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Swim Terms Glossary

Glossary of Swim Terms

Age Groups - 8 & Under , 10 & Under, 12 & Under, 13-15, 16-18, The swimmer’s actual age On June 1 of the summer swim year determines age placement.

Alternate – an additional swimmer that is available to fill in if another swimmer is unable to swim.

Backstroke flags – span the width of the pool and let swimmers in the backstroke event know when they are close to the wall. You may hear your swimmer talk about stroke count… they will frequently know how many arm strokes they must take on their back before they flip over onto their stomach for their backstroke turn.

Block/Blocks – The starting platform

Clerk of Course – Responsible for the conduct of check-in and event seeding operation of the meet.

DQ’d (Disqualified) - 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. Every child is DQ’d at some point in their career. There are specific rules governing each stroke that the RSL trained Stroke and Turn judges use in determining whether the stroke was “legal”. You may think that the stroke looks great, but it may be in violation of USA Swimming rules. The official will give the HOST Coach a DQ slip that lets the coach know why your child was DQ’d. Coaches will work with swimmers in practices after each meet so that swimmers may learn from their DQ.

Common DQ’s

  • General – false starts – late for start – not checking into event – stopping mid-race – touching bottom of pool.
  • Freestyle- not touching wall on turn.
  • Backstroke – not swimming completely on back – non-continuous turn.
  • Butterfly – Flutter kicking – non-bilateral stroke – elbows not recovering out of water – one hand touch
  • Breaststroke – Flutter/fly kicking – non-bilateral stroke – 2 stroke under water – one hand touch – stroking while shoulders not parallel to surface – improper breathing – improper stroke rhythm – hands passing hips during stroke.
  • Relays – False start/ relay leg leaving early – Stroke/ turn fault as described above.

Deck Add/Change – any change made after the meet has officially been seeded. Frequently done upon arrival at the meet if a swimmer is absent or wishes to swim an exhibition event.

Division – The RSL is comprised of 25 teams broken up into 6 divisions. Each division has a division champ (most wins) and a championship meet winner (most points).

DNF – Did not finish. Used when a swimmer, for whatever reason, starts a race, but does not finish it.

Dual Meet – A Meet with only two teams competing.

Entry Card - Card on which a swimmer enters a competition; usually includes swimmer’s name, club, age, sex, event numbers, event names.

Event – any race or series of races in a given stroke or distance. The following strokes are used in the events or races over various lengths.

  • Freestyle: The most common swimming stroke known as the front crawl stroke. It utilizes an alternating arm stroke with a flutter kick, although a swimmer may use any stroke during a freestyle event.
  • Backstroke: An alternating arm stroke done on the back with a flutter kick.
    Breaststroke: Simultaneous arm strokes from the breast with an underwater recovery and a “frog” kick.
  • Butterfly: Simultaneous arm strokes from the shoulder with an out of water recovery and “dolphin” kick.
  • Individual Medley(IM): A combination of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle, in that order.
  • Medley Relay: Backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle, in that order.
  • Freestyle Relay: Each individual swimming freestyle in sequence.
    These events will be swam by four teammates for a combined finish. In either event coaches will typically (but not always) choose the fastest 4 swimmers in that meet to be the “A” relay, the next 4 fastest in the “B” relay, etc.

Exhibition – swimming for time, but not points. Our league allows exhibition swims to be added after meet is seeded if an athlete becomes available for a meet. We may also have exhibition meets which are swum for time, practice, count towards finals but are not scored and do not count towards division placement.

False Start – Occurs when a swimmer is moving before the start is sounded; in USA rules, one false start will result in disqualification.

Flags – Backstroke flags placed 5 yards (short course yards) from the end of the pool; the flags enable backstrokers to execute a backstroke turn safely.

Head Timer – Volunteer position in charge of timers; starts two watches for every heat in case of timer error or watch malfunction.

