Brush Up on Your Pool Talk With This Handy Swimming Glossary

On the bottom, we're going to descend 5 x 200 at 3:00, even split, 3:1 with full gear.

If the above sentence makes no sense, it may be time for you to brush up on your swimming vocabulary. Regardless of whether you are a Masters swimmer or a weekend warrior who trains alone, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with swimming lingo should you come across a situation that requires it (you know, cocktail parties, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, or simply using Active's Swimming page).

What follows is a brief list of terms that can handily be printed, posted, or memorized should you venture onto a pool deck and feel the need to blend in!

50: generally refers to 50 yards or meters, a common repeat distance for sprinters and endurance athletes alike.

100: twice the length of a 50, and a common pace distance.

500: 500 yards or meters, this is a longer distance common in many endurance workouts (equivalent to 0.33 of a mile).

Short course: a 25-meter/yard pool where four lengths (or two laps) equal 100 meters/yards.

Long course: a 50-meter pool where two lengths or one lap equals 100 meters. Also referred to as Olympic distance. Nonexistent in yard format.

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 composing 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 you can swim 100 meters in 1:40 minutes, you will have 20 seconds of rest before repeating the next one.

Repeats: the components of a set; 5 x 100 is a set of 100 repeats.

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

Pace: the time per repeat you can hold consistently during a set, and ideally the time (per 100 meters, for instance) that you can hold during a race.

Negative splitting: the act of completing the second half of a set distance faster than the first half.

Even splitting: the act of completing both the first half and last half of a set distance at equal speeds.

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

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