GLOSSARY OF COMMON SWIMMING TERMS

AGE GROUP SWIM MEET - all USA Swimming registered swimmers, 14 years of age and under, who have met the qualifying time standard for a specific event(s) are eligible to participate in their age category. Age on the first day of competition shall govern the entire meet. (See also: Senior Swim Meet)

AGE GROUP SWIMMER - all USA SWIMMING registered swimmers age 14 and under

CHECK-IN (POSITIVE CHECK-IN) - 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.

CLERK-OF-COURSE - an area at the meet where swimmers report before their event to be arranged into their heat and lane assignments. The clerk of course is generally located near the starting area.

CLUB - PNS is comprised of over 50 member clubs. Swimmers belong to individual clubs and PNS meets are hosted by these clubs.

DECK - The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches. Parents who are not working in an official capacity (e.g., certified official, lane timer) are not allowed on deck during a meet.

DECK ENTRIES - Some meets will allow swimmers to enter an event during the meet. See the Meet Announcement to determine if deck entries are allowed and any fees involved. Note that the swimmer or coach must provide proof of current USA-Swimming membership (USA-S Registration Card or a printout from the PNS Registrar) before the swimmer is allowed to deck enter.

DECK SEEDING - a procedure of assigning swimmers to proper lanes and heats immediately before each event at the Clerk of Course on the deck. (See also: Psych Sheet).

DIVE OVER STARTS - A forward start of heat performed before the swimmers from the previous heat have exited the pool. Dive Over Starts allow swimmers to catch their breath before they exit the pool and allow better management of the meet timeline. The Meet Announcement will indicate if Dive Over Starts may be used (usually at the discretion of the Referee of Meet Director).

DQ (Disqualification) - In meet results, a DQ indicates that a swimmer was disqualified for a rules violation or stroke infraction. The Referee confirms an infraction reported by the Starter or Stroke and Turn Judge.

INVITATIONAL MEET - A type of meet that requires a club to be invited or request an invitation to participate.

IM (INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY) - A race done by an individual swimmer consisting of one leg of each of the competitive strokes - butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and any other stroke (generally freestyle), in that order.

FINALS (CHAMPIONSHIP, CONSOLATION, or BONUS) - the session of a meet where the meet winner is determined. It is generally swum in the evening. Finalists are determined by the fastest swimmers in the preliminary rounds (generally swum earlier in the day).

HEAT SHEET - a listing of all swimmers by event number, heat, and lane assignments in the meet. These are available for purchase at the meet. Funds go toward offsetting the costs of running a meet.

MACH - the official abbreviation for the Machine Aquatics  for use on all entry forms for meets.

LCM (Long Course Meters) - A 50 meter pool. In a searchable times database, a swimmer's event times can be selected for either SCY (Short Course Yards), SCM (Short Course Meters), or LCM (Long Course Meters).

LONG COURSE - a type of competitive pool, which measures 50 meters in length. The standard size for all international competition and all world record swimming is the 50-meter course. Typically meets conducted from the end of April through August are swum Long Course.

LSC (Local Swim Committee) - PNS (Pacific Northwest Swimming) is the LSC for this geographic region. It consists of the geographic territory of the state of Washington west of, but not including, the Counties of Okanogan, Chelan, Kittitas and Yakima and north of, but not including, the Counties of Cowlitz, Skamania and Klickitat. There are 59 LSCs that make up USA Swimming. You can see a map of the 59 LSCs on the USA Swimming website.

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT - The Meet Announcement lists everything you need to know about the eligibility, rules and schedule for an individual meet. Meet Announcements are posted on the PNS Website under Meets/Results. See the KING website > Information > Meet Entry Procedures for more information.

MEET PROGRAM / HEAT SHEET - A listing of the swimmers competing in each event, including the heat and lane assignments. Note that events requiring Positive Check In are often listed in the meet program in Psych Sheetformat since heat and lane assignments are not done until seeding. There is often a nominal charge for meet programs. See the Meet Announcement for more information.

NFT (No Faster Than) - A swimmer entered in this event must have achieved a time equal to or slower than the NFT time for the event. A swimmer who has never swum the event can enter. Meets with NFT event requirements are designed to ensure that all swimmers can compete, regardless of ability. The Meet Announcement would list NFT times for boys and girls in each event.

NST (No Slower Than) - A swimmer entered in this event must have achieved a time equal to or faster than the NST qualifying time for the event. Meets with NST event requirements are designed to limit entries to the fastest swimmers in each age group. The Meet Announcement would list NST times for boys and girls in each event.

NT (No Time) - If a swimmer's seed time is listed as NT, it often indicates that this is their first time swimming the event in a meet.

