Dictionary of Swimming Terms
Age Groups: Division of swimmers according to age, pertaining to USA swim meets,
qualifying, awards. The National age groups are: 10/under, 11-12, 13-14, 15 -
16, 17-18. Local swim committees (LSC) break down age groups further and
therefore there may be 8/Under meets, 13/Over meets, Senior Meets, etc.
Age Group Championships Championships at the end of the Short Course (March) and Long Course (last
(sometimes referred to as weekend in July) seasons of Connecticut Swimming (not Nutmeg or CT
States): Swimming League Meets), open to all USA registered swimmers (18 years old
or younger), who have met time standards for individual events/age group. To
see cutoff times, go to ctswim.org and click on “time standards.” Your age on
the opening day of that meet determines your age group
Alternate: In a prelim/finals meet, after the finalists are decided (based on the fastest
times), the next two fastest swimmers are designated as alternates. The fastest
of the two being first alternate and the next being second alternate. If a finalist
cannot participate, the alternates are called upon to take their place, often at a
Approved Meet: Swim meets conducted by other than USA or LSC member clubs, that have
applied for so times can be used for USA qualifying. A USA official must be
present at all sessions of an approved meet. Approved does not mean
Blocks: The small diving platform at the deep end of a pool, where swimmers start a
race. All events start ON the block, with the exception of the backstroke,
which starts IN the water, under the block.
Cards: A card that is either handed to the swimmer in the bull pen or handed to the
timer in the lane. Cards usually have the swimmer’s name, USA number,
event number, event name, lane and heat number. Each event has a separate
Championship Heat: The fastest 6 or 8 swimmers (depending on number of pool lanes) in a
Prelims/Finals meet who, after the Prelims swim, qualify to return to Finals.
The fastest heat of finals when multiple heats are held. Usually for 11/over
Circle seeding: See pyramid seeding
Connecticut Swimming The local governing body for competitive swimming in the state of
(CSI): Connecticut. CSI is one of fifty-nine Local Swimming Committees (LSCs) of
USA Swimming, the national governing body for competitive swimming in
the United States.
Consolation Final: After the fastest 6 or 8 swimmers (depending on the poolthe lanes),next
fastest 6 or 8 swimmers in a Prelims/Finals meet, who after the Prelims swim,
qualify to return to the finals. Consolations are the second fastest heat of finals
when multiple heats are held and are swum before the Championship heat.
Usually for 11/older participants only.
Course: Distance/length of pool. Short course meets/pools are either 25 yards (SCY)
or 25 meters (SCM) and long course is 50 meters (LCM).
Ctswim.org: The web site for Connecticut Swimming, Inc. A great source for everything
about swimming! Take the time to browse around this site.
Deadline: The last date meet entries must be submitted to be accepted by the meet host.
Making the meet deadline does not guarantee entry into the meet, because
many meets become “full” weeks before the entry deadline.
Deck Seeding: Revised seeding determined after scratches. Used for heat and lane
Distance: Distances for short course: 25yards or meters/1 length (only swum by
8/unders when the local swim committee has an 8/under division…CT has an
8/under division); 50y/2; 100y/4;200y/8;400y/16;500y/20. 25
Distances for long course: 50 meters/1length; 100m/2;
Distance Events: Many times, distance events include 400 meters plus events and are held for
all age groups participating the evening before 50’s, 100’s and 200’s.
Distance Meet: Typically, a meet with 800 Meters or longer events only.
DQ (Disqualification): Your time is not calculated in the results. All USA sanctioned meets have
meet officials whose job it is to watch the starts (both on the block and
entering the water,) turns, touches and strokes of each swimmer in their events.
These officials stand at both ends of the pool and will raise their hand, when a
swimmer is DQ’d. DQs occur when a start, stroke, etc. is done incorrectly.
Every swimmer is DQ’d at least once in their swimming careers!
