Swimming Lingo

There’s one subject that I know a lot about: swimming.

Considering I swam for over 15 years, I think I should at least dedicate a post or two to the subject!

I know a lot of you are non-swimmers or maybe triathletes who may be stronger in other areas.  I thought it might be nice if I listed some of the lingo that swimmers use that you may not understand.  Those of you swimmers may think this is pretty silly!

  • Jammer – a suit that guys wear.  It is not a speedo, and it is not swim trunks.  It’s kind of a combination of the both.  And no one looks better in a jammer than Ryan Lochte. Winking smile

  • IM – Individual medley, baby! This is the combination of all four swim strokes – butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle! It is four events made into one.  And it is the worst thing I think has ever been invented, but that’s only my opinion.
  • Drill – drills are important to swimming.  Drills are something that all swimmers should do, regardless of level.  Even with the high school swimmers that just began learn drills.  Drills break down the strokes and allow swimmers to focus on individual stroke technique.  Some freestyle drills that we practice often are glide, fingertip drag, and catch-up.  Glide drill focuses on body rotation and balance.  Fingertip drag focuses on high elbows and arm extension.  Catch-up drill is focuses on stroke rate. 
  • Drag – anything on you that holds you back and slows you down. For guys, this would be bulky bathing suits. For girls, it could be loose suits. Drag can be useful at practice. If you practice with some extra resistance, loosing the resistance during racing can help you go faster. Often, swimmers double up on swim suits at practices to have some extra bulk. They also may practice in crazy colored tights or stockings, like this:
  • 100_0816

  • Threshold – sets done at threshold are TOUGH.  Basically, threshold sets take you to the maximum effort and speed.  You continuously repeat swims at a high intensity to see how far you can push your body.  We used to do sets of 100 yards in which the first three were fast, three more faster, and three final ones at an all out speed.  This was a mental and physical challenge needed to prove to ones’ self that it could handle the pressure.
  • Breath control – breathing is obviously very important for swimming.  For distance swimmers, breathing often is key.  The more oxygen pushed into the legs and body, the better.  For sprinters, the less breaths, the better.  Breathing could mean slowing the race down by as little as .01, which could cost a race. Breath control can be practiced by breathing bilaterally – meaning breathing every 3, 5, or 7 strokes.  Breath control can also be practiced by not breathing AT ALL throughout a length of the pool.  This can be done underwater, too.  It makes your body work hard on little oxygen which is a great simulation of a race.
  • Circle swimming – circle swimming is how group swims or swim practices typically happen.  Basically, you swim on the right side of the black line of the pool at all times, just like when driving.  This prevents collision in lanes.  Swimming down the middle of a lane should only happen if there is only one person in a lane.  This means circle swimming does not take place at meets.  It is faster to swim down the center of the lane.

  • Dryland – so many of you may not realize this, but almost half of swimming takes place OUT of the water.  Similar to cross-training, dryland training consists of intense workouts that help swimmers with speed, strength, and muscle.  This could include weight lifting, running, lunging, running stairs, core work, etc.  Each team is different.  My team was intense.
  • Long course meters – aka hell in the form of a pool.  This is the same as an Olympic sized pool.  Long course pools are typically 50 meters long, over twice as long as my high school and college pools.  They are super long and really can test your endurance! The races have less walls and flip-turns where speed can be gained.

Well, there you have it.  If you have any questions about other things you have heard regarding swimming or any questions about what I have said, let me know! I have quite an assortment of swimming knowledge!

Are you into swimming?? What’s your favorite/least favorite thing about it?



Filed under Swimming

14 responses to “Swimming Lingo

  1. Chasing Fifty

    Great info. Sounds like you are a coach at heart.

  2. I just learned so much! Thanks for the info, girl!

  3. I just learned a lot! I am a bad swimmer, but I want to get better at it. 🙂

  4. Normally, no. The thought of getting into a swim suit just makes me role my eyes! 🙂 This summer? I am throwing caution to the wind and jumping in! 🙂 Great info!

  5. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts

    This was so fun to read! I had no idea what these terms meant 😛

  6. hell in the form of pool. Only when it’s butterfly or IM!

  7. least favorite thing: pull buoys. I have no upper body strength haha

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