Learn more about swimming

Competitive pool swimming goes from the grassroots to the highest levels in the Olympic programme. Find out more…

There are two types of pool swimming competitions: long course and short course.

Long & Short Course

Long course (LC) events are held in a 50m pool and short course (SC) is held in a 25m pool. The Olympic Games is always held in a 50m pool but there are international competitions in both LC and SC.

The major difference is that a swimmer will turn more often in SC competitions and can, therefore, create more momentum from powering off the wall of the pool.

There are a range of events in the swimming programme. Typically this will be 50m, 100m and 200m races in each of the strokes (Breaststroke, Backstroke, Butterfly and Freestyle). For Freestyle, there is also the 400m event and for women the 800m, and for men the 1,500 freestyle.

There are also 200m and 400m Individual Medley races for both men and women, where they will complete lengths using Breaststroke, Backstroke, Butterfly and Freestyle strokes. Plus there are male and female relays swum over 4x100m, 4x200m and in SC meets 4x50m.

Great Britain compete in international long course and short course competitions throughout the year with the major long course meet typically in the summer and the major short course meets at the end of the calendar year.

There are plenty of national events for swimmers to compete at during a season - the major senior event is the British Swimming Championships.

Junior swimmers all aim to peak at the British Summer Nationals and the ASA Summer National Championships.

Find out more

  • New to competitive swimming? Then click here.
  • Need to learn about entering and running swimming competitions? Then click here.
  • Looking for a swimming club near you? Go to our Pool & Club Finder

For a full set of rules for competitive swimming rules: FINA Rules