Swimming A to Z

Age group: This term is used to describe swimmers between 10 -14 years.

Alternate Breathing: In freestyle swimming, breathing to the right side then swimming three strokes and breathing to the left side, then swimming three strokes and breathing to the right side, etc.

Anchor: The final swimmer in a relay.

Backstroke: One of the 4 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 Individual Medley (IM).

BAGCAT: British Age Group Categories.

BAGCAT points: The ASA’s British Age Group (BAG) points system.

Blocks: The starting platforms located behind each lane. Blocks have a variety of designs and should only be fitted where there is a safe diving depth.

Boxes: These are the boxes where your entry cards must be handed in before the start of the warm-up for the meet.

Breaststroke: One of the 4 competitive racing strokes. Breaststroke is swum as the second stroke in the Medley Relay and the third stroke in the IM.

Clock: The big clock on the wall or deck is used for interval training. The red hand goes around every minute (60 seconds). The 60 is sometimes referred to as the “top” and the 30 as the “bottom.” Learn to calculate your times. Swimmers who watch the clock and know their times improve the most: they get feedback, learn pace, and improve technique

Cut off’s: A cut-off time is a time that is the fastest a swimmer can be in order to enter an event. For example, the JFL use cut off times, so when you beat that time (i.e. go faster) then you are no longer eligible to swim that event, in that age group. In some team galas if you beat the cut-off time, then you don’t score any points for your team. It is a way of ensuring that all swimmers are able to compete, not just the fastest.

Electronic timing: Timing system operated electronically. The timing system usually has touch pads in the water, junction boxes on the pool side with hook up cables, buttons for backup timing, and a computer type console that prints out the results of each race. Some systems are linked to a scoreboard that displays swimmers times.

Flags: These are suspended over the width of each end of the pool, approximately 5 metres from the wall. They allow backstroke swimmers to determine where the end of the pool is.

Fins: Large rubber or other material fin type devices that fit on a swimmers feet. Used in training to aid development of kick and ankle flexibility

Freestyle: One of the 4 competitive racing strokes. Freestyle (or Free) is swum as the fourth stroke in the Medley Relay and fourth stroke in the IM There are no rules governing the form of the stroke.

Gallery: The viewing area for spectators during the swimming competition.

HDW: Heat Declared Winner. Only heats are swum, not heats and finals. Several events are swum together, usually different ages of the same stroke and distance. Swimmers are graded by entry time. The winner is the swimmer in the relevant category, usually age, with the fastest time, not the winner of a particular heat

Individual Medley: A race in which all 4 strokes are combined in the order – Fly, Back, Breast, Freestyle.

Kick board: The flat float for some legs only drills.

Lactic Acid: in the absence of oxygen, as with anaerobic training, your body will breakdown muscle sugar (glycogen) using a process that produces an acidic by-product waste called lactate acid. Your muscles may start to burn or ache as lactate acid accumulates and your body cantt keep up with removing it from your muscle stores.

Lane ropes: These are the dividers used to set out the lanes in a pool. These are made of individual finned disks, strung on a cable, that turn on the cable when hit by a wave, dissipating the wave.

Lap counter: The large numbered cards (or the person turning the cards) used during the freestyle events 400 metres or longer. Counting is done from the starting end.

Land training: The exercises and various strength programmes swimmers do out of the water.

Licensed Meets: The ASA set out a series of requirements for clubs who want to hold swimming events under a License, for which there is a fee. There are 4 Levels, and all the times and results swum at a Licensed Meet will be registered and recorded with the ASA.

Long course: Events swum in a 50 metre swimming pool.

Masters: Swimmers aged 25 or over.

Medley relay: A relay where each swimmer swims a different stroke in the order – Back, Breast, Fly, Freestyle

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

One start rule: If a swimmer starts before the gun/whistle/beeper, he or she is disqualified. This is the current ASA standard.

Open event: A race in which swimmers of any age may compete.

Open gala: A gala open to swimmers from any club, but usually of a specific age.

Over the top start: Swimmers from the last race remain in the water until the next race has started.

PB: Personal Best. The best time a swimmer has done so far in a particular stroke and distance.

Pull: A training drill in where you swim using your arms only. A pull buoy is often used to keep the swimmers legs together.

Pull buoy: The keyhole shaped float that keeps your legs afloat in an arms only drill.

Qualifying times: A qualifying time is a time that is required in order to enter an event. There may be restrictions, such as an Upper Qualifying Limit or a Lower Qualifying Limit i.e. Times that are no faster or no slower than the ones set.

Referee: The head official at a meet.

Short course: Events swum in a 25 metre swimming pool.

Splits: The time at each 25/50m turn. Swimmers will monitor these to check how they paced a race.

Squadron relay: A freestyle relay of usually 10 swimmers in each team, arranged boy/girl in each age group, oldest last.

Swim down: A gentle set to relax the muscles after training or competition to reduce lactate build up, and reduce the heart rate.

Tumble turn: Used in freestyle and backstroke swimming. It is a somersault under water at the end of each length. It is quicker than a touch and go technique when mastered.

Unlicensed meet: A swimming event that does not have an ASA License. It is still a legitimate event, run under the rules & laws of the ASA, but the results and times will not be registered with the ASA, and therefore are not authentic qualifying times for County, Regional of National events.

Warm down: Used by the swimmer to rid the body of excess lactic acid generated during a race.

Warm up: The practice and loosening session a swimmer does before the meet start. It increases the blood flow to the muscles, reducing injury.

Whipping area: A room or area near the pool side for the swimmers to relax or gather before they compete in their heats.

Youth: This term is used to describe swimmers between 15-18 years.