Swimming Lingo:

aerobic Technically this means you are training at a pace or an effort that allows you to use carbohydrates, fat, and protein as a source of energy. Oxygen is required. This is usually 60-80% of maximum capacity and is perceived as moderate to moderately hard effort.


A long, hard aerobic swim or set that pushes your aerobic capacity to the limit. An endurance test.
anaerobic Without oxygen. This type of training is done at an intensity that requires chemical changes to occur in the absence of oxygen. Energy is created in the form of ATP. This is usually above 90% of maximum capacity and is perceived as hard or "all-out" effort.  Sprints are purely anaerobic.
A.T.                 Anaerobic Threshold. The level of output above which the body cannot operate for an extended period of time.  The point where  aerobic meets anaerobic. A.T. is determined thru a timed 1500.
A rubber device used to strap the legs together at the ankles to keep the swimmer from kicking.
best ave.
Holding a series of repeat swims constant at the fastest time possible.
blow out

A short sprint which is done after blowing all of the air out of your lungs. This is anaerobic training in its purest form. WARNING!: DO NOT TRY THIS WITHOUT THE DIRECT SUPERVISION OF A COACH!

Starting out slow and ending fast. 5 x 100 build means EACH 100 starts slow and finishes fast.
Cactus Practice        

A special Ford Masters speed set that is guaranteed to be a needle in your side!

Carbo-loading A feeding frenzy that takes place over the period of days leading up to a major competition. Rice, pasta, potatoes, beans and other foods high in complex carbohydrates are known to help sustain energy levels for extended periods of time.
choice           Your choice of stroke (fly, back, breast, or free).
circle swim

Swimming down the pool on the right side of the lane and returning on the opposite side. This is only necessary when a lane has 3 or more swimmers.

combo set    A set that includes both aerobic and anaerobic challenges within the same set and often permits the use of strokes other than freestyle.
DeMont Special A distance set which teaches a swimmer to pace and negative split. Named after former world record holder and Arizona assistant coach, Rick "ROCKET" DeMont. The set is 800-600-400-200 (1:00 rest each).
descend To move from higher to lower. In the case of a swimming set this would mean your times would progressively get lower (ie. faster).
drill A generic term used to refer to the many possible ways a stroke can be broken down or modified to teach a certain aspect of a stroke. More information about specific drills can be found at the drill link elsewhere at this site.
dryland Any number of exercises performed on land with the purpose of strengthening the muscle groups specific to swimming.
Swimming at a perceived effort below 60% of maximum.
feelers           Hands. The primary pulling surface that helps establish an efficient stroke.
FORD Tucson Area Ford Dealer Aquatics is our official team name. We are commonly known as Ford Aquatics. Our four letter team code is FORD.
Swimming at a perceived effort above 90% of maximum.
hypoxic         <>Restricted breathing pattern. Usually refers to the number of strokes taken without a breath. Helps to simulate the oxygen deprived state that commonly occurs at the end of a hard race.
Individual Medley:  fly - back - breast - free
interval  The amount of time allotted for a particular distance in a workout. If you can complete the distance in a time faster than the interval then you will "earn" yourself some rest time.
I.U.I.M. Indiana University Individual Medley. Developed at I.U. during their heyday. This set follows I.M. order with an emphasis on stroke transitions.


                        Example:  3 x 100 on 1:50 interval, I.U.I.M.


                                                1 = 50 fly - 50 back

                                      2 = 50 back - 50 breast

                                      3 = 50 breast - 50 free

lactic acid A waste product found in a muscle when continued production of energy cannot be maintained.
Not giving an honest effort. Swimming slow and easy without the coach's approval.
A general term that refers to swimming under a restricted breathing pattern. Lungbusters are usually done with pulling gear and are often divided into quarters. A form of hypoxic training.

