Glossary of Swimming Terms

A glossary of those strange and wacky words we use in the sport of swimming. You may or may not find these words in the English Dictionary, and if you do, their definitions will probably be radically different than the ones listed in this Glossary. Relax and take your time reading. Soon you'll be understanding and maybe even speaking some "swim slang."

"A"                         Time classification for a swimmer. National Age Group Time Standard "A". "A" time is .01 seconds faster than the "BB" time standard and .01 slower than the "AA" time standard. See the NAGT published chart.


"AA"                       Time classification for a swimmer that is .01 faster than "A" time standard.


"AAA"                     Time classification for a swimmer that is .01 faster than the "AA" time standard.


"AAAA"                   Time classification for a swimmer that is .01 faster than the "AAA" time standard. This is the fastest time standard listed on the NAGT chart. Times faster than this are approaching National cuts or Top Times consideration.


A-Meet                    Swim meet that requires swimmers to have previously achieved an "A" time standard in the events they wish to enter.


A-B Meet                 Swim meet that offers separate competition for both "A" swimmers and "B" swimmers, usually with medals for the "A" swimmers and ribbons for the "B" swimmers. Swimmers compete in separate brackets against other swimmers of their own ability. Usually only "A" swimmers can score individual event team points.


A-B-C                     Swim meet similar to the A-B meet except that there are three divisions. This type of meet includes every ability level of swimmer from Novice to very experienced. All swimmers with an "A" time or faster compete in the "A" division, and all swimmers with a "C" and down compete in the "C" division. The "B" division is the most limited with both top (.01 slower than "A") and bottom (.01 faster than "C") limitations.


Achiever Card          A recognition card or certificate proving the swimmer has made a specific time in an event. The card lists the distance, stroke, swimmer's time, date and place of meet, swimmer's name, and meet referee's signature.


Add Up                    Aggregate Time - times achieved by four swimmers in individual events which are added together to arrive at a provable relay entry time.


Admission               Certain swim meets charge for spectators to view the meets. These are usually the larger more prestigious meets. Sometimes the meet program (heat sheet) is included in the price of admission.


Age Group               Division of swimmers according to age. The National Age Group divisions are: 10-under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18. Some LSCs have divided the swimmers into more convenient divisions specific to their situations: (i.e.) 8-under, 13-Over, 15-Over, Junior, Senior.


Alternate                 In a Prelims/Finals meet, after the finalists are decided, the next two fastest swimmers other than the finalists are designated as alternates. The faster of the two being the first alternate and the next being second alternate. If a finalist cannot participate, the alternates are called to take their place.


Anchor                    The final swimmer in a relay.


Approved Meet         A meet conducted with sufficient USA Swimming officials to certify conformance to USA Swimming rules. The meet may include competitors who are not USA Swimming members. The meet may be a competition sanctioned at the LSC level with the added approval of USA Swimming because both member and non-member athletes will be competing.


ASCA                      The American Swim Coaches Association. The professional organization for swim coaches throughout the nation. Certifying coaches and offering many services for coaches' education and career advancement.


"B"                         Time classification for a swimmer. National Age Group Time Standard "B". "B" time is .01 seconds faster than the "C" time standard and .01 slower than the "BB" time standard. See the NAGT published chart.


"BB"                       Time classification for a swimmer. National Age Group Time Standard "BB". "BB" time is .01 seconds faster than the "B" time standard and .01 slower than the "A" time standard. See the NAGT published chart.


B-Meet                    Swim meet that requires swimmers to have previously achieved a "B" time standard in the events they wish to enter. Some meets have no bottom cut time allowing "C" swimmers also to compete.



B-C Meet                 Swim meet that offers separate competition for both "B" swimmers and "C" swimmers, usually with ribbons for the "B" swimmers and smaller ribbons for the "C" swimmers. Swimmers compete in separate brackets against other swimmers of their own ability. Swimmers are not allowed to enter an event that they have an "A" time in.


Backstroke              One of the four competitive racing strokes, basically any style of swimming on your back. Backstroke is swum as the first stroke in the Medley Relay and second stroke in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100 yards/meter, and 200 yards/meter (LSCs with 8-under divisions offer the 25 yd back).


  Beep                       The starting sound from an electronic, computerized timing system.

Blocks                     The starting platforms located behind each lane. Some pools have blocks at the deeper end of the pool, and some pools have blocks at both ends. Blocks have a variety of designs and can be permanent or removable.


