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Swim Workout Terminology Defined

Swim Workout Terminology Defined
Swim Workout GlossaryIt has come to my attention that it would be beneficial to have a glossary of sorts for common terms used repetitively in my weekly swim workouts. Some are common across the discipline, but others may not be. Each coach has their own way of saying things, so when in doubt, consult your coach. If you are swimming alone and using Kiefer's swim workouts, this should help you make the most of them!


@ :## : This is your rest for repetitions. Say you see @ :10, that would mean take ten seconds rest after each distance. Open: Emphasize fast breakouts, the first 12.5 of a 25. Close: Emphasize fast finishes, the last 12.5 of a 25. Secondary: Your best non-freestyle stroke. Weak: Your worst non-freestyle stroke. DPS: Distance per cycle. This is the distance you travel with each stroke cycle, when you see this in a workout it means push yourself to take less strokes and travel further with each one. IM: Individual medley, a race comprised of all four strokes in specific order. Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle last. Pull: This exercise requires equipment. A pull buoy and/or paddles. Best Average: Holding the fastest time you can over a number of repetitions. Descend: Get faster on each repetition. Ascend: Get slower on each repetition. Perfect: Take your time and think about each stroke you are taking. Breath Control: There will be a given breathing pattern to follow. Breathing every 3 would mean taking a breath every 3 strokes, that way you would be alternating sides. Cycle: A freestyle and backstroke cycle is made up of one stroke from each arm. Two strokes = one cycle. Butterfly and breaststroke cycles are one stroke. Self-talk: Key words used to help you work through strokes or drill. Breaststroke is the prime example here. Walk through your steps by saying, then doing. Pull, breathe, kick, stretch. Strong pull, quick breath, kick into your stretch. For time: This indicates a call for your best effort. This should be a max out swim, as if you were racing. Race pace: This will generally be within a series of distance repeats like 10 x 50’s or 5 x 100’s. Know your goal time and divide it by the repeats, hold that time for the designated distance. For simplicity sake say you want to go 5:00 in the 500 free. For 5 x 100’s you would want to hold 1:00 per 100, for 10 x 50’s you would want to hold :30 per 50. No slower, but faster would be acceptable. ‘R’: This stands for round or repetition within a set. If you see R1, R2, R3 that will help you determine what you should be working on each round of the set.


Some simple, but commonly used by me, exercises to improve technique.


Doubles: 2 strokes right arm only, 2 strokes left arm only, 2 full strokes. Remember single arm butterfly means the arm you aren’t using is resting on the surface in front of you, NOT at your side.

Triples: 3 strokes right arm, 3 strokes left arm, three full strokes.

Fly/Breast: One stroke butterfly, one stroke breaststroke. Alternate one of each using both kicks for butterfly before you get into your breaststroke pull.

Fish Flop: A series of 50's working on butterfly underwaters and breakouts.  Performed from a dive off the starting blocks whenever possible.  Odd 50's dive and start with a 25 underwater dolphin kick, return easy with a 25 free.  Even's dive with 7 fast underwater dolphin kicks and sprint fly to the wall, return easy free.


Single Arm: Generally divided by 25, so one lap right arm only, one lap left arm only.

Triples: Three right arm only, three left arm only, three full cycles. The arm you aren’t using is at your side.


Mummy: No arms, wrap them across your chest like a bound mummy. Kick only. Self-talk through kick, breathe, stretch. This is a challenging drill.

Fly/Breast: One stroke butterfly, one stroke breaststroke. Alternate one of each using both kicks for butterfly before you get into your breaststroke pull.

One Pull/2 Kicks: Just like it says, instead of one kick on your stretch do two.

One breath/No breath: Self-talk comes into play again. Pull, breathe, kick , stretch, then pull, kick, stretch. Drop the breath and leave your face in the water every other stroke.


Catch-up: Let your hands almost catch up to the other waiting out front on the surface where you ‘catch’ a new stroke. Don’t let your hands touch, keep them shoulder width apart.

Single arm: Right arm or left arm only. The arm you aren’t using remains at your side. Always breathe to the side you aren’t using. Never breathe on the stroking arm.

Over-kick: Fast tempo kick with long distance-per-cycle arms.


Surf kick: Head up, hands holding an imaginary kickboard.  Flutter kick only. Scull: Hands out front, no kicking, head down. Try to smooth out the top few inches of water with flat palms in an open close fashion, ie thumbs touching, thumbs apart. Underwater flip turns: Dive under about 3 yards out, pull hands down to your side and flip entirely underwater on the wall. Adjust your approach as needed and work your breakout. Flutter kick: freestyle kick. Dolphin kick: butterfly kick. Extension kick: On your side, resting your ear on your bottom arm, top arm lays on your side. Each kick needs to be slow and deliberate. Extend fully to the front as if you are trying to touch the lane line with your toes, likewise extend fully to the back to touch the lane line behind you with your toes. This is a very slow kick. Take your time.
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