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Do you know how to talk like a swimmer? Do you know how to read like a swimmer? The good news is, it’s pretty easy to figure out and it doesn’t require a speedo.  Here are the most common terms and abbreviations commonly found on an eraser board at the pool or on your training plan from your coach:

IM= Individual Medley (all four strokes swum in the order of Fly/ BK/ BR /FR)
FR = Freestyle stroke
Fly = Fly
BR= Breaststroke
BK = Backstroke

WU: = Warm Wp
MS: = Main Set
CD: = Cool Down
EZ = Easy
RI: = Rest Interval

“ = Seconds
‘= Minutes
w/ = With


Hypoxic Breathing: Build lung capacity and become more comfortable in the water by challenging your regular breathing pattern with hypoxic sets. “300 swim with 3/5/7 breathing pattern by 25” is a common instruction in my workouts. This means swim a straight 300 freestyle. On the first 25, breathe every 3rd stroke. On the second 25, every 5th stroke. And on the third 25, every 7th. Repeat this pattern until the 300 is completed.

Negative Split: Swim second half faster then the first half

SG= Swim golf, a fun drill in which you add your stroke count for a given interval (say, 50 yards/meters) to your time for the same interval to generate a composite score

DPS= Distance per stroke, a drill where the swimmer tries to get as much distance as possible out of each stroke, usually measured by counting strokes for 50m.

Build = start slow finish strong. For example 4X 200 build, each 200 meter start slow and finish strong

Descend = each consecutive repeat is swim faster than  the previous. For example 4X 100 swim (#1 slow, easy, #1 medium, faster, fastest)

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Master the Freestyle Basic Drills

  • FT=Fingertip Drag Drill-focus on high elbow recovery
  • Thumb-slide=Thumb-slide drill ocus on high elbow recovery
  • Fist = Fist Drill Focus on hand entry
  • HOOW = Head Out Of the Water Drill-Focus on hand entry, arm cadence and pull
  • CU=Catch UP Drill – Focus on the catch part preceding the pull
  • UWDP = Under Water Doggie Paddle Drills- Focus on catch and pull past your hip
  • OAO = One Arm Only, One Arm at Your Side Drill- Focus on one arm pull under water and body rotation working on driving your hip rotation with your pull.
  • 3x3x3 = 3 right arm only, 3 left arm only, 3 full strokes
  • Sidekick = Flutter kick on your side for 6 kicks then rotate to your other side for 6 kicks, continue this pattern

I hope you found this helpful.  You’re are more than welcome to email  if you have any questions, comments or concerns – Coach Wendy


Author: Wendy Mader is the co-founder and owner of T2Coaching and has made a lifelong commitment to fitness, sports, coaching, and triathlon. From her youth as a competitive swimmer to her current career in the fitness industry, her dedication shines. Wendy is a former collegiate swimmer and has 25 years experience in triathlon including 15 Ironman’s. Wendy is also an Ironman University Certified Coach, an 8x Kona finisher and author of “How To Swim Faster in 30 Days.  Wendy recently moved to Georgia with her husband and dogs after nearly two decades living in Colorado.

Post Author: Dave Erickson