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If you are unsure of any of the words or phrases being used by the coaches or within the club, you should always ask. However, just in case you forget, here is a list of the most commonly used words and phrases for you (in alphabetical order).

If you think there are any confusing words or phrases that we should add, then click on the link at the bottom of the page and send us an email.

Longer distance energy system (see Energy).


Age for competitors

Generally age-determined events rely on the age a swimmer will be on 31 December of the year

of the competition.


Age group
Swimmer/competition for U16.


Age group squads
The competitive 10-16 year old squads


Sprint energy systems (see Energy).


The Amateur Swimming Association is the competitive governing body of swimming in England. 

Their website is as follows:


ASA Badges

The ASA have ‘learn to swim’ and development schemes for children to progress through

swimming skills and distances.  Each time a child achieves a set of skills, they gain a badge.


ASA Laws

An annual publication containing all of the rules on strokes including their respective starts,

turns & finishes.



British Age Group CATegories


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
5 scores are awarded.  One each for the best BAG point in each of:
(a) 50m any stroke (sprints);
(b) 200m Back, Breast, Fly (form);
(c) Individual Medley;
(d) Freestyle distance (200m+); and
(e) (If applicable) 100m any stroke.

The sum of these scores determines the overall points & a point must be scored in each

applicable category.


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At Open events & County Championships, the place where entry cards must be handed in

before the start of the warm-up.



See “squadron”.


Entry cards are used to register a swimmers intention to race and attendance on race day.  

For Open & County Championships a card is sent to each competitor for each event entered. 

This shows the entry time, the start time of the gala & competitor number.  These cards must

be checked when they are received, taken to the gala & handed in before the start of the



Cool down

Is the protocol followed after racing or training to reduce the build-up of lactic acid in the body.



When the fibres in a muscle stay contracted due to a high amount of lactic acid being present

in the muscle.  Cramp can be addressed by gently stretching the particular muscle.


Designated gala
A gala designated by the ASA for national & district qualifying times.


The level of competition between County & National.


Dorset County Age Groups
The County level competition for individual entries held in February to March each year.  This competition is for swimmers aged 10 or over and who are registered with a Dorset ASA

swimming club.  Swimmers must have achieved specific qualifying times, set by the ASA, to



Disqualified.  This can happen for many reasons - false start, not touching the wall properly, incorrect technique & others.


The cardio-vascular system provides energy.  The body has three complementary energy

systems.  The first two are anaerobic, which instantly provide energy & do not use oxygen,

but will only produce energy for 45-55 seconds.  The third system is aerobic & needs a constant supply of oxygen - it is a slower & more economical system of energy production.  The

anaerobic systems are the major provider for 25m & 50m sprints whilst the 200m events, &

longer, are mainly served by the aerobic system.


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


Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA)

The swimming world’s governing body


Heat declared winner (HDW)

Only heats are swum, not heats & finals.  Several events are swum together, usually different

ages of the same stroke & distance.  Swimmers are graded by their entry time & not their age.  The winner is the swimmer in the relevant category (usually age) with the fastest time, not necessarily the winner of a particular heat - a nightmare for spectators wanting to know the

result because you have to identify all the swimmers in a particular age category & note all their times before you know how well your swimmer has done (barring disqualifications).


Heart rate

Swimmers in training will be asked to swim and record their heart rate.  The following are some

of the terms the swimmers will experience:


BBM:   Beats Below Max.

BPM:   Beats Per Minute.

MHR:   Maximum Heart Rate.

THR:   Target Heart Rate.


Individual Medley 
A race in which all 4 strokes are combined in the order - Fly, Back, Breast, Freestyle. 


Kick board
The flat float usually used for ‘leg only’ drills.


Lactic acid

A by-product of the breakdown of anaerobic energy that causes muscles to ache, seize or even cramp.


Land Training

Conditioning used to assist in improving a swimmers: strength, endurance, posture & flexibility.  However, most importantly the swimmer will also develop their core muscles, enabling them to employ and relax necessary muscles at the right time & thereby enhancing speed & power in

the water.


