10 Pet Peeves That Make Every Swimmer’s Blood Boil

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Isabelle Robuck, Swimming World College Intern.

Being a seasoned swimmer has its ups and downs: we know our way around any and every pool, we constantly smell of chlorine, our faces have permanent goggle marks and we can all count in fives exceptionally well. Forty-give plus 45 equals 1:30, right? Whether we like it or not, swimming becomes our identity as we form a legacy for ourselves and our career. With the territory comes unspoken codes of conduct that, when broken, can cause some dissension on the team. Although everyone is different in the water, we all have the same things that creep under our caps and makes our blood boil. Here are 10 pet peeves every swimmer can relate to.

1. Leaving the wall early during a set.


Photo Courtesy: Ironman

In the swimming world, there’s an unsaid rule that everyone follows: never leave the wall earlier than five seconds behind the person in front of you. Swimming so closely leads to unnecessary drafting and just being inside the person’s bubble in front of you. Those who don’t follow that rule have it out for themselves. Drafting off of someone during a meet can become quite beneficial, but there’s no need to draft off of your teammate during a 200 kick in warm up, right?

2. When someone touches your feet.


Photo Courtesy: Matt Rubel of Rubel Photography

Just like leaving early, touching the person’s feet in front of you seems to be one of the biggest pet peeves among swimmers. Although we share lanes with our teammates and sometimes they can become a little packed, there is no reason to be touching each others’ feet. It is irritating and messes up their stroke and their flip turn as well.

3. When people don’t let you pass.

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

On another note, some people take you trying to pass them as a race. Newsflash: it is not. We’re all good at different things in the water, and sometimes we forget to go in front of someone. So instead of touching their feet, we try to make a pass. This becomes a game we don’t exactly want to play, and most of the time, we end up losing… And then, Michael Phelp’s infamous 200 fly face becomes oddly familiar.

4. When people turn around in the middle of the pool.


Photo Courtesy: Annie Grevers

While people who don’t let you pass are over-achievers, those who chose to turn around in the middle of the pool really pull strings as well. Instead of wasting energy to make a pass, they stop in the middle of the pool, take a good deep breath and turn around without finishing the length. This messes up intervals and confuses other people in the lane as well. Only sometimes is it a better option than trying to pass the impossible-to-pass teammate.

5. “Did you win?”


Photo Courtesy: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

This can be one of the most complex questions to answer, especially for people who don’t understand swimming. Winning is a lot harder than people think it is, so when we don’t win, we try to find ways to explain how we did in terms of personal goal. This can be difficult to do. We cut time on our best race and beat out someone who always seems to swim faster than us. While to us that’s considered a self-victory, it’s not exactly classified as a win on paper. So, instead of spending time trying to explain what it means to win, we simply settle with saying “it’s complicated.”

6. Pulling on the lane line.


Photo Courtesy: Andy Ross

To my fellow backstrokersn- this one’s for you! We’ve all fallen victim to this at one point or another during a swim practice. It’s hard to not pull on the lane line when your legs are giving out only half way through a tough set. The extra boost is nice every once and a while, but it can quickly become addictive if used untastefully. Before you know it, every once in a while becomes every length of backstroke you swim. Suddenly, you’ve been disqualified in the 100 back during a meet. Now, to face your angry coach…

7. Sally Savers.


Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins – UVM Athletics

We all know that teammate who saves their energy for the very last 50 of the sprint set. Picture this: you’ve given the set your all and your legs numb. You’re just pushing to finish when suddenly, out of nowhere, your teammate zooms past you and touches the wall in what seems like record time for the end of a set. That, friends, is a Sally Saver at it’s finest. Sure, it’s hard giving 100 percent all of the time, but pushing ourselves even when it gets hard is so worth it!

8. Story tellers during hard sets.


Photo Courtesy: Wayne Goldsmith

Sometimes it’s nice to have talkative teammates. They can give us energy, positivity and motivation. Other times, however, this can go south – especially when you’re in the middle of a hard set. Moreover, these teammates tend to not listen when coach is explaining something and have no idea what’s going on. Sure, we want to hear their story, but is this really the best time? Not to mention, how do they even have enough oxygen to talk?

9. The “I have a cramp” stretchers.


Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia Ltd.

We all have that teammate who coincidentally gets a cramp in the middle of a hard set. While we’re dying, they hop out of the pool and stretch for 10 minutes or so until right before the sets ends. Then, they jump back in the water swimming faster than ever, touching our toes and trying to pass you. Suddenly, everything about the situation is irritating. We all have a cramp, kid, we all do.

10. Overwhelming negativity.


Photo Courtesy: UNO Swim & Dive

Everyone knows that negatively spreads far more quickly than positivity. It takes one Negative Nancy to completely ruin a set for everyone, and negativity is difficult to bounce back from. It’s hard to be positive all the time, but sometimes positivity, is the only way to keep going. Leaning back on our teammates can help keep us going when sets get hard. Plus, there isn’t anything to gain from being negative. Sure, you may not be making your paces, but verbally showing your frustration isn’t going to magically help you swim faster, is it? Be positive, uplifting and encouraging. Try finding the best in every situation instead of sulking on the negative!

We all have annoyances that really tug on our goggle straps. What really bugs you at practice?

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.


  1. Dana Preble

    #7 is the one I have heard complained about the most.

  2. Frank Elenio

    Anne Warren Kate Kaduboski

  3. Nancy Pulham

    Ugh, the toe touchers and the Sally savers lol

    • Jaclyn Armstrong

      That’s how I was taught to pass. Touch the toe once, and they move over to let you pass. And I’m a Sally Saver only in a 100 free race. Haha

    • Nancy Pulham

      Jaclyn Armstrong it’s ok to be a sally saver in a race, it’s exciting lol
      The toe touching is only annoying when that person should go first in a set but refuse to go ahead but then catch up midway through and touch the feet 😂
      Plus…I love how this article named these ‘infractions’ lol

  4. Cindy Sebzda

    Rebecca Carameros, which one do you hate the most?

    • Rebecca Carameros

      i’m guilty of 1) leaving the wall early, 2) gets so annoying because they’ll touch your feet and then you’ll be like “wanna go in front of me” and they’ll say no, 3) I HATE WHEN PEOPLE DONT LET ME PASS so i pull their ankle back so i can get through lmao, 4) i turn around in the middle of the pool sometimes so ☕️🐸, 5) people ask if we won our meet in high school swimming but when i’m on the marlins you’re just racing against yourself so i don’t get that bothered, 6) i pull on the lane line lol, 7) it drives me nuts when people sprint the last two laps of the 500 and try to catch up to me, 8 ) i tell stories in between sets and then finish them each time i get back to the wall, 9) people don’t normally get out to stretch during practice lmao but we do get out to “gO tO tHe bAtHrOoM”, 10) i hate when people are negative but i am sometimes negative to myself if i gain time so 🤷🏼‍♀️

  5. Valerie Ruth

    Aubrey, we see each of these pretty much every day.

    • Aubrey Bailey

      Seriously EVERY day

  6. avatar

    The worst is when someone keeps complaining about how tired they are. It’s 6:00 AM, we’re all tired!

    • Sara Amati

      Priscilla Crisante😂😍