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Lifesaving Glossary

Understand the lingo of lifesaving and survival swimming. This glossary covers your jargon busting needs of the main lifesaving and swimming terms you may come across. Please send in any more terms you can think of.


Ask, Assess, Act.

Assisted Rescue

Lifeguards assist a conscious casualty to safety. Non-swimmers occasionally get out of their depth, but are otherwise fine.


Person who is present at an emergency situation and not directly involved in the rescue but who may be able to provide assistance.


A person in need of assisstance (non swimmer/weak/injured/unconscious).

Casualty Support Position

A method to hold casualties on poolside after a rescue to help them out of the water.

CPR - Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Combination of expired air ventilation (EAV) and chest compressions.


Expired Air Ventilation, part of resuscitation.


Heat escape lessening posture/procedure.


Survival position in the water for groups of two or more people wearing life jackets or holding on to a buoyant aid.


A dangerous medical condition, when the body core temperature goes below 35°C.

Open Water

Lake, sea, river, gravel pit etc.

Recovery Postition

Position in which an unconscious casualty is placed to allow observation and prevent obstruction in the airway.

Reverse & Stand off

Defensive technique used by a rescuer to move quickly away from a casualty.

Rescue Sequence

Shout, signal, reach, throw, wade, row, swim with an aid, swim and tow.

Resuscitation, Cardiopulmonary (CPR)

Combination of expired air ventilation (EAV) and chest compressions.

Swim Training Glossary

Swim Sets

WUP: Warm-Up Swim Set

PREP: Pre-Main Swim Set

MAIN: Main Swim Set

COOL: Cool Down Swim Set

ODD: Odd Length/Set Number

EVEN: Even Length/Set Number

TT: Time Trial event. Record your time for the given set


Breathing 3,5,5 (or 3,5,7 or 3,7,7): sequenced breathing pattern related to the number of arm repetitions

Breathe every 12 kicks: sequenced breathing pattern related to the number of kick repetitions


Clothing layers increase your training effort, just like you would use weights in a gym, and will push up your VO2Max considerably.

C1: Minimal Swimwear – Little effort

C2: T-shirt and Shorts or Jeans – Slight Effort

C3: Long sleeve Pullover and Jeans – Moderate Effort

C4: Anorak or Hoodie, Pullover and Jeans – High Effort

C5: As above with Socks and Shoes – Maximum Effort

CV: Clothing Variety – Changing Effort


G1: Speed Gear 1 – Little effort

G2: Speed Gear 2 – Slight Effort

G3: Speed Gear 3 – Moderate Effort

G4: Speed Gear 4 – High Effort

G5: Speed Gear 5 – Maximum Effort

SPEED SPIKE: A brief “All Out Sprint” at a Speed Gear that is higher than race pace (G5++) and lasts no more than 5 seconds. It encourages high velocity in the stroke without fatigue.

EASY: Slow and steady swimming (possibly below Speed Gear G1) that is recovery in nature and low in stroke repetition.

MAX: Swimming that involves Speed Gear 5+, your absolute race pace. Your time should reflect a race pace performance.

BUILD: For the length of the swim divide the distance up into 5 even sections so that you start with G1 then change evenly all the way so that you finish on G5 (for example, a 50m swim is to be performed like this:

First swim 10m at G1, next 10m at G2, next 10m at G3, next 10m at G4, then last 10m at G5).

ENDURANCE: Long swimming sessions in light swimwear to build stamina with G3 effort.

RESISTANCE: Swimming fully clothed to build strength with G4 effort.


NEGATIVE (or NEG): This relates to negative split swimming, or as it is also referred to as “Back End Speed”. You split the length of the swim into two parts and make sure thay you swim the latter part faster than the former. Try to attain both split times for the swim so you know for sure you are on the right track. Usually you swim NEGATIVE splits at G5 pace, so the split times shouldn’t be more than 5 seconds apart.

RECOVERY (or REC): This relates to a swim that is starts off in easy recovery mode (slow swimming, lots of breathing), but should end up with a bit of pace within the last 5-10 metres (so that you are ready for the next event).

HYPOXIC (or HYP): This relates to swimming performed with reduced oxygen. This will involve a breathing pattern as listed under the Breathing header above (i.e. breathing 3, 5, 7).


FR: Freestyle (associated with the Frontcrawl competitive swim stroke)

BK: Backstroke competitive swim stroke

FLY: Butterfly competitive swim stroke

BR: Breaststroke competitive swim stroke

SWIM: Arms and Legs moving (normal competitive swim stroking)

KICK: Legs only moving

PULL: Arms only moving

SCULL: Lying in a horizontal position, either have your arms stretched out in front working on the catch phase, or bent at elbow working on pull phase of the stroke. Hand movements should simultaneously repeat sculling motions in towards the centre line of the body and then out just past shoulder width. Use a pull buoy to help support your legs and alternate head out the water or in the water positions.

CHOICE: Choose 1, or a mixture, of any of the 4 competitive swim strokes

VK: Vertical Kicking (no forward, backward, or lateral movements, simply treading water)

FR DOG: Freestyle Doggy Paddle (head still, chin on water, eyes looking forward)

KOS: Kicking on your side, leading with one arm out in front of you, head down, eyes looking forward

KOB: Kicking on your back, hands can either be streamlined above you or down at your side

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