Backstroke flags: Lines of flags or pennants placed above the lanes at each end to signal the backstroke swimmer that he is five yards or meters (depending upon the course) from the wall.
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.
Beep: The starting sound from an electronic, computerized timing system.
Block: The starting platform.
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, and also incorporate a bar to allow swimmers to perform backstroke starts.
Breaststroke: One of the four competitive racing strokes. Breaststroke is swum as the second stroke in the Medley Relay and the third stroke in the I.M.
Butterfly: One of the four competitive racing strokes. Butterfly (nicknamed Fly) is swum as the third stroke in the Medley Relay and first stroke in the I.M.
Cap: The latex or lycra covering worn on the head of swimmers.
Circle Swim: When there are more than two swimmers in a lane during practice, swimmers swim up on the right hand side, staying close to the lane line, and return on the other side.
Club Swimmer: A swimmer who swims for a private team registered with USA Swimming.
Colorado Timing: A brand of automatic timing system.
Cool-down: A slower, longer swim as an essential injury prevention technique, used by the swimmer after a race to rid the body of excess lactic acid.
Course: Designated distance (length of pool) for swimming competition. (i.e., Long Course = 50 meters, Short Course = 25 yards or 25 meters). Often abbreviated LCM, SCM, and SCY.
Cut: A qualifying time or time standard necessary to attend a particular meet or event.
Deck: The area around a swimming pool reserved for swimmer, coaches and judges.
Disqualification (DQ): This occurs when a swimmer has committed an infraction of some kind; e.g., freestyle kick in butterfly. A disqualified swimmer is not eligible to receive awards, nor can the time be used as an official time. A disqualification is shown by an official raising one arm with open hand above their head.
Distance: Term used to refer to events over 400 meters/500 yards.
Distance Freestyle: Freestyle competitive events at distances of 200 m or over.
Dropped Time: When a swimmer goes faster than the previous performance they have "dropped their time".
Dryland Training: Training done out of the water that aids and enhances swimming performance; usually includes stretching, calisthenics and/or weight training.
Dual Meet: Type of meet where two teams/clubs compete against each other.
Electronic Timing: Timing system operated on DC current (battery). The timing system usually has touch pads 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 time.
Entry: An Individual, Relay team, or Team roster's event list into a swim competition.
Event: A race or stroke over a given distance. An event can have on or more Heats.
False Start: Occurs when a swimmer is moving before the start gun is sounded.
Final Results: The printed copy of the results of each race of a swim meet.
Final: The championship final of an event in which the fastest eight swimmers from the heats or semi-finals compete.
Finals: The concluding session of a prelim/final meet in which the fastest swimmers from preliminary heats return to race again, usually in the evening.
Flags: Pennants that are suspended over the width of each end of the pool approximately 15 feet from the wall. See Backstroke Flags.
Flip Turn: A type of turn used in front crawl and backstroke. As the swimmer approaches the wall, they tuck their body into a somersault, roll toward the wall and push off with their feet.
Flutter Kick: The alternating kick used in backstroke and front crawl, usually 6 kicks per cycle.
Format: The order of events and type of swim meet being conducted.
Freestyle: One of the four competitive racing strokes. Freestyle (nicknamed Free) is swam as the fourth stroke in the Medley Relay and fourth stroke in the I.M.
Goggles: Eyewear worn by swimmers in the pool to protect the swimmers' eyes from the effects of chlorine in the water. Also improves vision underwater considerably!
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 swimmer is at the backstroke flags.
Gutter: The area at the edges of the pool in which water overflows and is recirculated into the pool. Deep gutters catch surface wave and don't allow them to wash back into the pool and affect races. Alternatively a pool may have no gutter and be deck level.
Heat: A division of an Event used to distribute the number of participants over a series of races. Heats are usually seeded slowest to fastest qualifying time with the fastest swimmers in the later heats.
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 seeds 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.
I.M.: Slang for Individual Medley event in which the swimmer uses all four strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.
Individual Medley: A combination of the four competitive swimming strokes swum in the following order; Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.
Lane: The section of a pool, distinguished by lane lines, in which a swimmer is assigned to swim. In competitive swimming, lanes are numbered from 1 to 5, 6, or 8, with lane 1 being the lane furthest to the right.
Lane markers, lines or ropes: Continuous floating markers extending from one end of the pool to the other.
Lap Counter: The large numbered cards (or the person turning the cards) used during the freestyle events 400 meters or longer. Counting is done from the starting end.
