note:  There are no refunds once the entry is submitted.  Meets are swum rain or shine.

What to bring to a meet : 

  • 2-4 towels
  • Extra goggles
  • Drinks- water or energy drinks (coolers are allowed on pool decks)
  • Snacks – energy foods, fruits, veggies, sandwiches, etc.
  • Sunscreen
  • Chair
  • Team suit
  • Team swim cap
  • Parka or warm clothes in cold weather
  • Footwear (sheepskin lined boots, sandals, flip flops)
  • Some swimmers like to bring sleeping bags or blankets
  • EZ Up (Often times we have parent volunteers that are willing to set up team EZ UP’s)
  • Games, books, cards, etc.
  • Camera

At most meets, the hosting team will run a snack bar with reasonable prices.  Hosting teams typically invite swim gear vendors.  This is a great time to purchase goggles, work out suits and caps, and any other gear your swimmer may need.  Vendors at meets often offer discounted prices on suits and swim gear.

What to expect at a meet:

  • Arrive on time for warm up:  Meet warm up and start times are stated on the meet form.  Coaches will also instruct swimmers as to the time they should arrive at the meet for warm up.  For most morning sessions RST starts warm ups at 8:00 am.  Afternoon session warm-ups (typically for the older swimmers) start after the morning session is completed.  This varies with each meet.  Coaches should have a tentative time line and will let afternoon swimmers know when to arrive for warm ups.

Note: Most RST families sit together at the swim meets.  This is a great way to get to know the RST families and swimmers.  It also builds great camaraderie. Swimmers enjoy cheering for each other.

  • Check in:  Typically signs are posted directing swimmers where to check in.  At the check in table, the swimmer confirms the events they are entered to swim.  Often swimmers will write their event numbers on their hand with a sharpie marker to help keep track of their events for the day.
  • Report to the RST coach:  Our coaches are often rotated at meets.  If your coach is not present, report to the RST coach attending the meet. 
  • Warm-up with your RST teammates:  Coaches will get the swimmers warmed up before the start of the meet.
  • Posting of Events:  Swimmers need to watch for the posting of their events so they know what lane and heat they are swimming.  The races are normally posted on a wall or fence on the pool deck.  They are separated into girls and boys postings and by age group.  Swimmers are responsible for knowing what heat and lane they are swimming.  Swimmers need to report their lane and heat assignment to the coach.  The coach will give them a final pep talk.
  • It is the swimmer’s responsibility to be behind the blocks in time for their race.  If a swimmer accidentally misses an event, the swimmer needs to report to the admin table.  According to the USA Swimming Rules Book, the swimmer may be penalized and not allowed to swim their next event.
  • After the Race:  The swimmer reports back to the coach.  The coach will analyze the race and then sends the swimmer to warm down.  It is important to warm down after each event!
  • Parent Lane Timers:  For parents attending meets, each participating team is required to provide lane timers.  Please remember to sign up for a time slot!  Timing is EASY!

Parental Involvement

Parental involvement is crucial to the success of RST.  Volunteers are needed to help with swim meets, coordinate special events, fundraise, and serve as board members.  Getting involved with RST is a great way to meet people, have fun and teach your child about commitment. Many swim parents develop long-term friendships and enjoy the family-like atmosphere that develops when people work together. 

Parental Responsibilities: 

  • Transport swimmer to workouts and meets on time.
  • Make sure all financial obligations are met on time.
  • Keep informed on current RST events by checking the information board at the pools, reading the newsletter, and checking the team website.
  • RST sponsors an annual Swim-A-Thon.  Families are obligated to participate in fund raising activities.
  • Volunteer to work meets that RST hosts.
  • Promote RST within your community.
  • Children who are not swimming should be supervised at all times during practice and at meets.

Parental Advice:

  • Your child needs your emotional, physical, and financial support.
  • Be realistic in terms of expectations; factor in age and skill level; be aware of your child’s perception of your expectations; support but do not push your child.
  • Emphasize performance and effort, not just outcome. Your swimmer only has control over his/her performance. Define and measure success as doing your best and striving to reach your personal goals.
  • Give plenty of encouraging and rewarding statements.
  • Support the coaches by allowing them to be the expert; by remaining in the stands during practice; and by attending the coaches meetings.
  • At meets and at practice, assist in keeping the facilities clean and orderly; help pick-up and put away all equipment and help with pool covers; turn in left behind items to the coach.
  • Keep winning in perspective.