BOD                       Board of Directors of the Local Swim Committee (LSC) or USA Swimming (USA-S).


Bonus Heat             The heat held during the finals session of a Prelims/Finals meet that is slower than the swimmers participating in Big Finals. The Bonus Heat may refer to Consolation Finals or an extra heat in addition to Consolation finals.


Bottom                   The floor of the pool. Bottom depths are usually marked on the walls or sides of the pool.



Breaststroke            One of the four competitive racing strokes. Breaststroke is swam as the second stroke in the Medley Relay and the third stroke in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100 yards/meter, and 200 yards/meter. (LSCs with 8-under divisions offer the 25 yd breast)



Bull Pen                  The staging area where swimmers wait to receive their lane and heat assignments for a swimming event. Area is usually away from the pool and has rows of chairs for the swimmers to sit. The Clerk of the Course is in charge of the Bull Pen.



Bulletin                   One of the most important communication devices for a swim club. Bulletin boards are usually in the entrance Board ways of pools and have timely information posted for swimmers and parents to read.



Butterfly                  One of the four competitive racing strokes. Butterfly (nicknamed FLY) is swam as the third stroke in the Medley Relay and first stroke in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100 yards/meter, and 200 yards/meter (LSCs with 8-under divisions offer the 25 yard fly).



Button                    The manual Timing System stopping device that records a back-up time in case the touch pad malfunctioned. The button is at the end of a wire, plugged into a deck terminal box. There are usually 3 buttons per lane. It is the timers responsibility to push the button as the swimmer finishes the race.



Camp                      A swimming function offered by USA-S, your LSC, or a USA-S coach. There are many types of camps for just about every level of swimmer. When selecting a camp, ask for your coach's advice as to what will be the best for the swimmer, or call USA-S swimming for details on the many camps they offer.



Cap                        The latex or lycra covering worn on the head of swimmers. The colors and team logo's adorning these caps are limitless. National Caps, State Team Caps, award caps, plain practice caps, etc.



Car pool                  The major transportation service provided by parents of a swim club, to shuttle swimmers to and from practices.



Cards                      A card that may either be handed to the swimmer in the bull pen or given to the timer behind the lane. Cards usually list the swimmers name, USA-S number, seed time, event number, event description, and the lane and heat number the swimmer will swim in. Backup times are written on these cards. Each event may have a separate card.



Carbohydrates         The main source of food energy used by athletes. Refer to a Nutritional Manual for more information.



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



Championship Finals  The top six or eight swimmers (depending on the number of pool lanes) in a Prelims/Finals meet who, after the prelims  are swum, qualify to return to the Finals. The fastest heat of finals when multiple heats are held. 



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.



Check-Out               The parent's job at the motel. This is listed here to remind parents to request "Late Check Out" times if offered at no charge by the motel. This makes the last day of the meet a little less hectic.



Chlorine                  The chemical used by most pools to kill the bacteria in water and keep it clear and safe to swim in.



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. (i.e.) Lane 4 in the final three heats. See rule book for exact method for seeding depending on the lanes in the pool.



Clinic                      A scheduled meeting for the purpose of instruction. (i.e.) Official's clinic, Coach's clinic.



Closed Competition Swim meet which is only open to the members of an organization or group. Summer club swim meets are considered to be "Closed Competition."



Club                       A registered swim team that is a dues-paying member of USA-S and the local LSC.



Code                       A set of rules that have been officially published.



Code of Ethics          A Code of Conduct that both swimmers and coaches are required to sign at certain USA-S/LSC sponsored events. The Code is not strict and involves common sense and proper behavior.



Colorado                  A brand of automatic timing system.



Consolation Finals    After the fastest six or eight swimmers, the next six or eight swimmers (depending on the number of pool lanes) in a Prelims/Finals meet who, after the prelims are swum, qualify to return to the Finals. Consolations are the second fastest heat of finals when multiple heats are held and are conducted before the Championship heat.



Convention              United States Aquatic Sports annual, week long, meeting where all rules changes are decided and working committees are established. Representatives are sent by each LSC to make up the voting body.



Course                    Designated distance (length of pool) for swimming competition. (Ie) Long Course = 50 meters / Short Course = 25 yards or 25 meters.



