Learn to Swim Companion

A guide for parents and learners

Jargon buster for swimming terminology

Learners

Swimming terminology is just as widespread as other types of jargon. When you are learning to swim it can seem like it is designed to bamboozle you, or at its worse, put you off.

Don’t let the jargon put you off, even if it can seem meaningless at first. It’s easy to learn and swimming terminology is essential for the different actions you need to perform.

To help you when you are learning to swim, we have gathered together some of the most common swimming terminology as an easy reference.

Swimming terminology jargon buster

  1. Freestyle – most people know that there are four strokes in swimming, and most of us know them as front crawl, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke. However, once you start swimming more regularly, you will hear the word freestyle used a lot. In swimming terminology freestyle is the official name of the front crawl stroke used more commonly at a competitive level.
  2. Dolphin kick – the dolphin kick is usually used for the butterfly stroke, and the start and turns in a race, as it is very fast. It involves a whipping motion with the legs, keeping your feet together, similar to how a dolphin swims. This is considered one of the hardest parts of any stroke to learn, but there are plenty of things you can do outside of the pool to help speed you along.
  3. Tumble turns – these are underwater somersaults used in backstroke and freestyle that allow swimmers to push off from the wall for the next length. These may seem like a tall order to a novice swimmer, but they are fairly easy once you have mastered the technique.
  4. Body roll – body roll refers to the rotation of your body from side to side. If you are swimming freestyle, your body should be tilting on its side to a 40-60% angle, but your head should remain straight in the water until you go to breathe.
  5. Bilateral breathing – bilateral breathing is used in the freestyle stroke and involves breathing on both sides of the body. This helps to create smooth and even strokes. It also helps to develop a good body roll. This is essential to swim great freestyle. Usually you breathe after a set of three strokes, alternating with breathing in on the left stroke on the first set, and then on the right on the second.
  6. Swimming drills – when you start to become more confident, you may be asked by your teacher to do swimming drills. This is swimming terminology for simple exercises focusing on a particular part of your technique. If you are struggling to get the timing right on your breaststroke kick, for example, you might use a float to hold up your front end and then focus all your attention on the kick to help you improve it.
  7. Glide – you may hear your teacher telling you that you are gliding too much. In swimming terminology gliding is when you are coasting along with a pause in your stroke. When swimming, you should always be moving. If you have a moment where you are not being propelled through the water at all, then you are losing speed and creating more work for yourself as you accelerate again with the next movement. Gliding should be kept to a minimum and a stroke should be as continuous as possible.
  8. Body position – if you are told that you need to raise your body position, this usually means that your hips and legs are sinking too low in the water, which means you are not streamlined and your body has increased resistance through the water. Try to keep your body as flat as possible in the water, and as close to the surface as possible.

 

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