Swimming10 Things That Should Not Be Said to a Swimmer

10 Things That Should Not Be Said to a Swimmer

10 Things That Should Not Be Said to a Swimmer

By Brooke Irving, Swimming World College Intern

Swimmers lead a lifestyle that doesn’t make sense to non-swimmers. But can we really blame them for not understanding? Like no other, we voluntarily jump into a cold pool in the dead of winter (most often more than six times per week) and spend hours at swim meets only to actually swim for a couple minutes. As a swimmer, we are far too familiar with Aunt Susan’s questions at Thanksgiving, or footballer-Michael-from-English-class’s assumptions about the sport we are so passionate about. On a daily basis non-swimmers say things to us, which quite frankly grind our gears. As much as we may smile and respond, on the inside we are gritting our teeth as our faces heat up with irritation. So, here are some things you should never say to a swimmer in order to avoid our wrath:

“Swimming isn’t a sport”

This one sentence alone has the power to make any swimmer’s blood boil. For the non-swimmer, swimming may be a leisurely way to spend your summer holiday, but if you think that swimmers spend hours per week in practice floating up and down on an inflatable, you’re wrong. Swimming requires skill, strength, endurance and a determined mindset. To any non-swimmer who thinks this, I hereby invite you to a swim practice, oh and the main set is 4 x 200 fly… 3 times through.

“You’re going to eat all that?”


Photo Courtesy: ponce_photography

This bowl of spaghetti, a chicken sandwich and a side salad? Yes, of course, and I will probably have this carton of chocolate milk too… And that’s just lunch. As competitive swimmers we can burn up to 2,500 calories in a 2-hour practice, so food and nutrition is vital for recovery and performance in the pool.

“Did you win your meet?”

For us, it may not always be about winning. First and foremost, we as individual swimmers cannot win an entire meet. However, we take pride in the successes we make at competitions. A win for us may be the fact that we swam a new personal best, or that we won our heat, or our team may win the championship. This is a loaded question, so brace yourself as we explain how it all went down.

“Are you fast?”

Faster than you? Yes. Faster than an Olympian? No.

“We should have a race”

At this pool party, right now? That’s cute. I just don’t know if I would want to put you through the embarrassment when I get to the other end of this eight-metre pool in two seconds, while you’re still at the start line doing some weird form of breaststroke.

“A second is nothing”

A single millisecond holds indescribable value to a swimmer. A tenth of a second (.1) can be the difference between qualifying for a championship, winning gold, or beating your rival. Sometimes we may swim just one second faster than we have ever swam before, but that can be make or break.

“Can you just skip practice?”

Unfortunately, I haven’t injured myself, which is the only redeemable token to miss practice. But, if you’d like you can call my coach and hear their wrath of fury when they find out I’m missing practice to go to the cinemas, go ahead!

“Will you make it to the Olympics?”


Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

Every swimmer wishes that they would be at the Olympic Games one day. But the reality is, we just aren’t sure if we will be! There are billions of competitive swimmers worldwide, and we all can’t be the next Michael Phelps.

“How many laps did you do at practice?”

One second and let me get out my calculator and add up every set and divide by the length of the pool. We don’t really count the laps, but rather the distance we do in our sets.

“Aren’t you tired?

After getting up at 5:30 a.m. for the fourth morning in a row, we are certainly tired. But it’s all worth it. Swimmers have big goals to achieve, and we will put in the hard yards to get there.

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