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Swim Definitions:

Pickle: a 'pickle' shaped button like a video game control that triggers the touchpad as a second area of data in case the swimmer doesn't 'hit the pad' with enough force.

Blocks: The platform from which swimmers begin races. Decades ago, they were simple metal or wooden blocks and looked more like podiums than the sleek, high-tech ones of today, but the old name has stuck.

Catch: The point in a swimmer’s stroke at which the swimmer’s hand grabs the water in front of them and applies downward pressure to move the body forward.

Deck: The area surrounding the pool at practices and meets, not including the bleachers or stands.  At meets, only swimmers, coaches, officials and select volunteers may be on the deck.

Scratch: To withdraw from an event at a meet. 

False start: When a swimmer leaves the blocks early. A false start can include a swimmer trying to jump the start or rolling forward before the starter’s pistol has sounded.

False start rope (recall rope): A rope that is dangled at the 15m mark to stop swimmers in the event of a false start. Not fun to swim into, for the record.

DQ (disqualification): Not to be confused with the ice cream/fast food chain, DQ’s happen when a swimmer has violated one of the rules. Touching with one hand during breaststroke, or dolphin kicking past 15m, false starting, etc.

Timer: A volunteer, usually a swim parent, who times the swimmer in their assigned lane with a stopwatch. Usually there are 2-3 timers per lane.

Touchpad: The yellow electronic pad that is affixed underneath the starting block. The clock stops when a swimmer touches it at the end of their race. Although there are timers behind the block, this is usually the official time.

Championship meet: Swimmers usually have a couple big championship meets per season. Championship meets are the big year-end competitions that swimmers train for all season.

Dual meet: A competition that is set-up between two swim clubs. Both teams compete for points. Most prevalent in high school and collegiate swimming.

Age groups: Swimmers are organized by age in competition. 8 and under swimmers compete against each other. Same goes for 9-10 year olds, 11-12 years olds, 13-14 year olds, and 15-18 year olds.

Seed time (or entry time): The time that a swimmer is entered into an event with. This time, usually the swimmer’s personal best time in the event, is used to seed the swimmers into heats. For example, if a swimmer has a best time of :30 in the 50-yard butterfly, they will be entered with this time, and meet organizers will seed the swimmer alongside other swimmers in the same age group with a similar time.

Event: The kind of swim stroke being raced. (Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, Freestyle, Independent Medley, Relay)

Heat: One flight of swimmers doing an event. For example, in an 6-lane pool, it would be six swimmers doing the same race. An event of race can have one or many heats.

Heat sheet/Psych sheet: A list of the day’s events, usually paper-bound, that lists the participants in each lane, their seed time, lane, and the heat they are in. Races are arranged by event number. Swimmers can be “circle seeded” or seeded slowest to fastest.

Alternates: When a swimmer places 9th or 10th, placing just outside of the top 8 competitors who advance to the final, they are designated as alternates in the event that one of the finalists decide to scratch their race.

Anchor: The fourth and final swimmer on a relay team. A position of prestige, often reserved for the fastest swimmer on the relay, as they are competing for a better finishing position and a fair chunk of glory.

Prelims: The preliminary session of a swim meet. This is where the finalists and consolation finalists are decided for the “finals” session.

Finals: Held later, they are the championship heats of the events that were held in the earlier races. Some meets will have a consolation and final heat.

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