competition glossary

Your guide to bringing clarity to swimming lingo

Backstroke ledge

A horizontal bar which sits against the timing pad and gives swimmers something to support their feet on for backstroke starts. Swimmers must still have their toes in contact with the timing pad. Use of these ledges is optional when they are offered. They won’t be available at all levels of Meet.

Closing date

An important one! The date by which our open meets team needs your entry. The official closing date for submission of entries by WCPSC to the external club hosting the meet will be a week or two later. We need this time interval to process everything, check queries, send summary forms and calculate and submit payment. (very occasionally we may be able to take an entry sent to us after the closing date. We never guarantee this, and if we do accept it we charge an additional £10 admin fee).

Disqualification (DQ)

When a swimmer during a race does, or doesn’t do, something specified in FINA rules, as observed by an Official. No time will be recorded in the results. Coaches are able to find out, if necessary, what the error was.

Did Not Finish (DNF)

DNF - a code on the results when a swimmer did not complete a race.

Did Not Start (DNS)

A code on the results when a swimmer did not start a race.


A race - a specific distance / stroke - eg. the 200m backstroke.


An event where each swimmer is free to choose the stroke of their choice. As the fastest stroke is front-crawl this is the stroke normally chosen.

Heat Declared Winners (HDW)

All swimmers swim in order according to their entry times, slowest first to fastest last. This is irrespective of age. The top places in each age band are then announced when all swimmers have swum that particular event.


Where an event has more than 6 - 10 swimmers, the competitors are divided into heats. Following which HDWs are announced or finals are swum.

Individual Medley (IM)

A race comprising all four strokes in a set order - butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, front-crawl. Under the FINA programme IM races are 100m/200m/400m.

Short Course (SC) and Long Course (LC)

Short Course pool is 25m. A Long Course pool is 50m. Some competitions will be SC and some LC. If you enter a LC competition you will need LC times. These can be worked out by converting SC times using a time converter tool. The tool you need to use is here: Once on this use “ASA tables”. You can also convert LC times to SC.  Swim Club Manager automatically does this when you enter an event.  See the entry and swimming times page.

Medley Relay

Where four swimmers are selected to swim a set distance divided by four and all four strokes are swum by one of the four swimmers in the following order: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and front-crawl (this differs from the Individual Medley order of Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Front-Crawl).

Meet fee

When the club enters a meet we have to buy poolside passes for coaches and team managers and also cover coaching expenses such as travel and accommodation. So in addition to the fee per event, swimmers pay an admin fee to us which contributes to this expense. Please see our policy for meet fees for more information.


These are the people wearing white that you see poolside at galas and meets. They are all qualified (or training) and registered officials who are there to make sure that swimmers abide by the official rules. Open meets are dependent on having a certain number of officials to comply with their license so if you want to support the club’s activities this is a great way to get involved

One Start Rule

Under FINA and ASA Technical Rules swimmers are not allowed to move from the starter saying 'take your marks' to 'go'. The referee allows the race to proceed and afterwards the offending swimmer is announced as a DQ.

Over the Top Starts

At the end of a race the swimmers remain in the water while the lead referee starts the next race. This assists in quickening and streamlining the pace of the meet. Obviously this is not used for backstroke events!

Personal Best (PB)

This is the fastest time a swimmer records for a particular stroke and distance.

Qualification Time (QT)

Often the conditions of a meet will require you to have swum a minimum (and occasionally maximum) time at a licensed meet in order to qualify

Starts and false starts

At the start of the race the referee blows a whistle three times followed by one long blow. This tells the swimmers to mount the starting blocks/enter the water for backstroke. The starter then starts the race. The race is only stopped if the false start is as a result of an electronic error.

Team Manager (TM)

A trained volunteer from the Club, who remains poolside with the swimmers during a gala or a meet session. They help to organise and keep an eye on the swimmers. Swimmers are expected to listen to and respect their team managers.

Touchpad / Timing Pad

Part of the electronic timing equipment. Touchpads are placed at the end of the pool and are sensitive to a hand/foot touch at the turns and finish. They act as a stopwatch.

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