Swimming Terms and Information

Swimmers will be instructed in learning the four racing strokes:

Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly: usually called free, back, breast, and fly

There are a total of 11 individual events and 2 relay events at most BCSSA swim meets, some events are restricted to certain divisions.  The older swimmers swim most of the longer 100m races for example.

Freestyle: The swimmer may actually swim any stroke they like without being disqualified, but pretty much everyone nowadays will swim a variation of the front crawl.  This is the fastest of the strokes, and is characterized by an overhand stroke, side breathing and a strong flutter kick.

Backstroke: The swimmer must remain on her or his back at all times to avoid disqualification (except for a short time during the flip turn).  The swimmers use an alternating arm stroke and a flutter kick while rolling the body and ideally maintaining a stable head position. This stroke requires a swimmer to swim without seeing the ends of pool, so flags are positioned 5 m from the ends to warn swimmers that they need to begin their predetermined “stroke count” to time either their turn or finish correctly.  

Breaststroke: A complex stroke which requires simultaneous horizontal arm movements which feature a forward push of the hands away from the chest in a streamline and then out and back.  Most of the power in this stroke comes from the legs.  The kick used in breaststroke is a whip kick, which is challenging for most swimmers to master.  There are many ways to be disqualified in breaststroke, including using a flutter or dolphin kick or not touching the wall with both hands at the same time.

Butterfly: This rhythmic and physically demanding stroke requires coordination of the overhead stroke of both arms along with the dolphin kick. The kick must be simultaneous to avoid disqualification.

Individual Medley: The swimmer uses all four strokes in the same race in the following order: fly, back, breast, and free.  For example: in the 100m IM, the swimmer swims one 25m length of the pool using each stroke.

Relays:   The Medley Relay team is made up of four swimmers, with each swimmer assigned one of the four strokes. The order for the relay is back, breast, fly, and free.  Each swimmer swims two lengths of the pool (50m) for a combined race distance of 200m. (In the 6 & under division, they are only required to swim one length each).   The Freestyle Relay is also made up of four swimmers, but each swimmer only swims freestyle.

Division:  ” Divs” as they are commonly referred to are the age grouping that swimmers compete within:

6 & Under division is where the youngest swimmers compete. There are no stroke and turn judges and therefore no disqualifications.  6&U swimmers can have a coach or junior coach swim in their lane with them to assist them. Upon completion of the race these swimmers receive a goody bag as a reward for their hard work.

Divs 1-8:  beginning at 7 years swimmers are assigned divisions which change every one two years, depending on their birth date.  Here is a link to the current Age Locator to see which division your swimmer (s) will be competing in this year:

                      BCSSA 2016 Swimming Age Locator