Glossary of Swimming Terms
Block - the starting block.
Cap - a latex or lycra swim cap used during a race or workout to protect a swimmer's hair from the effects of chlorine in the water as well as help cut down water resistance from the swimmer's hair.
Drag suit - a second loose fitting swim suit worn by swimmers in workout and warm-up to add a certain amount of weight and resistance to the flow of the water around the swimmer. The concept is similar to a batter swinging two or three bats while on deck in a baseball game.
False start - occurs when a swimmer leaves the starting block, or is moving on the block, before the starter officially starts the race. In U.S. Swimming, one false start will result in an automatic disqualification from the race.
FINA - Federation Internationale de National de Amateur, the international governing body of competitive swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming.
Final - the championship final of an event in which the fastest eight swimmers from the morning preliminaries compete.
Goggles - eyewear worn by swimmers in the pool to protect the swimmers' eyes from the effects of chorine in the water.
Gravity wave - wave action caused by the swimmers' bodies moving through the water. Gravity wave move down and forward from the swimmer, bounce off the bottom of the pool and return to the surface in the form of turbulence.
Gutter - the area at the edges of the pool in which water overflows during a race and is recirculated into the pool. Deep gutters catch surface wave and don't allow them to wash back into the pool and affect the race.
Official - an judge on the deck of the pool. Various judges watch the swimmer's strokes, turns and finishes or are timers.
IM- slang for individual medley, an event in which the swimmer uses all four competitive strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.
Lanelines - the dividers used to delineate the individual lanes. These are made of individual finned disks strung on a cable which rotate on the cable when hit by a wave. The rotating disks dissipate surface tension waves in a competitive pool.
Long Course - a pool configured for swimming with a 50 meter long racing course. World Records may be set in long course and short course competition. The main U.S. Swimming Long Course season is during the summer months. The Olympic Games as well as all major international competitions are conducted long course.
Negative split - a race strategy in the distance freestyle events in which a swimmer covers the second half of the race faster than the first half.
Prelim - short for preliminary, also called heats. Those races in which swimmers qualify for the championship and consolation finals in the events.
Relay exchange - the exchange between the swimmer in the water and the next swimmer on the relay team. A perfect exchange will simultaneously have the finishing swimmer's hand on the touch pad and the sorting swimmer's feet just touching the starting block with the rest of the starting swimmer's body extended over the water.
Roll - to move on the starting blocks prior to the starting signal. A roll is usually caught by the starter and called a false start, but swimmers will often try to guess the starter's l cadence and get a good start. Similar to illegal procedure in football.
Shave - prior to a major competition a swimmer will shave his or her entire body. The removal of the hair provides less resistance between shin and water and heightens a swimmer's sensations in the water
Short Course - a pool configured in 25 yard or 25-meter lengths. U.S. Swimming conducts most of its winter competition in 25-yard lengths including the Speedo Junior National Championships in March. NCAA swimming competition uses the 25-yard format. Most of the world swims short course meters in the winter (25-meter pool). The fastest times swum in a 25-yard pool may t only gain U.S. Open or American record l status.
Skinsuit - a slang term for a swimsuit designed to have minimum drag in the water. While many swimmers use the traditional knitted lycra, the newest suit is woven lycra, called a "paper" suit because of its texture. There are continually new styles and fabrics put out on the market.
Split - a swimmer's intermediate time in a race. Splits are registered every 50 meters (or 25 yards depending on the pool and the equipment on hand) and are used to determine if a swimmer is on record pace.
Sports Medicine and Science - a comprehensive use of science and technology to develop better training methods for athletes. In U.S. Swimming, the sports medicine and science program deals with everything from blood and respiratory condition to the biomechanics of the swimmer to proper nutrition.
Taper - the resting process in training for swimming competition. During the middle of the swimming season a swimmer may work out 10 to 15 thousand meters (8 to 10 miles) each day. As major competition draws near, the swimmer will "taper" off the distances swum each day. A perfectly designed taper will enable the swimmer to compete at their peak capability and is one of the most difficult aspects of swim coaching.
Touch - the finish of the race.
Touchpad - the area at the end of each lane in the pool where a swimmer's time is registered and sent electronically to the timing system then the scoreboard.
Trainer - in the U.S.: an athletic trainer; in Europe the term trainer is used for a coach.
Turnover - the number of times a swimmer's arms turn over (cycle) in a given distance or time during a race.
USS - United States Swimming, Inc., the national governing body for amateur competitive swimming in America.
Warm down - used by the swimmer to rid the body of excess lactic acid generated during a race.
Warm-up - used by the swimmer before the race to get their muscles loose and ready to race.
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