Hosting a Home Meet

Swimmers must practice for many hours to get ready for a meet, but it takes many volunteers to successfully run a meet.  RST depends on your support for volunteering. 

Volunteer positions required for running a smooth meet:

Setup /Breakdown

Everyone is needed! Help set up easy-ups, timing chairs, lane lines, warning flags, timing system, snack bar, tables, etc; pack up all equipment and restore deck to the original condition.

Clerk of the Course

Assists meet administrator and officials to keep the meet events running on schedule; keeps track of registered swimmers and the events they are entered in.


Checks swimmers in at the start of the meet.


Helps verify finish times during the meet.


Uses team computers to provide various forms for officials, timers and swimmers; helps seed events and print out reports.

Timing System

Help run the equipment that provides official race times.


Receives forms from computer area and delivers them to the proper destinations.

Head Timer

Sits near lane timers and starts 2 extra, back-up stop watched for each event.

Lane Timers

Sits in chairs at the end of each lane and uses stop watch to time each event.


Assists younger swimmers in 25 yard and 50 meter events to find their correct heat and lane.


Provides swimmers and spectators with meet information and entertainment; and promotes businesses who sponsor and support RST.

Pool Marshall

Supervises the pool area where swimmers warm-up and cool-down. (Must be a board member with a current USA Swim card.)

Ticket Sales

Sells meet programs and tickets for snack bar and raffle auction items.

Snack Bar

Assists with preparation and sale of snack bar items.

Deck Operations

Assists in keeping deck and bathrooms cleaned and stocked; helps with any deck maintenance necessary to maintain a safe and clean environment.


Places labels on swimmers’ awards and sorts the awards by team.

Swimmer Incentives & Recognitions

The goal of RST is for each swimmer to reach their highest potential while enjoying the sport of swimming.  We have developed several incentive programs to keep the swimmer motivated.

Winter Warrior Program:  This program recognizes swimmers who maintain high attendance levels and participate in meets during the winter season.

T-Shirts and Swim Caps:  Swimmers who attend championship meets, Junior Olympic meets, national meets, etc. are given special RST meet t-shirts and swim caps. 

Annual Awards Banquet:  In the fall, RST holds an awards banquet to recognize each swimmer that has swam for Redlands Swim Team throughout the year.  At this banquet we also recognize outstanding swimming achievements.  Examples of awards earned are: 

RST Awards:

  • Highpoint Awards- These awards are given to the top male and female swimmer of each group that has accumulated the most personal best times swam during swim meets within the swim season.
  • Top 16 list in Southern California- These awards are given to swimmers that have accomplished top 16 ranking in Southern California.
  • National Recognitions- These awards recognizes swimmers that have achieved national standards.
  • New Team Records

Coaches Awards:  Each coach presents the following awards to a male and a female swimmer from their group. 

  • Most Improved
  • Most Outstanding/Most Inspirational
  • Ironman- This award is given to the swimmers who come to practice willing to give 110%.

Glossary of Terms

Age Group

Division of swimmers according to age. The National Age Group divisions are:  10-under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18. Some LSCs have divided the swimmers into more convenient divisions specific to their situations: (i.e. 8-under, 13-Over, 15-Over, Junior, Senior.)


In a Prelims/Finals meet (ex. JO’s); after the finalists are decided, the next two fastest swimmers other than the finalists are designated as alternates. The faster of the two being the first alternate and the next being second alternate. If a finalist cannot participate, the alternates are called to take their place.


The final swimmer in a relay.


One of the four competitive racing strokes, basically any style of swimming on your back. Backstroke is swum as the first stroke in the Medley Relay and second stroke in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100 yards/meter, and 200 yards/meter (LSCs with 10-under divisions offer the 25 yd back).


The starting sound from an electronic, computerized timing system.

Bonus Heat

The heat held during the finals session of a Prelims/Finals meet that is slower than the swimmers participating in Big Finals. The Bonus Heat may refer to Consolation Finals or an extra heat in addition to Consolation finals.


One of the four competitive racing strokes. Breaststroke is swum as the second stroke in the Medley Relay and the third stroke in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100 yards/meter, and 200 yards/meter. (LSCs with 10-under divisions offer the 25 yd breast).


