Swimming our glossary

Did you know that in swimming, a donut helps you lose weight? To learn more about the vocabulary and the world of swimming, check out our glossary.


Big / little pool

When a swimmer says they are training or competing in the big pool, they are swimming in an Olympic pool (50m). A little pool means a 25 m swimming pool.

Butt / back / break / free

The diminutives of the 4 classic swimming strokes, respectively "butterfly", "backstroke", "breaststroke", "crawl".



What more can I say, except that it is the diminutive of "competition" ... Meetings, departmental championships, regional or national (N3, N2, N1) are all comps!


As in all sports, French swimmers love to Americanize certain terms! And then, it must be said, calling out to your "coach" at the edge of the pool, looks cool (it also works with "paddles" to mean "swimming pads")!



A word known to one and all, depilation means getting rid of your hair. But for swimmers, it's also the time when they finish their physical and mental preparation before a competition. Depilation makes it possible, at the psychological level, to feel more intense gliding sensations. Physically, having the smoothest body possible reduces water resistance and improves hydrodynamics. But we are talking about gaining a few tenths or even hundredths of a second!


Those with a sweet tooth are already drooling (including me...)! No, in swimming a donut has the particularity of making you lose calories. The donut is a circular-shaped piece of training equipment made of foam. It is tied around the waist with a belt and must be towed over a given distance. Once soaked with water, the donut becomes heavy and creates a rearward force.



Diminutive of educative, educs are swimming exercises in which you isolate one part of a swimming gesture in order to work on it. Their number is infinite! Educs are also a gold mine in terms of wacky expressions (back crawl, polo crawl, opposition crawl, and so on...).



Playful form of training, a fartlek consists in alternating sprints with calmer phases. It simply involves swimming for a long time by changing your pace, improving your endurance and drowning the monotony!

Feet offset / feet together

One dive start, two options! Whether on ventral swimming or on the back, a swimmer can choose to push on the wall stud with feet together or offset as on starting blocks in running.

Free swim or fs 

Often confused with freestyle, free swimming is distinguished in competition by the fact that any swimming stroke can be used. On so-called "free swim" events, some swimmers will swim breaststroke, others freestyle and others backstroke or butterfly. Freestyle is usually chosen because it is the fastest form of swimming. On the other hand, it is only possible to choose one swim stroke, and changing it during the race is totally prohibited!



Expression also used in other sports (General Physical Preparation), swimmers and swimming coaches also speak of "dry heating". This is the term commonly used in swimming to talk about warming up out of the water. The "Everyone in Pumps position, and jump to it!" is also an alternative…



Preparation phase of swimmers before a competition, honing is often marked by a decrease in mileage and a drop in intensity during training. The goal is of course to arrive fresh as ever to break records!

Hypoxic training

A form of training consisting in restricting the number of breaths over a given distance to train yourself to make an effort without a large amount of oxygen. The best-known hypoxia training is probably the "3, 5, 7, 9" where the swimmer must alternate breaths every 3, 5, 7 and then 9 arm movements.



A swimmer's best friend, the swimming net accompanies them everywhere! The mesh bag can carry fins, pads, board, pull buoy and other swimming accessories, down to the water. Why a net? Its ventilation holes enable flash drying.



How do swimmers avoid banging their heads against the wall when swimming backstroke? Thanks to the pennants of course! Placed 5 meters from the 2 walls of the pool, the pennants provide a landmark for backstroke swimmers who know how many strokes to make before arriving at the wall. The trick is supposed to prevent haematoma and other headaches ...


Acronym for "Pull Buoy Elastic Pads", it is one of the most common combinations of training material. This explosive cocktail improves the workout of your arms and is extremely effective in reinforcing core muscles.

Progressive from 1 to 4

Refers to a training session in which the distances (in this case 4) are swum faster and faster (1. Slow / 2. Medium / 3. Sustained / 4. Fast).

Pt paddles

more unusual swimming training material! PT Paddles are rounded paddles reducing water resistance to nothing. They allow you to train your forward movement with support constraints.


Because at a given moment it is necessary to return to the surface, the pullout designates the moment when the swimmer, after swimming underwater, breaks the surface of the water to begin full swimming. The pullout must take place before a limit of 15 meters. It is very important to keep the speed gained under water!


The pullout is the underwater phase that a swimmer performs after the start dive and the turns in a race. The decisive phase of a race, it is however limited by the federation to 15 m maximum!


Training series in which the goal is to increase the distance travelled up to a certain threshold of difficulty, then down again (50 m, 100 m, 200 m, 400 m, 200 m, 100 m, 50 m). Pyramids can also be combined with changes in swimming intensity to spice up the session!