Deadline                 The date meet entries must be "postmarked" by, to be accepted by the meet host. Making the meet deadline does not guarantee acceptance into a meet since many meets are "full" weeks before the entry deadline.



Deck                       The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches. No one but an "authorized" USA Swimming member may be on the deck during a swim competition.



Deck Entries            Accepting entries into swimming events on the first day or later day of a meet.



Deck Seeding          Swimmers report to a bull pen or staging area and receive their lane and heat assignments for the events.


Dehydration             The abnormal depletion of body fluids (water). The most common cause of swimmers cramps and sick feelings.


Developmental         A classification of meet or competition that is usually held early in the season. The purpose of a developmental meet is to allow all levels of swimmers to compete in a low-pressure environment.


Distance                  How far a swimmer swims. Distances for short course are: 25 yards (1 length), 50 yards (2 lengths), 100 yards (4 lengths), 200 yards (8 lengths), 400 yards (16 lengths), 500 yards (20 lengths), 1000 yards (40 lengths), 1650 yards (66 lengths). Distances for long course are: 50 meters (1 length), 100 meters (2 lengths), 200 meters (4 lengths), 400 meters (8 lengths), 800 meters (16 lengths), 1500 meters (30 lengths).


Disqualified             A swimmer's performance is not counted because of a rules infraction. A disqualification is shown by an official raising one arm with open hand above their head.


Dive                        Entering the water head first. Diving is not allowed during warmups except at the designated time, in specific lanes that are monitored by the swimmer's coach.


Diving Well              A separate pool or a pool set off to the side of the competition pool. This pool has deeper water and diving boards/platforms. During a meet, this area may be designated as a warm-down pool with proper supervision.


Division I-II-III       NCAA member colleges and universities are assigned divisions to compete in, depending on the school's total enrollment. Division I being the large universities and Division III being the smaller colleges.


Double Dual             Type of swim meet where three teams compete in dual meets against each other at the same time. Separate meet scores would be kept for Team A vs. Team B, Team A vs. Team C, and Team B vs. Team C.


Dual Meet                Type of meet where two teams/clubs compete against each other.


Draw                       Random selection by chance.


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


Dryland                   The exercises and various strength programs swimmers do out of the water.


Dry Side                  That part of the Code book (rule book) that deals with the "Administrative" Regulations of Competition.


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


Entry Chairperson    The host club's designated person who is responsible for receiving, and making sure the entries have met the deadline, or returning the entries if the meet is full. This person usually will find discrepancies in the meet entries and notify the entering club to correct any errors.


Entry Fees               The amount per event a swimmer or relay is charged. This varies depending on the LSC and type of meet.



Entry Limit              Each meet will usually have a limit of total swimmers they can accept, or a time limit they cannot exceed. Once an entry limit has been reached, a meet will be closed and all other entries returned.


Electronic Timing     Timing system operated on DC current (battery). The timing system usually has touchpads in the water, junction boxes on the deck with hook up cables, buttons for backup timing, and a computer-type console that prints out the results of each race. Some systems are hooked up to a scoreboard that displays swimmers.


Eligible to compete The status of a member swimmer that means they are registered and have met all the requirements.


Equipment              The items necessary to operate a swim practice or conduct a swim competition.


Event                      A race or stroke over a given distance. An event equals 1 preliminary with its final, or 1 timed final.


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.


False Start Rope      A recall rope across the width of the racing pool for the purpose of stopping swimmers who were not aware of a false start. The rope is about 1/2 way on yard pools and about 50 feet from the starting end on meter pools.


Fastest to Slowest    A seeding method used on the longer events held at the end of a session. The fastest seeded swimmers participate in the first heats followed by the next fastest and so on. Many times these events will alternate one girls heat and one boys heat until all swimmers have competed.


Fees                       Money paid by swimmers for services. (i.e.) Practice fees, registration fee, USA-S membership fee, etc.


FINA                       The international rules-making organization for the sport of swimming.


Finals                      The final race of each event. See "Consolation Finals", "Timed Finals", etc.


Final Results            The printed copy of the results of each race of a swim meet.


Fine                        The monetary penalty assessed a swimmer or club when a swimmer does not achieve the necessary time required to swim in an event, and cannot prove they have done the time previously.


Fins                        Large rubber flipper-type devices that fit on a swimmers feet. Used in swim practice, not competition.