Dual Meet: A meet between two teams only. Nutmeg and CT Swim League meets are
typically dual meets, except for Championships, where all teams compete.
Weston is the 2002/03 Season 9/10 Age Group Nutmeg League Champs.
False Start: A swimmer may be charged with a false start when he/she either enters the
water from the block or wall (backstroke) before the race horn or moves
during the start (so they are a distraction to the other racers). This results in a
DQ, as USA swimming regulations have a “no false start” rule.
FINA: The international rules making organization for the sport of swimming.
Finals: Usually for 11/older swimmers only, finals are conducted at the end of a meet,
where qualifying heats or prelims (regular session) were conducted earlier in
the day to determine the finalists who will compete later. Typically, there are
16 finalists seeded in the consolation round (9-16) and championship round (1-
8) (at Age Group Championships) or all 16 compete (regular qualifying
Format: The order of events and type of meet being conducted.
Fly-Over Start: When a swimmer finishes his or her swim, they do not exit the pool, but rather
stays against the wall and moves to the side (so he/she is not directly under the
block) and waits, quietly. The next heat will start over the previous swimmer,
and then the swimmer exits the pool. The Referee will blow four or more
chirps when the last swimmer of the heat is about five yards/meters from the
finish (backstroke flags), signaling the next heat should get ready. The
Referee will blow the long whistle as the last swimmer finishes, bringing the
next heat of swimmers onto the blocks. When all swimmers are on the block
and swimmers in the water are out of the way, the Referee turns the heat over
to the Starter with an outstretched arm. Fly-over starts are not used in 8/under
Heat Sheet: The listing coaches are given on deck that lists all swimmers by event, time
and lane. Heat (and meet program) times may vary in accuracy, since coaches
submit swimmers’ times many weeks before the meet to avoid being closed
out of a meet.
Heat: Each event at a meet is broken down into heats, based on the number of lanes
at the pool, the number of swimmers in the event and each swimmer’s time
(usually the swimmer’s best time as of the time the entries were submitted to
the meet officials). Some meets use “pyramid seeding” for 11/older
IM: Individual Medley. One length, at least (100 IM), of each stroke in this order:
butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.
Lane Assignments: Lane assignments are made in descending order of qualifying times by placing
the fastest swimmer or team in the center lane in a pool, as follows:
4 2 1 3 5 5
6 4 2 1 3 5 6
6 4 2 1 3 5 7 7
8 6 4 2 1 3 5 7 8
8 6 4 2 1 3 5 7 9 9
10 8 6 4 2 1 3 5 7 9 10
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 <Lane
Lap: One length of the course. May also mean down and back (2 lengths) of the
Levels of USA Swimming 1. Qualifiers (most USA sanctioned meets during the season are
2. Regional Championships (open to all swimmers who haven’t achieved
Age Group, Zone or beyond time standards,
3. 8/under State Championships (open to swimmers 8 years old and
4. Age Group (State) Champions
5. Zone Championships,
6. And on!
Long Course Season (LCS Generally takes place during the spring and summer months and are usually
or LCM): swum in a 50 meter pools and may take place in outdoor pools…LCM
LSC: Local Swimming Committee. A local group that enforces USA Swimming
rules, regulations and activities. Connecticut Swimming is our governing
Medley Relay: Four swimmers participate in this relay, each one swimming one of the
following strokes in this order: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and
freestyle. The backstroke is swum first, because it is the only stroke that starts
in the water.
Meet Announcement: “Meet Announcements” are posted on ctswim.org and a link to each meet
Weston participates in is posted under “Meet Info” and then “Meet Info Sheet”
on our web site, www.westonswimming.org. Meet announcements list the
date of the meet, the host, type of meet and location. Scroll down to the meet
you’re interested in and (when underlined) click on the name of the meet,
listed under “Announcement” for very detailed meet information including:
*warm-up and start times,
*meet location and directions,
*events to be swum and order of events
*age groups, by day and time,
*restrictions and suggestions for parking, seating, etc.
