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Top Basic Definitions in swimming

October 8, 2021

Each field of activity has its own circle of active and passive vocabulary which consists of terms, definitions, and even slang. It is natural for every language and professional field, and swimming is not an exception. The swimming world has a lot of basic terms that sometimes can be unclear even for experienced athletes. We have gathered the most popular and specific swimming-related terms to give you the possibility to enrich your vocabulary and just to have fun.

Swimming terminology

The feeling of water is a sensation experienced by an athlete during a swim. When a swimmer "feels the water" well, he better calculates his movements in it and achieves the most effective forward movement. Another definition is the ability of a swimmer to receive information from various analyzers, which allows him to feel better the movement of water on the rowing surfaces of the body.


Buoyancy is the ability of the body to float in water without sinking.

Body rotation is the rotational movement of a swimmer's body relative to the longitudinal axis of the spine. Rotation helps to reduce water resistance, activate large muscle groups, perform more powerful strokes, carry the hands over the water.

Stroke length is the calculation of the number of strokes sufficient to swim the pool.

Push is the position that the swimmer's body occupies when pushing off from the pool wall.

Gliding — the movement of a swimmer through the water at lower water resistance. You get the highest speed if you start the distance pushing off strongly from the wall and continue sliding in the water until your speed drops to the average, after which you need to perform the first stroke.

Unilateral breathing — performing breaths only from one side: right or left.

Cycle — periodically repeating one completed movement of the arms and legs.

Acidification is a term in swimming and medicine, denoting the formation of excessive amounts of lactic acid in the muscles. Acidification is felt like a burning sensation in the muscles.

Lap — fulfillment of a swim from one end to the other of the pool.

Set — a sequence of similar tasks. For example, 5x100 is a series of 5x hundred meters.

Aerobic exercise is a type of exercise in which oxygen is the source of energy.

Anaerobic exercise is intensive short-term exercise during which the body experiences a lack of oxygen.

Strength endurance is the ability to maintain high strength indicators for a long time.

FR, Freestyle, Free, Front crawl is a swimming style in which a swimmer is allowed to swim by any method, arbitrarily changing them during the distance. Currently, all swimmers use a crawl.

The working movement is the movement that creates the traction force.

Treading water — swimming in place as the result of the performance of repetitive movements of the limbs, in which the swimmer does not move forward, and his head is above the water.

Pace or Tempo is the number of cycles per second. During the passage of the distance, the pace should be steady. The evenness of the pace shows the correct distribution of forces for the distance. Any failure in the tempo indicates the inclusion of compensatory substitutes for optimality. In practice, during the swim, the pace most often drops, since athletes cannot maintain the power of the stroke during acidification.

Recovery is a tool of the educational and training process. Without timely and proper recovery, the training load in the physiological aspect is meaningless. The main criterion for recovery is the maintenance of immunity.

Breathing is the criterion of a swimmer's skill and the degree of harmony of two desires — to swim fast and breathe correctly. The first can be considered a conditional reflex, the second — unconditional. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to achieve harmony between these two things.

Streamline — the ability of a swimmer to reduce the resistance of the aquatic environment. The main task is to know, feel and use the features of hydrodynamics to minimize the resistance of oncoming water flows. The quality of the streamlining depends on the tactile sensitivity of the athlete, his coordination of movements or dexterity, athleticism.

Swimming jargon

Dolphin Kick — simultaneous kick, which is used in the Butterfly style.

From the block/platform — means that the start of the distance is performed by jumping from the starting platform.

With a push — means performing the start pushing from the side of the pool.

Gala or Meet — slang expressions denoting competitions.

Go off — it is a lingo expression that means the time that the swimmer spends on swimming the set or a certain number of laps including the relaxation phase between them.

Grab Start is a kind of race start when the athlete grabs the edge of the starting platform before diving into the water.

Track Start — another kind of race start. It differs from a grab-start in the position of the swimmer's legs. Performing grab-start the swimmer stands on both feet on the edge of the starting platform. Performing the track-start, one of the feet, usually a stronger one is on the edge and the other is behind.

Swim Down is a stage and practice which performing at the end of the training and means swimming in a relaxed way to calm the muscles after big tension.

Stroke Count or SC is a calculation of the total number of strokes per 25 m or 50 m.

Stroke Rate or SR is the total quantity of strokes per minute. Usually, it defines by using a stopwatch and calculation.

Short water and long water in pools are technical terms for 25-meter and 50-meter pools.


We hope that this collection of swimming definitions and terms will help you to better understand this amazing world and achieve your goals faster.


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