Age Group - Division of swimmers according to age. The National Age Group divisions are: 10-under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18. You will see variations on this at different meets. 

Alternate - In a Prelims/Finals meet, after the finalists are decided, the next two fastest swimmers other than the finalists are designated as alternates. The faster of the two being the first alternate and the next being second alternate. If a finalist cannot participate, the alternates are called to take their place. 

Anchor, Lead Off, Leg - The final (4th) swimmer in a relay; the first swimmer in a relay; the specific spot the swimmer will be racing in a relay (1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th)

Backup Plunger - Pushed by a timer at the end of a race to stop the electronic timing system in case of touch pad failure

Blocks - The starting platforms located behind each lane. Minimum water depth for use of starting blocks is 4 feet. 

Check-In - The procedure required before a swimmer swims an event in a deck-seeded meet. Sometimes referred to as positive check-in, the swimmer must mark their name on a list posted by the meet host. 

Circle Seeding - A method of seeding swimmers when they are participating in a prelims/finals event. The fastest 18 to 24 swimmers are seeded in the last three heats, with the fastest swimmers being in the inside lanes. (i.e.) Lane 4 in the final three heats. See rule book for exact method for seeding depending on the lanes in the pool. 

Colorado Timing System - A brand of automatic timing system. 

Deadline - The date meet entries must be "postmarked" or received by, to be accepted by the meet host. Making the meet deadline does not guarantee acceptance into a meet since many meets are "full" weeks before the entry deadline. 

Deck - The area around the swimming pool reserved for swimmers, officials, and coaches. No one but an authorized USA Swimming member may be on the deck during a swim competition.

Deck Entries - Accepting entries into swimming events on the first day or later day of a meet. 

Disqualified - A swimmer's performance is not counted because of a rules infraction. A disqualification is shown by an official raising one arm with open hand above their head. (Also called DQ)

Entry - An individual, relay team, or club roster's event list in a swim competition. 

Entry Fees - The amount per event a swimmer or relay is charged. This varies depending on the LSC and type of meet. 

Entry Limit - Each meet will usually have a limit of total swimmers they can accept, or a time limit they cannot exceed. Once an entry limit has been reached, a meet will be closed and all other entries returned. 

Electronic Timing - Timing system operated on DC current (battery). The timing system usually has touchpads in the water, junction boxes on the deck with hook up cables, buttons for backup timing, and a computer-type console that prints out the results of each race. Some systems are hooked up to a scoreboard that displays swimmers. 

Event - A race or stroke over a given distance. An event equals 1 preliminary with its final, or 1 timed final. 

False Start - When a swimmer leaves the starting block before the horn or gun. One false start will disqualify a swimmer or a relay team, although the starter or referee may disallow the false start due to unusual circumstances.

Fastest to Slowest - A seeding method used on the longer events held at the end of a session. The fastest seeded swimmers participate in the first heats followed by the next fastest and so on. 

Bell Lap - The part of a freestyle distance race (400 meters or longer) when the swimmer has two lengths plus five yards to go. The starter fires a gunshot (or rings a bell) over the lane of the lead swimmer when the swimmer is at the backstroke flags. 

Heats - All of the swimmers entered in the event are divided into heats, or groups of swimmers. The results are compiled by the times swum, after all heats of the event are completed. 

Heat Sheet - The pre-meet printed listings of swimmers' seed times in the various events at a swim meet. 

High Point - An award given to the swimmer scoring the most points in a given age group at a swim meet. All meets do not offer high point awards; check the pre meet information. 

IM (Individual Medley)- A swimming event using all four of the competitive strokes on consecutive lengths of the race. The order must be: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle. Equal distances must be swam of each stroke. Distances offered: 100 yards, 200 yards/meters, 400 yards/meters.

Lap Counter - Set of plastic numbers used to keep track of laps during distance races.

Marshall - The official who controls the crowd and swimmer-flow at a swim meet. 

Meet Director - The official in charge of the administration of the meet. The person directing the "dry side" of the meet. 

NAGTS - National Age Group Time Standards - the list of "C" through "AAAA" times published each year. (Also called Motivational Times)

Non-Conforming Time - A short course time submitted to qualify for a long course meet, or vice versa. 

