Incorporated:  March 5, 1987 as a 501(c)(3) Organization

Swimming Vocabulary


Fr Freestyle

Fly Butterfly

Bk Backstroke

Br Breaststroke

IM Individual Medley

K Kick

P Pull

1stp 1st Position

2ndp 2nd Position

3rdp 3rd Position

Prime Best stroke other than freestyle

Stroke Any stroke except freestyle

Choice Any stroke you want


Workout Terms 

Interval Intervals are used to moderate distances and intensity. The interval is the total amount of time you have to swim and rest before the next round. For example, in a set of 10×100 freestyle on 1:30, you have one minute and thirty seconds to swim 100 yards, rest on the wall until the 1 minute and thirty seconds is up, and do it again 9 more times.


Set One piece of a workout. In the example above, 10×100 freestyle on 1:30 is a set. 


Warmup The first set in a workout designed to prepare you physically and mentally for a great practice.

Main Set The most important, usually longest lasting set of the day.

Warm Down The last set in a workout. It is usually an easier set to facilitate recovery and prepare you for the next workout.

Training Terms

Build Increasing your speed throughout a repetition. If you build a 100, you start smooth and long and finish fast.

Best Average Swimming each repetition of a set an the maximum speed you can maintain.


Descend Swim each repetition of a set faster than the one before it. If we do 4 x 50, descend 1-4, then the first 50 is the slowest and the last 50 is the fastest.


Ascend Swim each repetition slower than the one before it. The opposite of descend.


Negative Split Swimming faster on the second half of an individual repetition. For example, say you swam a 200 freestyle in 3:00. You finished the first 100 in 1:40 and the second in 1:20. That is a negative split.


Aerobic Training Swim at a moderate pace over a long period of time.


Anaerobic Training Sprint training that produces lactic acid. 


Lactate Tolerance Training Perform near maximum intensity for multiple repetitions. Usually somewhere in the range of a 50/50 rest to swim ratio. This set is designed to train you to perform with lactic acid already accumulating in your muscles. These are the sets where we keep the trash can nearby.


Hypoxic Swim sets that incorporate breath control training. 


Taper You don’t really need to worry about this.


Base Training A temporary focus on aerobic fitness. Builds capacity early in a season for all other types of training… Basecamp.

Pool Courses

There are three sizes of competition pools.

Short Course Yards (SCY) 25-yard pool - Our pool, most of our winter meets.

Short Course Meters (SCM) 25-meter pool - Least Common

Long Course Meters (LCM) 50-meter pool - Olympic sized pool, most of our summer meets

Technique Terms

Streamline The first thing to learn in swimming. Streamlining is required. Streamlining doesn’t require any talent or natural ability. The only reason not to streamline is a lack of discipline. A streamline is performed underwater off of every start and wall. A 100% streamline is a streamline. A 95% streamline is nothing but an oxymoron. We have very nice coaches, but none of them are nice about swimmers who don’t streamline!

DPS Distance Per Stroke, measure your efficiency by counting your strokes across the pool.

Stroke Rate Number of strokes you take per minute.

Split Your time for one part of a repetition. If you do a 100 in :32 for the first 50 and :34 for the second 50, your time is 1:06 and your splits are :32 and :34.

Golf Add together your number of strokes and time for a repetition. Lowest score is best.

Bilateral Breathing Swimming freestyle breathing on both right and left sides, usually every three strokes.

Flip Turn A freestyle or backstroke turn

Short Axis Turn A breaststroke or butterfly turn

Short Axis Strokes breaststroke and butterfly


Long Axis Strokes freestyle and breaststroke


Transition Turn Turns between strokes in an IM




Fins Worn on your feet for speed, power, and strength


Paddles Worn on your hands to build strength and improve technique


Pull Buoy Held between your legs to support your lower body with less kicking, often used with paddles


Snorkel A swimming specific snorkel is front, not side mounted. Allows you to swim continuously without turning your head to breath


Nose Clip Used mostly by backstrokers to keep water out of their nose during underwater on their back. Sometimes used with snorkels. Nose clips are OK to use, but not necessary for a swimmer who can regulate their breath well underwater


Kickboard Used to gently support your upper body during kick sets


Parachute A resistance device tied to your waist to slow you down


Swimming Jargon


Leave on the top Look at the clock and start the next repetition on the :00


Leave on the bottom Look at the clock and start the next repetition on the :30


Circle Swimming Swimming on the right side of the lane, just like driving.


Swimming Sides With two people in the lane, each swimmer stays on one side the whole time


Laps vs Lengths Swimming to the other side of the pool and back is one lap, and two lengths equal one lap


Cycles vs Strokes Completing one arm pull is a stroke. Completing both arm pulls is a cycle. In freestyle and backstroke, 1 cycle is 2 strokes. In breaststroke and butterfly, 1 cycle is 1 stroke (since your arms move together)

Swim Meet An organized swimming competition held in indoor or outdoor pools. The goal of competing is to finish each of your events as fast as possible, ideally to log a new personal best time or qualify for a larger meet, such as nationals. With each performance you will earn points for your overall place in each event. The team with the most points at the end of the meet wins the meet.

Open Water Swim Race An organized swimming competition carried out in natural or man-made bodies of water such as oceans, bays, lakes, reservoirs, rowing basins and rivers. Open water races are generally understood to be longer than 1 kilometer in distance.

