Swim Team Terminology

What is a 25 (50)? Indicates the pool length: some pools are 25 meters (e.g. QM), while others are 25 yards (e.g. Beulah). Swimming a 25 simply means swimming 1 length; swimming a 50 would be 2 lengths, and so on for 100, 200, etc. Times are adjusted for swimmers during meets when a yard pool is used to standardize the results.


What is a heat? Indicates a group of 6 swimmers (one per lane) that participate in an event; most events have multiple heats because of the limited lane space. Seeding is used to group swimmers in heats based on their times. The final heat of each event is the fastest heat.


What does bronze, silver, or gold mean? Indicates the three categories or time standards for each event. All new swimmers start in the bronze category and move up into the other categories if their timesmeet the standards. Swimmers in different categories (e.g. a “gold” swimmer and a “silver” swimmer)may swim in the same heat during the regular season meets, but all are awarded points and ribbons based on their own classification. For example, a first place might be awarded to a gold swimmer in 50 free. In that same event, a silver swimmer might also be awarded first place.


What is an IM? Stands for Individual Medley. During this event, one swimmer swims 25 meters of all four strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Midgets through Seniors are eligible to swim an IM.


What is a medley relay/free relay? The medley relay starts with the lead-off swimmer swimming backstroke, then the next swimmer swims breaststroke, followed by a butterflier, and, finally, a freestylist. In a free relay, all swimmers swim freestyle. A relay team can have no more than 2 boys and is placed in a time category based on the highest level a swimmer in the relay has achieved.


What is a DQ? Indicates that a swimmer has been disqualified during a particular event. See the nextsection for a list of the most common reasons a swimmer is DQ’d. The coaches will review the DQ cardsand help the swimmer correct their error during the next regularly scheduled practice. DQ’s are a learningtool, and designed to help swimmers know what they need to work on. Help your new swimmers to be proud of their new accomplishments!


What is the Clerk of Course? Represents the area of the pool (during a swim meet) where the swimmers are told which lane and heat they will swim in. All swimmers must listen to hear their event number called by the meet announcer and then report to the clerk of course in order to get ready to swim. Clerk of Course is located in the baby pool area at Queensmill. Mite Moms, experienced parents, coaches and older swimmers can offer direction at away meets.


How do we know what event we are on?The announcer will announce each event, and also when there is a “first call” and “last call” for swimmers in a given event. Help your swimmer to recognize their event numbers, as they will be the same for each meet. It seems overwhelming at first, but there will be plenty of help from coaches, parents and other swimmers.


Can I be on the swim deck with my swimmer? Unless you have a specific job on the pool deck, it is difficult for you to be there. The deck gets very crowded, and it is hard for meet officials, swimmers, and coaches to do their jobs if too many people are there.


All swimmers, regardless of age division, are required to meet the US swim standards.

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Most Common Disqualifications (DQ's)

Freestyle: Almost anything is allowed in freestyle.

  • swimmer must make a forward start and must touch the wall at both the
  • turn and finish
  • the only DQs are for using the lane lines or the floor of the pool for
  • advancement or for not touching the wall on the turn


Breast stroke: Most common DQs are for:

  • the hands and/or legs not being synchronized and parallel with water surface; elbows should remain in the water except at the turn or the finish
  • an improper kick (should be “frog kick” with feet turned out; a flutter or butterfly kick is not allowed )
  • a one hand touch at the turn or finish line; hands must touch simultaneously
  • two strokes or kicks underwater (only one full arm pull and one kick are allowed underwater at the
    start and at the turn)


Back stroke: Most DQs are for:

  • a swimmer turning over to a prone position
  • an improper turn (i.e. non-continuous movement during the turn, independent kicks or pulls during the turn, or no touch on the wall at the turn)

Butterfly: Most common DQs are for:

  • if the swimmer's arms do not break the surface of the water, it is not considered to be "over the water" and would be cause for a disqualification
  • using incorrect kick (breaststroke kick, flutter kick and scissors kick are considered “incorrect”)aone hand touch at the turn or finish line; hands must touch simultaneously


Starts: Most DQs are for:

  • 2 “false starts” – leaving the starting blocks before the starter gives the start signal
  • too many strokes under water (i.e. breaststroke)

Turns: Most DQs are for:

  • not touching with 2 hands simultaneously in butterfly and breaststroke
  • improper flip turns (i.e. in backstroke and freestyle the kicking/gliding must be part of a continuous turning action)

Finish: Most DQs are for:

  • not touching with 2 hands simultaneously in butterfly and breaststroke


Relays: Most DQs are for:

  • subsequent swimmers starting before previous swimmer touches
  • having too many boys on a team(no more than 2 allowed)
  • swimming strokes out of order


Individual Medley: Most DQs are for:

  • swimming strokes out of order
  • stroke or turn infractions for any of the individual strokes