Swimming Lingo

Age Group Swimmer - All USA Swimming registered swimmers aged 14 & under

Block - The starting platform

Bulkhead - a moveable wall, to divide a pool into different courses, such as a 50-meter pool into two 25-yard courses

Chase Starts - Used in long course meets; back-to-back heats will start their events on opposite ends of the pool; when the heat in the water completes 3/4 of their race, the heat at the opposite end of the pool will start their race

Circle-In (Positive Check-In) - Performed by swimmers upon arriving at a meet to designate their intention to swim a race.  The swimmer will actually circle in their name for each event they intend to swim at that competition. Usually done for longer events

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 during practice

Clerk of Course - Person responsible for receiving deck entries at a meet and for handling the circle-in process for swimmers

Cut - Slang term for a qualifying time.  A time standard necessary to attend a particular meet or event

Deck Entries - Entries for events that are not done in advance, but on the swimming deck prior to the start of the meet

Distance Events - Term used to refer to events over 400 yards

DQ (Disqualification) - This occurs when a swimmer has committed an infraction of some kind (ex. Freestyle kick in butterfly.  A disqualified swimmer does not receive points for that swim, nor can the time be used as an official time

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

Dryland Training - Training done out of the water that aids and enhances swimming performance

Entry Form - Form on which a swimmer enters a competition (usually during the ‘deck entry’ process).  Usually includes club and swimmer name, USA Swimming number, age, sex, event names and entry times

False Start - Occurs when a swimmer is moving before the start is sounded.  In USA Swimming, one false start will result in disqualification

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

Flags - Backstroke flags placed 5 yards from the end of the pool.  The flags enable backstrokers to execute a turn safely and more efficiently

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

Gulf Swimming - our Local Swimming Committee (LSC); charged by USA Swimming to govern competitive swimming in the Gulf area

Heat Sheet - a listing of all swimmers by event number, heat, and lane assignments available for purchase at the meet

I.M. (Individual Medley) – An event in which the swimmer uses all four strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle

Long Course – A pool 50 meters in length.  Typically, meets conducted from the end of April through August are swum long course

LSC – Local Swimming Committee.  The governing body for swimming at the local level.  Our LSC is Gulf Swimming

Meet – a swimming competition between two or more teams

Negative Split - Swimming the second half of the race equal to or faster than the first half

NS (No-Show) – When a swimmer does not report to swim the event or misses the event.  

Official – A judge on the deck of the pool at a sanctioned competition who enforces USA Swimming rules. There are stroke and turn judges, administrative officials, starters, timers, and referees

Pace Clock - Clock used to check pace or maintain intervals in practice

Prelims (Preliminaries) – Races in which swimmers swim in order to qualify for the finals (or championship heats of an event)

Proof of Time – Swimmers must qualify for certain meets based on their best times.  Entry chairpersons must send in proof that the entry time has been made, including the time and meet the time was achieved.  

Qualifying Time – Time necessary to compete in a particular event and/or competition.  Also known as a cut.

Relay – An event in which four swimmers compete together as a team to achieve one time

Scratch – To withdraw from an event prior to it being held in a competition

Seeding Times - the time a swimmer uses to enter a meet.  This time determines the swimmer's heat/lane assignment

Senior Swimmer - all USA Swimming registered swimmers aged 15 & over

Short Course – A pool 25 yards or meters in length.  Typically, meets conducted September through the end of March are swum short course

Split – a per lap record of time for events with longer distances.  For example, a swimmer's time for each 25-yard leg of a 100-yard event

Sprint - Describes the shorter events.  In training, to swim as fast as possible for a short distance

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

Taper – The final preparation phase; the slow gradual reduction of workloads and intensities in preparation for season ending competition

Three-Event Rule – A swimmer with three qualifying times may swim all other events offered in that division entered at the qualifying standard

Time Standards – Performance requirements to enter a swimming competition.  

Time Trial – A time-only swim, which is not part of a regular meet

Touch Pad – A large touch sensitive board at the end of each lane where a swimmer’s finish is registered and sent electronically to the timing system

Unattached - the status a swimmer receives when changing from one USA Swimming club to another.  A swimmer must be "unattached" for 120 days from their last competition with their previous USA Swimming club.  During this time, they may compete individually, but not in relays

Up/Down Rule – If a swimmer has qualifying time in a particular stroke he/she may swim the immediately preceding or following distance of that stroke in that division

USA Swimming – The national governing body for competitive swimming in the United States

Warm Down – Low intensity swimming used by swimmers after a race or main practice set to gradually reduce heart rate and respiration

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