The ABCs of Open Water Swimming

Each sport has its own lexicon. Its specialized vernacular is well-known among its enthusiasts, but is an unknown shorthand among others. The same is true with open water swimming whose terminology is increasing as the sport continues to grow exponentially.

Examples of the eclectic and esoteric terms of the sport include the following:

More: 21 Open Water Swimming Terms You Should Learn

A - Ankle slappers are small, tiny powerless waves that are not capable to propelling a swimmer or surfer forward.

B - Be Kind To Your Yacker Week is a week-long period observed by the global open water swimming community. The period, first proposed by Phil White of the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association, is meant to recognize, celebrate and honor individuals who support open water swimmers including kayakers, paddlers, escort boat pilots, coaches and support crew. It is typically celebrated during April.

C - Cap tan is the division on a swimmer's forehead between the skin of pronounced paleness relative to the rest of their face that has been suntanned by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation in a pool, outdoors or in the open water.

D - Duo swim is an open water swim simultaneously performed by two individuals as they swim side-by-side or at the same pace. Duo swims can be solo swims performed simultaneously by two swimmers, or two swimmers swimming side-by-side or near each other within a mass participation swim.

E - Expedition swimming in non-competitive swimming in natural open body of water including oceans, lakes, rivers, bays and reservoirs, performed for pleasure, adventure or fitness at any time of the day or night. Expedition swimming is generally done with partners or teammates or with tour members as part of guided tours, along coastlines, in lakes or around islands, although it can be done anywhere. Open water races, competitions, camps, clinics, events, solo channel swims or marathon relays are not considered expedition swimming.

F - A finish chute is a series of lane lines, buoys or other such markings that indicate the finish area and help direct open water swimmers to the final finish line or touch pads.

G - Going for a little dip is a swim of any length either in open bodies of water or in a pool.

H - Hand-over-hand push is a move used by competitive open water swimmers and triathletes to gain an edge over an opponent during a competition. In the hand-over-hand push move, the offensive swimmer moves closely to his opponent and times his arm stroke so his hand just slightly after his opponent's hand enters the water. He places his hand directly over the hand of his opponent and takes a normal arm stroke. By pushing his hand down, timed together with his opponent's arm stroke within their collective normal arm stroke cycle, the offensive swimmer gains a slight push and advantage over his opponent. There is little or no impeding of the swimmer as the opponent is not pushed back, but rather there is an additional propulsion gained by the offensive swimmer.

I - Ice cream headache, also known as brain freeze, cold-stimulus headache or its given scientific name sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia (meaning "nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion"), is a form of brief cranial pain or headache commonly associated with consumption (particularly quick consumption) of cold beverages or foods such as ice cream and popsicles or a dip or swim in extremely cold water.

J - June Gloom is a Southern California term for a weather pattern that results in cloudy, overcast skies with cool temperatures during the late spring and early summer, particularly in the month of June. June Gloom in Southern California is caused by the marine layer effect common to the West Coast of America, and is enhanced by the Catalina eddy local to Southern California. The phenomenon can be disorienting and disappointing to visitors from inland areas who, coming from the summer heat, do not expect cool temperatures, clouds and fog along the coast.

K - Kymophobia is the fear of sea swells, waves or wave-like motions.

L - Lake itch, otherwise known as swimmer's itch, sunbather's eruption or duck itch, is an allergic reaction caused by sea lice or a host of other marine life.

M - MARNATON is a project and brand in Spain that is a combination of three Spanish words: MAR (sea) + NATACI?N (swimming) + MARATHON.

N - Navigational IQ is the ability for an open water swimmer or triathlete to swim the fastest possible course in an open water swim, especially in a race, given all the external clues that are available and the elements that must be faced (e.g., wind, waves, oncoming/lateral/positive currents, tides, fog, position of competitors, escort boats and turn buoys).

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