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Swimming Terms

Terms every parent should know...

AGE GROUP SWIMMING - Swimmers compete against swimmers in their own age groups; 6 and Under, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-18.

ALL-STARS - Invitational meet that takes place after Divisionals. All swimmers who swim minimum and maximum times qualify (indicated by AS10 in the results). Entry fees are required.

BACK - Short for backstroke. A swimmer must remain on his/her back during the race, never turning more than 90 degrees to one side or the other, except on turns. [ see "STROKES" below. ]

BLOCKS - These are the platforms on which the swimmer stands and pushes off to start each race.

BREAK - In a relay this is a bad start, meaning that one swimmer leaves the wall or block before the other swimmer in the water has touched the wall. A relay start is also referred to as a "takeoff", and a break is more commonly referred to as a takeoff infraction or a "bad takeoff".

BREASTSTROKE - Sometimes shortened to breast. Breaststroke is a stroke in which both arms and both legs move together. One complete stroke and one complete kick underwater is permitted on the start and on turns. As in butterfly, [ see "FLY" below ] a two handed touch is required on turns and finish.

DISQUALIFICATION (D.Q.) - A disqualification indicates the swimmer involved has committed some infraction of the rules of either the start, turn or stroke of the event being swum. No points are scored, nor is a time recorded, for that swimmer for that event.

DISQUALIFIED - A swimmer's race is declared illegal. As noted above, when disqualified, his/her time does not count.

DUAL MEET - A meet between two teams.

EVENT - An event is a race that is defined by the stroke [ see "STROKES" below ] and distance (and usually gender/age group), e.g. Boys 13-14 50 yard Butterfly is one event.

FALSE START - When a swimmer leaves his mark after the command "Take Your Mark" and before the starting signal is given or unnecessarily delays, he may be charged with a false start.

FINALS - (Invitationals only) Swum after the fastest times from the preliminary heats are grouped together. Often the fastest 16 swimmers qualify to swim in two finals heats (in an 8-lane pool). These top swimmers are competing for the team points and awards.

FLY - Nickname for the butterfly stroke. Butterfly (like breaststroke) is swum with the arms moving together in synchronization with both legs. The kick is similar to the flutter kick, but both feet are together and move up and down together. The hands or the feet may never move separately from the other. A two handed touch is required on the turns and finish.

FREE - Short for Freestyle. Freestyle is the American Crawl or any other stroke a swimmer wishes to swim. In medley events, "freestyle" means any stroke other than back, breast or fly.

NWAL - Northwest Aquatics League - the swimming league in Northwest Houston in which the Whitesharks compete.

HEAT SHEET - This is available to all spectators. It lists the event each swimmer is in. Swimmers are listed in the order of their seed time from fastest to slowest. (Note: our Heat Sheets do not actually list each heat due to the time constraints in planning meets and printing.)

HEATS - These are groups of swimmers all competing in the same Event. Example: If there are 12 swimmers entered in the same event and only 6 lanes in which to swim. The 6 slowest swimmers will swim in Heat #1 and the next 6 will swim in Heat #2. [see "SEEDING" below].

I.M. - Individual Medley. One swimmer swims a minimum of one length of each of the following strokes in this consecutive order: butterfly, back, breast and free.

INVITATIONAL - A competition in which swimmers are invited by the coaches to swim based on qualifying times achieved during an officially timed meet.

LANE - The lanes are the divided sections of the pool designated 1 through 6 or 8 in which the swimmer swims his/her practice or races in the meet.

LAP - It is the length of the pool. Most NWAL pools are 25 yards in length, some are 25 meters.

N.T. - No Time. No time means upon entering a swimmer in a certain event, that swimmer had not previously achieved a legal time for that certain event.

PONDEROSA - Invitational meet that takes place after Divisionals. All swimmers who swim minimum times qualify (indicated by PI on the results). Entry fees are required. Many years ago, this meet took place at the Ponderosa Forest subdivision pool and it is still run by that team.

PRELIMINARIES - The heats swum prior to the finals. The preliminary heats determine which swimmers qualify to compete in the finals. [see "FINALS" above]. Invitationals only.

QUALIFYING TIME - A time standard for which a swimmer must swim at or faster than a minimum time to qualify and therefore be eligible to enter the event. Invitationals only.

RUNNERS - These people will collect cards from each timer at the end of each race and run them over to the scorer's table.

SCRIBE - One per lane. Writes down the swimmers times for each heat. Also verifies swimmers names.

SCORERS - These people score the meet, write out ribbons or medals for place finishes, and posts the scores and results after every few events.

SCORING A MEET - Meets are scored according to what kind of meet it is. Teams are awarded points based upon the place finish of each race. The number of points and number of places awarded varies with each type of meet. See NWAL Rulebook for scoring details.

SEEDING - This means ranking or ordering the swimmers according to each swimmer's best previous times achieved prior to the meet. When the swimmers are grouped into heats [see "HEATS" above] the fastest swimmers are in the final heat.

SHORT COURSE - Refers to a 25 yard or meter pool.

SPLIT - It is a segment of time for part of an event. Most common on relays where you have four individual times that equal the sum of the four participants final time. Split times are also often tracked on longer individual events.

STARTER - This person will see that the crowd is quiet and then will start each race with a gun or auto starter system. It will be his/her job to determine a false start and to recall such a start.

STROKES - The four competitive strokes are butterfly, back, breast and freestyle. Each stroke has a proper execution. Failure to execute the stroke properly (as defined by the official rules) causes the swimmer to be disqualified for that race.

STROKE AND TURN JUDGES - These people will see that the swimmer does each stroke and turn properly as stated in the official rulebook. If a stroke or turn is done improperly, the judge who observed the infraction will report it to the meet referee.

"TAKE YOUR MARK" - This is the command that the starter gives the swimmers at the start of each race. It tells the swimmer to take his starting position. All swimmers must be set before the start signal is given.

TIMERS - These are people who take the times of each swimmer. There are normally 3 per lane with each having a watch or hookup to the auto timing system.

TIMES - Throughout the season a swimmer will swim several events more than once. The time they swim is the final result of their effort. It will determine at which level they perform that event.

TOUCH AND FINISH - These are important. For each event the touch for a finish or for a turn has definite rules. There is a specific legal touch for each stroke.

WARM-UPS - This is the pre-meet swimming that each swimmer should do to get a feel of the water, to loosen up their shoulders, arms, neck, waist, and legs, and to practice the events being swum that meet.

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