These terms are only GUIDELINES, and not a hard and fast rule. Also, some terms that are used around the pool deck.

If you have any questions, by all means ask your Coach!

What's expected from the parents and the athletes !

_____While viewing the results page, if there is a "+" next to the swimmer's time, that indicates that this was the swimmer's personal best!

 Age groups of competition:

  • 8 years and under,
  • 10 years and under,
  • 11-12 year old,
  • 13-14 year old,
  • 15-16 year old,
  • 17-18 year old
  • open division ages 12 - unlimited.

Levels of Competition. Age group swimming is divided into specific age, gender and level of skill. The categories are also grouped according to levels based on the fastest times achieved by swimmers in each age group.

For example: A boy 11 years old, will swim with other boys 11 or 12 old, and the swimmers will be at or around the same level of swimming skills.

If the swimmer, thru practice, improves and goes faster, he/she will be advanced to the next higher level of competion.

"C" swimmers are beginners. Meets are once a month, or so. Swim meets last about 4 hours. Usually a Saturday, start at 8:30 AM and end at 12:30 PM. This competition encompasses the same age (ages 4-18), same gender, same competitive level swimming. Racing at this level depend on the amount of training and swimming ability. Awards are normally certificates or ribbons.

When a swimmer goes faster than a beginner swimmer level (he/she) gets promoted to the next level of competition which is the "B" (or intermediate) level of racing.

"B" swimmers are intermediate level swimmers. This level of swimmers compete at a district level meet. Like the "C" level, meets are once a month. Swim competiton usually last 4 hours. Normally on a Saturday, starting at 8:30 and ending around 12:30 PM. Again, racing is done in the same age group, gender and physical fitness. Swim meets normally held on Saturdays and runs for -4- hours. This swimmer knows the basics for all four competitive stokes. Awards for compettion is usually ribbon awards.

"A", advance swimmers that know all 4 competitive strokes well and is ready for district and regional level competition. Regional meaning within the state. The competition is with the same age, gender and level of competitive skills in the water. Sometimes this meet is coupled with a faster group of athletes, and is referred to as an "A+" meet. Meaning - advanced swimmers to the state's best. Even with a diverse mix of levels, the meet is still divided according to the age, gender and level. Their efforts in a swim meet are rewarded by ribbons.


"AA", highly competitive swimmers participate at this level. These athletes are the workers of any team. They are able to score points during an invitational type meet. Only at this level do athletes receive medals and trophies for their efforts. Meets are usually 2 days and they compete at state/national or international Invitations 2 to 3 days. Swimmers at this level swim 3-4 events a day against the same age and gender. Swimmers at this level are seasoned athletes that work strategy into their competition. Their knowledge of pacing, racing, training is very understandable to themselves. Swimmers at this level start looking at the "Q" or state qualifying times ! 

"Q" are advanced competitive level swimming. These swimmers also participate in the "AA" meets as well as the Invitational, and State Championships. These athletes can advance to the Pacific Zone Championships. This meet is held over 5 days. Trials in the morning and finals in the afternoon. All the Pacific states plus Hawaii, compete in this national/regional meet.

Types of Meet:

ABC meets, normally Saturdays, normally 4 hours. There are exceptions!

A+ meets are swimmers in the advance to state qualifiers.

Distance Meets. Once a month, a Saturday, half a day. Only for swimmers that enjoy swimming a mile or racing the middle distance 5-800 yards.

Invitational Meets are for the "AA" type of swimmers. Racing with other swimmers around the state, visitors from the mainland U.S., and at some invitational meets, with international swimmers from Australia, Guam, Japan, New Zealand, Saipan, Tahiti, Canada,....

State Championships are for the best swimmers in each age group within the state of Hawaii.

Regional (Pacific) Championships, the Pacific-Western states, Alaska to New Mexico participate in this annual (mid-August) meet. Our Hawaii teams always have sent representatives to compete.

Junior Olympic Nationals. Competition in J.O. East and J.O. Mid-West and J.O. West. Hawaii participates exclusively in J.O.West. The best of the western states, ages 12 - 18 swim in one division.

Senior Nationals. One site. This is the gathering of the best amateur swimmers that are training for the Olympics and setting national, international and world records.

The Terms were borrowed from Hawaii Swimming Club's Parents Handbook!

Some Common and Not So Common Terms Used Around The Deck.

Age up: The instance in which a swimmer's birthday results in a change in the age group in which s/he will compete.


  • ABC meets normally ribbons for the top 8 finishers.
  • "AA" meet, medals to the top 3, ribbons 4th - 8th.
  • Invitational, same as "BB" meet.
  • State Championships, Medals to the top 8th, usually.


Backstroke Flags: A line of flags placed over the pool at a distance of 20 feet away from each end of the pool. The purpose of these flags is to help a swimmer locate the wall while doing backstroke.

Clerk Of Course: An official who assigns swimmers to the different heats and lanes. The swimmer must report and check in to this person before their event.

