Category: Articles

Top Tips For Winter Swimming

Welcome to the world of cold water swimming!

Winter swimming communities famously thrive in northern European countries where an icy dip can be followed by a toasty sauna. There are many theories on the benefits of cold water swimming, amongst these are that as well as being surprisingly addictive, it’s said to give the immune system a kick start and gives an amazing sense of well-being which can benefit your mental state of being. What are you waiting for?

Tips on becoming a cold water swimmer

1. Authentic cold water swimmers around the world wear a regular swimming costume, a silicone swim hat and goggles. No wetsuit is worn, as this defeats the concept and benefits of feeling the cold water on your body, although a lot of people find that training in neoprene socks and gloves can help the extremities manage the cold better.

2. Most people stop swimming outdoors when it gets to October, but a cold water swimmer keep swimming throughout the year and just reduce the distance and time in the water. Your body will continue to acclimatise as the temp drops.  A top tip is to keep a log book of when you swim, how long for, how you felt and what your recovery was like.

3. Find a safe place where you can swim, ideally somewhere where you can park nearby or can use a changing room or sheltered area for changing.  You also want to make sure that you have easy access in and out of the water.

4. Find some others to dip with you, to make sure you are safe during and after swimming, and stay within your depth on your first cold water dip.  There should be people around when you come out of your swim to assist with your recovery or hand you a warm drink etc.  Basically cold water swimmers look out for each other, its as important part of winter swimming as the swim itself.

5. Swim safe. Swimmers need to be easily seen by boats in open water so at the very least avoid swimming in busy areas for boats, jet skis and ferries. It is also a swimmer’s responsibility to make yourself as visible as possible to other open water users: always wear a brightly coloured swimhat; consider buying a coloured swim tow-float (available from swimsecure.co.uk online shop); in dull or foggy conditions, or at night, attach swim lights or light sticks to the back of your goggles or swim costume.  You also want to make sure that you can be easily seen by any support team on the water on standing on the shore side.

6. The trick with cold water  acclimatisation is that there is no trick!  It’s all about going in the water regularly, daily dips, even for a very short period prepares the body to cope with the ‘cold water shock’ and the recovery.  Don’t rush to be a ice mile hero, become a winter swimmer first, go through a winter swimming regularly, so you understand how your body copes with different water temps.  Once the water is under 10 degrees it will feel very cold when entering the water, but once its under 5 degrees, event drop of 1 degree C makes a big difference.  Also the wind and outside temp makes a difference, and some days you just feel better than others.  It’s only by spending time in cold water that you get to know you limits.  Don’t push too far to quickly and ENJOY IT!

7. A thermometer is not essential, but can be helpful in knowing how you body copes and recovers in different temps, some people like to know before they go in the water and other just want to get in and swim and find out what it is when they get out. Keep a check on how long you swim for as the temperature drops and starts to rise again approaching the summer. You soon learn your limits and how much you should do each time.

8. Don’t try to be a hero in cold water, know your limitations, and get out as soon as you feel your body moving more slowly or if your hands start to become stiff. Try just a few minutes the first time. Breath slowly and calmly. Keep your head above water until you are comfortable putting your face in. If you begin to feel warm in cold water, you are experiencing the dangerous first stage of hypothermia so get out of the water immediately (see link below for a full definition).

9. When you exit the water, put on a hat, and get fully dressed immediately. Your body temperature will continue to drop for a few minutes after getting out of the water, so don’t delay! Set all your kit out ready before you go in the water, have it stacked in the order you will put it back on in. As soon as you are out, your only focus is getting out of your wet kit and into your clothes ASAP.  There’s plenty of time to chat afterwards with your friends whilst having a warm drink. Do not warm up the body suddenly with a hot shower or bath, gradual warmth with layers and a warm drink is much safer and more effective.

