Below you will find a list of terms that you are likely to hear used in Newham Swimming Club and around the various competitions. We hope you will find the explanations useful. Click on a letter below to go straight to the right part of the alphabet.




Age Groups

Abbreviation of Age Group Competition, competitions that are organised within specific age groupings

Amateur Swimming Association. (ASA)

The main swimming association in the United Kingdom.

Automatic Officiating Equipment, (AOE)

This records the elapsed time of each competitor and determines his relative place in order of finishing in a race.



This is the fastest stroke you can swim on your back. It is the reverse of frontcrawl.


See starting platform.


This is the slowest stroke and it is swum on your front. Your arms move in a circle out in front of you and your legs move like a frog’s.


Butterfly is the most complex of the four main strokes. The butterfly kick is similar to frontcrawl but with your legs together. Your arms also move together in an up and over motion.


Competition Cards

Competition Cards are used mostly in open competitions on which are entered the details of the Swimmer, (name, club, entered time etc.). Full details will be provided of what you need to do when you enter a competition where these are in use.



A Swimmer can be disqualified for various reasons for not complying with ASA law, (false start, faulty stroke, faulty turn, faulty take over, etc.)


Training exercises which can help develop your stroke and fitness


Electronic Timing

See A O E



The major world governing body of swimming. It is an abbreviation for La Federation Internationale de Natation.


Also known as flippers. There a lots of different types. The two most common are mono fins which are a large single fin with inserts which hold onto both feet. The other type is the normal fins which you wear on either feet.


A shorter term used to describe butterfly.


See front crawl.

Front crawl

Front crawl is the fastest and strongest stroke. It is swum on your front and is also known as Freestyle because there is no set technique.

Front crawl turn

See tumble turn.



A swimming contest is called a swimming gala.


A pair of tight-fitting eyeglasses that protect your eyes and help you see better underwater.


Hand Held Timer

Crystal-controlled hand-held digital timer that must record and be read to1/100 second.


The swimming race you have to win before the final. There may be more than one round of heats.

Heat Declared Winner

An event (usually200m+), where there are too many swimmers for a straight final and the winners are decided on the times achieved in the heats.


Individual medley

Individual medley events in which the competitors using all fourstrokes in each leg in this order; butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.



At least two at a gala to determine that a Swimmer is complying with the ASA technical Laws. The ideal number at a Gala is six: two of each, Style, Placing and Turning.



One of a set of parallel courses marking the bounds for contestants in a swimming race. There are usually eight lanes in a competitive pool.


Unlike in athletics and motor racing where they run laps, in swimming they swim lengths.

Long course

This means a swimming race swum in a 50m pool. The other type of race is called short course and this is swum in a 25m pool.


Medley relay

In the medley relay a different swimmer swims each leg using a particular stoke, in this order; backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.


Open competition

A competition that is not limited to members of any one club.


Personal Best (PB)

The best time achieved by a swimmer in a particular event to date.


Racing turn

These are the quickest possible turns used in competitions for each of the four strokes.


In overall control of a Gala.


A race which involves more than one person representing his team.



A stroke which mirrors the sculling movement of an oarsman, with the swimmer using their arms to propel themselves through the water. Can be done on their back or their front.

Short course

This means a swimming race swum in a 25m pool. The other type of race is called long course and this is swum in a 50m pool.


The person who starts the race using either a Gun, Whistle, Klaxon or verbal command GO.

Starting platform

The block which swimmers can start a race from in Butterfly, Breaststroke and Freestyle.


See hand held timer


Swimming in a style which offers the least resistance to the water.


In the event that swimmers from the same or different heats have equal times registered to 1/100 second for either the eighth place or sixteenth place, there shall be a swim-off



The person operating a stopwatch at the end of the lane.

Tumble turn

This is the turn which is used in front crawl races, where the swimmer does a somersault in the water to make the turn as quick as possible.



The team of people required ensure that our swimming club functions as best it can.

Please speak to any of the committee to see how you could help out in any small way.