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The ABCs of Open Water Swimming

2016/7/21 10:44:22

Each sport has its own lexicon. Its specialized vernacular is well-known among its enthusiasts, but is an unknown shorthand among others. The same is true with open water swimming whose terminology is increasing as the sport continues to grow exponentially.

Examples of the eclectic and esoteric terms of the sport include the following:

More: 21 Open Water Swimming Terms You Should Learn

A - Ankle slappers are small, tiny powerless waves that are not capable to propelling a swimmer or surfer forward.

B - Be Kind To Your Yacker Week is a week-long period observed by the global open water swimming community. The period, first proposed by Phil White of the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association, is meant to recognize, celebrate and honor individuals who support open water swimmers including kayakers, paddlers, escort boat pilots, coaches and support crew. It is typically celebrated during April.

C - Cap tan is the division on a swimmer's forehead between the skin of pronounced paleness relative to the rest of their face that has been suntanned by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation in a pool, outdoors or in the open water.

D - Duo swim is an open water swim simultaneously performed by two individuals as they swim side-by-side or at the same pace. Duo swims can be solo swims performed simultaneously by two swimmers, or two swimmers swimming side-by-side or near each other within a mass participation swim.

E - Expedition swimming in non-competitive swimming in natural open body of water including oceans, lakes, rivers, bays and reservoirs, performed for pleasure, adventure or fitness at any time of the day or night. Expedition swimming is generally done with partners or teammates or with tour members as part of guided tours, along coastlines, in lakes or around islands, although it can be done anywhere. Open water races, competitions, camps, clinics, events, solo channel swims or marathon relays are not considered expedition swimming.

F - A finish chute is a series of lane lines, buoys or other such markings that indicate the finish area and help direct open water swimmers to the final finish line or touch pads.

G - Going for a little dip is a swim of any length either in open bodies of water or in a pool.

H - Hand-over-hand push is a move used by competitive open water swimmers and triathletes to gain an edge over an opponent during a competition. In the hand-over-hand push move, the offensive swimmer moves closely to his opponent and times his arm stroke so his hand just slightly after his opponent's hand enters the water. He places his hand directly over the hand of his opponent and takes a normal arm stroke. By pushing his hand down, timed together with his opponent's arm stroke within their collective normal arm stroke cycle, the offensive swimmer gains a slight push and advantage over his opponent. There is little or no impeding of the swimmer as the opponent is not pushed back, but rather there is an additional propulsion gained by the offensive swimmer.

I - Ice cream headache, also known as brain freeze, cold-stimulus headache or its given scientific name sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia (meaning "nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion"), is a form of brief cranial pain or headache commonly associated with consumption (particularly quick consumption) of cold beverages or foods such as ice cream and popsicles or a dip or swim in extremely cold water.

J - June Gloom is a Southern California term for a weather pattern that results in cloudy, overcast skies with cool temperatures during the late spring and early summer, particularly in the month of June. June Gloom in Southern California is caused by the marine layer effect common to the West Coast of America, and is enhanced by the Catalina eddy local to Southern California. The phenomenon can be disorienting and disappointing to visitors from inland areas who, coming from the summer heat, do not expect cool temperatures, clouds and fog along the coast.

K - Kymophobia is the fear of sea swells, waves or wave-like motions.

L - Lake itch, otherwise known as swimmer's itch, sunbather's eruption or duck itch, is an allergic reaction caused by sea lice or a host of other marine life.

M - MARNATON is a project and brand in Spain that is a combination of three Spanish words: MAR (sea) + NATACI?N (swimming) + MARATHON.

N - Navigational IQ is the ability for an open water swimmer or triathlete to swim the fastest possible course in an open water swim, especially in a race, given all the external clues that are available and the elements that must be faced (e.g., wind, waves, oncoming/lateral/positive currents, tides, fog, position of competitors, escort boats and turn buoys).

O - Ocean advocate is an individual who works in myriad ways to represent and speak for the oceans to encourage, enable and inspire personal, corporate or political action to protect or preserve our oceans and natural waters through actions (e.g., hosting seminars, conducting events, using less plastic, raising money through charity swims or marathon swims, conducting educational programs about coral reef degradation, organizing beach clean-ups), speeches, films, books, and leadership.

P - Pace line sets are where groups of swimmers closely draft off of one another in the pool, changing pace and leaders throughout the set (e.g., 3 x 1000 with a change of leader every 100). This simulates open water race conditions in the pool or acclimates the swimmer to such conditions during open water training sessions.

Q - Quiet swim is a solo circumnavigation marathon swim around Manhattan Island in New York City, officially organized by NYC Swim, but which is not part of the annual 28.5-mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim annually held in June.

R - Railroading is the use of the power of ocean swells that are going in the same general direction as an open water swimmer. As the ocean swells build up behind and beneath the swimmer, experienced swimmers increase their kick and their stroke rate, as well as lengthening out their stroke, enabling them to sprint in conjunction with the power of the swell. This provides them with an incremental boost from the swell's power and direction, as a type of body surfing. As the ocean swell passes the swimmer reduces their kick and stroke rate back to their normal cadence, enabling them to catch their breath until the next swell comes.

S - Safety briefing is pre-race or pre-swim instruction by a race director, safety personnel, or escort boat captain or crew, or the observer to open water swimmers or triathletes. The safety briefing can be held before an open water swimming race or before a marathon swim or channel swim. It generally covers the water temperature, conditions, marine life, rules, expectations, and emergency procedures and protocols. It is a verbal confirmation of what can go wrong and what to do in those situations among the swimmers, pilot, support crew, safety personnel, staff, observer, and volunteers.

T - Transponders are light, waterproof timing devices with GPS capabilities that are worn on both wrists of swimmers at competitive open water swims and triathlons. The device, commonly called a timing chip, is of neutral velocity.

U - UFO is an acronym for Unidentified Floating Object which can consist of inorganic or organic matter. It is not to be confused with an Unidentified Flying Object.

V - Vog is volcanic air pollution. The term is in common use in Hawaii.

W - Water Chill Factor is the apparent temperature felt on the exposed skin of an open water swimmer or triathlete due to water temperature, air temperature, humidity, wind speed, amount of sunshine, cloud cover, level of exhaustion, and thickness of swimwear and head coverings. It incorporates heat transfer theory and heat loss from the body to its surroundings.

X - Xifaxan? (brand name) or Rifaximin is an antibiotic that can help reduce the risk of overt hepatic encephalopathy recurrence in adults at least 18 years old. It is used in the treatment of traveler's diarrhea and hepatic encephalopathy, for which it received orphan drug status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1998.

Y - Yellow Card (or Yellow Flag) is 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. Two yellow cards equal a red card which is an immediate disqualification.

Z - Ziplining is the act of grabbing another swimmer by the ankles or legs in order to unsuspectingly pull the other swimmer back and gain an unfair (illegal) advantage in open water races. It is grounds for a yellow card (caution) or a red card (disqualification).

More: 25 Signs You're a Marathon Swimmer

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