Short Course vs. Long Course – What’s the Difference?

The short course swimming season is coming to an end next month and long course season starts in April. If you’re new to club swimming or swimming in general, you might not be sure why swimmers do both or two different seasons exist, let us help you out!

Two Seasons

The annual swimming calendar is divided into two seasons: Short course season runs September – March and is based off pools 25-yards or meters per length. Most pools in the United States are short course 25 yards. Long course season runs April – August and is based off pools 50 meters per length. Long course pools are also referred to as “Olympic size pools.”

Does your swimmer only have access to a short course pool?

Qualifications for most meets include a short course yard, short course meter, or long course meter times. Your swimmer is able to qualify for a long course state meet EVEN if they are not able to participate in a long course swim meet.

  • The difference in events is as simple as converting yards to meters, for example: the 500 yard freestyle is equivalent to a 400 meter freestyle long course, a 1,000 yard freestyle is equivalent to a 800 meter freestyle long course and a 1,650 yard freestyle is equivalent to a 1,500 meter freestyle. Other events such as a 50 freestyle eliminate a flip-turn, 100 of stroke now has one 1 instead of 3, and a 200 of stroke will now have 3 turns instead of 7.
  • Swimmers may feel long course pools are “too long” or intimidating as most swimmers spend most of their swimming in short course pools and tend not to want to compete when they are younger. However, the total distance of swimming between 25 yards and 25 meters is only seven more feet!

As we see it, the differences between long course and short course are about seven feet per 25, less than five different events and a few less turns. The 50-meter pool can seem daunting, so it’s extremely beneficial for swimmers to take the opportunity to swim long course practice and meets when available to become more comfortable. At the end of the day, it’s all about swimming in the water, no matter the length.

Joselyn Auxer | Swim Team Business Manager


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