                                    Example:  1 x 400 lungbuster (3,4,5,6 by 100s)

This is a continuous 400 where the first 100 is done breathing every 3rd stroke, the 2nd 100 every 4th stroke, the 3rd 100 every 5th stroke, and the 4th 100 every 6th stroke.
Swimming at a perceived effort between 60-75% of maximum.
mod. hard
Swimming at a perceived effort between 75-90% of maximum.
negative split  To swim the 2nd half of a given distance faster than the first half. A negative split is by time, not perceived effort  (see pace clock).
pace clock 

Large timing device that helps swimmers keep track of their times and intervals. There is one pace clock at each corner of the pool.

paddleman A swimmer who insists on using pulling equipment for most or all of the main set (for more info. see King Paddleman Glen Patching).
paper suit A very light weight, tightly woven racing suit used exclusively at the BIG meet for fast times.
progressive See descend.
pull set
A workout set that requires the use of pulling equipment (buoy, paddles, tube, band) to provide an extra load for the upper body. The added resistance helps to build sport specific strength. Pull sets also add variety to a workout.
reckless abandon Swimming with a super fast tempo without regard to proper stroke technique. Used to develop hand speed and an appreciation for proper technique.

Sammy Save-up Any swimmer who "loafs" a series of repeats in an effort to be a hero on the last one. Also Sally.
send-off See interval.
shark skin A "slippery" racing suit designed by Speedo to keep the water flowing across rather than absorbinginto the suit. For use in a "shave and taper" championship meet. Also known as a "fast skin" suit.
shave down Shaving the entire body for the "BIG" meet for the physical benefit of lowering the drag and the psychological benefit of feeling fast in the water. Shaving down can change a bad season in to a good one.
shave party A strange team event that occurs in the hotel the night before the  "BIG" meet.
A swimmer's best stroke.
speed set A set designed to promote speed development. Usually short distances with enough rest to allow breathing and heart rates to return to normal.
stretch cords A surgical or rubber tubing apparatus. On land it can be combined with paddles to provide a sport specific strength building workout. In the water it can be used in conjunction with a waist harness and anchored to the wall. In this configuration strength or endurance can be trained by swimming against the pull of the cord while speed and race tempo can be developed by swimming with the pull of the cord.
Swim Swami
Swimming teacher. A swim Guru. The swim General. The Master of Masters. Director of Pain. Slave Driver. Coach.
The part of the competitive season when the total workload is tapered off in preparation for the championship meet. Race pace, visualization and lots of extra rest become the primary focus during this 2-4 wk. period.
tempo Stroke rate versus time. Tempo is usually measured as the amount of time it takes to complete a stroke cycle. This measurement can help develop and maintain stroke efficiency. Closely associated with DPS (Distance Per Stroke).
U.S.M.S. United States Masters Swimming. The national governing body for masters swimming in the United States. All Ford Masters MUST be registered in order that the club's insurance be valid. Proof of registration is required for all swim meets.
Variable Sprints This is a pattern of effort most commonly used during a 4 repetition speed set.


                        Example:  4 x 50 on 1:00 interval


                        (0:00)     1 = 25 hard - 25 easy          hard is defined as an all-out

                    (1:00)     2 = 25 easy - 25 hard         effort (above 90% of max.)

                   (2:00)     3 = 50 easy                         easy is recovery (below 60%)

                   (3:00)     4 = 50 hard

visualization Mental rehearsal. Using your imagination to practice an upcoming race.
Vo2 max. Maximum Oxygen Uptake. An individual's ability to consume and process oxygen. It is measured in the laboratory by calculating the amount of oxygen exhaled in one minute and subtracting that amount from the amount inhaled during the same period. Research has shown that people with large oxygen consumption capacities perform better in endurance events. Training increases Vo2 max.
wall tag Lap swimming without a purpose. This is a term used by coaches to describe the workouts of unmotivated swimmers. "He's not training hard, he's just playing wall tag."  (see loafing).
well of pleasure The diving well at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center (95¡f). The place to be when the weather turns cold. Also used for speed development (3 lengths  = 50y ) and for starts and turns. Oh yeah...diving too!!!
A short swim fin used for serious speed training as well as aerobic overload. The shortness of the fin permits kicking at a tempo similar to actual swimming.

Are there other swimming terms you'd like to see defined on this page? If so, send them in an email by using my email link at the home page.

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