Meet: Meets are listed on Connecticut Swimming as Invitational, Qualifier, Distance
Meet, Pentathlon etc. and some are open to a particular age group (eg.
8/unders or 11/olders). A swimmer can swim one day of a two or three day (or
longer meet), if they choose. Meets are broken down by day/meet/age group
and event. Multi day meets may have one age group swim the first day and
another the second day, etc. or each age group may swim every day.
NT: No time: The abbreviation used on a heat sheet to designate that a swimmer
has not swum that event before.
Non-conforming Time A short course time submitted to qualify for a long course event or vice versa.
Nutmeg Meet: A local Connecticut swimming group, where dual or tri meets are conducted
with participants competing as a team. Weston has been a member of the
Nutmeg League for many years, but the League is in jeopardy of disbanding.
In this case, Weston will participate in some “Dual” meets with teams of
choice. Regular meet times are not sanctioned by USA Swimming, but
Nutmeg Championship Meet times are sanctioned. Nutmeg and Dual meets
are fun meets, where camaraderie and team spirit are stressed. Meet times are
used for personal best ribbons. Your age as of November 1 sets the age group
that you will compete in.
OT: The swimmer’s official event time recorded to one hundredth of a second (.01)
Pentathlon: A USA Swimming qualifying meet where all five strokes (breast, back, fly,
free and IM) are swum by every swimmer. Each swimmer’s placement is
tallied and the top 16 swimmers with the highest combined score for all
strokes receive awards.
Personal Best: Your best time recorded to date, from any meet you participate in. You may
receive a Personal Best Ribbon, if your time at succeeding meets is bettered!
Decorate your room with Weston Ribbons!
Prelims or Trials: The qualifying rounds that determine the finalists. Typically swum at some
11/older Age Group Qualifying meets. Prelims are held in one session and
Finals are held later in the day in another session. The fastest 6 or 8 swimmers
swim in the Championship Heat and the next fastest 6 or 8 swimmers swim in
the Consolation Finals. Times swum in these two heats may not be used to
determine final placement at the meet, but is used for future meets and USA
Program (Meet Program): A booklet listing each swimmer seeded by event. You can purchase a program
at all USA Swimming sanctioned meets. Programs are typically not printed at
general Nutmeg or CT League Meets (only at these Championship meets).
Pyramid Seeding: Used at trials or prelims/finals meets. Swimmers are entered in heats as
follows: the fastest 3 swimmers are placed in different heats…in the middle
lane of the last 3 heats, the next 3 fastest swimmers are in the lane next to them
in each of those heats, etc. After prelims, the top (16 or 8) swimmers swim in
the Final or Consolation Final.
Qualifier Meet(or Age A meet sanctioned by USA Swimming, where times are officially recorded
Group Qualifier): with Connecticut Swimming and are used to determine standing for Top 16
swimmers, Age Groups, Zones, and beyond. Most meets during the season are
Qualifying Times: Published times necessary to enter certain meets or times necessary to achieve
a specific category of swimming.
Referee: The USA Swimming official who oversees everyone and everything at a meet.
Regional Championships: Regionals is the last official qualifying meet of each season and some
swimmers make Age Groups at this meet. If you have already qualified to
swim at Age Groups in an event for that season, you may not swim that event
at Regionals. There are also minimum time standards, so a swimmer with a
slow time in a particular event is not allowed to swim that event at Regionals.
Also, a swimmer is technically not allowed to swim in an event at Regionals
for the first time (which also avoids having a very slow swimmer in an event).
The swimmer who comes in 1st at Regionals is deemed a Regional Champion.
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 a swimmer can be disqualified from remaining events.
Seed Times: The times used for meet entries and placement in heats.
