Glossary of training terms

Swim Training Glossary

The following is a list of terms used on this site.  If you are having trouble understanding anything that is listed in the workout please refer here, or contact us immediately for an explanation.


Bilateral Breathing

The method of alternating sides when a swimmer turns to take a breath while doing the freestyle.  The basic rhythm would be to breath every 3 arm strokes, but that can be adjusted.  This is a good way to balance your stroke so that a swimmer will rotate evenly from side to side.

Heart rate (pulse rate)

A swimmers heart rate can be a good determining factor of workout intensity.  To determine heart/pulse rate …find a pulse location and count your pulse rate for a 6 second period.  Then simply multiply that number by 10 (add a 0 to the number you counted) to get your pulse rate measured at beats per minute.

Interval training

A group of swims where the athlete repeats a specific distance on a set time period.  Swimming a set of 10 x 50 (2 laps) every minute would be an example of this.  How much rest you get will be determined by how fast you swim.  This is in contrast to rest intervals (see below).


Using only your legs to propel yourself through the water.  Kicking can be done using a kick board or with hands streamlined (arms extended) or arms placed at your side.  Kicking can be done on your stomach or on your back.  There are three types of kicking that we will use; flutter (freestyle/backstroke), breaststroke, and dolphin (butterfly).  

Kick board

A floatation device made mostly of foam that is held beneath a swimmers extended arms.  Kick boards is used to isolate the legs.  They come in various shapes and sizes. 


Refers to 25 yards/meters of swimming.  Our workouts will be based on 25 yard/meter pools (1 lap = 25 yds/mtr…..4 laps = 100yds/mtr).   If you train in a 50 meter pool you must simply adjust 2:1.  If you train in an endless pool you need to swim using the time indication that is provided. 

Negative Split

Swimming the 2nd half of any swim faster than the 1st half.  This is a technique to improve endurance and pace.

Percentage of effort

These are estimates and can be self monitored.  In a workout use % of effort as suggestions.  Heart rate can be used to more closely determine % of effort.    


Using only your arms to propel yourself through the water.  This can be done using a pull bouy or simply dragging your legs motionlessly behind you.   

Pull Bouy

A pull bouy is a figure eight shape peice of foam that is placed between the thighs in order to provide flotation while a swimmer isolates their armstroke.  It is best not to try and kick while using a pull bouy. 


Active recovery refers to low effort swimming that will allow the heart to efficiently return to a resting rate.  We will end each workout with some form of active recovery


Static recovery refers to stopping completely and allowing the body to prepare for the next set.

Rest intervals

An established period of rest that is set between swims within a set.  Swimming a set of 10 x 50 (2 laps) with :30 rest would be an example of this.  Regardless of how fast an athlete swims they will receive the same about of rest. *If you swim at a pool without a pace clock, use number of breaths rather than number of seconds rest.  :15 rest = 15 breaths rest.


A swim set is a grouping of swims that have a relationship to each other.

Set: Landmark

A standard set that is periodically repeated to provide a measure of fitness.  Keeping track of your average time per repeat is encouraged.  This will give you a landmark to try to impove upon.  Our landmarks set is typically…. X number of 100’s (4 laps) on 1:00 rest. 

Set: Main

In every workout there will be at least one main set that will be the center focus of the training.

Set: Tune-up

A set aimed at elevating the heart and preparing an athlete for more strenuous work.  Typically follows the warm-up period.

Streamline position

This is the position that all strokes are based off of.   Streamlining establishes the most efficient position in the water possible. The body will be in a straight, long line, with arms straight above the head (biceps squeezing the ears) and with the hands on top of one another.  The idea is to create as little resistance as possible in the water.  A good exercise is to push off every wall in this position and see how far you can glide. The better your position, the farther you will glide.


Usually refers to one of the four competitive forms of swimming; Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly.  Also can include instruction strokes such as Sidestroke and Elementary Backstroke.  Videos highlighting the strokes will be available.

Stroke Count

When swimming a length of the pool, counting how many arm rotations it takes to get to the other end. This can be done with any stroke.  Understanding your stroke count can help determine stroke efficiency.

Stroke Tempo

How fast your arms move through the movement of a stroke. There are ways to measure this with a watch, but for your practice, this will be done by feel.  


The beginning portion of a workout that is used to prepare the body for what lies ahead.