12 Things Coaches Say During Practice

Photo Courtesy: Angela Robuck

By Isabelle Robuck, Swimming World College Intern.

No one else compares to your favorite swim coach. Think about it now; what makes your coach the best? Most swimmers deeply relate to their coaches through shared work ethic and discipline, training style, and – most importantly – their infinite words of wisdom.

A coach’s words are incredibly powerful in guiding the team in the direction of its goals. But some things your coach yells during practice can be universally heard on just about any pool deck, so we’ve compiled 12 things coaches say during practice.

1. “Get in the water!”

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Photo Courtesy: Steamboat Swim Team Photography

Yep, right from the get-go. There’s just something extra difficult about getting in the cold water at 5 a.m., knowing what coach has in store for you over the next two hours.

2. “Go! Swim faster!”

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Photo Courtesy: Maddie Kyler

Whether it be at a meet or just at practice, this is a lot easier said than done. If you could swim faster, you would, right?

3. “Quit messing around!”

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been yelled at for messing around during practice. Before a hard set, every swimmer has tried to converse with coach about who knows what, hoping to waste a little bit of time. This usually leads to an extended practice, so in all efforts, the wasted time was indeed utilized.

4. “Kick!”

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Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

This can have several different meanings. You may be getting yelled at for not underwater kicking long enough, or you may have forgotten to kick during a set. We all have! Whatever it may be, sometimes kicking is just too hard to do, especially if you’re just barely surviving a set. But that doesn’t stop us from getting yelled at, does it?

5. “Streamline!”

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Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Nothing is worse than coach yelling at you to tighten your streamline when your shoulders are about to fall off, right? Even though streamlining can be very useful, it’s hard to carry out when you’re just too tired.

6. “Go on the top!”

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Photo Courtesy: Ironman

The easiest way to get our attention in the water is giving us a specific time to begin a set. Some may not use the typical pace clock or digital wall clock, but we all have a way of keeping track of how fast we’re swimming, what our interval is, or what we’re on, which leads to…

7. “What are you on?”

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Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia Ltd.

Of course, this question had to be on the list. It’s hard to keep track of what we’re doing, especially when the set is slightly tedious. Shoot, was that butterfly or breaststroke? Was I supposed to stop there? Thankfully, our coaches have our backs and make sure to keep us on track and accountable. Thanks, coach!

8. “Don’t Breathe!”

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Photo Courtesy: John Valenzuela

Again, this has several different levels of wrath. Don’t breathe into the wall, don’t breathe off of the wall, don’t breathe during underwaters, don’t breathe more than four times during a 50 … The list could go on and on.

9.  “Finish to the wall!”

West Virginia University's Ross Glegg WVU reaches for the wall to win Men's 100-Meter Freestyle event Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015, at the Orange Bowl Swimming Classic in Key Largo, Fla. West Virginia University won the men's division while Michigan placed first in the women's division. The event, staged at the Jacobs Aquatic Center, was the highlight of the winter collegiate swimming training season in the Florida Keys. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Stephen Frink/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

Photo Courtesy: Stephen Frink

At this point, you have no energy left to give and you’ve come off of the last wall to finish the hard set. Then you hear your coach: “Finish to the wall!” Yep, thanks coach. I plan on it, if I can make it there …

10. “No, you can’t go to the bathroom now!”

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Photo Courtesy: Heidi Torregroza

Again, we’ve all been there. It’s hard not to have to go during a two-hour practice. Not to mention, sometimes it’s nice to hide in the bathroom during a hard set.


Now a little off script, here are two favorite phrases from Omaha’s Todd Samland.

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Photo Courtesy: Ane Abraham

11. “One step, one punch, one round at a time.”

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Photo Courtesy: Josh Huger

This one comes from one of the greatest motivational movies of all time, Creed, and is used daily by University of Nebraska Omaha’s head swim coach, Todd Samland. It’s not necessarily a popular quote to yell during practice, but the meaning behind it is valuable to all swimmers. No matter how hard the set or what comes next, it’s important to focus on what’s happening now and continue one step at a time.

12. “Control only what you can control.”

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Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Samland uses this quote quite often as well; it’s something we tend to lose sight of the most. It’s hard to let go of bad practices, sets or races. We always try our best, but sometimes it just doesn’t go the way we want it to. What’s more important, however, is how we regenerate.

Get back up and try again. If you’ve given it your all, there’s nothing more you can ask for. Control your attitude, understand your training, and enjoy your wonderful experiences: they come once in a lifetime. Let go of allowing your failures to dictate how you perform.

We’ll never be able to account for all of the memories our coaches have helped make at practice. What does your coach say to you and your teammates?

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

18 Comments

18 comments

  1. Leslie Cichocki

    Mary Cunningham Scott Erdman

    This article is hilarious and true.

  2. Frank Elenio

    Anne Warren Kate Kaduboski 11 and 12 especially!

  3. Nikki Candy

    Cyndi Starr… thought your squad could relate!!

  4. Jim Liguori

    add “this is a fun-for-me set.”

    • avatar
      Bug Lipp

      Yes! I will say, this is a fun set. My swimmers have learned to ask, fun for you or fun for us?

    • Jim Liguori

      As a coach, I died laughing at my swimmer’s looks. 🙂

  5. Caroline Tallon

    Linda! Think we must say these several times a night😩

Author: Isabelle Robuck

avatar
Isabelle Robuck is a student-athlete at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Majoring in exercise science with a minor in journalism, Isabelle plans to finish her senior year at UNO in the water and looks forward to her future in Omaha. Go Mavericks!

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