Swimming Terms

Swimming Terms

Listed below are terms that are commonly used in the Swimming World. 

100s (BAGCATS)
These are 100m Backstroke, 100m Breaststroke, 100m Butterfly and 100m Freestyle.

Accepted Time
Where AOE is not in use and there is only one timekeeper per lane, his time will be the accepted time. Where two timekeepers per lane are used, the accepted time is the slowest of the two times. When three timekeepers per lane are used, the accepted time is the middle time if all times are different or if two or more times are the same, that will become the accepted time. Where AOE or Semi-AOE is in use, the accepted time will be the time recorded by the equipment.

Active Sports
A five year program by Sport England promoting the development of nine sports, including swimming. It incorporates the Swim 21 programme.

Aerobic Energy
Aerobic means ‘with air’. The Aerobic system produces energy by the complete breakdown of glucose. The production of energy is slower, but more continual than the anaerobic systems.

Amateur Swimming Association (ASA)
The national body for swimming in England. There are separate ASA's for Scotland and Wales and the Amateur Swimming Federation of Great Britain (ASFGB) incorporates the three country ASAs.

Anaerobic Energy
Anaerobic means ‘without air’. There are two systems that make up the anaerobic system.

ATP-CP system
Lactic Acid System

Automatic Officiating Equipment (AOE)
Equipment used to automatically record the times of the swimmers. It consists of a set of touch sensitive pads at the end of each lane linked to a computer. Places for each swimmer can be automatically calculated from the times and displayed on a scoreboard.

Age Groups
An abbreviation of Age Group Competitions, which are competitions organised within specific age groupings.

Backup Time
Where automatic officiating equipment is used, a backup button is provided for each lane. In addition to operating a stopwatch, the timekeeper presses the backup button when the swimmer completes the race, which provides a backup time in case the touch sensitive pad did not operate correctly. This time may still be adjusted if it does not agree with the places.

Best Events (BAGCATS)
These are the events from the group (i.e. sprints, form, distance, 100s, IMs) for which the swimmers gains most BAG points.

British Age Group Categories (BAGCATS)
Core to CDC thinking is that swimmers should compete to win an overall category award rather than specialising in a particular event. These categories are made up of event groups. At least one swim must be completed from each event group that makes up the category. An overall score will be calculated that automatically works out the highest scoring swim in each event group. For example, if you swim two of the events in the Sprint group, the computer system will work out which one scores more points and add it into the overall score with your best scores from the other event groups.

British Age Group Correction Factors
In order to reflect the fact that age group swimmers find some events relatively more difficult than other events, correction factors have been calculated. These factors are generated from an analysis of all the information in the GB Rankings Database held by the ASA, and of world standards. They allow us to make comparisons between events in a single age group. However, they should not be used to relate performances between different ages or sex.

British Age Group Points (BAG Points)
British Age Group Points are generated when a correction factor is applied to a GB Points score.
For example, a time of 3.00.00 for 200m Breaststroke (short course) scores 548 points. If it is achieved by an 11 year old girl it would be multiplied by a correction factor of 1.3075 which gives a BAG Points score of 717.
GB Points score x BAG Correction Factor = BAG Points score.

Card System
A system of entering events by filling in a card which is then used by the competitors stewards, timekeepers and recorders. Cards are usually used for open events and meets.

The point in a stroke where purchase on the water is gained and propulsion starts.

Competitive Development Continuum Project (CDC)
An initiative by the ASA to change the way age group swimming is run in the UK. This initiative introduced the BAGCATS points system.

A formal expression of dissatisfaction with the actions or behavior of clubs, bodies, organisations or individuals or with alleged unfair practice in connection with the sport. Complaints must be made in writing to the Judicial Administrator.

WSMSC belongs to "Somerset County Association". Each year the County organises the County Age Groups and County Championships competitions.

Designated Meet
This is an Open Meet which has been "designated" by the ASA. In order to obtain designation the organising club must satisfy the ASA that it will be able to run the event to a high standard with a full compliment of appropriately qualified officials.

Distance Events (BAGCATS)
These are Freestyle events of 200m or more.

The ASA is divided into five District Associations and clubs affiliate to their local District. Our District is the ASA South West.

District Judicial Tribunal (DJT)
A panel of officials appointed by the District to deal with appeals against against a decision of the Referee or the Jury of Appeal in regard to protests and complaints.

A series of training exercises given by a coach based on a variation of a particular stroke e.g. "Swim 4x50 Front crawl with 20 seconds rest between swims".

Early Specialisation
Early specialisation refers to when a child selects their best event early in their swimming career and gears their training and competition around this event.