Seeding : Unless pyramid style seeding is used, straight seeding is used. The swimmers
with the slower times are in the earliest heat to be swum for an event. Those
swimmers, by heat, are placed in lanes according to their times: the fastest
swimmer is typically in lane 3 of a six lane pool, followed by the next fastest
swimmer of that heat in lane 4, lane 2,lane 5, lane 1 and then lane 6. In an 8
lane pool the seeding is as follows: fastest in lane 4, then 5, 3, 6, 2, 7, 8 and 1.
Therefore, the last heat is the fastest.
Senior Meet: A meet with typically only 13/older (or older) age group swimmers.
Qualifying times may be required to participate.
Session: Portion of a meet distinctly separate from another session, based on locale,
time, age group or type of competition.
Short Course Season (SC): Short Course is usually swum in 25 yard (SCY) or 25 meter (SCM) pools and
typically takes place during the Fall/Winter months.
Split Times: The time a swimmer achieves after one or more laps of a race. The time for
the first lap of a two lap swim is the split time. This is used for pacing a
swimmer in future events. Split times are not official times, except when
swum as the first lap of a relay, because an official start time is used. So, split
times may be used as qualifying times for the first swimmer in a freestyle relay
or the backstroker in a medley relay.
Starter: The USA Swimming official who call the swimmers to the blocks and starts
Stroke and Turn Judge: The USA Swimming officials who judge each swimmers, starts, turns,
touches, finishes and strokes and who may disqualify a swimmer if one of
these do not conform to USA Swimming guidelines.
Submitted Time: Times used to enter swimmers in meets. These times should have been
achieved by the swimmer at previous meets.
Time Standards: Times for every stroke, by age group and course length, developed by USA
Swimming. They are based on percentiles of the 16th fastest time in each
stroke, by age group and may be amended each season based on these fastest
times achieved by swimmers.
Time Trial: An event when a swimmer may achieve or better a required time standard.
Sometimes offered between sessions of a meet.
Timer: The volunteers at the starting block/end of pool, who are responsible for
getting “watch” times on events. Typically used when the swimmer doesn’t
touch the touch pad at the end of the race.
Top 16 (in Connecticut): The top 16 swimmers, by sex, age group and event for both the short course
and long course season of each year, are invited to the Connecticut Awards
Banquet in November of the following year.
Touch Pad: The electronic pad that stops the time clock, when touched by a swimmer at
the end of a race. This is typically the official time, unless the swimmer
doesn’t touch the pad.
USA Swimming: The governing body for all amateur swimming in the United States. Their
National headquarters is in Colorado Spring, CO. The www.usaswimming.org
web site is a plethora of information.
Unattached: A swimmer is “Unattached” for 120 days from the date of the last USA
Swimming meet, when he/she moves from one USA Swimming club to
another. The swimmer competes individually during this time and may not
compete in relays. Unattached swimmers must submit to their new club, a
transfer/release form, signed by their old club. This is a national rule.
Unofficial Time: Time displaye don a read-out board or announced immediately after the race.
Once the time has been checked, the official time is recorded.
www.westonswimming.org: The official web site for Weston Water Wizards. All team information is
posted on this site! Please refer to this site often!
Zone Championships: Zones are the Age Group meet for the eastern zone of the United States. This
includes Connecticut, New England, Maine, Metro New York, Niagara region
of NY, Adirondacks, Allegheny Mountain, Middle Atlantic, New Jersey,
Potomac Valley and Virginia.
There are two Zone meets. Both take place after Age Group (State)
Championships and time standards beyond Age Group times must be achieved
to compete. Short Course Zones, usually takes place at the end of
March/beginning of April and only the top two swimmers per event, per age
group (per gender) represent Connecticut. Long Course Zones swimmers may
attend by achieving LCM time standards, so the odds of attending are greater
than in the SC season.
Zone championships take place anywhere in the Zone and therefore involves
overnight travel. Generally, 10/under swimmers travel with their families and
11/over swimmers travel as a group.