Natare Terminology

Aquatic Activities

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z


  • Age group swimming

    1. a structure of the U.S. Swimming organization where children break up into groups according the their age and ability and work on swimming technique and endurance with the help of a trained coach
    2. nationally recognized age groups are 10 and under, 11-12, 13-14, 15- 16, 17-18 and 15-18; local swim meets may include events for 8 and under
  • Anchor

    last swimmer in a relay

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  • Backstroke flags

    see flags

  • Block

    starting platform

  • Bulkhead

    a wall constructed to divide a pool into different courses such as a 50-meter pool into two 25-yard courses

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  • Circle Swimming

    performed by staying to the right of the black line when swimming in a lane, to enable more swimmers to swim in each lane

  • Code of Conduct

    agreement signed by a swimmer prior to travel stating that the swimmer will abide by certain behavioral guidelines

  • Coping

    deck tile, usually about one foot wide, at the edge of the pool

  • Course

    designated distance over which the competition is conducted; standard is 25 meters for summer league meets, 50 meters for Olympic competition, and 25 yards for regular year-round and college competition

  • Cut

    1. slang for qualifying time
    2. time standard necessary to attend a particular meet or event
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  • Distance

    events over 400 meters/500 yards


    recreational mechanism for entering a swimming pool, consisting of a semi-rigid board that derives its spring from a fulcrum mounted below the board and attached to the deck

  • Divisionals

    championship meet of the summer league season

  • DQ

    disqualification from an event

  • Drill

    an exercise involving a portion or part of a stroke, used to improve technique

  • Dryland Training

    training done out of the water that aids; enhances swimming performance

  • Dual Meet

    competition between two clubs

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  • Finals

    championship heat of an event in which the top six or eight swimmers from the preliminaries compete

  • Flags

    1. colorful vinyl pennants spaced and sized to meet competitive swimming requirements; generally placed five yards (short course) or five meters (long course) from the end of the pool
    2. enables backstroke swimmers to execute a backstroke turn more efficiently by counting their strokes
  • Failed Swim

    where a meet calls for proof of a time standard and the swimmer fails to meet that standard in a particular race

  • False Start

    swimmer moving before the start of a race

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  • Gutter

    overflow trough at pool edge; also called a perimeter or recirculation system

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    see prelim

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  • IM

    1. individual medley
    2. event in which the swimmer uses all four strokes in the following order
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  • lane line

    a rope with buoys that extends across the pool is to section off the water into long straight "lanes" so that swimmers do not bump into one another

  • Lane Rope

    floating markers attached to a line that stretches from the starting end to the turning end of the pool to separate each lane

  • Lane

    specific area in which the swimmer is assigned to swim

  • Lap Counter

    1. set of plastic display numbers used to keep track of laps during a distance race
    2. the person who counts for the swimmer stationed at the opposite end from the start
  • Lap swimming

    designated time when swimmers may use the distance of the pool at their own pace

  • Leg

    part of a relay event swum by one individual swimmer

  • Lifeline

    rope line across a pool to designate a change in slope in the pool bottom, or the beginning of deep water; usually supported by regularly spaced floats

  • Long Course

    pool 50 meters in length

  • Long Distance

    1. any freestyle event over 1500 meters, normally conducted in a natural body of water, such as a lake, river or ocean
    2. also known as marathon swimming
  • LSC

    1. Local Swimming Committee
    2. governing body for swimming on a local level
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  • masters swimming

    structured and supervised swimming period, where groups of adults participate in a set program; techniques and drills are utilized to improve performance

  • Meet

    equivalent to a "game"

  • Middle Distance

    events 200-400 yards/meter in length

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  • Negative Split

    swimming the second half of the race equal to or faster than the first half

  • National Age Group Time Standard

    1. time standards derived from the previous years’ results; broken down by age and sex as well as B, A, AA, AAA, AAAA divisions; these designations are and may be used for qualifying purposes; many LSCs have their own time standards
  • National Age Group Top 16

    time standards set for both short and long course based on previous years’ achievements; only times meeting these standards may be submitted for consideration each year

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  • Official

    a judge on the deck of the pool at a sanctioned competition who is there to enforce rules; there are stroke and turn judges, administrative officials, starters, timers and referees

  • open swimming

    see recreational swimming

  • open water swimming

    an organized swim event in the ocean, lake or river; distances tend to be longer

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  • Pace Clock

    large clock with a large second hand and a smaller minute hand, used to check pace or to maintain intervals in practice; may also be digital

  • Prelims

    1. preliminaries, also called heats or trial
    2. races in which swimmers qualify for the championship and consolation finals in events
  • Proof of Time

    a requirement at some meets to make certain that all swimmers have legally met time standards for that meet

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  • Q-Time

    qualifying time necessary to compete in a particular event and/or competition

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  • Recreational swim team

    swim team run by a club, or municipality or county

  • Recreational swimming

    1. also called open swimming
    2. set time when swimmers of all ages may come to the pool; no lane lines are in the water; the water is "open"
  • Referee

    1. official who has the authority over all other officials at a meet
    2. makes all final decisions and sees to the efficient running of the meet
  • Relay

    an event in which four swimmers compete together as a team to achieve one time

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  • Starter

    the official at a meet responsible for starting each heat and calling the next heat to the blocks

  • Streamline

    position used to gain maximum distance during a start and/or push off from the wall in which the swimmer’s body is as tight as it can be

  • Stroke & Turn Judge

  • synchronized swimming

  • Scratch

    to withdraw from an event

  • Seed

    to distribute the swimmers among the heats and lanes according to their times; in most cases, the fastest swimmers are in the final heat of an event

  • Seeding Times

    time a swimmer uses to enter a meet; this time, which is written on the entry card, determines ones position and lane in a particular meet

  • Senior Swimming

    program which provides fair and open competition in national swimming championships; it is designed to afford maximum opportunity for participation, provide an educational experience, enhance physical and mental conditioning and develop a pool of talented athletes for international competition; there are no age restrictions in senior competition

  • Set

    combined group of drills to form a complete practice

  • Short Course

    a pool 25 yards or 25 meters in length

  • Split

    1. swimmer’s intermediate time in a race; splits are registered every 50 yards or meters and are used to determine if a swimmer is on record pace
    2. under certain conditions, splits may also be used as official times
  • Sprint

    1. describes the shorter events (50 and 100)
    2. in training, to swim as fast as possible for a short distance
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  • Taper

    final preparation phase prior to major competition; an older more experienced swimmer will shave his entire body to reduce resistance in the water

  • Time Trial

    a time-only swim, not part of a regular meet

  • Touch Pad

    large sensitive board at the end of each lane where a swimmer’s touch is registered and sent electronically to the timing system

  • Tri-Meet

    any competition between three clubs

  • trial

    see prelims

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  • U.S. swim team

    age group program authorized by the U.S. Swimming organization

  • USA Card number

    unique number assigned to a swimmer when they join United States of America Swimming

  • USA Swimming

    1. United States of America Swimming, Inc.
    2. national governing body for amateur competitive swimming in the United States
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  • Warm Down

    low intensity swimming used by swimmers after a race or main practice; it rids the body of excess lactic acid and gradually reduces heart rate and respiration

  • Warm Up

    used by a swimmer prior to a main practice, set or race; loosens and warms muscles and gradually increases heart rate and respiration

  • Water Aerobics

    see water exercise

  • Water Ballet

    see synchronized swimming

  • water exercise

    1. also called water aerobics
    2. an exercise routine in the water
  • Water polo

    high endurance sport with soccer-like strategy played in the pool; forward, backs and goalies try to throw a ball into the opponent’s net; players are not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool while playing

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