Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

    A

  • Abandonment

    A swimmer may retire from a race due to injury, exhaustion or time limits. A race may be abandoned and restarted at a later time due to unsafe conditions on the course.

  • Acclimate

    to become accustomed to warmer or colder water temperatures and conditions before an open water race or solo swim.

  • Acclimatization

    The process of adapting to warmer or colder water temperatures and conditions prior to an open water race or solo swim.

  • B

  • Beeline

    The most direct and straightest route to a specific point during a race, albeit not necessarily always the fastest route due to currents or waves. The coach directed her swimmer to take a beeline to the next turn buoy. Boxed-in (adjective): to get caught in between swimmers so as to not be able to swim in the direction or at the desired pace.

  • Breakaway

    To speed up or increase the pace in order to create separation from the rest of the field. The swimmer made a breakaway on the last loop.

  • Breakers

    Waves that crests and break along the shore.

  • Beaufort Wind Force Scale

    An empirical measure for describing wind velocity based mainly on observed sea conditions.

  • C

  • Call Room

    A designated indoor or outdoor area or room where the swimmers gather before the race, often to listen to pre-race instructions from race officials or to store their personal gear before the race.

  • Celsius

    Also, Centigrade, a temperature scale in which 0° represents the ice point and 100° the steam point, often abbreviated to C when written. FINA does not allow competitions when the water temperatures drop below 15°C. [After Anders Celsius]

  • Chafing

    To irritate or cause irritation due to repeated rubbing of skin against swim suits or other items due to swimming stroke, waves, especially around swim suit straps, armpits, shoulders, neck and chin.

  • Chop

    wave action at the surface of the water caused by wind. Small, frequent waves that are irritating to open water swimmers because they impede forward movement and can reduce visibility from the surface of the water.

  • Corrected Course

    The most direct course to the next turn buoy accounting for drift due to actual or anticipated currents, wind and wave action.

  • Course

    A direction or route taken by a swimmer. The path over which a race is run. The location in which a race is conducted. The swimmers were almost halfway around the race course.

  • Current

    A portion of a large body of water moving in a certain direction. A steady forward movement of water; the flow of a body of water.

  • Cut Buoy

    In the case of a swimmer who did not properly round a required turn buoy, a violation of the rule that requires the swimmer to return and correctly round the turn mark.

  • D

  • Dock

    a fixed pier or floating platform where open water swimmers can either start or finish races or that serve as feeding stations or locations where supporters can cheer./p>

  • Drafting

    To swim close behind another swimmer (or swimmers) in order to take advantage of their slipstream, especially in a race.

  • E

  • Ear Plugs

    A device inserted in the ear canal to protect from the intrusion of water or foreign bodies. Often made of wax or silicon and can help decrease the middle and inner ear exposure to cold and thus lessen the uncomfortable feeling that comes with exposure to cold water conditions.

  • Eyes and ears

    Offering of navigational advice to swimmers in the water when they cannot see the course or their competition.

  • Escort

    A person or group of persons in a boat, kayak, Jetski or on a paddleboard or surfboard accompanying or leading a swimmer for protection and/or guidance in the open bodies of water.

  • Escort Boat

    A boat or similar watercraft that accompanies or leads a swimmer for protection and/or guidance in the open bodies of water.

  • F

  • Fahrenheit

    A temperature scale that registers the freezing point of water as 32° and the boiling point as 212° at one atmosphere of pressure, often abbreviated to F when written.

  • Feeding

    An instance of eating or drinking or being given nourishment during a race.

  • Feeding Pole

    see Feeding Stick.

  • Feeding Pontoon

    see Feeding Station

  • Feeding Station

    a boat or other temporary or fixed floating structure, such as a dock or pier, used by coaches to provide fuel (i.e., food) or hydration (i.e., drink) to swimmers in a race.

