Swim Terminology Glossary

Swimming, July 23, 2015

There are many different terms and abbreviations that go along with a swim session. Here a the ones you will see in our swim sessions, and with a description of what they mean:

  • Level 1, 2 and 3 - These refer to how experienced you are and how far you want to do in your swim session

  • Warm Up - Before you even get in the pool do some arm swings and light stretches to start the blood flowing.  Once in the pool don’t hurry, just get the body moving, gradually bring your Heart Rate up and gain your feel for the water.  There may not be a specified rest interval between the sets within a warm up, so just take as long as you need to recover before moving onto the next set….you don’t want to rush this part of the session.

  • Loosen - Once the session is finished you have to gradually bring your heart rate down.  Start your loosen at a similar pace to the previous set you were doing, and over the course of the Loosen set slow your pace down.  The last couple of lengths you may just be doing easy double arm backstroke, dolphin diving or walking.

  • Fr - Freestyle stroke

  • Bk - Backstroke

  • DBk - Double Arm Backstroke.  This is a great way to loosen tight shoulders and chest muscles after a hard session.

  • Br - Breaststroke.  If you get sore knees or have had a meniscus injury avoid the Breaststroke kick and use a Butterfly kick instead

  • Fly - Butterfly.  If you struggle with maintaining a smooth Butterfly action then you can do single armed Fly which is a bit easier.  Keep at it as you will get stronger and more efficient and you will eventually find you are able to swim a whole length of Fly

  • K - Kick.  You can do this on your front with a board, on your back with your arms streamlined in front of your head, or kick on your side.

  • Side Lying Kick - With your bottom arm in front and your top arm resting on your side maintain a smooth and efficient kick from the hip.  Keep streamlined, don’t scissor kick.  Make sure you are strong through the core, mimic a racing kayak, which does not bend in the middle and has very little surface area contacting the water.  Roll onto your other side after 25m or 33m.  You can use fins for these if you feel it helps you maintain a more efficient body position

  • Bk/Br, Bk/Fr etc -  Where there is a slash between two strokes it means you alternate between the two.  Make sure you do at least one lap of each stroke, but you are free to do this how you want depending on your comfort levels.  This is actually intended as a recovery set between the harder efforts so don’t push too hard in these

  • Easy mix of strokes - You are free to chose what stroke you want to do here as it is a recovery set.  You probably won’t chose Fly though, and that’s fine with us.

  • Pull - Pull Buoy.  This is a moulded piece of foam that fits between your thighs to lift your hips higher in the water.  You shouldn’t kick when using a Pull Buoy, a sure sign of a kicker is chaffing between your thighs where you rub the foam.  Because you aren’t kicking you will find you have to increase your stroke rate/arm turnover a bit to maintain smooth forward propulsion.  Don’t become a slave to your Pull Buoy, they are useful and make swimming a bit easier, but shouldn’t be used too much.

  • Padd - Paddles are large plastic discs which you strap to your hand in order to increase the surface area of your hand in the catch phase.  They increase the resistance and over time will make you stronger.  Coupled with a Pull Buoy you will also go faster, so again don’t overuse them as they are only a training aid.  A common mistake is for people to get paddles that are too big for them.  This is a bad move as it encourages a less efficient stroke and often result in shoulder injury.  As a rule of thumb you should go for a small paddle initially and only move to larger ones if you feel you're capable of it, but still keep the small ones close by as you may want to move back to them occasionally.

  • Band -  This is a piece of rubber such as a bicycle inner tube, which straps around your ankles to prevent them from kicking.  This is in order to make you pull harder with your arms and develop the front quadrant of your stroke more.  You can use them with a Pull Buoy, and should if you are guilty of kicking during Pull sets.  They are hard work as you loose the buoyancy and propulsion of your legs, so you will use them only for short sets.  They are great for helping develop your catch & pull phases of the stroke

  • Fins - Flippers.  Proper swim flippers tend to be short and wide.  They encourage a more powerful kick.  Often you use them for drill sets if you want to focus more on the actual components of the drill and less on forward propulsion as the fins will help you move forward.

  • P&P - Pull Buoy and Paddles

  • PPB - Pull Buoy, Paddles and Band

  • F&P - Fins and Paddles

  • R30, R20, R10 etc - Rest interval of whatever number comes after the R.  Use the clock poolside or your watch to get the rest correct.  Making the rest shorter or longer than it should be affects the dynamics of the set and you won’t get the right workout from it.

  • 2km Pace - Swim this at your open water race pace for the specified distance

  • Trickle - A drill where you swim normally but encourage a higher elbow recovery and keep your fingers trailing in the water and close to your body as your move through the arm recovery.  It requires a bit more hip and shoulder rotation than normal swimming.

  • Breath every stroke - As it states, you will alternating the side you breath on each stroke.  This is great for getting the timing of your head turn right for each breath.  Being able to occasionally breath to each side, each stroke is a great skill for open water races.  You should feel it is a seamless action.

  • Breath every 2/3/4/5 strokes - This is termed Hypoxic breathing.  It requires you to swim more strokes with less breathing, which is great for breath control and lung capacity.  As it states you will breath after each number of strokes.  Switch to the next number of strokes after each length.  The secret to this is to SLOW DOWN as rushing it only uses more oxygen and hurries your stroke.  Relax and feel the flow of your body as you move through the water smoothly.  On race day you might have to miss taking a few breaths due to swell, other swimmers obstructing you or such like.  You may be surprised you are quite comfortably capable of swimming up to even 9 strokes without taking a breath.

  • Max DPS - Getting the Maximum Distance Per Stroke.  This is done by encouraging a more streamlined shape, having a very powerful pull phase of your stroke and a kick