A moveable wall, constructed to divide a pool into different courses, such as a 50-meter pool into two 25-yard courses (i.e. Belmont Plaza Pool).


One of the four competitive racing strokes. Butterfly (nicknamed FLY) is swam as the third stroke in the Medley Relay and first stroke in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100 yards/meter, and 200 yards/meter (LSCs with 8-under divisions offer the 25 yard fly).


The manual Timing System stopping device that records a back-up time in case the touch pad malfunctioned. The button is at the end of a wire, plugged into a deck terminal box. There are usually 3 buttons per lane. It is the timer’s responsibility to push the button as the swimmer finishes the race.

Championship Finals  

The top six or eight swimmers (depending on the number of pool lanes) in Prelims/Finals meet who, after the prelims are swum, qualify to return to the Finals. The fastest heat of finals when multiple heats are held.


The procedure required before a swimmer swims an event in a deck-seeded meet. Sometimes referred to as positive check-in, the swimmer must mark their name on a list posted by the meet host.

Circle Seeding

A method of seeding swimmers when they are participating in a prelims/finals event. The fastest 18 to 24 swimmers are seeded in the last three heats, with the fastest swimmers being in the inside lanes. (i.e. Lane 4 in the final three heats.) See rule book for exact method for seeding depending on the lanes in the pool.

Circle Swimming 

Performed by staying to the right of the black line when swimming in a lane to enable more swimmers to safely swim in each lane.


A scheduled meeting for the purpose of instruction (i.e. Official's clinic, Coach's clinic.)


A set of rules that have been officially published.

Code of Ethics

A Code of Conduct that both swimmers and coaches are required to sign at certain USA-S/LSC sponsored events. The Code is not strict and involves common sense and proper behavior.

Consolation Finals 

After the fastest six or eight swimmers, the next six or eight swimmers (depending on the number of pool lanes) in a Prelims/Finals meet who, after the prelims are swum, qualify to return to the Finals. Consolations are the second fastest heat of finals when multiple heats are held and are conducted before the Championship heat.


Designated distance (length of pool) for swimming competition (i.e. Long Course = 50 meters / Short Course = 25 yards or 25 meters.)


Slang for qualifying time.  A time standard necessary to attend a particular meet of event.


The date meet entries must be "postmarked" by, to be accepted by the meet host. Making the meet deadline does not guarantee acceptance into a meet since many meets are "full" weeks before the entry deadline.


The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches. No one but an "authorized" USA Swimming member may be on the deck during a swim competition.

Deck Entries

Accepting entries into swimming events on the first day or later day of a meet.


How far a swimmer swims. Distances for short course are:  25 yards (1 length), 50 yards (2 lengths), 100 yards (4 lengths), 200 yards (8 lengths), 400 yards (16 lengths), 500 yards (20 lengths), 1000 yards (40 lengths), and 1650 yards (66 lengths). Distances for long course are: 50 meters (1 length), 100 meters (2 lengths), 200 meters (4 lengths), 400 meters (8 lengths), 800 meters (16 lengths), and 1500 meters (30 lengths).

Distance Events

Term used to refer to events over 400 meters/500 yards.


This occurs when a swimmer has committed an infraction of some kind.  A disqualified swimmer is not eligible to receive awards, nor can the time be used as an official time.


Entering the water head first. Diving is not allowed during warm-ups except at the designated time, in specific lanes that are monitored by the swimmer's coach.


A teaching exercise involving a portion of a stroke which is used to improve technique.

Dropped Time

When a swimmer goes faster than the previous performance they have "dropped their time."


The exercises and various strength programs swimmers do out of the water that aids and enhances swimmers performance.


An individual, relay team, or club roster's event list in a swim competition.

Entry Form

A form on which a swimmer enters a competition.  Usually includes swimmer’s name, USA Swim number, team, age, sex, event numbers, and entry times.

Entry Fees

The amount per event a swimmer or relay is charged. This varies depending on the LSC and type of meet.

Entry Limit

Each meet will usually have a limit of total swimmers they can accept, or a time limit they cannot exceed. Once an entry limit has been reached, a meet will be closed and all other entries returned.

Electronic Timing 

Timing system operated on DC current (battery). The timing system usually has touch pads in the water with buttons (pickles) for back-up times and a computer-type console that prints out the results of each race. Some systems are hooked up to a scoreboard that displays swimmers.  Some systems may have only buttons (pickles) and no touch pads.


