Swimming Club

Swimming Terms


Longer distance energy system (see Energy).

Aerobic Energy

Aerobic means ‘with oxygen’. The Aerobic system produces energy by the complete breakdown of glucose.  The production of energy is slower, but more continual than the anaerobic systems.  The aerobic system is the major energy provider for the 200m, and longer distance events.

Age for competitors

Generally age-determined events rely either on the age of the swimmer on the date of the competition, or on the age of the swimmer on 31st December in the year of the competition.

Age Group

Swimmer or competition for Under 16s

Amateur Swimming Association (ASA)

Is 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 oxygen’.


Sprint energy systems (see Energy). The anaerobic system is the major energy provider for 25m and 50m sprints.

ASA National Rankings

Every Licensed Meet that a swimmer attends in the swimming year will have sent its results to the ASA for ranking purposes. These rankings are either Long Course (50m pools) or Short Course (25m pools) and cover every event in every age group.

Swim Wales number

A unique reference issued by Swim Wales.

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.

British Age Group Points (BAG Points)

The ASA’s British Age Group (BAG) points system. This is based on a statistical analysis of lower age group times. It provides factors to correct for the differences in difficulty of the events within a given year of birth but not between years.

BAGCAT scoring

The BAGCATs stand for the British Age Group Categories, which introduce a points system to measure and compare swimmers’ performance. The latest thinking is that swimmers at an early stage of their development should compete to win an overall category award rather than specializing in a particular event. The BAGCATs therefore define four different categories, sprint, form, distance and medley. The BAG Points are calculated from a set of age-related tables for each of the above categories as follows:

  • Sprint – best 50m/100m sprint performance (any stroke)
  • Form – best form stroke performance (i.e. form strokes are those with a defined form according to ASA Law) thus best performance at 200m back, breast or butterfly)
  • Distance – best performance at 200m, 400m or 1500m Freestyle)
  • Medley – best performance at 100m, 200m or 400 Individual Medley)

To work out the BAGCAT points for an individual swimmer, you must complete at least one swim from each of the categories and the points for the best performance in each are totalled to give a single score.


A front – crawl drill.

Competitive Progression of Swimmers

Club Championships – Open Meets – County Championships – Regional Championships – National Championships.

Regional Championships & Development Meets

Denbigh Dragons SC is affiliated to the Swim Wales, who hold Regional Championships Competitions and a Development Meet each year.  Qualifying times are published for these

Competitions – swimmers must have swum faster than these times to enter.


Did not start


Did not finish.


Disqualified – swimmers may be disqualified for several reasons e.g. false start, incorrect stroke, incorrect turn.

Drag Pants

These are used by swimmers to warm-up in competitions before racing to increase their feel for water and add to confidence before racing.

Drink Bottle

Use to keep hydrated in training and competition. Hydration has everything to do with performance and drink should be water based with a little fruit juice.


The cardio-vascular system provides energy. The body has three complementary energy systems though as far as swimming is concerned, only two are relevant.  The anaerobic system provides energy instantly and does not use oxygen, but will only produce energy for up to about a minute. The anaerobic system is the major energy provider for 25m and 50m sprints.

The aerobic system needs a constant supply of oxygen. It is a slower and more economical system of energy production. The aerobic system is the major energy provider for the 200m, and longer distance events.

Entry time

The time on the entry form, the best time achieved within a given period of the closing date for entries.

False Start – One start rule

ASA Law (SW4.4) defines a false start as “Any swimmer starting before the starting signal has been given, shall be disqualified”.  If a swimmer starts before the gun/whistle/beeper sounds, he or she is disqualified. This means that if they get it wrong on the first start they are disqualified; there is no second chance.


Short-blade flippers worn on the feet and used for stroke technique and speed assisted training.

Fixture List

Fixtures in the swimming year (September – July) are aimed at best possible dates for achieving qualifying times for competitions, and will also include any other Open Meets or Leagues such as the Arena League, as well as Club Championships.

Flags (Backstroke Turns)

These are suspended five metres from either end of the pool to indicate to the swimmer that the end of the pool is near. With practice, the swimmer will be able to work out how many more strokes are required and so eliminate the need to turn around to look.

Form stroke (see BAGCATS)

Backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.


In practice freestyle races are always swum as front crawl as this is the fastest stroke, however, technically it means any stroke which is not a form stroke.

Hand Paddle

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


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.

Heat declared winner (HDW)

Only heats are swum, not heats and finals. Several events are swum together, usually different ages of the same stroke and distance. Swimmers are graded by entry time. The winner is the swimmer in the relevant category, usually age, with the fastest time, not the winner of a particular heat.  Once all the heats have been completed, the placing for each age group is calculated from the times recorded.

