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Swim Vocab & Rules


Freestyle – Also known as the forward crawl. Swam on stomach. Reaching arms and small flutter kicks.

Backstroke – Swam on your back. Long strait arms and a small flutter kick. Belly up, head back.

Breaststroke – Swam on stomach, with a narrow “frog kick”. Breathe every stroke. All about timing and power.

Butterfly – Swam on stomach. Both arms and legs move together side by side. Imagine a butterflies wings, they look identical just as your wings (arms) should as they are swimming the stroke. Kick is like a mermaid or dolphin with feet, knees, and thighs staying together.


Distances – The Apache pool is 25 yards long.

Sets – Ex. 4x25 Free

This means we will swimming 25 yards/meters of freestyle a total of four times. Which is a grand total of 100 yards/meters but the swimmers will stop and rest at the end of each 25.

Ex. 1x100 Free

Swimmers will swim four 25’s but this time there will be no resting at the end of each length.

Starting Blocks – Not to be confused with diving boards, these are stationary and do not spring. This is where the race begins.

Starts – When the beep goes off swimmers jump out as far as they can and are in a streamlined position while in the air to start their race.

Backstroke Starts – You start swimming backstroke in the water holding onto the wall or the starting blocks. Toes must be underwater.

Backstroke flags – The triangle flags at each end of the pool, they are used primarily for backstroke, to let the swimmer know the wall is near.  

Control Breathing – If you are ever forced to hold your breath your body will start panicking and your heart rate will go up. Your heart rate will already be going up if you are working hard and exercising so it is important to control your breathing in order to control your heart rate then it will be easier to think about stroke technique when you are out of a panicking state.

Event – Ex. Girls 25 Yard Freestyle, this is for meets and it describes the race.

Heat – There will be a lot of swimmers swimming a certain event. There are only 6-8 lanes in most competition pools. Heat 1 is the first filled up pool for an event.

Before Meet Preparation – This is a job primarily done by the pit parents. Pit parents will write E, H, L on each swimmers arm or forearm, where they can see it. Under “E” the event number will be written and possibly what stroke so the child knows but doesn’t always indicate as what it is. (Fr=Freestyle, Bk=Backstroke, Br=Breaststroke, Fl=Butterfly), under “H” the heat number will be written, and under “L” the lane will be written. E, H, L are the column titles and each event will be written on different rows

Flip Turn – Used to transfer your momentum 180 degrees. Swimming into the wall then stopping and pushing off the wall is a waste of time and energy. A flip turn allows you to take all the speed you have into the wall then change direction while at the same time avoiding all the water you were pulling behind you as you push off under water. Picture a conveyor belt or a chain on a bike and how they change direction and distance from the ground. This turn is used for freestyle and backstroke for a 50 yard/meter swim or greater. Most levels will be taught this during the season, lower level groups will be taught later in the season.

Relay – Swam with 4 swimmers. For swimmers 12 and under there are 2 relays one is the 100 Medley Relay and the other is the 100 Freestyle relay. Each swimmer will swim a 25. For the 13 and up swimmers the relays are 200 Medley and 200 Freestyle. Each swimmer will swim a 50. There is no baton in a swimming relay. One swimmer will swim at a time, of course, and when that swimmers touches the wall the next swimmer will dive in and start swimming their leg of the race.

IM – Individual Medley – Individual means 1 or a single swimmer, Medley means a combination of things. The IM or Individual Medley is a race where the swimmer will swim EACH of the strokes.

IM OrderFly, Back, Breast, Free. Ex. 100 IM is a 25 yard swim of Butterfly, 25 yard swim of Backstroke, 25 yard swim of Breaststroke, and a 25 yard swim of Freestyle, in that order.

Medley Relay Order– This is swam in a different order since you can’t dive in and swim backstroke. Back, Breast, Fly, Free.

Disqualified/DQ – Imagine you were caught cheating on a test in school, you would get a 0 as your grade. That is what it means to get disqualified. You did something “illegal” according to the rules of the stroke set by USA Swimming and you will receive a “0” or nothing for your efforts during the race. Please don't get upset if your swimmer gets a DQ. The coaches will know what they did and will work with them to make sure they don't do it again!

Typical Rules Broken:


Pushing yourself forward off the bottom of the pool.

Pulling yourself forward with the lane line, other than those two things you are free to swim the style you choose.


Rolling on to your stomach (other than if you are about to doing a flip turn)

Pulling on the lane line

Pushing off the bottom of the pool


Doing a butterfly, flutter, or scissor kick

Not getting your head out of the water every stroke.

Keeping the 1/1/1 ratio, 1 pull with your arms, 1 breath (don’t actually have to breathe but your head must come up), 1 breaststroke kick with toes out and feet flex for the majority of the kick

Arms going below belly button

Not touching the wall with two hands for your finish


Non-simultaneous arms (arms not moving together or in sync)

Feet coming apart (flutter kick or breaststroke kick)

Arms not coming out and going over the water after the pull

Not touching the wall with two hands for your finish

All Strokes

Moving on the block after the start says “Take your mark” and before the BEEP, this will cause a false start, the first false start of every heat is strike one for the entire heat, next swimmer to false start is DQ’ed

Not finishing a race

Stopping to fix goggles (excluding freestyle)

Pushing off the bottom of the pool

Pulling on the lane line

Swimming in another swimmers lane

Relay – Not getting out of the water fast enough (before the swimmer after you gets to the other wall) or leaving too early.

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