Officials - The certified adult volunteers who operate the many facets of a swim competition. 

Positive Check In - The procedure required before a swimmer swims an event in a deck seeded or pre seeded meet. The swimmer or coach must indicate the swimmer is present and will compete. 

Prelims / Finals - Type of meet with two sessions. The preliminary heats are usually held in the morning session. The fastest six or eight (Championship Heat) swimmers, and the next fastest six or eight swimmers (Consolation Heat) return in the evening to compete in the Finals. A swimmer who has qualified in the Consolation Finals may not place in the Championship Finals even if their finals time would place them so. The converse also applies. 

Psych Sheet - An entry sheet showing all swimmers entered into each individual event.

Qualifying Times - Published times necessary to enter certain meets, or the times necessary to achieve a specific category of swimmer.

Referee - The head official at a swim meet in charge of all of the "Wet Side" administration and decisions. 

Relays - A swimming event in which four swimmers participate as a team. Each swimmer completes an equal distance of the race. There are two types of relays: 1.) Medley relay - One swimmer swims Backstroke, one swims Breaststroke, one swims Butterfly, one swims Freestyle, in that order. Medley relays are conducted over 200 yd/mtr and 400 yd/mtr distances. 2.) Freestyle relay - Each swimmer swims freestyle. Free relays are conducted over 200 yd/mtr, 400 yd/mtr, and 800 yd/mtr distances. 

Sanction - A permit issued by an LSC to a USA-S group member to conduct an event or meet.

Scratch- Withdrawing from an event during competition; certain penalties may apply if not done according to procedure.

Seed - Assign the swimmers heats and lanes according to their submitted or preliminary times. NT indicates a swimmer has never legally swum an event at a previous meet.

Seeding - Deck Seeding: swimmers are called to report to the Clerk of the Course. After scratches are determined, the event is seeded. Pre Seeding: swimmers are arranged in heats according to submitted times, usually a day prior to the meet. 

Session - Portion of meet distinctly separated from other portions by locale, time, type of competition, or age group. 

Split - A portion of an event that is shorter than the total distance and is timed. (i.e.) A swimmer's first 50 time is taken as the swimmer swims the 100 race. It is common to take multiple splits for the longer distances.

Starter - The official in charge of signaling the beginning of a race and insuring that all swimmers have a fair takeoff. 

Stand-up - The command given by the Starter or Referee to release the swimmers from their starting position.

Step-Down - The command given by the Starter or Referee to have the swimmers move off the blocks. Usually this command is a good indication everything is not right for the race to start. 

Stroke Judge - The official positioned at the side of the pool, walking the length of the course as the swimmers race. If the Stroke Judge sees something illegal, they report to the referee and the swimmer may be disqualified. . 

Swim-off - In a Prelims/Finals type competition, a race after the scheduled event to break a tie. The only circumstance that warrants a swim-off is to determine which swimmer makes finals or an alternate, otherwise ties stand. 

Time Standard - A time set by a meet or LSC or USA-S (etc) that a swimmer must achieve for qualification or recognition.  (Also called “cuts”.)

Timer - The volunteers sitting behind the starting blocks/finish end of pool, who are responsible for getting watch times on events and activating the backup buttons for the timing system. 

Time Trial - An event or series of events where a swimmer may achieve or better a required time standard. 

Touch Pad - The removable plate (on the end of pools) that is connected to an automatic timing system. A swimmer must properly touch the touchpad to register an official time in a race. 

USA-S ID Number - A 14-part number assigned to a swimmer after they have filled out the proper forms and paid their annual dues. The first 6 parts are numbers of a swimmer's birthdate: Month/Day/2-Digit Year using zeros as place holders. The next three spaces are the first three letters of the athlete's legal first name. The next letter is the middle initial, followed by the first four letters of the swimmer's last name. For example: USA-S ID# for swimmer Suzanne Eileen Nelson and born Aug.27, 1976 = 082776SUZENELS. 

Warm-down - The recovery swimming a swimmer does after a race when pool space is available.

Warm-up - The practice and "loosening-up" session a swimmer does before the meet or their event is swum.