Competitions are usually split up into a series of events, each event covering all the swimmers for a specific sex, age group and stroke. Events are usually split into a number of heats depending on how many competitors have been entered for the event.

Explosive Breathing
The type of breathing where a breath is held and then blown out forcefully just prior to taking the next breath.

False Start
ASA Law defines it as "If after the command 'take your marks' a swimmer leaves his starting place [i.e. dive or falls into the water] or is moving when the starting signal is given it shall be a false start". When this happens, the starter recalls the swimmers and a rope is dropped across the pool to stop the swimmer(s) from continuing the race. The starter then announces "Swimmers, you will be disqualified for a false start". If anyone gets it wrong on the second start they are disqualified. Some of the more important competitions are swum under the 'one start rule'. This means that if they get it wrong on the first start they are disqualified; there is no second chance.

Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA)
The organisation which governs swimming worldwide.

FINA Points
A comparative points scoring system devised by FINA based on the top eight World All Time Best swims.


Bending a joint during a warm up exercise or swimming stroke.

Form Strokes (BAGCATS)
These are 200m Backstroke, 200m Breaststroke and 200m Butterfly (so called because these are the strokes for which the form is decided by FINA and ASA Law).

One of the four strokes used for competitive swimming. In Freestyle events, any stroke may be used and the laws relating to that stroke do not apply. In practice Front crawl is usually chosen as this is the fastest stroke. In Medley swimming however, it means any stroke other than Breaststroke, Backstroke or Butterfly.

Any action by a swimmer as a result of which another swimmer in the same event suffers an unfair disadvantage. This will result in the offending swimmer being disqualified from the event.

A competition where each club taking part is allocated single lane. Clubs accumulate a number of points based on the position of their swimmers in each event. A trophy is usually awarded to the winning club.

GB Points (British Comparative Performance Tables)
A British comparative points system based on the average of the top eight best performances in the World. It is similar to FINA points in this respect, but the essential difference is that the lower end of the tables extend to appropriately defined slower times in order to cater for the youngest age group and development ability levels.

Heat Declared Winner (HDW)
An event ( usually, although not always, 200m or more) where there are too many swimmers for a straight final and the winners are decided on the times achieved in the heats.

When there are too many swimmers in an event for them all to compete in one race, that event is divided into heats or qualifying races and then the fastest swimmers go forward to the final.

Individual Medley (IM)
In individual medley events, the swimmer must swim all four main strokes in the following order: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle. Each section must be finished in accordance with the rules for the stroke concerned.

There are three types of judges in a competition. Stroke judges ensure that each swimmer uses the correct stroke for each race. Turning judges observe all turns and relay take over’s. Placing judges decide the order of finishing and act as turning judges at the finishing end. Judges have the power to disqualify swimmers who infringe the ASA Laws and Technical Rules.

Jury of Appeal
A panel of officials at a major competition who act in place of the Referee in regard to protests.

Kick Board
A foam board used during training to support the upper body while kicking with the legs. Sometimes called a float.

LEN Points
A comparative points scoring system devised by the European Governing Body (LEN). They are based on the World Long Course Records.

Lesson Plan
A plan by a teacher or coach defining the structure of a swimming lesson.

Long Course
Any competition held in a pool of 50 metres.

Manual Time
The time for a swim recorded manually by a timekeeper using a stopwatch.

Medley Relay
For medley relay events, a team of four swimmers cover the four strokes in the following order: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle. Each section must be finished in accordance with the rules for the stroke concerned. A swimmer may leave the water as soon as he has completed his swim.

Multi-Skilled Approach
A multi-skilled approach entails children being encouraged to do a variety of different sports from a young age. Specific to swimming, it means that they should train and compete in all the strokes and distances.

An abbreviated term used to describe all national competitions.

National Judicial Tribunal (NJT)
A national panel of officials who's function is to hear and determine appeals from decisions of District Judicial Tribunals. They also determine cases relating to Child Protection.

National Plan for Teaching Swimming (NPTS)
A scheme devised by the ASA to provide a standard approach to teaching children to swim.

National Qualifying Time (NQT)
These are those times that a swimmer must achieve in order to be allowed to enter the Nationals. NQTs may only be obtained at designated meets Licensed at Level 1 or 2.

National Swim Awards
A series of twelve levels of awards set out by the ASA. To achieve each award a series of skills must be completed. Swimmers who achieve all twelve awards will have developed a wide range of skills and be competent at all the four strokes.

Official Time
The time officially recorded for a swimmer after comparing it with the placings. This will usually be the same as the accepted time, except in the case where the placings do not agree with the times, in which case two or more times will be adjusted, resulting in the same official time for the swimmers even though they have different places.