Flags                       Pennants that are suspended over the width of each end of the pool approximately 15 feet from the wall.


Format                    The order of events and type of swim meet being conducted.


Fund Raiser             A money making endeavor by a swim team/club usually involving both parents and swimmers.


Freestyle                 One of the four competitive racing strokes. Freestyle (nicknamed Free) is swum as the fourth stroke in the Medley Relay and fourth stroke in the I.M. Racing distances are 50 yards/meter, 100 yards/meter, 200 yards/meter, 400 mtr/500, yd 800 mtr/1000 yds, 1500 mtr/1650 yds (LSCs with 8-under divisions offer the 25 yd free).


Gallery                    The viewing area for spectators during the swimming competition.


Goals                      The short- and long-range targets for swimmers to aim for.


Goggles                   Glasses-type devices worn by swimmers to keep their eyes from being irritated by the chlorine in the water.


Gun Lap                  The part of a freestyle distance race (400 meters or longer) when the swimmer has two lengths plus five yards to go. The starter fires a gun shot over the lane of the lead swimmer when the swimmer is at the backstroke flags.


Handbook                A reference manual published by teams/clubs and LSCs or other swimming organizations.  


Headquarters           The motel designated by the meet host. Usually, hospitality rooms and meetings relating to the meet will be held at this location. Many times this motel is one of the sponsors of the meet.


Heats                      A division of an event when there are too many swimmers to compete at the same time. The results are compiled by swimmers time swum, after all heats of the event are completed.


Heat Award             A ribbon or coupon given to the winner of a single heat at an age group swim meet.


Heat Sheet              The pre-meet printed listings of swimmers' seed times in the various events at a swim meet. These sheets vary in accuracy, since the coaches submit swimmers times many weeks before the meet. Heat sheets are sold at the admissions table and are used mainly to make sure the swimmer has been properly entered in all the events they signed up for. Parents enjoy looking at the seedings prior to the race plus swimmers can tell the order the events will be conducted and get a rough idea how long the meet sessions will last.


High Point               An award given to the swimmer scoring the most points in a given age group at a swim meet. All meets do not offer high point awards; check the pre meet information.


HOD                        House of Delegates. The ruling body of an LSC composed of the designated representative of each club plus the board of directors (BOD) of the LSC. One vote per club and board member.


Horn                       A sounding device used in place of a gun. Used mainly with a fully automatic timing system.


Illegal                     Doing something against the rules that is cause for disqualification.


IM                          Individual Medley. A swimming event using all four of the competitive strokes on consecutive lengths of the race. The order must be: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle. Equal distances must be swam of each stroke. Distances offered: 100 yards, 200 yards/meters, 400 yards/meter.


Insurance               USA Swimming offers "accident insurance coverage," which is automatic when a swimmer, coach, or official pays their USA-S membership fee. Many restrictions apply, so check with your club for detailed information.


Interval                  A specific elapsed time for swimming or rest used during swim practice.


Invitational             Type of meet that requires a club to request an invitation to attend the meet.


J.O.                        Junior Olympics. An age group championship meet conducted by the LSC.


Jump                      An illegal start done by the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th member of a relay team. The swimmer on the block breaks contact with the block before the swimmer in the water touches the wall.


Juniors                    A USA-S Championship meet for swimmers 18 years old or less. Qualification times are necessary.


Kick                        The leg movements of a swimmer. A popular word to "yell" to encourage swimmers during a race.

Kick Board               A flotation device used by swimmers during practice. A lightweight object used with great accuracy by coaches.


Lane                       The specific area in which a swimmer is assigned to swim. (ie) Lane 1 or Lane 2. Pools with starting blocks at only one end: As the swimmers stand behind the blocks, lanes are numbered from Right (lane 1) to Left (Lane 6).


Lane Lines               Continuous floating markers attached to a cable stretched from the starting end to the turning end for the purpose of separating each lane and quieting the waves caused by racing swimmers.


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


Lap Counter             The large numbered cards (or the person turning the cards) used during the freestyle events 500 yards or longer. Counting is done from the end opposite the starting end. The numbers on the cards are "odd numbers" only with the final lap being designated by a bright orange card.


Late Entries             Meet entries from a club or individual that are received by the meet host after the entry deadline. These entries are usually not accepted and are returned to sender.


Leg                         The part of a relay event swum by a single team member. A single stroke in the IM.


