Swim Glossary | carrie jesse

A swim workout can look like a algebraic equation where you need to solve for x.

5 x 100 negative split on 1:30

And the parts of that equation that happen to be in English might be words you’re not familiar with.

Negative split?  

Here are a few common swimming terms that can help you not only decipher a swim workout, but also plan a pretty good one of your own.

Swim Glossary

25, 100, 500, etc.
The distance of a swim interval (yards or meters depending on your pool).

1 x 25, 4 x 100, etc.
Swim workout shorthand.
Example, 4 x 100 is a set where you swim 100 yards or meters four times with a short rest in between each 100.

Bilateral Breathing
Breathing both to the right and the left while swimming freestyle. (example, breathing every 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc. strokes)

Build
A steady and gradual increase in effort across a set distance.
Example: 1 x 200 build – you’d start the 200 at an easy effort and then gradually get faster throughout the 200.

Cool Down
Focus is on decreasing your heart rate and breathing rate. Easy swimming.

Descend
Swim each interval slightly faster than the one before.
Example: 3 x 100 descend – #1 is a steady effort, #2 is faster than #1, and #3 will be the fastest.

Drills
The purpose of drills is technique development. Each drill may be completed with or without fins.

Easy
An effort level of 75%.

Freestyle
Sometimes called the “front crawl,” this is the stroke most commonly used in triathlons (but is not the only stroke allowed).

Hard
An effort level of 95+%.

Intensity
The amount of effort put forth during a set distance or interval and expressed as a percentage. Example: 85% effort

Intervals
A workout or swim set designed with specific swim times and rest times.
Example: 5 x 50 with 15 seconds rest in between

Kick
Only use the legs. Kick sets can be done with or without a kickboard. Without a kickboard, you can kick on your stomach, back, or side.

Ladder
An interval pattern where the distances progressively get longer (go up the ladder) or shorter (go down the ladder).
Example: 1 x 100, 1 x 200, 1 x 300

Moderate
An effort level of 85%.

Negative Split
Swim the second half of a given distance faster than the first half.
Example: 1 x 200 negative split – the second 100 is faster than the first 100

Pull
Swim only using the arms, with a pull buoy if available.

Pull Buoy
A piece of foam (variable in shape) that sits between the legs. This enables the legs to float without kicking and the focus is on the pull.

Pyramid
A workout pattern where the included distances first increase then decrease (classic pyramid), or first decrease then increase (inverted pyramid).
Example: 1 x 100, 1 x 200, 1 x 300, 1 x 200, 1 x 100

Sculling
A sweeping motion of the arms (with a slight bend in the elbow) where pushing and pulling water propels the body through the water.

Sprint
An effort level of 100% or as fast as possible.

Steady
An effort level of about 80%.

Streamline
Arms are extended above head, one hand on top of the other, biceps squeezing ears. Legs are behind the hips with toes pointed.

Swim
Regular freestyle swim stroke. No drills.

Technique
An individual’s swimming style or stroke.

Tempo
Working just below threshold for a longer interval, usually seven to twenty minutes.

Threshold
An effort level of 90%.

Warm-up
Focus is on preparing muscles and joints for movement.

I’m always adding to this glossary. If you come across a term that you don’t recognize, let me know. I’ll add it to the list.