The goal of competitive swimming is to complete a given distance in the shortest amount of time and to improve their Personal Best time.

Swimming is governed worldwide by FINA, in Ireland by Swim Ireland and regionally by Swim Connacht.

Most swimming sport events are held in competition pools, which are either long course pools such as those used in the Olympic Games (50 m) or short course pools such as those used in the FINA World Swimming Champs (25 m).

Swimming Competition Strokes & Distance

Competitive swimming consists of four strokes: butterfly, breaststroke, freestyle (or front crawl), and backstroke. When all four strokes are done during a race, it is called medley swimming (otherwise known as the individual medley, or IM).

Butterfly, Backstroke & Breaststroke:
Typical Distances include 50, 100, 200 meters.

Typical distances are 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, or 1500 meters. Freestyle may also be swam as a relay with four swimmers, in 4 × 50, 4 × 100, or 4 × 200 meters.

Individual medley or IM:
Each swimmer must complete one quarter of the full distance in each of the four strokes (fly, back, breast, free). The full distance is typically 100, 200, or 400 meters. There is also a medley relay in which four swimmers each swim one of the four strokes. The relay is swam in 4 × 50 or 4 × 100 formats, and in the order of back, breast, fly and freestyle.

Equipment Required

  • Swim cap—Competitive swimmers normally use Silicone Caps to reduce drag which are available to buy from the club coaches.
  • Goggles—Goggles keep water and chlorine out of swimmers” eyes. Prescription goggles may be used by swimmers who wear corrective lenses.
  • Swimming Aids such as kickboards, pullbuoys, snorkels, etc. will be provided by the club at development level and as swimmers progress to A squad, they will be provided with a mesh bag of equipment to bring with them to every training session.