Length                    The extent of the competitive course from end to end. See lap.


Long Course            A 50-meter pool.


LSC                        Local Swim Committee. The local level administrative division of the corporation (USA-S) with supervisory responsibilities within certain geographic boundaries designated by the Corporation.


Lycra                      A stretch material used to make competitive swim suits and swim hats.


Malfunction             A mechanical or electronic failure.



Mark                       The command to take your starting position.


Marshall                  The official who control the crowd and swimmer-flow at a swim meet.


Meet                       A series of events held in one program.


Meet Director          The official in charge of the administration of the meet. The person directing the "dry side" of the meet.


Meters                    The measurement of the length of a swimming pool that was built per specs using the metric system. Long course meters is 50 meters, short course meters is 25 meters.


Mile                        The slang referring to the 1500 meter or the 1650 yard freestyle, both of which are slightly short of a mile.


NAIA                       National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics


NAGTS                    National Age Group Time Standards - the list of "C" through "AAAA" times published each year.


Nationals                 USA Swimming National Championship meet conducted in March/April and August.


Natatorium              A building constructed for the purpose of housing a swimming pool and related equipment.


NCAA                      National Collegiate Athletic Association


NGB                        National Governing Body


NCSA                      National Club Swimming Association, Inc. is a private nonprofit organization for professionally coached swimming clubs and their coaches.  The clubs are independently owned and operated and not under the direct control of any other institution.


Non-Conforming Time  A short course time submitted to qualify for a long course meet, or vice versa.


Novelty Meet           A meet that does not fall into a specific category because of limited events, sessions, or age brackets.


NRT                        National Reportable Time. A time list published once a year, which if a swimmer equals or betters the time on the list, they may submit their time in that event for consideration for national recognition.


NSSA                      National Swim School Association


NT                          No Time. The abbreviation used on a heat sheet to designate that the swimmer has not swum that event before.


NTV                        National Times Verification. A certificate verifying a national qualifying time achieved by a swimmer and issued only by a verification official of the location where the meet was held.


Observed Meet        A meet that is not conducted according to USA Swimming rules (high school, YMCA) where a request for observation has been processed and approved in advance. Sufficient USA Swimming officials are present to certify that the athletes' swims are in compliance with USA Swimming technical rules.


Observed Swim        A swim observed by assigned USA Swimming officials for conformance with USA Swimming technical rules in a meet conducted under other than USA Swimming rules.


Officials                   The certified adult volunteers who operate the many facets of a swim competition.


Olympic Trials          The USA-S sanctioned long course swim meet held the year of the Olympic Games to decide what swimmers will represent the USA on our Olympic Team. Qualification times are faster than Senior Nationals.


Omega                    A brand of automatic timing system.


OT                          Official Time. The swimmers event time recorded to one hundredth of a second (.01).


OTC                        Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Open Competition    Competition which any qualified club, organization, or individual may enter.


Parka                      Large 3/4 length fur lined coats worn by swimmers. Usually are in team colors with logo or team name.


Pace Clock               The electronic clocks or large clocks with highly visible numbers and second hands, positioned at the ends or sides of a swimming pool so the swimmers can read their times during warmups or swim practice.


Paddle                    Colored plastic devices worn on the swimmers hands during swim practice.


Pool                        The facility in which swimming competition is conducted.


Positive Check In     The procedure required before a swimmer swims an event in a deck seeded or pre seeded meet. The swimmer must mark their name on a list posted by the meet host.



Practice                   The scheduled workouts swimmers attend with their swim team/club.


Prelims                    Session of a Prelims/Finals meet in which the qualification heats are conducted.


Prelims-Finals          Type of meet with two sessions. The preliminary heats are usually held in the morning session. The fastest six or eight (Championship Heat) swimmers, and the next fastest six or eight swimmers (Consolation Heat) return in the evening to compete in the Finals. A swimmer who has qualified in the Consolation Finals may not place in the Championship Finals even if their finals time would place them so. The converse also applies.


Pre-seeded              A meet conducted without a bull pen in which a swimmer knows what lane and heat they are in by looking at the heat sheet or posted meet program.


Proof of Time           An official meet result, OVC, or other accepted form. Swimmers/Coaches must supply proof of time with some meet entries, and other meets it is not required unless a swimmer misses a cut of time at the meet.