10. Hypothermia can be fatal, please see links below for more information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothermia

What To Eat The Day Before A Meet, During A Meet And After A Eat

What to Eat the Day Before a Meet

The day before the meet, the swimmer should eat foods that are high in complex carbs and drink fluids often.

Swim England Masters advises to “eat little and often—every two to four hours to keep blood sugar levels steady and fuel muscles.” Stick to foods that you are familiar with and avoid big meals. Do not overeat – you’ll feel lethargic on race day!

Foods with Complex Carbs:
• Oatmeal
• Brown rice
• Sweet potatoes or white potatoes with skin
• 100% whole wheat bread and pasta
• Grapefruit
• Apples
• Bananas
• Blueberries
• Cantaloupe

What to Eat for Breakfast Before Practice or Meet

Fruit-Healthy-Food-Vegetables-Dairy

Photo Courtesy: Maxpixel

Even if you feel too tired or nervous to eat, you need to eat – even if it’s just a little bit.

Eating breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and helps your body prepare for what is to come while helping maximize performance and training.

Eat something light and easily digestible such as cereal, oatmeal, banana, toast, fresh fruit or yogurt. If you really lack appetite in the morning, Sport Dietitians of Australia recommends drinking a liquid meal, such as milk tetra packs or smoothies.

What to Eat Before a Practice or Meet

The swimmer should eat a high-carb meal two to four hours prior to a practice or meet. The meal should be low in fiber and fat. Examples are whole grain cereal with milk, fresh fruit or oatmeal with banana or cinnamon.

One to two hours before, the swimmer should follow up with a light snack such as fresh fruit or a sports bar.

What to Eat During a Meet

overnight-oats-food-breakfast

Photo Courtesy: Tasija Karosas

The swimmer should make sure to eat and drink between events to aid in recovery and to ward off dehydration.

If the swimmer has less than one hour between events, the snack should be light and easy to digest. Sport Dietitians of Australia recommends juice, yogurt pouches and small pieces of fresh fruit.

If the swimmer has more than one to two hours between races, they can fuel with the following: pasta, sandwiches (whole grain or whole wheat bread and organic meat) or sushi.

Bring a cooler of food so you are ready to re-fuel!

Snacks to Eat Between Races

Chocolate milk

Photo Courtesy: Ben Fischer

After a race or practice, the swimmer needs to eat as soon as possible for recovery. Snacks should consist of complex carbs and proteins, not simple sugars or foods high in fat. Foods such as pasta salad, plain sandwich, bananas, grapes, apples, dried fruit (raisins, craisins, apricots, mango), cereal bars, yogurt and unsalted nuts are perfect for this.

If you can’t do solids between your races, try diluted juice with a pinch of salt, chocolate milk or a smoothie.

What to Eat After Meets and Practice

greek-yogurt-janine

Photo Courtesy: Janine, Flickr

Foods eaten after practice or a meet should contain carbs for fuel and protein for muscular repair and growth. The swimmer should also drink water to stay hydrated.

Carbs: fruit smoothies, yogurt fruit cup, fresh fruit or toast and jelly (or peanut butter with bananas).

Proteins: whole wheat pita and hummus, white meat sandwich, chocolate milk (protein and calcium to strengthen bones and feeds amino acids in the muscles), tuna salad, eggs, nuts, edamame, smoothie with dairy and omelets or fried eggs on toast.

In conclusion, perhaps Baker sums it up the best:

Swimmers – it is time to stop leaving your nutrition floating in the pool. I guarantee you that if you continue to train and implement the above swimmer’s nutrition recommendations into your diet, you will be able to swim faster and longer because of it. Don’t take your swimming nutrition for granted, it is just as important as your hours in the pool.

The Big Deal About a Swimmer’s Nutrition

Photo Courtesy: Twitter, @RyanLochte

By Bailey Duran, Swimming World College Intern.

Swimming requires massive amounts of energy, whether it’s an elite-level practice or an age group practice. Because of this high energy expenditure, swimmers need to take the right steps to replenish the nutrients lost.