Course: Designated distance over which the competition is conducted.

  • Long Course - 50 meter Facility.
  • Short Course - 25 yard Facility.
  • Short Course Meters - 25 meter Facility.

DQ:Disqualification during a meet due to an infraction of the United States Swimming rules.

Ear Plugs: Plugs to keep water out of the swimmer's ear. Reportedly helps to prevent ear infections.

Entry Fees: a nominal fee paid by a swimmer , in order to enter and participate in an event.

False start: When a swimmer starts the race before the starting signal is given.

Finals: To swim the top 8 or 16 swimmers for points and placing.

Finish Judge: Stands at the finish end of the pool and in his view point, jots down the finish as s/he sees it. Sometime this call supersedes the stop watch time.

Form Judge: This official walks along the side of the pool during competition and checks to see if the swimmer is swimming in a legal fashion.

Heats: In a single event, say 50 yards of freestyle. There may be 24 swimmers participating. If at the site of competition, the pool has 8 lanes, the 24 swimmers would be broken down to 3 even heats of 8 swimmers a piece. That is, the fastest 8 swimmers would probably be swimming in the 3rd heat, the next fastest in the 2nd heat and the next fastest in the 1st heat. Although the swimmers are in different heats, the top 8 among all 24 swimmers would score or be awarded.

I.M.: Individual Medley, a individual race consisting of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.

Kicking: During training, an exercise in which swimmers use a kickboard and move through the water primarily by kicking and using leg muscles.

Lane: The specific area in which the swimmer is assigned to swim. Lane 1 shall be on the swimmer's right when s/he faces the pool.

Lane assignment: A particular lane which is assigned to a swimmer in an event .

Lane line: A continuous floating marker attached to a line stretched from the lanes running from the stating end to the turning end.

Lane markers:The guidelines on the bottom of the pool and in the center of the lanes running from the starting end to the turning end.

Lycra suits: A suit with a slick lycra coat to be used mainly for swim competition. This tighter fitting suit has less drag in the water and gives a competitve edge over a swimmer with a nylon or baggy suit.


Meet Check-in: The last important step to do, prior to racing in your event. This process is done 45 minutes before the meet starts. No check-in, No Swim.

Nylon suits: Used during practice and during warm-up during a meet. A well fit, not necessarily snug for less drag.

Practice: To do over again and through repetition , to master the correct form.

Pulling: during swimming, using a pull buoy or some other device to immobilize the legs in order that only the upper body muscle group gets developed.

Pull Buoy: A pull buoy consists of two foam cylinders strapped together by nylon straps or cord. Pull buoys increase the resistance in the water and inhibit the use of the swimmer's lower body, causing the swimmer to exercise the muscles of the upper body in moving through the water.

Referee: As in all sports, this official makes the decisions on disqualifications as well as other decisions that is needed on the deck.

Relays: Swum with the same gender, not necessarily the same age or level of competition.

Repeats: A repeated distance in a given time interval.

Set: In training, a number of repeats consist of a set.

Split Time: Time recorded from official start to completion of an initial distance within a longer event. A time taken at different intervals of an overall race. Time maybe taken for the 1st lap, 2nd lap, 3rd lap and so on. The times are then compared to see if the swimmer had paced him/herself over the entire race. A quick look and talk from the coach can ready the swimmer for the next event, to do better.

Time Finals: Competition in which only heats are swum and final placing are determined by the times performed in the heats. Out of a number of swimmers, the times are consolidated, and the top 8 swimmers are awarded points.

Time Standards: The time standard for any event in a meet is the cut-off time for that event. If a swimmer betters his/her time, he/she will advance to the next higher level of competition.

Time Trials: An event or series of events where a swimmer may compette and achieve or to better a required time standard.

Timer: A person who times events at a swim meet. Parents are often requested to volunteer this service. At all meets, a swim club needs to provide one timer for every 5 swimmers entered.

Touch Pad: A light weight pad 2 feet deep by 3 feet wide, placed at the finish wall of the lane. The pad is connected to a computer which registers a swimmer's time and place in the heat.

Training: To exercise the necessary muscle groups and develop skills to perform at the level of training.

Trials: Preliminary race to obtain the fastest 8/16 swimmers by time to swim in the finals.

Turn Judge: This official checks to see if the swimmer touches the wall with two hands on butterfly and breaststroke. That the swimmer touches the wall on freestyle and backstroke.

Unattached: A swimmer who competes but who does not represents a club.

U.S.S. United States Swimming. The governing body.

Warm-Up: A period of swimming designed to bring the heart rate up, warm up the muscles, and get limber. This is also a period of being mentally aware of the race to be swum.

Warm-Down: A period of swimming designed to bring the heart down. After competition, the swimmer does a easy swim to stretch, move the lactic acid out of their muscles, and let the body do a 75% recovery.

The Terms were borrowed from Hawaii Swimming Club's Parents Handbook!

These terms are guidelines. If you have any questions, by all means, ask your Coach !