Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Topic: SWIMMING

Language: Old English
Origin: swimman

swim

1 verb
     
swim1 past tense swam past participle swum present participle swimming
1

move through water

[intransitive and transitive]DSS to move yourself through water using your arms and legs
swim in
We swam in the chilly water.
swim around/across etc
She could swim across the lake.
Let's go swimming this afternoon.
kids learning to swim the backstroke
She was the first woman to swim the Channel.
2

water animals

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] when fish, ducks etc swim, they move around the water using their tails and fins, their feet etc:
Tropical fish swam slowly around in the tank.
3

not thinking/seeing properly

[intransitive]
a) if your head swims, you start to feel confused or that everything is spinning around:
My head was swimming after looking at that screen all day.
b) if something you are looking at swims, it seems to be moving around, usually because you are ill, tired, or drunk:
The numbers swam before my eyes.
4

be swimming in something

to be covered by a lot of liquid:
potatoes swimming in thick gravy
5

swim against the tide/current etc

to do or say things which are different from what most people do or say, because you do not mind being different [≠ swim with the tide]

➔ sink or swim

at sink1 (15)
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