Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summer Sports, Part 2: Baseball & Swimming

Having lived in the US for 8 years, I am aware how baseball has become an unchallenged and revered  institution. I listened in awe as Americans spoke glowingly of their favorite teams, their attention riveted to the TV screen until the final scores come out.  Canadians have the same passion for hockey. Even in summer time, you see kids in the street with a puck and stick, unmindful of the dangers of traffic.

Baseball historians insist that even if Abner Doubleday invented the sport, Alexander Cartwright is the true father of baseball.  He established the first formal rules of baseball in 1845.

Time to polish your French to English baseball terminology!



lanceur pitcher
receveur catcher
premier but first baseman
deuxième but second baseman
troisième but third baseman
inter shortstop
voltigeur gauche left fielder
voltigeur de centre center fielder
voltigeur droit right fielder
marbre home base (also: home plate)
circuit home run
masque de receveur catcher’s mask
protège-gorge throat protector
genouillère (aussi: protège-genou) knee protector (also: knee guard)
manche inning
arbitre umpire
bâton bat
zone de prises strike zone
prise strike
frappe batting
jeu forcé force play
vol de but steal

Turning now to swimming, there are four competition categories:  freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke.  The spearhead principle is a concept you most likely have heard about.  It means that in every competition, the fastest rated swimmer is assigned the center lane; if the number of lanes is even, he gets the right of center lane.  The other competitors are assigned alternate left/right positions of the center lane, with the slowest swimmers getting the two outside lanes.  This arrangement usually will see the swimmers fanning out into a spearhead formation as they complete the race.

A few French-English swimming terms for you:



piscine pool
nage libre (aussi:  natation libre) freestyle
brasse breaststroke
papillon butterfly
juge-arbitre referee
faux départ false start
formation fer de lance spearhead formation
nageur de quatre nages medley swimmer
nage synchronisée (the FFN – Fédération française de natation also calls it natation synchronisée) synchronized swimming
jambe de ballet simple ballet leg
jambe de ballet double ballet double leg
jambe pliée bent knee
chevalier knight
vertical vertical
position groupée tuck
carpé avant front pike
carpé arrière back pike

I swim occasionally and my favorite strokes are the freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke.  I sometimes do the dog crawl and the scissors.  I have trouble with the butterfly.

For an English commentary on the freestyle technique, you can click on this link:

For a French demonstration (no commentary), click here:!9C207695B264ECE3!3136.trak.


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