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Swimming Glossary Terms

“On the top, we're going to descend 5 x 200 on 3 minutes, with an even split.”

If that sentence made no sense, it may be time for you to brush up on your swimming vocabulary!  What follows is a list of commonly used swimming terms so the next time you talk to your children or venture onto a pool deck you’ll blend right in!

50: 50 meters; a common repeat distance.

100100 meters; a common pace distance.

400: 400 meters: a longer distance common in many endurance workouts.

Short course: A 25 yard pool where four lengths (or two laps) equal 100 meters/yards.  CGAC has 25 yard pool facility.  

Long course: A 50-meter pool where two lengths or one lap equals 100 meters. Also referred to as Olympic distance.

Length: Distance swum in one direction in any given pool.

Lap: Distance swum up and back in any given pool.

Set: A grouping of distances comprising part of a workout or drill; 5 x 100 is a set that is 500 meters long; 500, 400, 300, 200, 100 is a set that is 1,500 meters long.

Interval: The time given to complete a certain drill. A 2:00 interval for 100 meters means that if the swimmer can swim 100 meters in 1:40 minutes, the swimmer will have 20 seconds of rest before repeating the next one.

RepeatsThe components of a set: 5 x 100 is a set of 100 repeats.

Threshold: The maximum time a swimmer can hold, or repeat, for a given distance during a highly aerobic set.

Pace: The time per repeat.

Negative Split: Completing the second half of a distance faster than the first half.

Even split: Completing both halves of a distance at the same speed.

Descending: Increasing one's speed incrementally during a set distance (She is descending her one-mile race by 100 meters).

On the top: Starting a set on the 12 o'clock (or 60-second) mark on a poolside pace clock.

On the bottom: Starting a set on the 6 o'clock (or 30-second) mark on a pace clock.

Tapering: Paring down workouts (in length and intensity) to allow the body to recuperate and be rested for the weeks or days leading up to a race.  CGAC usually tapers our swimmers prior to championship style or big important meets.

Personal Record or 'PR': A swimmer's best time in a specific event (example 50 yard freestyle).

Pull Buoy: Flotation device used to stabilize the legs and correct body position in the water.

Cords: A rubber cord tied to the block and swimmer's waist.  Used to increase drag and increase resistance.

Paddles: Plastic hand-disks used to maximize an upper-body pulling workout. Available in several shapes and sizes depending on the swimmer's skill and preference.

Drag suitA baggy, nylon unisex swimsuit, worn over a regular practice suit to add resistance to  everyday training.

Stretch CordsDry-land workout using rubber stretch cords to strengthen muscles used in all four strokes.

3:1: Breathing pattern where the swimmer takes one breath for every three strokes; this is a bilateral breathing pattern (breathe on both left and right sides).

2:1: Breathing pattern where the swimmer breathes once for every two strokes (breathe on one side only).

Circle swimming: Swimming in a lane in a standard counter-clockwise direction, up the right side and back down the left. Often when sharing a lane.

Catch-up stroke: Special drill where basic crawl (freestyle) is altered so that each arm catches up with the other before completing the next stroke (one arm is stationary above the head, in beginning-stroke position, while the other completes a full stroke rotation)

Sculling: Special drill using only hands (not arms) to scull through the water; arms at sides, with wrists whipping back and forth in a waving motion (designed to develop feel for the water).

Vertical kicking: Special drill executed in deep water where one kicks in a vertical position with arms crossed over chest, or extended above head for various intervals/sets. The team sometimes uses medicine balls with this training.