Skip Nav

Beginner Swimming Terms

10 Swimming Terms Every Beginner Should Know

If swimming has recently become new to your workout routine and you're still a little unfamiliar with many of the terms —like referring to freestyle as the "front crawl" — we'll help you uncover the mystery of the water, so you can feel like a pro in no time! Like our 10 beginner's running tips, here are 10 common terms every beginner swimmer should know:

Circle Swimming: Since many of us don't train alone and pool space is often limited, swimmers must follow a pattern while sharing a lane to prevent colliding and maximize workouts. When you circle swim, you usually swim counter clockwise in the lane, swimming up one side of the black line and down the other. This is not an official rule, so it is common courtesy to swim in the direction of your lane mate if they are there before you.

Catch: This is the front part of your stroke that involves your arms and hands. Think of it as catching the water to propel yourself forward, using your kick to help.

Drafting: Like runners, you can draft in the pool. Although your competitors won't be happy when they figure out your plan, drafting can often help you swim faster. Essentially, it is riding the wave of the person next to you. Keep in mind, once you pass a competitor, they can do they exact same thing to you!

More must-know terms after the break.

Dryland: This is a fancy term for cross-training, and all swimmers do it. There are many benefits to mixing up your pool workouts on land to maximize fitness and strength.

Course: This is the pool "course" or the length of the pool you are training in. Although the events are the same, competitions and workouts can happen in either long-course or short-course pools. Long-course pools are 50 meters long and are used in international and Olympic competitions. A short-course pool is 25 yards long and is only used in United States national and collegiate competitions.

Drill: Drills are used to help you become more familiar with your stroke and make changes to your technique. There are a number of common swimming drills that you can try, but feel free to play around and create your own drills.

Split: A split is the time it takes you to swim a lap or a predetermined distance. Splits help you see improvements and plan a race strategy. If the second part of your race is faster than the first, then you negative split your swim. This is a hard thing to do, but often impressive if you weren't intentionally trying to save your energy.

Stroke Cycle: Also known as a "hand hit," this is the time it takes to complete a full stroke — meaning both hands are used to finish your catch. The lower your stroke cycle, the more efficient you will become in workouts and races.

Stream Line: This the the position of your hands while diving into the water and pushing off your walls. With both arms above your head, put one hand over to the other, creating a tight body line and "streamlined" position to reduce drag.

Flip Turn: This is the tumbling move you make to switch directions when you reach a wall. Similar to a somersault, this how-to video on flip turns breaks down the move to simple steps — allowing your workouts to become more efficient.

Image Source: Thinkstock
Latest Fitness