15 Reasons To Love (and Hate) Swimming Outdoors

Training Trip
Photo Courtesy: Madison Carroll

By Kelsey Mitchell, Swimming World College Intern.

The summer provides a unique opportunity for swimmers, as many get the chance to train and compete outdoors. The envy of all who swim indoors, outdoor swimmers love (and hate) these 15 things.

1. Air Quality

For many swimmers, practicing outdoors means great air quality. As many of us are stuck in humid, stuffy, dungeon-like pools all winter, being able to swim outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine is a treat for our oxygen-deprived lungs.

2. Two-Piece Suits


Photo Courtesy: Meaghan Abelein

Though they can be worn indoors too, nothing beats wearing a two-piece suit in an outdoor pool. With a two piece suit comes the luxury of feeling the water on your stomach and, of course, the perfect tan!

3. An Awesome Tan


Photo Courtesy: Laura Nagle

Speedo or not, any swimmer who practices outdoors is going to be tan! You are bronze and golden, and you didn’t even have to sit under a tanning bed. It all happened while you were putting in the work at practice.

4. Bugs

With every positive thing outdoor pools bring, there is an equal and opposite negative – one of those being bugs. They’re flying, they’re drowning, they’re biting and they’re stinging. It doesn’t matter. They exist solely to distract and spook you during practice.

5. Backstroke Glare


Photo Courtesy: Michael-David Morales

For those who do backstroke, outdoor pools mean temporary blindness and fist-fights with the lane-lines. Though it gets easier with practice, swimming backstroke while staring directly into the sun is never enjoyable. Tinted goggles can only do so much.

6. Outdoor Meets


Photo Courtesy: Sarah Crocker

Outdoor meets are the best meets. Maybe it’s because they’re often during summer when there’s no school to worry about. Maybe it’s because you are sitting under a pop-up tent in the grass with your favorite teammates. Whatever it is, those outdoor meets always leave the best memories.

7. Scorching Feet

Imagine this: it’s over 100 degrees outside, the sun is more intense than ever, the block you are standing on is black for some reason, and the starter is holding you up there for quite a long time. Or maybe you forgot your shoes and have to walk across the scorching deck without them. Ouch.

8. The Sunshine


Photo Courtesy: Cathleen Pruden

The sun is shining! It’s so bright! It’s in your eyes and you can’t see at all! Even if you have completely lost your vision because of the sun, swimming outside is way better than swimming in the musty, damp pool in the basement of your school’s rec center.

9. A Not-So-Awesome Tan

Goggle tan, cap tan, knee skin tan, that big circle you get on your back from a one-piece tan; all are very unfortunate. Even if you do have the perfect tan, too much sun can be damaging to your skin down the road.

10. Inclement Weather

A swimmer’s best friend; a coach’s sworn enemy. When the thunder and lightning come marching into town, we go marching out of the pool. Delayed meets and canceled practices – we are here for all of it.

11. Watching Your Shadow on the Pool Bottom

Being able to see your shadow on the bottom of the pool is pretty darn cool: mesmerizing even. Your shadow looks long, sleek and seal-like. Watching it follow you down the black line is a pretty good way to pass the time during those distance sets. Of course, the water has to be pretty calm for this one.

12. Running to the Locker Room

cerave invitational

Photo Courtesy: Heidi Torregroza

On those occasional chilly days, getting out of the pool and racing into the locker room is one of the hardest but most rewarding parts of practice. The air is cold and the wind is biting at your toes, but you know that a warm, steamy shower is waiting for you.

13. Neighborhood Pools

They are tiny, gutter-less, and a swim team’s worst nightmare. As soon as the first set starts and your teammates begin to turn on the heat, that tiny pool is going to turn into a four-lane ocean. You would’ve just gone to the lake if you wanted to swim in open water.

14. Sun Burns

We all know that mom – the one always smothering her child in gallons of sunblock. No matter how much she puts on, her kid always turns into a glowing, red lobster by the unforgiving UV rays.

15. Steam


Photo Courtesy: Annie Grevers

It’s those early morning practices when the sun is just starting to rise and the air is still cold. The world around you is still and the pool is covered in a blanket of soft, white steam. Seeing that calm, steaming pool makes diving in for morning practice a little bit easier.

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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6 years ago

Love this so true

Pro Women Fitness
6 years ago

Quite curious. :/

Jack Beachboard
6 years ago

Shawn Cowper Daniels 24 days!!!!!!!!

Sherri Bogue
6 years ago

Love outdoors

Keren Edwards
6 years ago

California kids have no choice! And the weather is not always warm and sunny!

1 year ago

So true! Furthermore, outdoor swimming offers the opportunity to connect with nature. Embracing the outdoor environment while swimming is truly a wonderful way to embrace the beauty of both water and nature.

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