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   swim dictionary

Definitions of words and terms used in Masters Swimming. If you have suggestions or questions about terminology you run across, submit them to the webmaster for definition and inclusion.


In a set distance, the speed of the swimmer gradually increases or builds. 'Build each 100' means gradually increase the swimming speed such that the swimmer is swimming faster at the end of the 100 distance than at the beginning.

Circle Swim

Swimming with two or more swimmers in one lane, where all swimmers swim on one side of the lane in one direction, and the other side in the other direction. Usually, this means staying to the right side of a lane.

Coming Home

Swimming the last part of a race.


Swimming each swim faster than the previous in a set of repetitive distances. For example, descending 3x100 means each 100 is faster than the previous.


A technique swim where one particular mechanic of a storke is isolated from the rest of the stroke and practiced in slow short distances in order to concentrate on refining it. For example, a fingertip drag drill where a swimmer drags the fingertips across the water on the arm recovery emphasizes practice of a relaxed arm recovery close to the water surface.


Swimming immediately behind another swimmer in order to take advantage of the forward current created by the first swimmer.

Going Out

Swimming the first part of a race.


In repetitive distances, the time you are allowed for the swim and left over for the rest. For example, 100's on a 1:50 interval means that every 1:50 you start swimming another 100.


Individual medley. A swim which incorporates all four strokees in the swim: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, nd freestyle crawl.


Long Course Meters. LCM meets are held in pools 50 meters in length. The Long Course season in USMS runs from May to August each year, culminating with the Long Course National meet in August.


Local Masters Swim Committee. The local governing organization of US Masters Swimming. We are in the Potomac Valley LMSC, comprising the area of Washington, DC and its suburbs.

Long Course

See LCM above.


USMS National Swimming Meet held two times a year. The Short Course Nationals are held at the end of the short course season in May, and the Long Course Nationals are held at the end of the long course season in August.

Negative Split

Swimming the later lap or set distance of a swim faster than the previous. For example, negative splits on a 100-yard swim means the last 50 of the swim was faster than the first 50.

Open Water

Open Water swims are competitions held in an outdoor lake, river, or ocean for distances greater than most pool events.


Constant speed over a set time or distance. Swim a workout set at 'Pace' gives a swim in which each separate distance is at the same time and speed over the entire swim

Postal Swim

Competition in which one swims in a home venue, then sends in the results to be compared to other competing swimmers doing the same.

Short Course

A pool for competition either 25-meters or 25-yards in length. See SCY and SCM below.


Short Course Meters. SCM meets are held in pools 25 meters in length. The Short Course season in USMS runs from September through May each year, with meets in 25-meter pools.


Short Course Yards. SCY meets are held in pools 25 yards in length. The Short Course season in USMS runs from September through May each year, with meets in 25-yard pools, and culminates with the Short Course National meet in May.

Seed Time

Your best guess at what time you can swim a particular event. In a swimming competition, your seed time is used to match you with others of similar times and abilities.


The time for one lap or set distance of a race consisting of more than one lap. The splits add up to the total time. For example, times for a 200-yard swim can be divided into four 50-yard splits.


A recovery phase of training prior to a major competition. A taper usually involves a reduction in workout intensity over about a two week period leading up to the big competition.

Top Ten

The fastest ten times recorded in competition. For example, the National Top Ten lists the fastest 10 times swum in the country during a year for each particular event and age group.


A governing organization for a region of the country comprised of LSMC's. We are in the Potomac Valley LSMC, which is in the Colonies Zone which stretches from Virginia to Maine.

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