Meet Information The meet information outlines all the relevant information about a particular meet. Including but not limited to the time and location, order of events, entry fees, and deadlines. It may also tell you how the meet will be run, how you will be timed, how awards will be presented, and provide information about the hosting facility. Meet information will usually be available on the calendar on our website.

Deck Entry If you did not register for the swim meet in advance, you may be able to register the day of the meet. When you arrive at the pool, you’ll register for the competition, select which swimming events you want to compete in, and pay any fees associated. Sometimes deck entries are only allowed for swimmers who have already entered the meet but would like to add events.

Event An event is an individual swimming race. Typically swimmers swim two to 4 events in a single session.

Events are broken down by distance (50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 1 mile), stroke (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly or I.M.) and usually by age, gender and relay type. You will typically swim 1-4 events in one session of a swim meet. Most meets have a limit to the number of events each swimmer is allowed to register for. 

The events in each meet will be numbered, usually in the order that they take place.

Heat In each event, there can be many swimmers competing. Depending on the size of the pool, only a limited number of swimmers can race at a time. If a pool has six lanes, then six swimmers will race in the event at a time, which is called one “heat.” If there are 60 swimmers competing in the 100 freestyle event in that six-lane pool, there will be 10 heats.

Typically, the swimmers with the slowest seed (entry) times will swim in the first heat, ending the with fastest swimmers in the last heat. Some formats use a circle seed, where swimmers of varying speeds are mixed up within heats.

If you win your heat, you may not have won the entire event. Be sure to check the official results sheet or the Meet Mobile App. Usually, official results will be posted within a few minutes of all heats concluding for that event.

Heat Sheets A heat sheet tells you which events you are swimming, when the event is, and the heat and lane you are swimming in. Heat sheets may be emailed out prior to the meet, sold in paper copies at the meet, or accessed through the Meet Mobile App. Swimmers will always have access to heatsheets posted on the pool deck. Parents will usually want to procure their own to follow along with the meet.

Seed Time The swimmer’s fastest time prior to this meet. Your seed time is used as your entry time. Seeding is the method of placing swimmers in lanes in order of their entry times.

Psych Sheets A ranking of swimmers by entry time in each event. A psych sheet is often published before swimmers are seeded into the heat sheet.

Lane Number This is your assigned lane in the pool that you will be racing in, during your heat. Typically, the fastest swimmers in each heat get assigned to the middle lanes.

Start getting ready behind your lane 4 or 5 heats before your race for shorter events, and 2 or 3 heats before your race for longer events. Always check in with the lane timers   sure that you are in the right place.

Unattached A term used to identify a swimmer who is not officially attached to a swim team or organization. Usually a swimmer must swim unattached for a period of time after changing teams.

Relay A relay is a team of 4 swimmers swimming consecutively in a single race. Standard relays are freestyle relays and medley relays. Medley relays are swum in the order of Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, Freestyle.

The distance of a relay refers to the total distance swum by all swimmers combined. In a 200 Freestyle Relay, each swimmer will swim a 50 Freestyle.

Leg One swimmer’s portion of a relay event.

IM Short for individual medley, an event in which the swimmer uses all four competitive strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. The 100, 200 and 400 IM are official events at swim meets.

Check In Most of our meets do not have a check in requirement, some meets have a strict policy that you have to check in at least 1 hour prior to the start of the meet, more commonly meets require check in for particular events, usually distance events. The coaches will notify the swimmers of each meet’s check in procedures.

Meet Official/Referee A judge on the deck of the pool. Various judges or officials watch the swimmer’s strokes, turns and finishes or are timers.

Touchpad The touchpad is the area at the end of each lane in the pool where a swimmer’s time is registered and sent electronically to the timing system and the scoreboard. This touchpad is very sensitive and works best when you push your fingers into it aggressively at the end of your race to ensure your split is recorded.

Watch Time The recorded time from a stopwatch started and stopped manually by a lane timer. The lane timers use these stopwatches as backup in case the touchpad does not work correctly.

DQ A DQ is a disqualification from an event. At most meets, stroke and turn judges observe the swimmers to ensure that the starts, strokes, turns, and finishes are performed according to the rules.

If you are disqualified in a race, it means that you have broken one or more of the rules designated for that stroke or for that event. The judge will raise their arm, then fill out a DQ slip. You will be notified of your DQ after your race, and your time will not be counted.

Scratch Scratching an event is declaring that, while you are at the meet and intend to race, you will not be participating in a particular race.

Pool Record A pool record is the fastest ever recorded time for a specific event in that pool.


Meet Record A meet record is the fastest ever recorded time in a specific event in that same annual/repeating swim meet.


Points Points are awarded to the team for swimmers placing 1-8 in individual meets and 1-2 in relays. Most meets award points to lower placed up to 24th as well. A winning team is determined at the end of many meets. Individual high point awards go to the swimmers in each age group who score the most points in a meet.


Exhibition Swimmer Sometimes coaches will enter an athlete in an event as an exhibition swimmer. This means the swimmer cannot earn points or a ribbon, but will earn an official time. Most commonly an exhibition swim is used when a swimmer has already entered the maximum number of events for a meet, but would like to swim another event to get a qualifying time.