Heat – All of the swimmers can’t swim at once, so the event is divided into heats in which all of the lanes are filled as much as possible. The heats run slowest to fastest.

Heat Sheets - The official listing of events in the order that they will be swimming. Available at each meet (or online through the App) that shows name of event, swimmer’s heats, lanes, and seed times.

HOST – Hampton Oaks Swim Team

Individual Medley – A an in which all four competitive strokes are performed in order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle.

Lap vs Length – in swimming, length implies the full distance of the pool, once, while lap would be full length down and then turning and swimming back. So in a 25 meter pool, one length is 25m, one lap would be 50m.

Leg (relay) - The portion of the relay event that is swum by a single team member.

Medley Relay – A relay in which all four competitive strokes are performed by different competitors in order: back, breast, butterfly, free.

Meet Referee/Referee – Person in charge of the meet and who is responsible to see that USA Swimming rules and HOST / RSL policies are enforced. (You’ll know them as the person blowing the whistle).

NS – No show

NT – No Time; entering ‘No Time’ on an entry form indicates the swimmer has never swum the event or distance previously or has no current (within one year) or sanction time.

Official – Judge on deck of the pool at a sanctioned competition that enforces USA Swimming rules.

Official Result – That time which is recorded in the official meet results.

Pace Clocks – Large clock with a large second hand and a smaller minute hand; used to check pace or maintain intervals in practice.

Pre-Seeded – Heat and lane assignments are made prior to meet according to submitted times; no check-in or scratches are required.

Psych Sheet – report that shows all swimmers entered in each event at a meet in order from fastest to slowest. Does not provide information about heat and lane, rather, where your swimmer falls competition-wise compared to the other swimmers entered in the event.

Pull Buoy – Flotation devise held between the legs during training to increase drag and force greater use of arms.

Race – Any single swimming competition; i.e., preliminary, final, timed final.

Registered – enrolled as an athlete member of USA Swimming and an LSC.

Relay – Any event in which four swimmers compete together as a team to achieve one time; it can be either Free Relay where all swimmers swim the same distance using the freestyle stroke or Medley Relay where each swimmer uses a different stroke.

RSL – Rappahannock Swim League

Scratch –The withdrawal of an entry from an event prior to the event being closed by the Clerk of Course.

Seeding – Method using submitted times for determining which swimmers will swim in which heats; the fastest swimmers will be seeded in the middle lanes (4 & 5). As mentioned under “HEATS”, the slower swimmers in an event swim in the first heats, the fastest in the last heats. The swimmers are seeded by heat and within each heat according to their times so that each swimmer can, ideally, swim to the best of his or her ability. The fastest swimmer in each heat is seeded in the center lane (lane 3 in a 6 lane). There are different types of seeding, but generally, the fastest are in the last heat. Seeding cannot be changed at the meet and sometimes your swimmer will be seeded at an older slower time. Fastest swimmers are seeded in the middle for better visibility of other swimmers, less wake from other swimmers, less water resistance from water bouncing off edges of pool.

Short Course/Long Course/Yards/Meters - short course is swum in a pool that is either 25

yards or 25 meters long. Our HOST pool is a 25 meter pool. Some pools in the RSL are 25 yards. Since a yards pool is shorter, you may notice that your swimmer’s time is faster. You can find tools that will convert a yards time to a meters time. Long course is swum in a pool that is 50 meters long.

Starter – Deck official in charge of starting the heats; verifies that no swimmer is in motion prior to the start signal.

Streamline – Position used by swimmers in the water when starting or pushing off the walls; designed to reduce water resistance.

Strobe – the bright light that flashes on the top of the starting equipment. This signals the beginning of the race.

Stroke/Turn Judges – Deck officials who will observe the swimmers from both sides of the pool and report to the Meet Referee any infractions of the technical rules of swimming; Stroke Judge and Turn Judge may be combined as one position.

Touch/Touches –- touching the wall during a turn or finish of a race

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