A race or stroke over a given distance. An event equals 1 preliminary with its final, or 1 timed final.

False Start

When a swimmer is moving or leaves the starting block before the start is sounded. One false start will disqualify a swimmer or a relay team, although the starter or referee may disallow the false start due to unusual circumstances.

Fastest to Slowest

A seeding method used on the longer distance events. The fastest seeded swimmers participate in the first heats followed by the next fastest and so on. Many times these events will alternate one girls’ heat and one boys’ heat until all swimmers have competed.


The championship heat of an event in which the top swimmers from the preliminaries compete.

Final Results

The printed copy of the results of each race of a swim meet.


Pennants that are suspended over the width of each end of the pool approximately 15 feet from the wall.


One of the four competitive racing strokes. Freestyle (nicknamed Free) is swum as the fourth stroke in the Medley Relay and fourth stroke in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100 yards/meter, 200 yards/meter, 400 mtr/500, yd 800 mtr/1000 yds, 1500 mtr/1650 yds (LSCs with 8-under divisions offer the 25 yd free).


A specific skill or time achievement a swimmer sets and strives for.  Can be short term or long term.


The area along the edge of the pool in which the water overflows during a race and is circulated through the filtration system.


A division of an event when there are too many swimmers to compete at the same time. The results are compiled by swimmers time swum, after all heats of the event are completed.

Heat Sheet

The pre-meet printed listings of swimmers' seed times in the various events at a swim meet. These sheets vary in accuracy, since the swimmers times are entered many weeks before the meet. Heat sheets (or programs) are sold at the meet.


Individual Medley. A swimming event using all four of the competitive strokes on consecutive lengths of the race. The order must be: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle. Equal distances must be swum of each stroke. Distances offered: 100 yards, 200 yards/meters, and 400 yards/meter.


Junior Olympics. An age group championship meet conducted by the LSC.

Jump Start

An illegal start done by the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th member of a relay team. The swimmer on the block breaks contact with the block before the swimmer in the water touches the wall.


The leg movements of a swimmer. A popular word to "yell" to encourage swimmers during a race.

Kick Board

A flotation device used by swimmers during practice. A lightweight object used with great accuracy by coaches.


The specific area in which a swimmer is assigned to swim (i.e. Lane 1 or Lane 2.) Pools with starting blocks at only one end: As the swimmers stand behind the blocks, lanes are numbered from Right (lane 1) to Left (Lane 6).

Lane Lines

Continuous floating markers attached to a cable stretched from the starting end to the turning end for the purpose of separating each lane and quieting the waves caused by racing swimmers.

Lane Markings

The guide lines on the bottom of the pool and in the center of the lanes running the length of the pool.


One length of the course. Sometimes may also mean down and back (2 lengths) of the course.

Lap Counter

 A set of display numbers used to keep track of laps during a distance race longer than 500 yards. Counting is done from the end opposite the starting end. The numbers on the counter are "odd numbers" only with the final lap being designated by bright orange. (Also, the title given to the person who counts for the swimmer.)

Late Entries

Meet entries from a club or individual that are received by the meet host after the entry deadline. These entries are usually not accepted and are returned to sender.


The part of a relay event swum by a single team member. A single stroke in the IM.


The extent of the competitive course from end to end. See lap.

Long Course

A pool 50 meters in length.

Long Distance

Term used to refer to events of 800 meters/1000yards, to 1500 meters/1650 yards.


Local Swimming Committee. The local level administrative division of USA Swimming with supervisory responsibilities within certain geographic boundaries designated by USA Swimming.


The command to take your starting position (i.e. Take your mark).


The official who controls the crowd and swimmer-flow at a swim meet.


A competition designed to be a learning experience.  By implementing what has been learned in practice, the swimmer races against the clock to determine improvement.

Meet Director

The official in charge of the administration of the meet. The person directing the "dry side" of the meet.

Middle Distance

Term used to refer to events of 200 yards/meters to 400 meters/500 yards.


National Age Group Time Standards.

National Reportable Times (NRT)/Top 16 

Time standards set for both short and long courses to give national recognition to the fastest 16 swimmers in each stroke, distance, gender, and age group.  Achieving these standards allows a swimmer’s time to be submitted for consideration each year.  They do not guarantee achieving a Top 16 ranking.