According to wellness coordinator Brigette Peterson‘s research in sports nutrition, competitive swimmers can burn up to 5,000 calories in four hours, depending on the intensity of the workout. Thus, swimmers can burn approximately 40 percent of their daily energy during this time. Because of this incredible energy expenditure, proper nutrition is essential to rebuilding and recovering.

Peterson says, “Nutrition is cornerstone of every athlete’s performance, but especially a swimmer’s.”

Detrimental Nutrition Mindsets

scale-weight-eating-disorders

Photo Courtesy: Katie D. Flickr

Two common detrimental mindsets that swimmers have regarding meals fall on opposite ends of the spectrum.

The first is, “I swim hard every day so I can eat whatever I want. I’m working it off when I swim.” While it may be true that you are burning a lot of calories, you aren’t refueling with the necessary nutrients that will keep you healthy and swimming fast. Not to mention that eating loads of sugar and other processed foods will hinder your swimming and make you feel sluggish and slow.

The other mindset is: “I worked super hard in practice, so I don’t want to ruin it by eating too much. I won’t eat or will eat much less than what I probably should.” You can’t expect your body to be able to put maximum effort into a practice or a race if it doesn’t have enough fuel to do so.

It doesn’t matter how much or how hard you swim or train, you will not reach your potential without proper nutrition.

What Should Swimmers Eat?

girls-eating-get-together

Photo Courtesy: Joey Soraghan

You may be asking, “Well then, what should I eat?”

According to natural health and fitness expert Brue Baker, swimmers who are training intensely for more than two hours daily should eat four to seven light meals a day. Eating large meals or too much in one sitting will leave the swimmer feeling lethargic and will inhibit your performance (The Importance of a Swimmer’s Nutrition). It should also consist of foods that are easy to digest.

Carbohydrates should make up one half of a swimmer’s diet as it is the fuel swimmers need to get through that tough practice or meet. Carbs are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver and is the fuel that our body uses throughout our day – especially during a workout. After the workout, that energy source will be running low and will need to be replaced. Some good sources of carbs are rice, cereal, pasta, potatoes, beans, peas, and lentils.

The other half of a swimmer’s meal should consist of protein, healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, avocados, and seeds), vegetables, fruit, whole grains, vitamins, and minerals.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbohydrates should be consumed for every pound of body weight. For someone who is 150 pounds, this adds up to about 75 grams. This should be coupled with 20 to 40 grams of protein.

Protein repairs and rebuilds the muscles after the stresses of training in addition to warding off soreness. The building blocks of proteins are amino acids, which are the main components of muscular growth and repair. Diana Goodwin of Aquamobile tells us that protein also supports and boosts the immune system as well as quenches those annoying hunger pangs that plague swimmers during practice. Some sources of protein are lean meats, fish, eggs, and low-fat dairy.

Swimmers should also drink water often to stay hydrated, sipping on their water bottles throughout the day to replenish sweat loss (yes, it is possible to sweat in the water). Many athletes don’t think about replacing electrolytes and other minerals lost in sweat, most notably sodium and potassium. While most athletes consume enough sodium in a normal diet, you can sprinkle some salt and glucose to your beverage for absorption and replenishment.

Peterson says, “A properly fueled body will result in better performance during practice and competition. Nutrition is everything.”

10 Ways to Improve Cold Water Tolerance

By: Tim Moss

Cold water swimming is something I’ve written about before, particularly with regards to its health benefits, but here are a few tips for acclimatising to cold water, adapting to the icy water and improving tolerance for those winter swims:

