How To: Understand Swimming Notation

For those who may be reading this and aren’t familiar with swimming notation, I’ll do a brief round-up.
I don’t go through session plans for a variety of reasons, but this week there’s a bit more of it.

These are useful if you get a copy of someone’s plan or find some on the ‘net, where there are plenty to be found.

So, in swim code, all the strokes have abbreviations:
f/s : Front crawl
b/c : Back stroke
b/s : Breast stroke
fly : Butterfly
IM : Individual Medley, which is 1 length (or more): fly, b/c, b/s, f/c in that order, (unless I’ve forgotten as my brain is fried).

kick: kick only, (usually with a float) ,using no arms
pull: swim using a pullbuoy between the legs
Pad/paddles : Use paddles on the hands
Pull & pad : Use both pullbuoy and paddles

Some other common terms-

Set: one particular bunch of swims. Like 10x100m is a set of 1000 metres, made of ten 100metre swims. Sometimes though, Set may be used by people to describe the whole day’s training, while I prefer Session as the overall term.

RI : Rest Interval, the amount of time between swims
Neg. split : Do the 2nd half of a set faster than the first half
Br : Stop and Breathe for a specific period ( e.g 200 f/c br 5 every 50 means swim 200 /fc stopping every 50 metres to breathe for 5 seconds).
EZ : Swim easy
WU / SD : Warm Up, Swim Down (Swim Down means Warm Down).
Bi-lat : Bi-lateral breathing (breathe to both sides)
4l/4r : Breathe every 4 (or whatever number the set specifies) to the left or the right.

There are some other things like l/s, r/s meaning do left and right-side lateral drills. Catch-up, also meaning a specific drill but I’m guessing if you know those things then you’ll already understand all this.

Something like;
– f/s 40×100 on 1:40
Means: “Do front crawl, 100 meters, repeat 40 times, starting each time after 1 minute and 40 seconds (for a total of 4,000 metres).”
In this case the rest is determined by how much under 1:40 you finish. If it’s 1:20 you have 20 seconds rest, if it’s 1:38, you have 2 secs rest.

Another example:
– f/s 12 x ( 4 x 25 on :25) on 2:00
More complicated: Means: ” Do front crawl, four lengths, each length under 25 seconds. Rest after the forth until 2 minutes are up. Repeat 12 times. Giving a total of 48 lengths, 1200 metres.

Sometimes the time is not specified, only the RI. For example f/s 15x50m 5 RI, means front crawl, do 50 metres, 15 times, with a 5 second rest. (Remember on a 5 second rest you will spend 2 seconds stopping and starting.) On a 2 second RI you may only have time to glance at the lap clock as you come up and go again.


5 thoughts on “How To: Understand Swimming Notation

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