Glossary of Terms

Bronze champs - a USA meet at the end of the season, usually in March, that allows USA  swimmers with qualifying times to compete. Not as high of a level as silver champs.

DQ (disqualification) - when a swimmer is disqualified by a meet official for a stroke violation, mistake, early or false start, or inappropriate conduct.

Dual meet - a meet that has two teams competing against each other for points to win.

Event - any race defined by age, sex, stroke, and distance. For example: men's 50 meter freestyle, or women's 100 yard backstroke.

False Start - when a swimmer dives in or begins their race before the starting tone. Can also be considered a false start if a lot of movement is noticed before a take off.

Freestyle relay - when 4 swimmers compete together in a relay, each one swimming the same distance of the freestyle stroke.

Heat - a divided segment of an event in which there are too many swimmers to compete at the same time. For example, there can be 5 heats of men's 50 meter freestyle.

JO’s (junior olympics) - a highly competitive USA meet for swimmers 14 and under who meet certain high level qualifying times.

IM (individual medley) - an event in which one person swims a series of specified distances in each of the four competitive strokes in this order: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle.

Lane - the specific area in which the swimmer is assigned to swim. Pools normally range from 6 to 10 lanes.

Lap - one length of the pool, usually 25 yards or 25 meters.  Two laps is 50 yards or meters, 4 laps is 100 yards or meters.  Olympic pools are 50 meters in length. The NAC pool is 25 Meters.

Leg - the part of a relay race that is swum by a single team member. There are four legs in every relay. Sometimes the first leg is called the Lead-off and the last leg is the Anchor.

Long course (LC) - meets or events that are swum in a 50 meter pool.

Medley relay - a relay in which 4 swimmers compete together with each swimming a different stroke in a specified distance to complete the event.  The order is backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle.

Mid Atlantic  - our branch of USA swimming comprising of certain regions of PA, Delaware and Maryland. See the website for details.

Officials - judges that either stand at the end of a lane or side of the pool, or walk around. They wear white shirts. They watch for any disqualifications.

Psych sheets - a list of swimmers entered in a meet in the order of their seed time. Usually from slowest to fastest. This is often released before a meet to give swimmers and coaches an idea of the level of competition at a meet.

Qualifying times - a set of minimum and sometimes maximum times a swimmer must attain in each event to be eligible for a particular swim meet.

Scratch - when a swimmer is withdrawn from an event or from a meet for any number of reasons.

Seed - when swimmers are placed in a meet according to their submitted times.

Senior champs - a high-level USA meet for swimmers usually 15 and over but may include younger swimmers. Must have qualifying times.

Silver champs - a USA meet designed for swimmers who do not meet the qualifying times for junior Olympics or senior champs. Still a high-level competitive meet with qualifying times.


Common Meet Events


100 Yard or Meter Medley Relay

200 Yard or Meter Medley Relay


25 Yard or Meter Freestyle

50 Yard or Meter Freestyle

100 Yard or Meter Freestyle

200 Yard or Meter Freestyle

500 Yard or 400 Meter Freestyle

1000 Yard or 800 Meter Freestyle

1650 Yard or 1500 Meter Freestyle


25 Yard or Meter Backstroke

50 Yard or Meter Backstroke

100 Yard or Meter Backstroke

200 Yard or Meter Backstroke


25 Yard or Meter Breaststroke

50 Yard or Meter Breaststroke

100 Yard or Meter Breaststroke

200 Yard or Meter Breaststroke


25 Yard or Meter Butterfly

50 Yard or Meter Butterfly

100 Yard or Meter Butterfly

200 Yard or Meter Butterfly


100 Yard or Meter Individual Medley (IM)

200 Yard Or Meter Individual Medley (IM)

400 Yard or Meter Individual Medley (IM)


100 Yard or Meter Freestyle Relay

200 Yard or Meter Freestyle Relay

400 Yard or Meter Freestyle Relay

800 Yard or Meter Freestyle Relay


Notes About Meet Events:

  • Most "winter" meets are run in short-course yards. Many teams like NAC practice in 25m pools and race in 25y pools
  • Some events are only available in certain age groups. In the winter:
    • 25s are only for swimmers 8&U
    • 50s of stroke (backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke) are only for swimmers 12&U, but everyone swims the 50 free
    • 100 IMs are usually for 10&U and 12&U
    • Relays are usually 100 for 8&U but 200 in other age groups
    • The distance events (1000/800 and 1650/1500 free, 400 IM, 200 backstroke/butterfly/breaststroke) are usually restricted to swimmers 11 and over (sometimes 13 and over). Swimmers usually cannot compete in a 200 Free, 200 IM, or 500 free until they are at least 9 years old.