  • Feeding Stick

    A long slender mechanical implement with a cup or bottle holder at the end in which to hand fuel (e.g., gel packs, food, chocolate) or hydration (e.g., water, Gatorade, tea) to a swimmer during a race.

  • FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur)

    The international governing body of swimming, water polo, diving, synchronized swimming and open water swimming, recognized by the International Olympic Committee for administering international aquatic competitions. It was founded in 1908 and is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. FINA administers two different global open water swimming circuits in addition to the biennial World Swimming Championships held every odd year.

  • FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup

    A year-round global series of professional marathon swims organized by FINA, 10 kilometers in distance, held in countries such as Brazil, United Arab Emerites, Portugal, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Mexico.

    Many of the races are in loop courses that allow for spectators to see the athletes battling with each other throughout the race. The top pro swimmers travel the world to participate in the FINA 10KM Marathon Swimming World Cup.

  • FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix

    A year-round global series of professional marathon swims organized by FINA, ranging from 15 to 88 kilometers in length, held in countries such as Argentina, Italy, Serbia, Macedonia, Canada and Mexico. One of the toughest endurance circuits in the world has to be the FINA Open Water Grand Prix.

  • FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee

    A FINA committee (acronym: TOWSC) that sets and implements the rules and policies of open water swimming and organizes the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup and the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix; have supported the International Olympic Committee to add marathon swimming to the Olympic schedule.

    The FINA TOWSC set the rules of the competition at the Olympics.

  • Fluid

    Liquid nourishment that provides hydration during an open water race. Popular examples are Gatorade and water. The coach prepared the swimmer’s fluid at the feeding station.

  • Four-Wide

    4 swimmers swimming side-by-side during a race.

  • Fuel

    Solid food or nourishment that provides energy source during an open water race. Examples are bananas and chocolate and gel packs like CarbBoom, Clif Shot, GU and PowerGel.

  • G

  • Gel Pack

    Small, easy-to-use, individual squeeze packages that contain simple and complex carbohydrates, antioxidants and animo acids in order to provide an energy boost during a race. Single-serving pouches are sold in a variety of sizes, shapes and flavors, and can be easily digested while swimming.

  • GPS

    Acronym for Global Positioning System; a global system of U.S. navigational satellites developed to provide precise positional and velocity data and global time synchronization for air, sea, and land travel.

  • Gulp and Go

    The third rule of feeding when an open water swimmer quickly consumes fuel (e.g., gel pack) or hydration (e.g., water) received from his/her coach on the feeding pontoon, then immediately begin to swim again after the momentary feeding stop.

  • H

  • Hydration

    water, Gatorade, flat Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew, fortified water drinks, tea and other liquids to restore or maintain fluid balance during an open water race. The importance of hydration to prevent dehydration during the race cannot be overemphasized.

  • Hyperthermia

    An abnormally high body temperature, usually resulting from warm water, warm temperatures, bright skies and/or humidity, during open water races, especially common during intense competitions or complicated due to dehydration.

  • Hypothermia

    An abnormally low body temperature, often caused by prolonged exposure to cold water during open water races, especially when combined with chilly winds, pronounced fatigue for swimmers with a low body fat percentage. Hypothermia is medically defined when the core body temperature drops below 35ºC (95ºF). Mild hypothermia may be identified by increased shivering or vasoconstriction. Severe hypothermia includes altered cognition, unusual behavior, weakness, apathy, reduced cardiac output, and even coma.

  • I

  • Impede

    To obstruct, interfere or retard in movement or progress by means of cutting off, swimming into, blocking or pulling on legs, ankles, arms or shoulders of other swimmers during a race.

  • Intermediate Buoy

    Buoys placed between required turn buoys or markers that may be passed on either side without penalty.

  • International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame

    An affiliate organization to the International Swimming Hall of Fame, established in 1961 to recognize the marathon swimmers throughout the world and governed by an international selection committee of marathon swimming experts.

    It recognizes not only the world’s most successful swimmers in competitive races, but also individuals for their solo swim exploits around the world.