  1. Get regular swimming exposure in cool or cold water. The more you do it, even if only briefly, the more you’ll improve your tolerance.
  2. Wear a swimming cap or two, and/or a neoprene hat, as your head will suffer the most in the cold water.
  3. Gain some weight. Fatter people stay warmer for longer and have better tolerance as a result.
  4. Use a wetsuit if you want to do a longer winter swim (and don’t consider it “cheating”).
  5. Wetsuit gloves and socks are excellent additions, with or without the main suit, as hands and feet can get painfully cold.
  6. Use a bigger swimming mask rather than little goggles as they’ll cover more of your face when it goes under water.
  7. Try cold showers and baths at home to help with your body’s cold water adaptation.
  8. Build up your brown fat supplies. Not very practical but an interesting area of research
  9. Train to be a stronger swimmer. Muscles create heat so if you’re able to work hard in the water, you’ll stay warmer.
  10. Enter slowly and/or splash yourself a bit first. It’s argued that this gives your body a chance to react more than if you jump straight in (which Lewis Gordon Pugh advocates).

5 Health benefits Of Swimming In Winter

Overweight, lethargic, bad skin, thin hair. These are not adjectives often associated with those crazy freezing water enthusiasts. Try: athletic, youthful and toned with good complexions and lots of energy. So, what’s their secret? What are the real beneficial health outcomes of regular exposure to cold water and are they available to normal people without masochistic tendencies?

 

1. Boosts your immune system

For your body, a sudden and drastic change in temperature constitutes an attack – as anyone who’s ever fallen overboard in British waters will concur. And, whilst “attacking” your own body may not sound like a good thing, there is no harm in keeping it on its toes. In fact, quite the opposite.

Scientists from the Czech Republic immersed witting subjects in cold water for one hour, three times a week and monitored their physiology. They found significant increases in white blood cell counts and several other factors relating to the immune system. This was attributed to the cold water being a mild stressor which activates the immune system and gives it some practice.

2. For an all-natural high

Winter swimmers talk a lot about the ‘high’ they get from cold water – a feeling of wellbeing that’s so encompassing that it becomes quite addictive (who doesn’t want to feel truly good, at least once a day?) The cause? Endorphins.

Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers and, in the case of a cold dip, it uses them to take the sting away from your skin. So, to get high on your own supply, all you need to do is jump in a river.

And if you think that sounds dangerously close to the pleasure/pain barrier then you’re probably right. The two other primary causes for endorphin release are pain and orgasm.

The cold will also stimulate your parasympathetic system, which is responsible for rest and repair, and this can trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are a vital part of keeping us happy and low levels of them are linked with depression. Couple this effect with the endorphin rush as you take the plunge and it should make for a warm glow and a wide smile when you re-emerge.

3. Gets your blood pumping

Being hot brings blood to surface. Being cold sends it to your organs. Both extremes work your heart like a pump. That’s why the whole sit in the sauna, roll in the snow, sit in the sauna thing makes people glow. But why is increased blood flow good for you?

Well, it helps flush your circulation for starters, pushing blood through all your capillaries, veins and arteries. It will exfoliate your skin and flush impurities from it, thus helping your complexion (firm-bodied women of all ages around pool sides say it stops cellulite). Evidence also demonstrates that your body adapts to the cold with repeated exposure and this may improve your circulation, particularly to your extremities – no bad thing in the winter months.

You could get these benefits by switching between the hot and cold taps in your shower (or the sauna, snow, sauna thing) but that doesn’t sound nearly as fun as quick dip in your local pond followed by wrapping up warm afterwards.

 

4. Improves your sex life

The suggestion of a cold shower might bring forth images of hot-headed young men trying to quell wanton urges but research paints a different picture.

In a study with a similar format to the one described above, participants took daily cold baths and were monitored for changes. In addition to some similar results to their Czech counterparts, these researchers also found increased production of testosterone and oestrogen in men and women respectively.

In addition to enhancing libido in both sexes, these hormones also play an important role in fertility. In fact, one technique recommended for men looking to fatherhood is to bathe their testicles in cold water every day.  Whatever your procreative desires, a dip of a different sort certainly could add an edge to your sex life.

5. Burns calories

We all know that swimming is great exercise but there are some extra benefits from doing it in the North Sea that you just won’t get from a warm wade in the Med.

