10 Ways to Easily Spot a Swimmer


10 Ways to Easily Spot a Swimmer

As swimmers, we all know we have some defining traits. From the wet hair to the smell of chlorine, here are some surefire ways to spot a swimmer out in the wild.

1. Eau de Chlorine

We all know this one. As athletes, we spend WAY too much time in the water, and we begin to carry its fragrant smell with us. If you can smell chlorine as you go about your life, either someone is deep cleaning a space nearby, or an aquatics athlete is close. No matter how hard we try, we cannot seem to get rid of that familiar smell.

2. Wet Hair

This one can be a little harder to guarantee, but wet hair is a common way to spot a swimmer. Wet hair could mean the person just got out of the shower, but in all likeliness, if this is a person you see often and it’s ALWAYS wet, they could be a swimmer in disguise.

3. The Messy Bun™

This one is the high-vis jacket of the swimming world. Because we spend so much time in the water, swimmers can get a little tired of ‘de-swimifying’ themselves. As a result, this iconic bun style results from female swimmers throwing their hair forward and putting it up in a rough bun.

4. Broad shoulders

Almost all swimmers will develop rather large shoulders. Butterfliers tend to be the cream of the crop when it comes to shoulder size, but large shoulders are definitely a unifying marker of swimmers. If you see a walking exclamation point out and about, they’re likely either a weightlifter or they’re a swimmer. Bonus points for athletes with large thigh muscles as well.

5. Large Lunches

Since the average competitive athlete trains between five and nine times a week, we burn A LOT of calories. This means we have to refuel our bodies frequently, which leads to lots of snacking and large meals. Olympic athlete Michael Phelps ate between eight to ten thousand calories a day, so it unsurprising that competitive swimmers are eating large meals. We’ve got to get our strength from somewhere.

6. Goggle marks

Another surefire way to spot a swimmer is our signature goggle marks. Since we often have practices early in the morning and then have to go about the rest of our day, we end up with imprints from our goggles. Goggles have rubber suction cups on the rim of the lens to be able to make sure they stick to your eyes while you swim and (mostly) don’t come off when you do things like dive in. This suction, however, can often lead to little red rims around your eyes.

7. ‘Swimmer Talk’

Like most sports, swimmers and divers have their own lingo that only they really understand. Swimmers will talk about times and drills and all sorts of things that the non-swimmer stands little chance of understanding. Divers are similar, talking about dive numbers and positions that even their swimmer teammates do not completely understand. If you hear someone excitedly talking about dropping .2 seconds in a 50 freestyle, that is a sign they’re a competitive swimmer. Or if you hear mentions of a front pike one and a half, that’s a diver you’re overhearing.


Photo Courtesy: Jonas Gutzat

8. Always Sleepy

Swimming is one of the few sports that mainly practices in the early mornings. Swimmers are often awake before the sun is up, which means that by the time the rest of the world is awake, we have been up for hours. As a result, we are often sleepy towards the end of the day. I’ve seen friends accidentally fall asleep many times in class, and I very much enjoy poking them and waking them up. So if you notice someone dozing off in class, and they have some of our other traits, they’re probably a swimmer.

9. Sweatpants

This stylistic choice is a staple to the tired swimmer. Nice clothes? Who can be bothered with that when you’ve been awake for so many hours and the day is only just starting? Not some swimmers. Many swimmers can be seen out in the wild wearing their most comfy pair of sweatpants and a favourite hoodie, not caring about anyone’s opinions. I have definitely had times where I have worn the same outfit multiple days in a row, simply because it was easy and I didn’t have the energy to care.

10. The Swimmer Walk

This one can be a little harder to spot, but it is nonetheless a common occurrence. Considering how hard our bodies work at every practice, it is not surprising that swimmers often do a shuffle as they move about the rest of their day. Just had a hard kick set? Walking at a normal pace to class is going to be a hard task. And don’t even get me started on stairs!

What do you think? Are there any other ways to spot a swimmer out in the wild? Let me know in the comments below.

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

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1 year ago

So me especially all of them ???

7 months ago

Sharpie writing on arms from meets

7 months ago

Amazing hair – me and my swimmer friends always have amazing hair – it doesn’t matter if we just got out of the pool or are just getting in, our hair is always great!

5 months ago

Having a bad posture! All of my swim friends, including me, have HORRIBLE postures! And we’re always hungry.

5 months ago

Crocs or fish flops

3 months ago
Reply to  Pippi

Fish Flops

1 month ago

Sore feet from fins

5 days ago

as a swimmer we do always smell like chlorine no matter what its tough

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