USA Swimming National Championship meet conducted in March/April and August.

Negative Split

Swimming the second half of the race equal to or faster than the first half.


National Governing Body.

Non-Conforming Time

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


No Time. The abbreviation used on a heat sheet to designate that the swimmer has not swum that event before.

Observed Meet  

A meet that is not conducted according to USA Swimming rules (high school, YMCA) where a request for observation has been processed and approved in advance. Sufficient USA Swimming officials are present to certify that the athletes' swims are in compliance with USA Swimming technical rules.

Observed Swim 

A swim observed by assigned USA Swimming officials for conformance with USA Swimming technical rules in a meet conducted under other than USA Swimming rules.


The certified judge on the deck of the pool at a sanctioned competition that enforces USA Swimming rules.  There are stroke and turn judges, administrative officials, starters, timers, and referees.

Officials Decision (Judges Decision)

A judgment call made by the official when visual evidence of a winner is not consistent with the timers’ watches.

Olympic Trials

The USA Swimming sanctioned long course swim meet held the year of the Olympic Games to decide what swimmers will represent the USA on our Olympic Team. Qualification times are faster than Senior Nationals.

Open Water Swims

A freestyle event conducted in a natural body of water, such as a lake, river or ocean.


Official Time. The swimmers event time recorded to one hundredth of a second (.01).

Open Competition 

Competition which any qualified club, organization, or individual may enter.


Large 3/4 length fur lined coats worn by swimmers. Usually are in team colors with logo or team name.

Pace Clock

The electronic clocks or large clocks with highly visible numbers and second hands, positioned at the ends or sides of a swimming pool so the swimmers can check their pace or maintain intervals during practice or warm-ups.


Colored plastic devices worn on the swimmers hands during swim practice.

Positive Check In

The procedure required before a swimmer swims an event in a deck seeded or pre seeded meet. The swimmer must mark their name on a list posted by the meet host.


The scheduled workouts swimmers attend with their swim team/club.


Short for preliminaries.  Also called Heats or Trails. Those races in which swimmers qualify for the championship, consolation finals or semi-finals.


Type of meet with two sessions. The preliminary heats are usually held in the morning session. The fastest six or eight (Championship Heat) swimmers and the next fastest six or eight swimmers (Consolation Heat) return in the evening to compete in the Finals. A swimmer who has qualified in the Consolation Finals may not place in the Championship Finals even if their finals time would place them so. The converse also applies.

Proof of Time

An official meet result, OVC, or other accepted form. Swimmers/Coaches must supply proof of time with some meet entries, and other meets it is not required unless a swimmer misses a cut of time at the meet.

Psyche Sheet

An entry sheet showing all swimmers entered into each individual event. Sometimes referred to as a "Heat Sheet" or meet program. However, a “heat sheet” would show not only every swimmer in an event, but also what heat and lane they are swimming in.

Pull Buoy

A flotation device used for pulling by swimmers in practice.

Qualifying Times (Q-Time)

Published times necessary to enter certain meets, or the times necessary to achieve a specific category of swimmer.


Any single swimming competition (i.e. preliminary, final, timed final.)


The head official at a swim meet in charge of all of the "Wet Side" administration and decisions.


Enrolled and paid as a member of USA-S and the LSC.


A swimming event in which four swimmers compete together as a team to achieve one time. Each swimmer completes an equal distance of the race. There are two types of relays:  1.) Medley relay - One swimmer swims Backstroke, one swimmer swims Breaststroke, one swimmer swims Butterfly, one swimmer swims Freestyle, in that order. 2.) Freestyle relay - Each swimmer swims freestyle.


To withdraw from an event after having declared an intention to participate. Some meets have scratch deadlines and specific scratch rules, and if not followed, swimmer can be disqualified from remaining events.


Nickname for Speedo Championship Series.  Open "senior level" meets held in the spring and summer.  Each Zone may hold up to four meets. Qualifying times, sites, dates and meet rules are determined locally.


Assign the swimmers heats and lanes according to their submitted or preliminary times.


Deck Seeding - swimmers are called to report to the Clerk of the Course. After scratches are determined, the event is seeded. Pre Seeding - swimmers are arranged in heats according to submitted times, usually a day prior to the meet.

Senior Meet

A meet that is for senior level swimmers and is not divided into age groups. Qualification times are usually necessary and will vary depending on the level of the meet.