Swimming in cold water will make your body work twice as hard to keep you warm and burn more calories in the process. For this sort of exercise, fat is your body’s primary source of energy and the increased work rate will increase your metabolism in the long run.

Ledecky in sizzling 200m freestyle win

Los Angeles – Five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky clocked the fastest 200m freestyle time in the world this year on Friday, hours after announcing she’d inked her first professional sponsorship deal with TYR.

Ledecky has broken 14 world records and won six Olympic medals, but the 21-year-old didn’t turn professional until after the NCAA collegiate championships in March.

California swimwear manufacturer TYR said in a statement on Friday that their deal with Ledecky “represents the most lucrative partnership in the history of the swim industry,” although no terms were revealed.

In Friday’s Pro Swim meeting sponsored by TYR, Ledecky won the 200m free in 1:54.56.

That improved on the previous best of 2018, the 1:54.81 set by Canadian Taylor Ruck at the Commonwealth Games in April.

Melanie Margalis was a distant second in 1:57.99.

“That’s exactly where I was hoping to be,” Ledecky said.

“I felt like I could go a 1:54 tonight, after going a 55 this morning. I just wanted to put together a really great race and make some adjustments off of this morning’s swim.”

Ex-champion Magnini faces 8-year doping ban

Milan – Italy’s anti-doping prosecutors have requested an eight-year ban against former two-time world swimming champion Filippo Magnini, according to reports on Wednesday.

The Gazzetta dello Sport reported that NADO prosecutors requested an eight-year ban for Magnini and four years for his relay teammate Michele Santucci, who are being investigated for allegedly using banned substances.

Magnini, 36, who is retired, and Santucci, 29, were questioned last October over their relationship with nutritionist Guido Porcellini, who is being probed for allegedly distributing illegal drugs.

Four-time world medallist Magnini won the 100m freestyle at the 2005 and 2007 world championships and a relay bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Both swimmers have protested their innocence, and a lawyer acting on their behalf would not comment.

“It is important to specify that this is a request, far from being a definitive judgement on the issue,” said Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago.

“Commenting would be a mistake on my part, Nado Italia is independent of CONI. In reading this news I am a spectator, even if an interested one.”

 

Source: News24

Kids and swim ear plugs: What you need to know

For many families, splashing in the backyard or community pool or heading to the nearest beach to cool off in the water is a major part of summer fun. Before you get your pool passes for the season, find out about how to protect your children’s ears when they start enjoying time in the water. Swim ear plugs are often the best solution, but how do you know if your child needs them and what types are the best?

The case for swim ear plugs

For children with recurrent ear infections such as swimmer’s ear (otitis externa), infections of the middle ear (otitis media) or ear tubes, the best bet is often swim ear plugs. These custom plugs keep ears dry preventing water containing harmful bacteria to get trapped inside the ear.

swimmers ear and hearing loss
Swimmer’s ear can be extremely painful for
children. Ear plugs can be an excellent remedy
to avoid this condition. 

Many doctors recommend swim ear plugs for children that have ear tubes. Ear tubes are small cylinders that have been placed through the eardrum in the case of recurring middle ear infections in order to allow fluid to drain. Other doctors recommend regular use of swim ear plugs only when diving or swimming in untreated water, such as lakes, rivers and oceans.

The argument for limited use of plugs for children with ear tubes is predicated on the fact that surface tension of the water will prevent any water from entering the ear tubes, so unless a child is swimming 3 feet or more under water, they should be safe. To that end, children with ear tubes also should wear swim ear plugs whenever ears are submerged in soapy water in the bathtub. Soap acts as a surfactant, or lubricant, to reduce the surface tension and will allow the water to enter the tubes.

Even without ear tubes, swimming can pose risks for children with current ear infections or previous surgery. Although swimming doesn’t cause middle ear infections, swim ear plugs should be worn so any water pollutants don’t make an existing infection worse. Keep in mind also that underwater swimming can cause painful pressure changes for children with ear infections. And in the case of a ruptured acute otitis media, also known as an ear infection with a ruptured eardrum, swimming should be avoided completely until the infection has cleared up.