Thus it is possible for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd places for an age group to go to swimmers who competed in different heats and for a swimmer who placed 6th in his heat to be 1st overall in his age group.  Heat Declared events are extremely difficult for spectators wanting to know the results because you have to identify all the swimmers in a particular age group and note all their times before you know how well your swimmer has done.

Individual Medley (IM)

A race in which all 4 strokes are combined in the order – Fly, Back, Breast, Freestyle. [When swum in a relay, the order is Back, Breast, Fly, Free – so as to avoid a takeover to backstroke.]


There are three types of judges in a competition (a) Stroke judges ensure that each swimmer uses the correct stroke for each race. (b) Turning judges observe all turns and relay take-overs. (c) 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.


A legs-only swim set.

Kick Board

A foam board used during training to support the upper body for some legs only drills. Sometimes called a float.


Long Course

Races swum in a 50m pool – times are usually slower than those achieved in a 25m pool for the same event distance.

Manual Time

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


Swimmers 25 or over.

Medley relay

A relay of four swimmers where each swimmer swims a different stroke in the order – Back, Breast, Fly, Freestyle.

National Arena League

National league which takes place over 3 rounds in October, November and December each year.

National Qualifying Time (NQT)

These are those times that a swimmer must achieve in order to be allowed to enter the Nationals.  NQTs must be obtained at designated meets.

@ X seconds/ minutes

The interval between the start of one set and the next. Any spare time is rest.

Official Time

The time officially recorded for a swimmer after comparing it with the placing. This will usually be the same as the accepted time, except in the case where the placing 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.

Open event

A race in which a swimmers of any age may compete.

Open Meet

Competitions which are open to swimmers of any club that is affiliated to the governing body.

Over the top start

Swimmers from the last race remain in the water until the next race has started.

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 best time swum by that person over that distance for that stroke.

Pool Floor Markings

The black lines painted on the pool floor indicate the centre of a lane. The ‘T’ at the end of the black line indicates two meters from the end of the pool. Both assist the swimmer in gauging when to start a tumble turn in Front Crawl, or when to spot the turn or finish in Breaststroke & Butterfly.


An arm only set.


The keyhole shaped float that keeps your legs afloat in an arm only drill.

Qualifying Time

A time required by some competition organizers in order to enter an event.

Racing Suit

Is required for competitions and is considered fundamental to a best competitive performance. This suit is usually 1 or 2 sizes smaller than the training suit to reduce resistance when racing.


Lists of the top swimmers in each age/gender from 9 years (see age) upwards.


When the red hand of the timing clock is pointing to the 12 o’clock position. “Red 15″ is when it is pointing 3 o’clock and so on.


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.


The level of competition between County and National.

Regional Championships

The next level of competition between County and National Championships. Denbigh Dragons SC is part of the North Wales Region and swimmers will compete against clubs from all over North Wales.



Relay Race

Relays involve swimming an event as a team of two (usually four) 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.

Rest Interval/RI

Rest period at the end of a set.


The method of arranging swimmers who have entered in an event according to their submitted time.  Some organizers 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.


Swimmer aged 17 years and over (25+ year olds are also Masters).


Training period, usually 60, 90 or 120 minutes.


A series of training routines.

Short Course

Races swum in a 25m pool. Because there are more turns, times are usually faster than those achieved in long course events for the same event distance.


The lane order for finals is decided from times in the heats or semi-finals. The fastest qualifier will swim in lane 4, second fastest in lane 5, third in lane 3, fourth in lane 6, fifth in lane 2, sixth in lane 7, seventh in lane 1 and eighth in lane 8. Theoretically, this creates spearhead format in the race.

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.


The time at each 25/50m turn. Swimmers will monitor these to check how they paced a race.


A freestyle relay of usually 10 swimmers in each team, arranged boy/girl in each age group, oldest last.


Reducing the cross sectional area of the body to the minimum to make faster progress through the water as a result of less drag.

Swim Hat

Latex or Silicone hats are used during a race and / or training, to cut down resistance. The club hats must be worn in all club competition when representing the club.

Swim down

A gentle set to relax the muscles after training or competition to reduce lactate build up.


Period of less intense training in the run up to a major event.


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.

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.

Training Suit

These are suits worm by swimmers during training sessions and warm-up for swim meet, some older swimmers train wearing 2 suits for the purpose of creating drag.

Warm up

A gentle set at the beginning of a session or gala to acclimatise the muscles for what is to come.


Age-determined events are categorized by the age a swimmer either on 31st December of the year of the competition or on the date of the competition.