It’s June and this weekend the swimming pools of Madrid will start to open. Whether you have access to a private condominium (urbanización) with a pool, or you’re going to visit one of the many excellent public outdoor pools or lidos in Madrid. We thought now would be a good time to learn a bit of swimming vocabulary. So, not only can you keep fit and get a suntan, but you can also practise your English and chat up a tourist.


Let’s begin with the confusing difference between these two words:

Bath or Bathe?

Bath is what you do in the bathroom to keep clean. It’s a verb and a noun. You can have a bath or you could bath the baby.

Bathe is what you do in a swimming pool, the sea, a lake or river. Its use is more to describe having fun and relaxing in the water rather than for sport or fitness.

Unfortunately, both have the same gerund “bathing”, but with different pronunciations!

bikini What to wear?

Swimming costume or bathing costume is a general name for what a man or woman wears to swim in.

Swimsuit is a one-piece bathing costume for a woman and a bikini a two-piece

Trunks are for men.

Skinny dipping is what you do if you don’t wear anything at all!

To protect your eyes against the chlorine in the water you’ll need a pair of goggles.

pool The pool

Swimming pools normally have a shallow end and a deep end. In the deep end the water will probably be deeper than your height (unless you’re a basketball player). When the water is deeper than your height you are out of your depth.

If the pool has been divided up for serious swimmers to swim the length of the pool these are called lanes.

A small pool for small children is called a paddling pool.

Swimming pool madrid
The public pool in Barrio Pilar

Dive Now let’s get into the water!

If you want to look cool you dive in

Not so cool is to jump in. And definitely not cool if you hold your nose while doing so.

If you are a little boy, or a young man who acts like a little boy, you could dive bomb your friends and make a big splash.


The different styles of swimming are called strokes. Here are the most common:

Breaststroke, front crawl, back crawl, butterfly.

If you don’t want to go anywhere in particular just stay in the same place, but you are out of your depth, you should tread water.

If you’re learning to swim you might need a buoyancy aid to help you in the form of arm bands or a float.

Swimming idioms

To swim against the tide – to do something that is in opposition to the general movement of things.

To be in the swim of things – actively involved in or participating in events or happenings .

To make one’s head swim – to make you confused or to feel dizzy.

Sink or swim – to fail or succeed.

Here’s a list of the vocabulary:

Bathe (the “a” is pronounced like the letter “a” in the alphabet, as in “made”.
Swimming costume
Bathing costume
Skinny dipping
Shallow end
Deep end
Paddling pool
Dive bomb
Front crawl
Back crawl
Tread water
Buoyancy aids
Arm bands

Here you can find out more about the summer open-air swimming pools in Madrid.#


Libros recomendados por Speak To Me:

Idioms in Use - IntermediateIdioms and Phrasal VerbsFood Idioms

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