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Swim Jibber’ish: A how to guide to reading your swim workouts!

Understanding swim lingo can be a challenge; similar to learning a new language for most. Instead of spending your quality workout time with your feet on the pool floor here is a “user manual” to help guide you to more swimming and less interpreting.


S: Swim-Typically most swimmers resort to “freestyle” or “crawl” stroke during this, but swim truly means swim, just move through the water.

P: Pull-arms only (add a pull buoy in between your legs, paddles are used here too IF specified in the workout)

K: Kick-legs only (with a kick board, with fins, with zoomers, without kick board, so many options)

OTF: Other than freestyle

DPS: Distance per stroke: getting as much “length” with each arm stroke

Drill: There are lots of drills to choose from, choose the ones that would benefit your stroke the best.  Just think of the crazy movements your coach has you do all the time.

I.M.: Individual Medley: This consists of all four strokes in the order of fly, back, breast, and freestyle.

F: fly

B: backstroke

BR: breaststroke

FR: freestyle

Descend: Get faster on each one

Descend within the distance: Get faster within

Bilateral Breathing: Alternating sides that the breath is taken on.  This would mean taking a breath on “odd” numbers of strokes.  Three, five and seven are most common.

Length of a pool: Pools are typically 25 yards, 25 meters, or 50 meters (SAC is 20 yards).

Length: One way down, ending up on the opposite end of where you started.

Lap: Down and back in the pool, ending up where you started

How many laps for a mile: 1650 yards (66 lengths OR 33 laps) or 1500 meters (60 lengths in a 25 meter pool OR 30 laps OR in a 50 meter pool).

Seattle Athletic Club downtown is a 20 yard pool. So one mile is just shy of 82 lengths or 41 laps.


10X50 “on” 1:00

Defined:  You start a 50 every minute and reapeat 10 times. This includes your REST period.

If you swim the 50 in :45 seconds you get :15 seconds rest.

If you swim the 50 in :55 seconds you get 5 seconds rest.

10X50 with :10 seconds rest

Defined: You swim 50 yards and take :10 seconds rest and then do it again.  Repeat this 10 times.


5X100 descend :10 sec rest

Defined: Get faster on “each” 100.


1st 100 1:45,

2nd 100: 1:40

3rd 100 1:35

4th 100 1:30

5th 100 1:25

*all with 10 second rest after each one

*This is an example of descending by 5 seconds per 100.

*The first one is slow and the last one is fast.

5X100 descend within the 100 with :10 sec rest

Defined: Getting faster “within” each 100.  The first 25 yards is slow, the middle two get progressively faster and  the last 25 is FAST.  There is 10 seconds rest after each 100.

5X75 going 25 drill/50 swim with :10 sec rest

Defined: The first 25 of each 75 is a “drill” of your choice unless specified, the last 50 is regular swim. There is a :10 sec rest period after each 75.

TNM now offers 2x month weekend swims at the ECAC. Be sure to check our calender for when the next ones are and go to our Classes tab on our website to register!

If you have any questions on your swim workouts or need some variety in your training or even a lesson, please contact coaches@tnmultisports.com

4 Responses to Swim Jibber’ish: A how to guide to reading your swim workouts!

  1. tricia March 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    P.S. a mile is 1760 yards or 5280 ft. Thus a mile swim is about 70 lengths of a 25 yard pool, 66 lengths of a 25 meter pool and god knows what in a 20 yard pool…why do they make 20 yard pools?

  2. Jibli September 26, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    A swim mile is different than an actual mile.
    Also, 1760 yards in a 20 yard pool is 88 laps on the dot.

  3. Jibli September 26, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    lengths, that is, not laps

  4. tnelson July 28, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

    Thanks for the feedback on a mile. In swimming the 1500 meter is the Olymoic event that is termed “the mile”. In short course racing or yards then the event is called the 1650. That is where discrepencies will fall in terms of what distance a “swimming mile” would be.