  • K

  • Knot

    A unit of speed equal to one nautical mile or about 1.15 statute miles per hour.

  • L

  • Landmark

    Large, visible or stationary objects that are easy to see with a quick sighting from the perspective of the swimmer in an open water race; includes buildings, light poles on piers or anchored boats visible from the distance.

  • Lanolin

    A greasy, fatty substance, insoluble in water, that is extracted from wool-bearing animals used to coat the skin of swimmers, especially to friction points (e.g., underarms, inside thighs, chin and neck) in order to prevent chafing or help reduce the impact of cold water.

  • Lap

    One complete round, length or circuit around a race course.

  • Lead Pack

    The fastest or first group of swimmers in a race, all closely swimming together.

  • Leading the Pack

    To swim ahead of a group of swimmers in an open water race.

  • Left (or right) Shoulder Turn

    Term used by race officials to describe the required turn direction when passing a turn buoy. A Left Shoulder Turn means that the turn buoys must be kept on the left-side of the swimmer.

  • Line of Sight

    An unobstructed path from the swimmer’s eye to a distant point such as the turn buoys or finish line.

  • Long-distance Swimming

    Swimming in natural or man-made bodies of water such as oceans, bays, lakes, reservoirs, rowing basins and rivers; generally understood to be at least 3 kilometers in distance.

  • Loop

    One complete round, length or circuit around a race course, especially one that is circular in shape.

  • M

  • Make a Break

    To speed up or increase the pace in order to create separation from the competition.

  • Make a Move

    To catch up to or swim into position ahead of one’s competitors.

  • Marathon Swimming

    Swimming a minimum of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) in the large outdoor bodies of water such as oceans, bays, lakes, reservoirs, rowing basins and rivers, as defined by FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur). Swimming a minimum of 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) as defined by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

  • Miss a Feeding

    To drop a cup or bottle with hydration due to jostling in a crowd around the feeding station or to not get close enough to the feeding station to receive fuel (e.g. gel pack) or hydration (e.g., Gatorade).

  • Mixed Zone

    An area near the finish line where media representatives, photographers and team officials can interview and photograph swimmers after the race.

  • N

  • Navigation

    The art or science of plotting, ascertaining or directing the course of a swimmer in a open water race.

  • Navigational IQ

    The innate ability for a swimmer to swim the straightest and fastest path in an open water race course.

  • O

  • Off Course

    Not swimming in the right (fastest, straightest) direction in an open water race.

  • On Course

    Swimming in the right (fastest, straightest) direction in an open water race.

  • Open Water Swimming

    swimming in natural or man-made bodies of water such as oceans, bays, lakes, reservoirs, rowing basins and rivers; generally understood to be longer than 1 kilometer in distance.

  • P

  • Positioning

    A place or location, often strategic or unintentional, where a swimmer finds him/herself during an open water race.

  • R

  • Rabbit

    A swimmer whose goal is chiefly to set a fast pace, either to set a record or to exhaust a specific competitor so that a teammate can win.

  • Race Numbers

    Number that is prominently written in semi-permanent black ink or with temporary tattoes on the upper arms, shoulder blades and wrists of the swimmer for identification purposes. Numbers are used to monitor the swimmer’s progress, announce the swimmer’s position to the crowd and media and inform swimmers who are committing rule infractions during the race.

  • Reach and Roll

    The second rule of feeding when the swimmer extends his/her hand to grab fuel (e.g., gel pack) or hydration (e.g., water) from his/her coach on the feeding pontoon, then turns over on his/her back to consumer the fuel or hydration.

  • Ready Room

    A designated indoor or outdoor area or room where the swimmers gather before the race, often to listen to pre-race instructions from race officials or to store their personal gear before the race.

  • Red Card

    A red-colored penalty card that indicates the immediate disqualification of a swimmer due to unsportsmanlike conduct or a serious infraction of the rules during an open water race.

