Swim Terms

"A" Times, "B" Times, etc: (also called Time Standards): A time designated by a hosting team, an LSC, or USA Swimming that a swimmer must achieve for qualification or recognition.

Age-Up: On their birth date, swimmers move into the next age group. 

Anchor: The final swimmer in a relay. 

Blocks: The starting platforms located behind each lane.  

Championship Meet: The meet held at the end of a season. Qualification times are usually necessary to enter the meet. 

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

Clerk of Course: The area of a swim meet where most administrative aspects are taken care of. The "on-deck entry" is usually located in this area. 

Deck: The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches. 

Drag Suit: An extra suit worn over a practice or racing suit to provide extra resistance.  

Drill: A swimming exercise designed to improve technique. 

Dropped Time: When a swimmer goes faster than their previous performance, they have "dropped their time." 

Dryland(s): The exercises and various strength, flexibility, and injury prevention programs swimmers do out of the water. 

Entry: An individual, relay team, or club roster’s event list entered in a swim competition. 

False Start: When a swimmer leaves the starting block before the horn or gun. 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. 

Heats: A division of an event when there are too many swimmers to compete all at once. There are usually 8 swimmers per heat. 

Interval: A specific length of time for swimming and rest used during swim practice. For example, swimming 50 yards on a one minute interval gives the swimmer one minute to swim 50 yards, and if they finish with time to spare, that extra time is used as rest.

Lane Assignment: The lane a swimmer will be in for their heat of the event they are swimming.  

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

Length: The distance of the competitive course from end to end. See Lap. 

Long Course: The swim season running from early April to mid-August. Meets are generally held outdoors in a 50 meter pool. 

LSC (Local Swim Committee): The local level administrative division of USA Swimming with supervisory responsibilities within certain geographic boundaries designated by USA Swimming. Rice Aquatics is in the Gulf LSC

NT or No Time: The abbreviation used on a heat sheet to designate that the swimmer has not swam that event before (therefore they do not have a time yet). 

On-deck Entries: Entering a swimmer on the day of the meet. Usually done at the Clerk of Course area and the entry fee usually doubles. 

Qualifying Times: Published times necessary to enter certain meets, or the times necessary to achieve a specific category of swimmer. See “A” Times/Time Standards. 

Scratch: 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, the swimmer can be disqualified from remaining events and/or fined.  

Seed: The swimmer’s submitted or preliminary times, which assign the swimmer to a specific heat and lane. 

Set: A series of laps and strokes done during practice. 

Short Course: The season of swimming running from mid August through May where meets are swum in an indoor, 25 yard pool (in the United States). 

Stroke: There are 4 competitive strokes: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle. IM (Individual Medley) is an event in which all four strokes are swum in sequence.  

TAGS: Texas Age Group Swimming meet held at the end of each season. Qualifying time standards for TAGS generally fall between the national “A” and “AA” time standards. 

Taper: The resting phase for swimmers at the end of the season before the championship meet. 

Timer: 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. At meets each team is usually assigned lanes for which they are responsible for supplying timers for the duration of the meet. 

USA Swimming: The governing body of swimming in the United States. 

USA Swimming Number: All USA Swimming members are given a unique USA Swimming Number. This number is needed for "on-deck" entries. It consists of the first 3 letters of the swimmers last name, the middle initial, and the first 4 letters in the last name. For example: Kent Michael Nelson, born Aug 27, 1976, would be 082776KENMNELS.

Warm-down: The loosening-up a swimmer does after a race when pool space is available.