Psyche Sheet           An entry sheet showing all swimmers entered into each individual event. Sometimes referred to as a "Heat Sheet" or meet program. However, a “heat sheet” would show not only every swimmer in an event, but also what heat and lane they are swimming in.


Pull Buoy                 A flotation device used for pulling by swimmers in practice.


Qualifying Times      Published times necessary to enter certain meets, or the times necessary to achieve a specific category of swimmer. See "A", "AA" (etc.) times.


Ready Room            A room pool side for the swimmers to relax before they compete in finals.


Recall Rope             A rope across the width of the racing pool for the purpose of stopping swimmers who were not aware of a false start. The rope is about 1/2 way on yard pools and about 50 feet from the starting end on meter pools.


Referee                   The head official at a swim meet in charge of all of the "Wet Side" administration and decisions.


Registered               Enrolled and paid as a member of USA-S and the LSC.


Relays                     A swimming event in which four swimmers participate as a team. Each swimmer completes an equal distance of the race. There are two types of relays: 1.) Medley relay - One swimmer swims Backstroke, one swimmer swims Breaststroke, one swimmer swims Butterfly, one swimmer swims Freestyle, in that order. Medley relays are conducted over 200 yd/mtr and 400 yd/mtr distances. 2.) Freestyle relay - Each swimmer swims freestyle. Free relays are conducted over 200 yd/mtr, 400 yd/mtr, and 800 yd/mtr distances.


Rest Area                A designated area (such as a gymnasium) that is set aside for swimmers to rest during a meet.



Safety                     The responsible and careful actions of those participating in a swim meet. USA-S and each LSC now have a "Safety Coordinator" and each meet must have "Marshalls" in charge of safety.


Sanction                  A permit issued by an LSC to a USA-S group member to conduct an event or meet.


Sanction Fee            The amount paid by a USA-S group member to an LSC for issuing a sanction.


Sanctioned Meet       A meet that is approved by the LSC in which it is held.  Meet must be conducted according to USA Swimming rules. All participants, including coaches, athletes and officials, must be USA Swimming members.


Schedule                 USA-S or LSC list of meets with dates, meet host, meet location, type of meet, and contacts address and phone.


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, swimmer can be disqualified from remaining events.


Sectionals               Nickname for Speedo Championship Series (see below).


Seed                       Assign the swimmers heats and lanes according to their submitted or preliminary times.


Seeding                  Deck Seeding - swimmers are called to report to the Clerk of the Course. After scratches are determined, the event is seeded. Pre Seeding - swimmers are arranged in heats according to submitted times, usually a day prior to the meet.


Senior Meet             A meet that is for senior level swimmers and is not divided into age groups. Qualification times are usually necessary and will vary depending on the level of the meet.


Senior Nationals        A USA-S National Championship meet for swimmers of any age as long as the qualification times are met.


Session                   Portion of meet distinctly separated from other portions by locale, time, type of competition, or age group.


Shave                     The process of removing all arm, leg, and exposed torso hair, to decrease the "drag" or resistance of the body moving through the water. Used only by Seniors at very important (Championship) meets.


Short Course           A 25-yard or 25-meter pool.


Speedo Championship Series

                             Open "senior level" meets held in the spring and summer.  Each Zone may hold up to four meets. Meets are commonly called "Sectionals."  Qualifying times, sites, dates and meet rules are determined locally.

Splash                    The USA Swimming magazine that is mailed bi-monthly. A benefit of being a member of USA Swimming.


Split                       A portion of an event that is shorter than the total distance and is timed. (i.e.) A swimmer's first 50 time is taken as the swimmer swims the 100 race. It is common to take multiple splits for the longer distances.


STARS                    Swimming Tracking and Recognition System. National Times Database of meet results provided by tabulators appointed by each LSC.


Stations                  Separate portions of a dryland or weight circuit.


Start                       The beginning of a race. The dive used to begin a race.


Starter                    The official in charge of signaling the beginning of a race and insuring that all swimmers have a fair takeoff.


Still Water               Water that has no current caused by a filter system or no waves caused by swimmers.


State                      A meet held twice a year (Short Course and Long Course) sponsored by the LSC. In larger LSCs it is common to hold a Championship Senior meet and Age Group meet separately. Qualification times are usually necessary.


Stand-up                 The command given by the Starter or Referee to release the swimmers from their starting position.


Step-Down              The command given by the Starter or Referee to have the swimmers move off the blocks. Usually this command is a good indication everything is not right for the race to start.


