The present paper reports on the measurements of flow structure and heat transfer in swirling jets, impinging normally on a flat heated wall. Velocity field is measured by using the stereoscopic particle image velocimetry technique, whereas the wall temperature is monitored by IR imaging. Two cases of distances between the jet nozzle and impingement surface are considered, namely, one and two nozzle diameters. The Reynolds number is fixed as Re = 5000. Flows of non-swirling, weakly and strongly swirling jets are investigated. Only for the latter case in free jet flow configuration, the swirl intensity exceeds a critical value for breakdown of the swirling jet's vortex core, corresponding to the formation of a central recirculation zone. For the confined jet conditions, the superimposed swirl in both cases results in presence of an extended recirculation zone between the nozzle and impingement wall, which is found to reduce heat transfer around the stagnation point for the separation distance of two nozzle diameters. However, for the separation distance of one nozzle diameter, the high-swirl jet is found to provide most effective overall cooling of the wall.