Spring is here…and that means the beginning of the long course season! What does this mean?

For the majority of the year, from the end of August to the end of March, is short course season. Events are swum in a 25-meter (82 feet) or 25-yard pool. At the end of March is the start of long course season and it concludes in early August and uses a 50-meter (164 feet) pool. Typically, high school and college meets are swum in SCY (short course yards), while major international competitions are swum in LCM (long course meters). Accordingly, times achieved in short course meets typically have Y or SCY (short course yards) next to them whereas times attained in long course meets are designated by M, L, or LCM (long course meters).

In terms of training, both short course and long course swimming have their advantages.  

Short Course:

  • Swimmers make more turns to swim the same length in a short course race
  • Short course races are perceived to be exciting and fast paced
  • Short course swimming is great for building speed, as the turns require bursts of power and agility

​Long Course:

  • Long course races give swimmers more opportunities to build up speed and maintain momentum, as they have fewer turns to slow them down
  • Long course swimming is great for building endurance and improving stroke technique, as swimmers have more time to focus on their strokes and maintain a consistent pace
  • And of course, long course races are also considered more prestigious, as they are the standard pool size for major international competitions, such as the Olympic Games and World Championships.

Ultimately, whether to focus on short course or long course swimming depends on the swimmer's strengths and goals. Each course is designed to engage a swimmer slightly differently and some may do better in one versus the other. Some choose to compete in both to improve their overall swimming abilities.