Stroke                     There are 4 competitive strokes: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.


Stroke Judge           The official positioned at the side of the pool, walking the length of the course as the swimmers race. If the Stroke Judge sees something illegal, they report to the referee and the swimmer may be disqualified.


Submitted Time       Times used to enter swimmers in meets. These times must have been achieved by the swimmer at previous meets.


Suit                        The racing uniform worn by the swimmer, in the water, during competition. The four most popular styles/types of suits worn are: Nylon, Lycra, Paper, and Fastskin.


Swim-A-Thon          The "Fund Raiser" trademarked by USA Swimming for local clubs to use to make money.


Swim America         The professional swim lesson program administrated by the American Swim Coaches Association licensed to coaches.


Swim-off                 In a Prelims/Finals type competition, a race after the scheduled event to break a tie. The only circumstance that warrants a swim-off is to determine which swimmer makes finals or an alternate, otherwise ties stand.


Swimming World     A paid-subscription swimming magazine.


SWIMS                   USA Swimming system that keeps track of every time swum by all swimmers. Available through the USA-S website.

Taper                      The resting phase of a swimmer at the end of the season before the championship meet.


Team                      USA-S Registered club that has the right to compete for points.


Team Records          The statistics a team keeps, listing the fastest swimmer in the clubs history for each age group/each event.


Timed Finals            Competition in which only heats are swum and final placings are determined by those times.


Time Standard         A time set by a meet or LSC or USA-S (etc) that a swimmer must achieve for qualification or recognition.


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.


Time Trial                An event or series of events where a swimmer may achieve or better a required time standard.


Top 16                    A list of times compiled by the LSC or USA-S that recognizes the top 16 swimmers in each age group (boys & girls) by each event and distance. The number 16 was arbitrarily chosen because it would normally fill the finals and consoles heats at a swim meet.


Touch Out               To reach the touchpad and finish first in a close race.


Touch Pad               The removable plate (on the end of pools) that is connected to an automatic timing system. A swimmer must properly touch the touchpad to register an official time in a race.


Transfer                  The act of leaving one club or LSC and going to another. Usually 120 days of unattached competition is required before swimmer can represent another USA-S club.


Travel Fund             A sum of money set aside for a swimmer to use for travel expenses and entry fees to specified meets.


Tri-meet                  A meet with three teams competing for points to see who places 1st-2nd-3rd.


Unattached              An athlete member who competes, but does not represent a club or team. (abbr. UN)


Uniform                   The various parts of clothing a swimmer wears at a meet. May include: parka, Warm-up jacket, team duffel bag, sweat pants, suits, hat, goggles, T-shirt, etc.


Unofficial Time         The time displayed on a read out board or read over the intercom by the announcer immediately after the race. After the time has been checked, it will become the official time.


USA-S                     The governing body of swimming--USA Swimming.


USA Swimming        The national governing body of the sport headquartered in Colorado Springs.


USA-S ID Number    A 16-part number assigned to a swimmer after they have filled out the proper forms and paid their annual dues. The first 6 parts are numbers of a swimmer's birthdate: Day/Month/Year using zeros as place holders. The next three spaces are the first three letters of the athlete's legal first name. The next letter is the middle initial, followed by the first four letters of the swimmer's last name. For example: USA-S ID# for swimmer Suzanne Eileen Nelson and born Aug.27, 1976 = 082776SUZENELS.


USOTC                    United States Olympic Training Center located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Vertical                   At right angle to the normal water level.


Warm-down            The recovery swimming a swimmer does after a race when pool space is available.


Warm-up                 The practice and "loosening-up" session a swimmer does before the meet or their event is swum.


Watch                     The hand held device used by timers and coaches for timing a swimmers races and taking splits.


Weights                  The various barbells, benches, machines, etc. used by swimmers during their dryland program.


Whistle                   The sound a starter/referee makes to signal for quiet before they give the command to start the race.


Yards                      The measurement of the length of a swimming pool that was built per specs using the American system. A short course yard pool is 25 yards (75 feet) in length.


Yardage                   The distance a swimmer races or swims in practice. Total yardage can be calculated for each practice session.


Zones                     The country is divided up into 4 major zones: Eastern - Southern - Central - Western. At the end of the long course season (in August) the Zone Administration sponsors a championship age group meet.