One Start Rule
In competitions using the one start rule, if a swimmer is moving when the starting signal is given he will be disqualified at the end of the race. If a swimmer topples into the water before the starting signal he will also be disqualified and not given a second chance to start.

Open Meet
Competitions which are open to swimmers of any club that is affiliated to the ASA.

Over The Top Start
After completing an event, the swimmer stays in the water against the wall until after the start of the next race. When the following competitor dives over the top of the previous swimmer, he may leave the water. Often used to speed up proceedings on 50m and 100m events. When over the top starts are not used, the swimmer may only leave the water when instructed to do so by the Referee.

Pace Clock
A large clock on the wall of the swimming pool with a single hand used during training to give the swimmers a start time for a drill, time rest periods and to time a swim.

Personal Best (PB)
The swimmers best time to date for that event, this is more commonly being classed as Life Time Best.

An allegation that the ASA laws, Technical Rules or the promoters conditions governing a competition have not been complied with or have been misinterpreted. Protests should be made orally to the Referee as soon as is reasonable practical.

A foam device shaped like a figure of eight used to support the legs while training.

Qualifying Time
A time required by some competition organisers in order to enter an event.

The recorder keeps a complete record of the race results.

The referee has overall control or a competition, ensuring that the rules are obeyed, inspecting the course and adjudicating in any disagreements between officials and competitors.

Relay Race
Relays involve swimming an event as a team of two or more swimmers. In relays all swimmers use the same stroke or in the case of a medley relay, each swimmer swims a different stroke in the following order: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle.

Reporting Time
The time at which officials should report to the Referee prior to a competition.

The method of arranging swimmers who have entered in an event according to their submitted time. Some organisers swim the fastest swimmers first and then work through to the slower submitted entry times. However most competitions are swum starting with the slowest entries and working up to the faster entries. The final heat is often swum in "spearhead" formation, with the fastest swimmers occupying the middle lanes.

Semi-Automatic Officiating Equipment (Semi-AOE)
Equipment used to record the times of the swimmers without using touch sensitive pads. The starting signal automatically triggers a timer which is stopped by the timekeeper pressing a backup button. This is used if the AOE fails to produce a complete result or as an independent system.

Short Course
A competition held in a pool less than 50m long - usually 25m.

Spearhead Formation
In each event, the competitor with the fastest entry time is assigned to the centre lane or in pools with an even number of lanes, the lane on the right of the centre. The other swimmers are placed alternately left and right of him in descending order of speed so that the slowest swimmers are in the outside lanes. If entry times are a true indication of form, the swimmers will fan out in a spearhead formation during the race. Finals are usually swum in a spearhead formation.

Speeding Ticket
Swimmers who exceed the fastest permissible time for an event are given a speeding ticket. This means that their time stands but not the place. This usually happens when an A grade swimmer has been selected for a B or C grade gala.

Split Time
For events of 400m and above, split times can be used to record the time for a swimmer to complete each 100m. Split times are usually manually recorded by the timekeeper on the back of the swimmers card.

Sprint Events (BAGCATS)
These are 50m Backstroke, 50m Breaststroke, 50m Butterfly, 50m Freestyle.

Sprint Meet
Similar to an open meet, but for B and C graded swimmers. All events except relays will have an associated fastest time which if exceeded will result in a speeding ticket.

The starter controls each event from the point the referee gives him control until the race has begun. He must ensure that each swimmer is in the correct lane and that the starting signal is correctly given. He and the referee are the sole judges as to whether the start is valid.

Submitted Time
A time previously recorded on a stroke and distance which is submitted with an entry to enable meet organisers to 'seed' the events.

Swim 21
A nationwide accreditation program promoting swimming in the UK.

Swim Down
The time during which a swimmer swims a number of slow lengths to recover following a period of intensive training.

Time Trial
A swimmer taking part in a race to achieve a time without recording a place. Used to give the swimmer experience when there is a spare lane.

Timekeepers record the time for competitors swimming in their lane. The chief timekeeper collects the times from the timekeepers and reviews them with the referee.

Training Paddle
A device used during training which fits over the hands to provide a greater surface area.

Two Start Rule
In competitions using the two start rule, if a swimmer is moving when the starting signal is given or if he topples into the water before the starting signal, the race will be recalled and all the swimmers will be given a second chance to start following a verbal waning from the starter: "swimmers, you will be disqualified for a false start".

Warm Up Time
The time at which swimmers should be ready to start their warm up prior to a competition.

A long foam tube used in place of arm bands to support the upper body of a child learning to swim.