Ready room

The place where competitors wait for the fateful moment: the call to approach the starting block in order to swim as fast as possible and beat their competitors. In the "room", admire the calm and concentration. Cap on head, goggles on eyes, swimsuit tight and muscles warm, this is where the race begins!

Red to zero

Typical pool expression, it is applicable in 3 other colours (yellow, black, green). The red means the red second hand present in almost all pools. Starting with ""red to zero" "means that the start will be given when the red pointer points to the zero of the dial.

Riding the wave

A technique popular with strategist swimmers, riding the wave is often used to swim fast with less effort. The swimmer taking the wave must keep to the water line, just behind a competitor. In this way, while the competitor "pulls", the swimmer "rides the wave": clever!



These ratings correspond to swimming speeds. In short, and as above, "S1" correspond to "Slow", "S2" to "Medium", and so on. On the other hand, not all coaches associate the same notation with the same speed.


I can already feel the club swimmers contract when they see this word… The series refers (in general) to the least amusing part of the training but also the most profitable when done well. Focusing on short or long distances, often swum freestyle or spec*, a series is basic to training. And with certain sadistic coaches, a series can hurt ... badly! Very badly!

Series / final

In a competition, the series are often held in the morning, forming the qualifying stages to reach the final for each swim-stroke and sometimes for each category (A final for the 8 best, B final for the next 8). In the elite leagues (France, International), semi-finals are also a must before the ultimate race!


In this case, recovery after training is not passive but active! Smooth refers to any swim-stroke (usually all of them except butterfly) at "recovery" speed. In other words, it means "smooth" swimming, fluid, technically correct, but slow. A smooth often precludes the end of a training session.


Diminutive of ""speciality"", this is your favourite swim-stroke, the one that gives you the most pleasure and often the one you do best!

Start x minutes / secondes

The "X minutes / seconds" is the time you have to start your distance, finish it and recover before starting again. In short, on a 10 x 50 m starting from red to zero, you must have finished your first 50 m before the needle does a complete turn of the dial. Once the needle points to zero again, you will leave for your second 50m and so on… (Not to be confused with the “X seconds of recovery” which is the time given to recover after each distance).


Diminutive of "swimsuit" and includes both women's swimsuits and jammers for men, suits must be homologated by the federation to be accepted in swimming competitions. They are used in high-level swimming to improve sheathing, flotation and hydrodynamics.

Swin alone or sa

Refers to a part of the training that will take place in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly without any option or material whatsoever. A normal swim if you prefer! This term is often used after a swim in "educ" ...


Take a hit

Probably the key expression of swimmers' vocabulary, taking a hit is simply the feeling (and not only that) of no longer advancing in the water. This is particularly the case when you start far too fast on the first 50m of a 200m butterfly or a 1500m freestyle… (True story).

Take your makrs

Order given by the starter during races, it precedes the start by a few tenths of a second. It is the same as the "ready, set, go" that your coach uses during training!

Touch pads

Specially placed in swimming competitions at each wall of the pool, touch pads are electric panels allowing the competitors to be accurate timed. At each interaction of the swimmer (turns, finish) with a touch pad, the time is displayed on a screen (turn time or final time). Magic!


The roll made each time a swimmer reaches the end wall (freestyle and backstroke only) and to save valuable time if performed effectively. Turns are done in the ventral position except in a 4S event, in which you can turn directly into the dorsal position during backstroke / breaststroke turns.


"I am at 4"

Short for "I'm swimming in lane number 4", it implicitly means that you are the favourite of the series or final in which you are going to swim! The order of the lanes, from the fastest to the slowest classification time, is: 4, 5, 3, 6, 2, 7, 1, 8.

200M interval set

Type of training series often used to prepare for a competition race, any distance can be broken down into interval sets. To prepare a 200 m for example, the series is broken down as follows: 100 m fast + 50 m fast + 25 m fast + 25 m fast. The goal of the maneuver is for the swimmer to keep his/her pace with a short recovery time between each repeat.

4 Swin strokes or 4s

The four standard swimming strokes are the subject of races in competitions: 200 m 4S / 400 m 4S and 100 m 4S (only in the small pool). The order of the 4S is defined by the federation (federation), ie: butterfly, backstroke, breast stroke, freestyle. During relays, however, the order is changed to allow riders to dive first. The relay order will be: backstroke, breast stroke, butterfly, freestyle

50 Freestyle / backstroke

Extendible to an infinite distance, the ""50 Freestyle / Backstroke" means that on a 200 m for example, you have to swim: 50m freestyle / 50m backstroke / 50m freestyle / 50m backstroke. This term is of course not only for freestyle and backstroke!