Senior Nationals 

A USA Swimming National Championship meet for swimmers of any age as long as the qualification times are met.


Portion of meet distinctly separated from other portions by locale, time, type of competition, or age group.

Short Course

A pool 25-yards or 25-meters in length.


A time recorded from the official start to the completion of an intermediate distance within a longer event.  Also the time for one of the four individuals in a relay.  Under certain conditions, splits may also be used as official times, for example, the lead off swim in a relay or the lead off portion of a distance event.


Separate portions of a dryland or weight circuit.


The beginning of a race. The dive used to begin a race.


The official in charge of signaling the beginning of a race and insuring that all swimmers have a fair takeoff.

Starting Blocks

The starting platforms located behind each lane.


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


The command given by the Starter or Referee to have the swimmers move off the blocks. Usually this command is a good indication everything is not right for the race to start.


The position used by swimmers when starting or pushing off the walls designed to reduce water resistance.


There are 4 competitive strokes:  Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Freestyle.

Stroke Judge

The official positioned at the side of the pool, walking the length of the course as the swimmers race. If the Stroke Judge sees something illegal, they report to the referee and the swimmer may be disqualified.

Submitted Time

Times used to enter swimmers in meets. These times must have been achieved by the swimmer at previous meets.


In a Prelims/Finals type competition, a race after the scheduled event to break a tie. The only circumstance that warrants a swim-off is to determine which swimmer makes finals or an alternate, otherwise ties stand.


USA Swimming system that keeps track of every time swum by all swimmers. Available through the USA Swimming website.


The final preparation phase for a swimmer with the slow gradual reduction of work loads and intensities in preparation for the season ending competition meet, like JO’s.

Timed Finals

Competition in which only heats are swum and final placing are determined by those times.

Time Standard

Performance requirements to enter a swimming competition.  National standards are determined by USA Swimming.  Local swim meet standards are determined by the LSC.


The volunteers sitting behind the starting blocks/finish end of pool, who are responsible for getting watch times on events and activating the backup buttons for the timing system.

Time Trial

An event or series of events where a swimmer may achieve or better a required time standard.

Top 16

A list of times compiled by the LSC or USA-S that recognizes the top 16 swimmers in each age group (boys & girls) by each event and distance. The number 16 was arbitrarily chosen because it would normally fill the finals and consoles heats at a swim meet.

Touch Out

To reach the touchpad and finish first in a close race.

Touch Pad

The removable touch sensitive board at the end of each lane where a swimmer’s finish is registered and sent electronically to the timing system. A swimmer must properly touch the touchpad to register an official time in a race.


The act of leaving one club or LSC and going to another. Usually 120 days of unattached competition is required before swimmer can represent another USA-S club.


An athlete member who competes, but does not represent a club or team (abbr as UN).

Unofficial Time

The time displayed on a read out board or read over the intercom by the announcer immediately after the race. After the time has been checked, it will become the official time.


The governing body of swimming--USA Swimming.

USA Swimming

The national governing body for competitive swimming in the United States.

USA-S ID Number 

A 16-part number assigned to a swimmer after they have filled out the proper forms and paid their annual dues. The first 6 parts are numbers of a swimmer's birth date: Day/Month/Year using zeros as place holders. The next three spaces are the first three letters of the athlete's legal first name. The next letter is the middle initial, followed by the first four letters of the swimmer's last name (i.e. USA-S ID# for swimmer Suzan Eileen Nelson, born Aug.27, 1976 = 082776SUZENELS.)


The low intensity swimming used by swimmers after a race or main practice set to rid the body of excess lactic acid and gradually reduce heart rate and respiration.


The low intensity swimming used by swimmers prior to a main practice set or race to get the muscles loose and warm.  Warm up gradually increases heart rate, respiration and helps to prevent injury.


The hand held device used by timers and coaches for timing a swimmers races and taking splits.


The various barbells, benches, machines, etc. used by swimmers during their dryland program.


The sound a starter/referee makes to signal for quiet before they give the command to start the race.


The distance a swimmer races or swims in practice. Total yardage can be calculated for each practice session.


The country is divided up into 4 major zones: Eastern - Southern - Central - Western. At the end of the long course season (in August) the Zone Administration sponsors a championship age group meet.  The Zone meets are the highest level of age group competition available to USA Swimming age group swimmers.