Purchase ear plugs now at www.spurt.co.za

Top Father’s Day Gifts for Swimmer Dads

Father’s Day is just around the corner! Here’s a couple gift ideas for Father’s Day, but specifically for those dads that are active swimmers:

Underwater Audio Waterproof iPod

Hydroharmony with silver iPod on woodUnderwater Audio Waterproof iPod – this is a great gift, because it allows you to listen to your favorite music while swimming laps, training, or even relaxing in the spa after a long day.
Bonus: the Waterproof iPod also functions as a regular iPod! It can be used while running, snowboarding, walking, or lounging around the house. It’s a must for all those active dads!

Swimbuds Sport Waterproof HeadphonesEarbud Headphones

Earbud Headphones – what would a Waterproof iPod be without headphones?!
You can purchase the newest and latest earbud sport headphones. You can also buy them in bundles, which gives you more for your money.

Family Swim Day

Floating Water Radio

Floating Water Radio – this is perfect for parties or family days at the pool. Everyone can enjoy their favorite music while splashing around the pool all day.

Waterproof Stop WatchWaterproof Stopwatch

Waterproof Stop Watch – a must have for all those professional or swim training dads. They can keep track of their time and speed each time.
Which allows them to push themselves harder and beat even their best time!

Water Joggers and Resistance Cuffs

Water Joggers and Resistance Cuffs – an amazing new way to train in the water. The joggers and resistance cuffs add the extra resistance to training, but without being too hard on your body.

10 REASONS WHY SWIM DADS ARE THE BEST DADS

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

10 Reasons Why Swim Dads Are The Best Dads – Father’s Day

Swim dads are the unsung heroes of swimming and without them, teams would have a tough time staying afloat. Some swim dads are responsible for the day-to-day responsibility of getting kids to and from practice, while others help with meets and fundraising. There are many things dads do to help their children, teams and swim family.

Here are 10 reasons to be thankful for swim dads:

ONE

Dads drive their kids to practice and meets and make the drive more fun by stopping for treats on the way home.

TWO

Dads do the heavy lifting to set up swim meets and carry pop-up tents at away meets. They’re the last ones on deck tearing down and putting meet equipment away.

THREE

At meets, dads are not shy about stepping up to help wherever they’re needed—whether it’s behind the hot grill, wearing the neon vest as a deck marshal or timing.

FOUR

A silly joke from a dad plus a big hug can end a swimmer’s tears after missing a cut for the big meet.

FIVE

Swim dads spend entire weekends at the pool without a complaint to watch their kids swim a few minutes.

SIX

They freely give advice and reach out to newer swim families.

SEVEN

At the end of a long weekend, after the sprint and IM families have gone home, you’ll find dads lap counting for their distance kids.

EIGHT

Dads often serve on parent boards and volunteer their expertise in making decisions.

NINE

Dads encourage their swimmers to be their best and cheer loudly for their kids and teammates.

TEN

Dads are a source of unconditional love. They love their children regardless if they get a personal best or DQ.

Swimming For Kids With Special Needs

Teaching kids with special needs to swim is not only a good idea, it’s essential.  Swimming lessons help kids with special needs in a number of key areas, including greater muscle strength and physical endurance, increased flexibility, more self-control, and, in many instances, improved behavioral outcomes.

