Included because like any new environment swimming has its own language, abbreviations etc that can make things really awkward to start with!

Bilateral breathing:

Most common in freestyle. Breathing to both the left and right side, many different combinations of stroke patterns may be used to achieve this


The starting platforms located behind each lane. Blocks have a variety of designs and can be permanent or removable, but also incorporate a bar to allow swimmers to perform backstroke starts.


Arms are moving simultaneously under the water horizontally, with legs doing a “frog” kick.


Arms move together in an ‘up and over’ motion, while legs complete two dolphin actions per stroke cycle.


The metal cages at the far end of the pool where Pirates swim gear is stored and on top of which sits the payment box.

Circle swimming​:

Swimmers swim either anticlockwise or clockwise depending on which lane they’re in. e.g. clockwise in lane odd number lanes, anti clockwise in even number lanes.

Cool down/loosen of​f:

Used by the swimmer to rid the body of excess lactic acid generated during a race.


Disqualification from a race.


International governing body of swimming; also diving, water polo, synchronized and open water swimming.


These are suspended over the width of each end of the pool approximately 5m from the wall; they allow backstroke swimmers to determine where the end of the pool is. The lane ropes may also change colour 5m out from the wall.


Another name for the front crawl.


Individual medley. See “Medley”.


Inspector of Turns.​ These people are some of the technical officials who are pool side during a race to assess whether a swimmer is swimming correctly during racing.


Judge of Strokes. A more senior technical official who works with the IOTs at swim meets.​

Lane ropes:

The dividers used to set out the lanes in a pool. Lane ropes are segmented 1m apart and are used to dissipate waves.

Lap counter​:

Large numbered cards used during longer freestyle events such as 800m and 1500m. Used so swimmers can see how many laps they have to go.

LC (Long Course)​:

Events swum in a 50m pool. Meets are raced long course over the summer season, and Wellington summer champs are always long course.


Gathering of swimmers in a controlled area, by officials, for upcoming races. See also “Self marshalling”.


All strokes are used. This can be an individual event, with one person swimming all strokes. Or it can be a relay event with four people, each swimming a different stroke. The order for individual medley events is: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle. The order for medley relay events is: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle.


No time value registered for that swimmer for that particular race. Many swim events will limit the number of events a swimmer can swim for which they don’t yet have a time.

Officials co­ordinator​:

This person arranges all the officials that are needed for a swim meet.

Open water swimming​:

Swimming in water other than in a pool including rivers, lakes or oceans. Swimming New Zealand runs National Open Water Swimming events for 5Km and 10Km events and 10Km is an Olympic event. Locally there is ‘Splash and Dash’ both at Freyburg Beach and Petone foreshore plus the Scorching Bay events such as the ‘Scorching Triathlons’ etc and plenty more.

Over the top starts​:

Swimmers who have finished their race remain in their lanes whilst next race starts over the top of those still in the water.


Personal Best. This is generally used in the context of a personal best time for a particular event.

Pace clock​:

The big clock on the wall or deck, used for interval training. Swimmers who can read the clock and know their times improve find it easy to monitor their own progress and can give their own send off.

Pool deck​:

The area around a swimming pool. During a meet, only ‘authorised people’ may be on deck. This is generally just team managers, officials, coaches and swimmers.


A drill where swimmers place a pull buoy between their legs to keep them afloat, replacing kicking and staying balanced.


The head official at a swim meet.

Self marshalling​:

If a race is self­marshalling, it means that swimmers go to the end of the pool directly, rather than to a marshalling area. Ask your team manager about this if you have any questions.

Short Course (SC)​:

Events swum in a 25m pool (or over 25m cours​ e in a bigger pool). The short course season is during winter, and Wellington Winter champs are always short course.

Signature Meet​:

One club hosts all others at a meet (includes organizing, running, taking profits from that meet). Very often held at WRAC, Kilbirnie.

Six beat kick​:

Six kicks per full arm stroke. (3 kicks per ‘hand hit’).


Swimming New Zealand.


Swimming Wellington