Encouraging More Adults to Swim
Featured Picture
Technique and Training

Masters Swimming 101

Yards and meters

Jim Harper | December 4, 2012

This article is part of the Masters Swimming 101 series

Coaches will give instructions mainly in terms of distance (or yardage) and time. Most American pools are 25 yards in length and are known as short course yards pools or SCY. To understand the sets, you'll need to add in multiples of 25.

50 yards = 2 lengths of a 25-yard pool

100 yards = 4 lengths of a 25-yard pool

200 yards = 8 lengths of a 25-yard pool

500 yards = 20 lengths of a 25-yard pool


If the pool is 50 meters, you'll know it. These courses are also called long course meters or LCM. Now you'll add in multiples of 50.

50 meters = 1 length of a 50-meter pool

100 meters = 2 lengths of a 50-meter pool

200 meters = 4 lengths of a 50-meter pool

400 meters = 8 lengths of a 50-meter pool

Usually, the American system of yards prevails during the school year, and the international system of meters prevails during the summer. A third distance, 25 meters, also known as short course meters or SCM, is the least common. For pools that are set up for 25 meters, SCM meets usually occur in the winter. 

Masters Swimming 101 Article Series

How to start swim practice as an adult
Swimming is great exercise, but practicing with a group can seem mysterious to...
What equipment do I need?
Not much! The beauty of swimming is that the water provides all the resistance...
What are the basics of pool etiquette?
Safety always comes first, and swimming's first rule is never to swim alone....
What is a typical workout?
Like a good play, a good workout develops in three main acts: the warm-up, the...
Yards and meters
Coaches will give instructions mainly in terms of distance (or yardage) and...
How do I use the pace clock?
A related question would be: Why are swimmers so obsessed with time? You'll...
More lingo you're likely to hear at practice
Here are a few more terms you'll likely hear at swim practice. Some of them...
How do I learn the four strokes? Why do I want to?
Some swimmers and many triathletes only want to swim freestyle, the fastest...
USMS Wave Seperator

About the Author—Jim Harper

Jim Harper is an All-American Masters swimmer and coach in Miami who writes about health and nature. He is a frequent contributor to SWIMMER magazine, a columnist for the Biscayne Times, and a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. 

Sponsor #52Sponsor #59Sponsor #29Sponsor #49Sponsor #25
Sponsor #60Sponsor #14Sponsor #62Sponsor #20Sponsor #41
Sponsor #61Sponsor #56Sponsor #58Sponsor #36Sponsor #13Sponsor #42Sponsor #51Sponsor #43