  • Red-Carded

    To be disqualified by a referee during an open water race.

  • Referee

    The designated individuals who judge open water races based on the established rules set by FINA or the race director. Referees can be located at the start, turns, finishes and/or on escort boats along the course.

  • Rough Water Swimming

    Swimming in outdoor bodies of water such as oceans, bays, lakes, reservoirs, rowing basins and rivers.

  • S

  • Sea Life

    Living organisms found in the ocean and other bodies of water that open water swimmers may encounter during training sessions or races. These include fish, jellyfish, sea nettles, turtles, porpoise, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, coral, seaweed, kelp, sea snakes.

  • Sighting

    The act of seeing in the open water races, generally towards landmarks, turn buoys, escort boats or the finish. Lifting the head to look ahead in order to decide the optimal direction to be swimming in an open water race; a view of the race course.

  • Seek and Spot

    The first rule of feeding when the swimmer heads toward the feeding pontoon and identifies his/her coach standing on the pontoon.

  • Slip Streaming/Drafting, Vessels

    Intentionally taking advantage of the wake of escort boats or officiating watercraft on the course; rules prohibit this action by swimmers.

  • Starting Platform

    A dock, pier or other floating structure where the swimmers stand to start an open water race; each swimmer is given about 60 centimeters or space on the starting platform.

  • Starting Pontoon

    A dock or floating structure where the swimmers stand to start an open water race; each swimmer is given about 60 centimeters or space on the starting platform.

  • Strung Out

    To become separated from one another during an open water race, especially in the later stages of the race after the swimmers have been swimming together in a pack.

  • Surface Chop

    Wave action at the surface of the water caused by wind. Small, frequent waves that are irritating to open water swimmers because they impede forward movement and can reduce visibility from the surface of the water.

  • Swell

    A long wave or series of waves in the ocean that move continuously without breaking.

  • T

  • 10K: 6.2 miles or 10 Kilometers

    the standard distance of the Olympic marathon swim.

  • Three-wide

    3 swimmers swimming side-by-side during a race.

  • Toss and Turn

    The fourth rule of feeding when the swimmer quickly discards the fuel (e.g., gel pack) or hydration (e.g., water cup or bottle) received from his/her coach and immediately turns over on his/her stomach to begin swimming after a momentary feeding stop.

  • Touch Pad

    Finish plates placed vertically (i.e., perpendicular to the surface of the water) at the end of open water races that identify the race finish and can be electronically tied to the official timing system.

  • Transponder

    A light, waterproof timing device that is worn on both wrists of all swimmers at FINA-sanctioned races.

  • Turn Buoy

    A distinctively marked colored float in the water, anchored to mark the course for swimmers.

  • U

  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct

    Inappropriate or unprofessional acts committed by swimmers during an open water race that can lead to a warning or disqualification by the referee or that are not in the spirit of the competition. These acts can include obstruction, interference or making intentional contact with another swimmer that can lead to a warning or disqualification by the lead referee, whether made by the swimmer or the swimmer’s escort boat or crew.

  • V

  • Vaseline

    A well-known trademark used for a brand of petroleum jelly that is used to coat the skin of swimmers, especially to friction points (e.g., underarms, inside thighs, chin and neck) in order to prevent chafing.

  • Veer Off Course

    To swim not on the optimal path along an open water race.

  • W

  • Whiteboard

    A smooth, glossy sheet of white plastic that can be written on with a colored pen or erasable marker in the manner of a blackboard. The white plastic is used by coaches or referees to provide instructions to swimmers during an open water race.

  • Whitecaps

    Small ocean surface waves that break offshore due to the wind that are irritating to open water swimmers because they tend to impede forward progress and reduce visibility.

  • Y

  • Yellow Card

    A yellow-colored penalty card that indicates an official warning to a swimmer due to unsportsmanlike conduct or an infraction of the rules during an open water race.

  • Yellow-Carded

    To be warned by a referee during an open water race.