Swim terms & Definitions

This is an ever growing list of standard terms and definitions that are used during swim practices. The list is comprehensive but by no means exhausted. We will continue to update this list regularly. If you encounter a term through one of our workouts or publications that is confusing and isn't on the list, submit your question to the Facebook group. We'll clarify it there for you and add it to the list.

Don't want to reference this list all the time, we have a downloadable version in our ebook section.

 

This is your rest for repetitions. Say you see @ :10, that would mean take ten seconds rest after each distance.

@ :##


Ideal intensity for threshold improvement. You want to hold a heart rate between 130-150. Most coaches use this a lot during the early season, for recovery and for technique work .

LOW INTENSITY, AEROBIC WORK


Short rest work, usually around 10-20 seconds between reps. You want to hold a heart rate between 150-170. These sets usually last being 30-40 minutes.

AEROBIC, THRESHOLD SWIMMING


These workouts are uncomfortable in nature and quite taxing on the body. You want to hold slightly above your threshold pace. Keep your heart rate between 160-180. Your rest should be 20-30 seconds between repetitions. These types of sets can last 20-30 minutes.

OPTIMAL THRESHOLD


Emphasize fast breakouts, the first 12.5 of a 25.

OPEN


Emphasize fast finishes, the last 12.5 of a 25.

CLOSE


Your best non-freestyle stroke.

SECONDARY


Your worst non-freestyle stroke.

WEAK


Distance per cycle. This is the distance you travel with each stroke cycle, when you see this in a workout it means push yourself to take less strokes and travel further with each one.

DPS


Individual medley, a race comprised of all four strokes in specific order. Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle last.

IM


This exercise requires equipment. A pull buoy and/or paddles.

PULL


Holding the fastest time you can over a number of repetitions.

BEST AVERAGE


Get faster on each repetition.

DESCEND (↓)


Get slower on each repetition.

ASCEND (↑)


Get faster within a repetition.

Build


There will be a given breathing pattern to follow. Breathing every 3 would mean taking a breath every 3 strokes, that way you would be alternating sides.

BREATH CONTROL


Alternating Breathing to both sides during Freestyle. This usually follows a breathing pattern of every 3 strokes. This brings balance to your overall stroke. 

Bilateral Breathing


A Freestyle and Backstroke cycle is made up of one stroke from each arm. Two strokes = one cycle. Butterfly and Breaststroke cycles are one stroke.

CYCLE


This indicates a call for your best effort. This should be a max out swim, as if you were racing.

FOR TIME


This will generally be within a series of distance repeats like 10 x 50’s or 5 x 100’s. Know your goal time and divide it by the repeats, hold that time for the designated distance. For simplicity sake say you want to go 5:00 in the 500 free. For 5 x 100’s you would want to hold 1:00 per 100, for 10 x 50’s you would want to hold :30 per 50. No slower, but faster would be acceptable.

RACE PACE


This stands for round or repetition within a set. If you see R1, R2, R3 that will help you determine what you should be working on each round of the set.

‘R’#