OFFICIALS - The certified adult volunteers who work at a meet. There are many different types of officials. See the PNS Website under Officials for more information on the types of officials and upcoming training clinics.

OPEN MEET - Open meets allow swimmers from all PNS clubs to participate.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST SWIMMING (PNS) - the name of the Local Swimming Committee (LSC), charged by USA SWIMMING to govern competitive swimming in the geographic territory of the state of Washington west of, but not including, the Counties of Okanogan, Chelan, Kittitas and Yakima and north of, but not including, the Counties of Cowlitz, Skamania and Klickitat.

POSITIVE CHECK IN - This is the requirement that a swimmer indicate their intention to swim a specific event by marking their name on a list. The Meet Announcement and/or information posted on the PNS Website indicate which events require Positive Check In and what time check in closes. After swimmers have been checked in, the event is Deck Seeded and heat and lane assignments are posted. Any swimmers that have not checked in by the Positive Check In deadline are scratched from the event.

PRELIMS-FINALS - A meet with two sessions. The preliminary heats are usually held in the morning or early afternoon. The fastest swimmers return in the evening to swim the event again in Finals. The Meet Announcement will indicate the number of finals heats by age group.

PRELIMS (PRELIMINARIES) - in certain meets, the qualifying rounds held for each event to determine the finalists.

PROOF OF TIME - a requirement at some meets to make certain that all swimmers have legally met the time standards for that meet.

PSYCH SHEET- a ranking by seeding times for all the swimmers entered in each race of a meet, sometimes used at meets in place of a heat sheet.

REFEREE - the USA SWIMMING official who has the authority over all other officials at the meet. He makes all final decisions and sees to the efficient running of the meet.

SCR (Scratch) - If a swimmer decides to withdraw from an event (e.g., by failing to mark their name during Positive Check In) they are listed as SCR in meet results.

SCY (Short Course Yards) - A 25 yard pool. In a searchable times database, a swimmer's event times can be selected for either SCY (Short Course Yards), SCM (Short Course Meters), or LCM (Long Course Meters).

SEEDING - The process of assigning swimmers entered in an event to a heat and lane.

SEEDING TIMES - the time a swimmer uses to enter a meet. This time, which is written on the entry card, determines one's heat and lane in the particular event.

SENIOR SWIM MEET - all USA SWIMMING registered swimmers who have met the qualifying time standard for a specific event(s) are eligible to compete.

SENIOR SWIMMER - all USA SWIMMING registered swimmers age 15 and over.

SESSION - A portion of the meet that includes a specific set of events for a specific age group (1 or more). Sometimes there are different sessions for boys and girls. Each session of the meet has a distinct warm-up time and event start time.

SHORT COURSE - a type of competitive pool, which measures 25 yards or 25 meters in length. Typically meets conducted from October through the end of March are swum Short Course. 

SPLIT - a per lap time that coaches often record for teaching the concept of pacing. For instance, a swimmer's time for each 25-yard leg of a 100-yard event is his split.

STARTER - the USA SWIMMING official at a meet responsible for starting each heat and calling the next to the blocks.

STROKE & TURN JUDGE - a certified USA SWIMMING official, who determines the legality of swimmers' strokes and disqualifies those who do not conform to USA SWIMMING rules.

TIMED FINALS - Events where the swimmers only swim one time and final results are determined by those times. The Meet Announcement indicates which events are Timed Finals and which, if any, are Prelims-Finals.

TIMELINE - After event entries have been processed and seeded, a timeline can show the approximate start time for each event. If available, timelines can be found on the PNS Website. Go to Meet Schedules and Results and look in the Notes section for the meet.

TIMER  - One of the volunteers behind each lane responsible for getting stop watch times for each race and activating the backup buttons for the automatic timing system. There are typically 3 timers assigned to each lane.

TIME STANDARDS - certain qualifying times which have been set up annually by USA SWIMMING for all events in all levels of meets to insure that all competitors are of reasonably the same ability in their respective meets. The swimmer's goals should be betterment of his time progressing from the "B" standard to the Nationals.

"TOP 16" - a tabulation of the Top 16 times in every age group and every event of all USA SWIMMING competition from the previous season. The short course "Top 16" are published in August and the long course "Top 16" are published every December.

TOUCH PAD - the part of an electronic timing system that rests in the water at the finishing end of each lane. Swimmer's times are electronically recorded when the pad is touched.

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, without representing any club.

USA SWIMMING - the governing body for all amateur swimming in the United States. National Headquarters are in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

USA SWIMMING # (ID) - the personal registration number of each athlete member in USA Swimming. The formula for deriving your USA SWIMMING # is: birth date (6 digit format MMDDYY), first three letters of the first name, middle initial, and first four letters of the last name. For example: John A. Smith was born September 1, 1959. His USA SWIMMING # is 090159johasmit