How To: Write or read Swimming Notation updated

I know I posted a version of this a year ago (or so). So here’s an updated version with some more information on it. My sister mentioned the other day that it looked like I was writing code occasionally, and I guess I am, but it’s not a secret code.

This is the “code” of how swimmers & coaches write session training plans.

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:

FR or f/s or f/c: Front crawl

BK or b/c : Backstroke

BR or b/s : Breaststroke

FL or fly : Butterfly

IM : Individual Medley, which is 1 length (or more) of: fly, b/c, b/s, f/c in that order

kk or kick: kick only, (usually with a float) , not using 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 group of swims. Like 10x100m is a set of 1000 metres, made up of ten 100metre swims. Sometimes called repeats.

Sometimes though Set may be used by people to describe the whole day’s training, but Session is preferred 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 / CD : Warm Up, Swim Down, Cool 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.

Desc.: Reduce the interval between swims. Occasionally means swim subsequent swims faster. Depending on context.

NB3OW: No breathing for 3 strokes off the wall

AFAP: As fast as possible

LPT/FPG: Last person touches, first person goes

DPS: Distance Per Stroke

UW: Underwwater

IMO: IM Order or One repeat of each stroke. (4×100 IMO = 100 fly, 100 back, 100 br, 100 fr)

IMO by round: 4x(3×100) 3×100 fly, 3×100 back, 3×100 br, 3×100 free

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 @ 1:40

Means: “Do front crawl, 100 meters, repeat the 100 metres 40 times, starting each time after 1 minute and 40 seconds (for a total of 4,000 metres).”

(This is a popular set with distance swimmers, where you put any number in for 40, up to 200.)

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) @ 2:00

This is more complicated & means: ” Do front crawl, four 25m lengths, each length starting at 25 seconds. Rest after the forth until 2 minutes are up. Repeat each set of 4, 12 times. Giving a total of 48 lengths, 1200 metres.

Sometimes the time is not specified, only the RI.

– b/c 15x50m  RI 0:05,

means backstroke, do 50 metres, 15 times, with a 5 second rest.

(BTW, on a 5 second rest you will spend 2 seconds stopping and starting, looking at the clock.)

All of the above means that you can put a lot of information into a small amount of space like a pool whiteboard or onto a laminate.


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