Lap: One length of the course. Sometimes may also mean down and back (2 lengths) of the course.
Lead-off: The swimmer to execute the first leg of the relay.
Leg: The part of a relay event swam by a single team member. A single stroke in the I.M.
Length: The extent of the competitive course from end to end. A completed lap either up or down the pool. This may be a distance of 25 meter or yards or 50 meters depending upon the size of the pool. See Lap.
Long Course: A 50 meter pool
Mark: The command to take your starting position.
Marshall: The person(s) (official) who control the crowd and swimmer flow at a swim meet.
Medley Relay: A group of four swimmers each swimming different strokes in an event; back, breast, butterfly, and free.
Meet: A series of events held in one program.
No Time (NT): Seed time is entered as "No Time" if a swimmer has never swum an event before.
OT: Official Time. The swimmers event time recorded to one hundredth of a second (.01).
Pace: The speed that corresponds with a race distance, e.g. 1:20 (1 minute 20 seconds) per 100 meter.
PB: Personal Best. The best time a swimmer has done so far in a particular stroke/event
Psyche Sheet: Another name for a "Heat Sheet" or meet program.
Qualifying Time (QT): A specified time that must be achieved for the swimmer to enter a competitive event.
Qualifying Times: Published times necessary to enter certain meets, or the times necessary to achieve a specific category of swimmer.
Relay Exchange: The exchange between the swimmer in the water finishing the leg and the next swimmer on the relay team. A smooth exchange requires the finishing swimmer’s hand to touch the touch pad at the same time as the starting swimmer’s sets off from the starting block.
Relay: An event in which 4 swimmers compete together as a team to achieve one time.
Relays: A swimming event in which 4 swimmers participate as a relay team each swimmer swimming 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 yard/meter and 400 yard/meter distances. 2) Freestyle relay -- Each swimmer swims freestyle. Free relays are conducted over 200 yard/meter and 400 yard/meter distances.
Seed: To assign a swimmer to a heat or lane according to their qualifying time.
Seeding: Swimmers are arranged in heats in events according to submitted times and heat sheets are prepared prior to the day of competition.
Session: Portion of meet distinctly separated from other portions by time.
Short Course: A 25 yard or 25 meter pool.
Split: A swimmer's intermediate time in a race. Splits are registered every 50 meters (or 25 yards/meters depending on the pool and the equipment on hand) and are used to determine if a swimmer is on record pace. Also the time for one of the four individuals in a relay. Under certain conditions, splits may also be used as official times, for example, the lead off swim in a relay, or the lead off portion of an event.
Sprint: Describes the shorter events (50 and 100).
Stand-up: The command given by the Starter or Referee to release the swimmers from their starting position.
Start Position: The position taken by the swimmer at the beginning of the race. The swimmer is required to have at least one foot at the front of the starting block and remain motionless until the start signal sounds. The most common position has the swimmer bent over, knees bent and feet shoulder width apart. Some swimmers prefer a track start with one foot forward and one foot back.
Start: The beginning of a race. The dive used to begin a race.
Starter: Meet official who fires gun or sounds horn that begins each heat of an event.
Starting blocks: Platforms from which the swimmer enters the water at the beginning of an event.
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 four competitive strokes: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.
Submitted Time: Times used to enter swimmers in meets. These times must have been achieved by the swimmer at previous meets.
Swim-A-Thon: The "Fund Raiser" where swimmers swim laps to raise money for the team or a charity.
"Take Your Mark": The starter’s command to swimmers to which they must respond by at once assuming a starting position.
Taper: Reducing the intensity of training just before a race so that the swimmer may be fresh and in peak condition for the event.
Time Standard: A time set by a meet or the organizing group that a swimmer must achieve for qualification or recognition.
Time Trial: A time-only swim, which is not part of a regular 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.
Touch: The finishing point of a race.
Touch Out: To reach the touch pad 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 touch pad to register an official time in a race.
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 Swimming: The governing body of swimming.
Warm Down: Low intensity swimming used by swimmers after a race or main practice set to rid the body of excess lactic acid, and to gradually reduce heart rate and respiration.
Warm Up: Low intensity swimming used by swimmer prior to a main practice set or race to get muscles loose and warm. Warm up gradually increases heart rate, respiration and helps to prevent injury.
Yardage: The distance a swimmer races or swims in practice. Total yardage can be calculated for each practice session.