So you’ve heard that Knoxville is hosting the USA Swimming TYR Pro Swim Series on January 16-19, and want to see it for yourself.  This is the second year that the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission has worked with USA Swimming, the University of Tennessee, and Tennessee Aquatics to bring this event to our city.  It’s the chance of a lifetime to watch Olympians and Olympic hopefuls compete right here in Knoxville.  Maybe you’re familiar with swimming events…or maybe you’re a newbie.  We thought we’d compile some FAQs and terminology so you can watch in confidence!

What exactly IS the TYR Pro Swim Series?

The TYR Pro Swim Series is a 3.5-day long course event televised on NBCSN, the Olympic Channel, as well as live streamed at  Knoxville is one of five separate meets; the others are Greensboro, Des Moines, Mission Viejo, and Indianapolis.  Historically, each stop attracts between 400-600 of the world’s top swimmers including, USA Swimming National Team members, Junior National Team members and top-50 world ranked swimmers.

Where is this event held, and where do I park?

The TYR Pro Swim Series will be held at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center on the University of Tennessee’s campus at 2200 Andy Hold Avenue. This state-of-the-art facility has a 50m competition pool, a separate diving well, and capacity for 1,800 spectators.   See this map for parking here.  If you’ve parked downtown, take KAT’s Orange Line Trolley – there’s a stop just outside the center (just note it doesn’t run on Sunday).

Why Should I go?

For an opportunity to see Olympic athletes without breaking the bank to fly to Tokyo! It’s also an inexpensive date, or a nice outing with the family.  Plus being by the pool is warm, it’s like a little oasis in the middle of January.

Ok, you convinced me.  What does a swim meet look like?  I’ve never been to one.

We’ve got a handy-dandy chart that lays out the order of events:

TYR Swim Order

Almost forgot – where do I buy tickets!?


Terms you need to know:

Event – Not the ‘event’ you’re at; this is just a part of the competition.  It could be broken down by distance (50, 100, 200, etc.) or by the stroke style (backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, or butterfly).  It’s often separated by age and gender too.  An event example would be ‘women’s 200 yard freestyle.

Heat – The TYR Pro Swim Series has a lot of competitors.  Of course, with each event there are a lot of swimmers competing, but the pool is only so big, right?  So the events are divided into heats.  Let’s say the pool has 8 lanes, with one swimmer to each lane.  If there are 40 swimmers competing in an event, there will be 5 heats.  Make sense?  The slower swimmers are typically the first to compete with the fastest going last.  But pay close attention - just because a swimmer won their heat, does not mean they won the event!

Heat Sheet – This is a printed copy of who is swimming and when.  Easy to know when be ready to cheer on your favorite swimmer!

IM – Individual medley. The event where a swimmer swims butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle, in that order.

Lane Number – Seems obvious, but did you know that typically the fastest swimmers get dibs on the middle lanes?  Me neither!

Short Course Pool – a pool that is 25m in length (although in the US that is often used for 25 yards).

Long Course Pool – a pool with a 50m long race course (Allan Jones is one).

Psych Sheet – No, this is not a mental health evaluation.  This is the ranking of swimmers by event and time.  Unlike the heat sheet, it doesn’t have heat or lane assignments.

Seed Time – This is the fastest time for a swimmer prior to the current meet.  It’s the way of organizing swimmers in lanes by their times.

4 Strokes Swimming

Stroke – Not a medical condition; this is the style of swimming.  For this meet, expect to see the following:

Backstroke – Performed while lying on the back. One arm reaches behind the head with a fingertip entry while the other arm is by the side. The legs perform a flutter kick.

Breaststroke – Performed face down in the water without rotating the torso. The arms stay in the water and move synchronously, while the legs perform a whip kick. It is possible to keep the head elevated out of the water throughout the stroke, although the head usually dips in and out.

Butterfly – Performed face down in the water. The legs perform a dolphin kick and while the arms move in a forward circle at the same time.

Freestyle – Also known as front crawl; the fastest style for swimming on the surface. Performed while face down. The arms alternate while the legs perform a flutter kick.

TYR – (pronounced tier) TYR Sport was established in 1985 to provide the competitive swim market with vibrant, performance-driven prints. TYR has grown to exist as one of the world’s most recognizable swimming and triathlon brands.

USA Swimming – As the National Governing Body for the sport of swimming in the United States, USA Swimming is a 400,000-member service organization that promotes the culture of swimming by creating opportunities for swimmers and coaches of all backgrounds to participate and advance in the sport through clubs, events and education. USA Swimming is responsible for selecting and training teams for international competition including the Olympic Games.

Touchpad This sensitive pad at the end of the lane is what records the finish time when a swimmer presses into it.  That time gets sent electronically to the scoreboard so everyone knows who got there first.

Hope this helps answer all your burning swim-related questions, grab some tickets ASAP and we’ll see you at the pool!