Many swim terms are universal, and some may be specific to MN Ice. here are some you might hear on deck. If you are new to swimming, familiarize yourself with these terms and always feel free to ask the coaches for clarification.


Interval Time to complete a swim of a specified distance. Your rest time is included in the interval and varies in duration depending on the intent of the set. Ex: 4x100 on 1:30 means that you have one minute and 30-seconds to complete 100 yards before you begin the next one.

Rest Interval Often times abbreviated "RIB", this is the amount of rest time after a swim of a specified distance. Ex: 4x100 on :10 RIB means that you have 10 seconds after you complete the first 100 yards before starting the next one. If you touch the wall at 1:07, you push off for the next 100 at 1:17.

Base Interval This is the interval at which you can swim a sustained aerobic effort. Base intervals change with your fitness level. As you get more fit, your base interval will drop and you will need to move up a lane. The reverse is true, as well, unfortunately. 

Challenge Interval This is an interval designed to - you guessed it - challenge the swimmer. It is typically a shorter set with only about five seconds above the fastest speed you are able to hold.

Descend Each consecutive swim in the set gets faster. Ex: 4x50 descend 1-4 means that the first 50 is the slowest, 2nd is a little faster, 3rd is faster still, and the 4th is the fastest.

Build Up or Build This is often confused with descend. However, build means that each swim starts slow and ends fast. You build up your speed throughout the swim. Take the earlier example of 4x50. With build, each 50 starts easy and builds to fast by the end. Thus, each 50 of the set is performed the same way.

Ascend The reverse of descend. Each consecutive swim gets slower.

Build Down The reverse of build up. Each swim starts fast and ends slow.

DPS or LSC Distance Per Stroke (DPS) or Low Stroke Count (LSC). This is the least amount of strokes you take per length with the most efficiency. DPS or LSC does not mean slow!

Best Average Holding the fastest time you can repeat for each swim in a set

Max The fastest you can go on each swim in a set regardless of the number of repetitions

Individual Medley or IM A swim of a specified distance where all four competitive strokes are swum in the following order: Butterfly (Fly), Backstroke (Back or Bk), Breaststroke (Breast or Br), Freestyle (Free or Fr).

IMO "IM order". Typically refers to a set where the swims are done in IM order. Ex: 4x50 IMO means that the first 50 is fly, 2nd is back, 3rd is breast, and 4th is free.

Reverse IM or MI A swim starts with freestyle and works its way in reverse order of the IM (Free - Breast - Back - Fly).

Catch In swimming, catch refers to correct position the hand is in when it enters the water. Each of the four competitive strokes has a different catch.

Top or Bottom No - it's not that type of top or bottom. This is used to indicate when to leave on a particular interval. If you were to picture an analog clock, the number 12 is the "top" of the clock, while "6" is at the bottom of the clock. Most pace clocks are in 5 second interval markers starting at "0", so "30" is the bottom and "0" is the top. Even if the pace clock is digital, "top or bottom" is used to indicate when to start the set.


Anchor An anchor refers to the last position in a relay. The fastest person on the relay is typically the anchor.

Slingshot A strategy where a coach might put the fastest swimmers first on a relay and the slowest at the end.

Meet Competitions for swimming are called "meets". 

Split A split is a time from a portion of a swimmers race. These are useful for swimmers to help determine where in their race their endurance begins to fall off.

Taper Taper is when a swimmer decreases the amount of yards swam in practice, typically between 5-10 days out before a final meet. This increase in rest allows a swimmer to recover into peak performance for the meet, and typically involves swimming races much faster than they were able to go before.