All the Swimming Terms You Need to Know

Settle in for your pre-swim class vocabulary lesson! Swim classes are making a major splash this year, and we’re here for it! But just like all our other favorite workouts, it has its own lexicon to navigate. Let this article be your pre-class guide to all the terms you need to know to make it a success.

Important swimming and swimming pool terms

Age Group: This refers to the way classes are grouped in certain studios. Choose the right one for you!

Block: Know that cool platform that Olympians jump into the water off of? That’s it.

Catch: The point at which a swimmer’s hand hits the water at the top of a stroke.

Deck: The area that surrounds the pool. During classes or meets, only swimmers and coaches are allowed to be in the area. 

Dolphin Kick: This refers to the motion dolphins make in order to swim. You can master this by bringing your feet together and mimicking the motion underwater. It’s used to help drive distance and speed on the fly, freestyle and backstroke turns. You can even use one for every breaststroke!

Heat: Ready to race? This refers to the group you compete against during your swim. Slower swimmers are usually in the first few heats and faster swimmers toward the end.

High Elbow: This is a technical term. When your elbow is raised as you start a stroke, it allows for more surface area to be used to propel you forward in the water. 

Long Course: Another word for an Olympic sized pool which is 50 meters long. 

Sculling: This refers to a practice technique. It involves a swimmer moving their arms forward and back to generate movement while in the water.

Short Course: This refers to a 25-meter pool, and is very common in high school and colleges. 

Split: Just like track & field, tracking your time for each lap is important. A split refers to the time it takes you to complete a lap. Excellent swimmers try to “negative” split, which means their second lap is faster than their first.

Streamline: The long line your body makes when you reach out for another stroke. It minimizes drag in the water and helps you move forward faster.

Underwaters: When you jump off the block or side of the pool into the water, you’re allowed 15 meters of dolphin kicking while streamlined under the surface. This term defines the number of those kicks!

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