Creating an effective swimming program for kids with special needs takes a patient understanding of each swimming student as well as a well-thought-out plan for how the lessons can be adapted to each child.  Here are some tips on teaching swimming lessons to kids with special needs:

  • Give each child individualized attention — Because swimming with be a new experience for most of these children, they may be hesitant or reluctant to “take the plunge” at first.  Be patient, and work with kids at their own speed to get them adapted to being in the water and moving in the water.  Additionally, children with epilepsy with need “spotters” at all times.
  • Utilize appropriate adaptive equipment — Some students may benefit from adaptive equipment that makes the water experience more positive for them.  Life jackets other flotation devices like floating mats may sometimes be used to help children with motor disorders enjoy swimming safely.  For children with tubes in the ears, specialized swim plugs or caps will need to be used to prevent the water from doing damage.
  • Limit distractions — Special needs children often do better in areas of the pool with no distractions.  Try to limit harsh lighting or background noises.
  • Be consistent — Since many special needs kids thrive with specific, predictable routines, it is essential that instructors be consistent in their teaching times and methods.  Any necessary deviations from normal schedules should be planned in advance.
  • Adapt to the needs of each child — Some children may benefit from visual cues (for instance, with flash cards or diagrams) as opposed to verbal instructions.  Other children may learn better with physical demonstrations.  It is important to adapt the lessons to match the ways in which each child learns best.
  • Emphasize basic water skills — Before attempting to teach swimming via traditional strokes, it’s important to make sure that each child masters basic water skills like breathing, maneuvering underwater, and flotation.  These skills will not come naturally for many children, which is why a patient, consistent teaching method is best.
  • Make it fun — Getting into the water for the first time can be a scary experience for many special needs children.  Try to reduce water anxiety by making their experience fun and giving them plenty of praise and encouragement.
  • Plan for safety — Make sure that safety is a top priority in your swimming program.  Safety measures include having a small class sizes, clean water, good leadership, qualified swim instructors, and a documented emergency plan.

Swimming is an important skill that can save the lives of special needs children.  Parents and educators can work with swimming instructors to create adapted swimming programs that fit the need of each child individually.

Written by: Teressa Dahl

Brush Up on Your Pool Talk With This Handy Swimming Glossary

By Alex Kostich

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).

On the top: starting a set on the 12 o’clock (or 60-second) mark on a poolside pace clock.

On the bottom: starting a set on the 6 o’clock (or 30-second) mark on a pace clock.

Tapering: the act of paring down your workouts (in length and intensity) for the weeks or days leading up to a specific race.

Full gear: all pulling equipment (buoy, tube, paddles) worn simultaneously during a pull set. The best way to get an upper-body swim workout.

Buoy: flotation device used to stabilize the legs and correct body position in the water.

Tube: a basic inner-tube from a small wheel used to bind your ankles while wearing a pull buoy; prevents kicking and helps keep legs together (and buoy from slipping).

Paddles: plastic hand-disks used to maximize an upper-body pulling workout. Available in several shapes and sizes, depending on your skill and preference.

Dragsuit: a baggy, nylon unisex swimsuit, worn over a regular practice suit to add resistance to everyday training.

Band training: dry-land workout using rubber stretch cords to strengthen muscles used in all four strokes.

Hypoxic training: any type of set where a breathing pattern is the focal point of the drill.

3:1: Breathing pattern where you take one breath for every three strokes; this is a bilateral breathing pattern (you breathe on both left and right sides).

2:1: Breathing pattern where you breathe once for every two strokes (you only breathe on one side, your left or right).

Circle swimming: swimming in a lane in a standard counter-clockwise direction, up the right side and back down the left. Preferable when more than one person is sharing your lane.

Catch-up stroke: special drill where basic crawl (freestyle) is altered so that each arm catches up with the other before completing the next stroke (one arm is stationary above your head, in beginning-stroke position, while the other completes a full stroke rotation).

Sculling: special drill using only your hands (not your arms) to scull your way through the water; arms at your sides, with your wrists whipping back and forth in a waving motion (designed to develop feel for the water). Good workout when lap swimming is not an option (hotel pools, crowded slow lanes).

Vertical kicking: special drill executed in deep water (diving wells and deep ends of hotel pools when lap swimming is not an option) where one kicks in a vertical position with arms crossed over chest, or extended above head for various intervals/sets.