Lane order
See “Spearhead”.


Level 1, 2 or 3 Open Meet

All Open Meets hosted by clubs have to be licensed with the ASA or FINA in order for swimmers times to count towards rankings, or for national or District qualification.  This in effect

designates the meet; a level 3 meet will have easiest entry times, whilst a level 1 meet, will

have the hardest entry times.

A level 3 meet is for swimmers at County level.  A level 2 meet would be for swimmers at

District level and a level 1 meet would be for swimmers at the National level.


Long course (LC)
Races in a 50-metre pool.


Swimmers aged 25 or over.


Medley relay
A relay where each swimmer swims a different stroke in the order - Back, Breast, Fly, Freestyle. The stroke order differs from that of the Individual Medley so as to avoid a takeover to




Gentle exercises where a swimmer mobilises all of the joints in the body, before starting a

warm-up or race.


National Age Group Championships

National championships for girls (11-14 years) or boys (11-15 years) that have gained qualifying times.


National Youth Championship

National championships for girls (14-17 years) or boys (15-18 years) that have gained qualifying times.


Notice Board 
The Club Notice Board located either in the main corridor or on poolside at the 2Riversmeet

Leisure Centre.


Novice gala
A friendly gala between local clubs.  Typically, time limits are introduced & if swimmers times are faster than the time limit they are given a “speeding ticket” and their team receives no points

for that event.  This is to ensure swimmers of all abilities are given the opportunity to win. 



National Performance Training Squad


National Qualifying Time, must be obtained in an ASA designated event.


One start rule
If a swimmer starts before the gun/whistle/beeper, he or she is disqualified.  This is the current ASA standard.


Open event
A race in which swimmers of any age may compete.


Open gala
A gala open to swimmers from any club, but usually of a specific age.


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


Personal Best, the best time ever swum by that person over that distance for that stroke.


The keyhole shaped float that keeps your legs afloat in ‘an arms’ only drill.


Lists of the top 50 swimmers in each age/gender from 10 years (see age) upwards.


Red top
When the red hand of the poolside timing clock is pointing to the 12 o'clock position.  "Red 15" is when it is pointing 3 o'clock & so on.


Rest Interval/RI
Rest period at the end of a set.


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


A training period.


A series of training routines.


Short course (SC)
Races in a 25-metre pool.


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 & eighth in lane 8.  Theoretically, this creates spearhead format in the race.


Speed awards

ASA awards and badges awarded to swimmers who have gained a bronze, silver or gold speed award over 25m for a particular stroke.  The times are set by the ASA governing body.


Speedo League

This is a national league in which most of the major swimming clubs throughout England and

Wales are included.  There are 3 rounds, the first two of which are swum in October and

November, with the final in December.  


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


Also known as a “cannon”.  A freestyle relay which is usually the final event of a competition; normally consisting of 10 swimmers in each team, arranged boy/girl/boy… 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.


Stroke drills

Stroke drills are components of a swimming stroke that has been broken down in order to gain

that aspect of skill, such as how the hand enters the water in freestyle could be achieved via a ‘pull buoy’ drill.  The swimmers personal Log Books contain breakdowns of skills and drills.


Swim down

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


Prior to any big competition, a swimmer will 'taper'.  All this really means is that they ‘rest’ by cutting back the amount of training they do & decreasing the intensity.


Target time

A target time for an event/stroke that a swimmer has been set by their coach.


Time Trials

Competitions where there may not be medals or awards for finishing in the first 3.  Instead the events are aimed at achieving times or PB’s, with the swimmers essentially competing against themselves. 


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


Western County Age Groups

These are our areas District Championships held in May to July each year.  To compete,

swimmers must have achieved qualifying times, which are harder than those in the county championships.



The person designated by our team as responsible for marshalling our team to ensure that swimmers are at the right point at the right time during competitions.


Age-determined events are categorised by the age a swimmer either on 31 December of the

year of the competition, or on the date of the competition (look at the promoters material to

see which).


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