12 Relatable Swimmer Problems

Teammates posing in their fast skin suits. Photo Courtesy: Cathleen Pruden

By Jennifer Yoo, Swimming World College Intern.

The only people who can truly understand the ins and outs of a sport are the people directly involved. Many people only associate swimming with the Olympics yet don’t see the daily struggles and satisfying moments that swimmers share with their team and sport. Underneath the chlorine perfume and wet hair is the complicated love-hate relationship every swimmer has with their sport.

Here are 12 of the best and worst relatable swimmer problems that most athletes experience during their swimming career.

1. Finally Getting Your Fast Skin Over Your Hips

Tech Suit Cover Image

Many swimmer problems occur when attempting to don a tech suit. Photo Courtesy: Edgar Allen Beem

It quite literally takes blood, sweat and tears to squeeze yourself into a suit that will only be worn for a single meet. The air and blood circulation are cut from your body while your teammates force their hands in various parts of the suit, often pinching your skin. You know the worst part is over when the suit finally slips over your hips, and now all you have to do is get the straps on.

2. Needing to Use the Bathroom After You Have Your Knee Skin On

Alicia Coutts collapses on pool deck after another hard set at training. University of Auburn Aquatic Centre, Alabama USA. Australian Olympic Swimming Team are in their final training staging Camp before heading over to the Rio2016 Olympic Games. July 30 2016. Photo by Delly Carr. Pic credit mandatory for complimentary exclusive editorial usage. Thank You.

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia Ltd.

Although the feeling of getting a knee skin on is satisfying, the happiness can quickly fade when you feel the nervous urge to poop. Many swimmers use the bathroom as much as they can before the process begins, but you can’t predict how your body will be feeling nor stop its natural functions. Now you’re stuck with two choices: take it all off and suffer through the process of putting it back on or hold it in until after your race.

3. Bikini Tops


Photo Courtesy: Caroline Petosa

This one is for the ladies out there! Technical suits can leave dark bruises on your shoulders and make your muscles tense if you wear them for too long. Therefore, during long meets in these contraptions, nothing feels better than having a teammate help you take the straps of the suit off and replace it with a bikini top until your next race. Don’t forget to pack this in your swim bag!

4. Heated Pools


Photo Courtesy: Annie Grevers

Although this can be a blessing to a swimmer during the winter, there is nothing worse than being forced to swim in an outdoor heated pool during the summer. It feels like you’re suffocating, and you may have to slow down to control your body temperature. Bring a water bottle full of ice and take a cool shower before hopping into this pool!

5. Hearing Thunder


Lightening or thunder keeps swimmers out of the water. Photo Courtesy: Pexels, Philippe Donn

As a child, thunderstorms were your worst enemy because they meant that you couldn’t go out to play with your friends. However, as a swimmer, it is the best because it means that you can get out of practice early. With even a hint of a thunder clap, every swimmer will stop and try to convince their coach to let them leave. It becomes a team-wide debate.

6. Drowning Behind Someone During a Kick Set


Johns Hopkins swimmers warming up with a kick set at NCAAs. Photo Courtesy: Emily Cheng

Kick sets hurt for multiple reasons. The set can be long with difficult intervals. But what’s worse is accidentally inhaling heaps of water in the wake of the person in front of you who has a strong kick. Suddenly, it has become monsoon season and you’re caught in the tidal waves.

7. Having a Perfect or Terrible Lane


It’s a true swimmer problem when you hate your lane. Photo Courtesy: Chandler Brandes

There is no in between. You either have that special bond with your lanemates or you want to rage-quit. The clock and board are either in perfect view, or you can’t see anything. Finally, everyone’s speed either works together so no one is trampling over each other, or you are constantly switching orders and slowly losing your sanity.

8. Team Water Polo Throwdown


The May water polo combine. Photo Courtesy: San Diego Shores

Nothing is better than when your coach says that you will be playing in a friendly game of water polo for the last bit of practice. Everyone moves the lane lines, splits up, and gets a little too into the game. Fights may erupt, eyes become bloodshot from the chlorine and rules may be broken, but at the end of the day, everyone had fun.

9. Stations

Swimmers in Pool

Photo Courtesy: Jen Cournoyer

It’s always exciting when you see your coach write stations on the board for the main set. However, not all stations are created equal. Some focus on technique work, whereas others have ridiculous challenges that make you want to puke after it’s finished. You must be mentally and physically prepared for anything.

10. “I can’t do anything. I’m on taper.”


Team China shows tired smiles after the 800 free relay final at the 2019 World Championships. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

This is the best excuse to be exempt from physical activity outside of training. Although no one understands taper quite like fellow swimmers, you use it to explain every lazy decision until taper is over. When given the choice between stairs versus the elevator, swimmers don’t have to think twice. It’s the most blissful time of your life.

11. Easily Going Through Multiple Bottles of Shampoo and Conditioner


One of the many bottles of shampoo that swimmers use throughout the season. Photo Courtesy: Pexel, Fancycrave.com

We use these every day in order to eradicate the damaging effects of chorine from our hair. Sometimes, we use it multiple times a day with both morning and afternoon practices and meet sessions. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that we are constantly running out. It becomes a mission to buy the cheapest set, as we’re always needing to share. Be sure to budget extra cash for this necessity.

12. Slipping


Swimmer problems and injuries can happen on the slippery pool deck and locker room. Photo Courtesy: Pexels

Either on the pool deck or on a dive for a race, nothing frustrates a swimmer more than falling on a slippery surface. It throws everything off, and you’re left with throbbing pain and a bad mood.

Once a Swimmer, Always a Swimmer

Even if you decide to stop swimming, you never forget the experience. You will always be able to relate to these swimmer problems, because you faced them as well at one point or another.

Which can you relate to? Comment below!

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


  1. John McCormack

    The horror of goggles breaking as the heat ahead of you hits the water…

  2. María Elisa Ramírez

    Swimming problem not having viable conditions to go to the pool due to the pandemic

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