Updated Glossary

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Swim WorkoutWe posted a glossary of terms a while back but it needs an update, so we dug up our old post and have modified it to include some more terms to help you decipher swim workouts:

  1. Zone 2: I stole this term from cycling and running, both of which define it as about 65-70% of your max heart rate. Unfortunately there is no accurate heart rate monitor for swimming (yet), so we are left to educated guess work and feel. Zone 2 is a pace that you feel you can hold all day. It is not EASY like a warmup but rather a sustainable and relaxed pace. Some like to call this Ironman swim pace. You should be able to bilateral breath.
  2. Tempo pace: Tempo is faster than zone 2 but is not an all out sprint. You should be breathing harder maybe even breathing every other stroke. Consider it just above mile pace. This is “moderate” pace.
  3. Threshold or Moderate: One step above tempo pace or a “hard” effort.
  4. Race pace: the pace you want to hold in your goal race. This can be further specified to Oly (Olympic), HIM (half ironman/70.3), and IM (Ironman) race pace.
  5. TT pace: While it means “time trial” or all out effort over a set distance, the actual time and effort is dependent upon you and what your goals are. TT could refer to your pace for a 100, 500, 1000, 1650, 4000k, or 10k effort. However, nearly always TT means a hard effort above race pace.
  6. Easy pace: Just like it sounds–easy like a warmup or cool down
  7. 8/3/8 or 6/3/6: One of my favorite drills where you take 8 or 6 kicks to one side with your belly button pointing to the wall, one arm extended, head down, chin tucked and looking down at the bottom of the pool. Then take 3 fast strokes and take 8 or 6 kicks to the other side after which you take 3 strokes, and repeat.
  8. Fist drill: swim normally with clenched fists or you can hold tennis balls so that you do not cheat
  9. Catch-up: No this does not mean what you put on burgers. It is a slowed down swim stroke drill where you are focusing on one arm at a time. Take one stroke focusing on a high elbow catch, quick pull, then shallow entry. Pause once one stroke is complete and then do the same on the other side.
  10. Water polo sprint drill: Another favorite, this one you swim tarzan style with your head completely out of the water. Be careful where you put your hand and try to keep your head steady without twisting.
  11. Build: building in intensity so that you get faster each 25 or 50 and finish in an all out sprint.
  12. N/S: Negative split means your second half of the distance is faster than your first
  13. Switch drill: Also known as doggie paddle freestyle, this drill is where your hands do not come out of the water but you recover under water. Check out our video on our channel or YouTube for further explanation.
  14. DPS: This is a rare one on TSC workouts but it means distance per stroke.
  15. Pull: Swimming with paddles and/or a pull buoy usually with feet bound with a band
  16. Band: Feet wrapped and tied so that they do not move
  17. Hypoxic: Means holding your breath for a certain number of strokes like 5 or 7
  18. 25 or 50 or 100 or 250 etc. refers to the distances that you swim. Typically a length (one time down) is 25 meters or yards. It can be 50 meters if you are in a long course pool.
  19. Odds and evens: Refers to the odd or even reps so if you are doing 100×100 with odds as sprints and evens as easy, reps 1,3,5… are sprint and 2,4,6,…are easy.
  20. Deck ups: Pushing yourself up out of the water as if you are getting out of the pool and then coming back down. This is a great tricep workout.

Now different coaches will use the same term to refer to something completely different, so be careful translating these term in masters’ swim practices or magazine articles. Consider this your Tri Swim Coach dictionary so you may want to bookmark this post for future reference.

Need any other terms clarified? Send us an email!