Frequently Asked Questions


What are the main differences between long course and short course?

As USA Swimming has both a long course and short course season it makes sense to explain a few of the biggest differences. First of all, and perhaps most obvious, are the changes in events. There are no 25s in long course (since the pool is 50 meters rather than 25 yards), and some of the longer freestyle distances change. Rather that the 500, 1000, and 1650, we swim the 400, 800, and 1500. Other major differences have to do with the races themself. For example, swimmers are able to simultaneously gain speed and rest as they streamline off a turn, but in long course races the number of turns is greatly reduced. This may seem minor at first, but when one considers that a 500 freestyle has 19 turns versus 7 for its long course counterpart, the difference is significant. Finally, there is the difference between meters and yards. Although one meter and one yard are very nearly the same distance, when one swims 100, 200, or 400, the difference begins to add up. For these reasons race strategy often changes, and swimmers who have mastered short course find that changing to long course makes swimming a whole new “ball game.”