5 Impossible Things to Explain to the Non-Swimmer

Photo Courtesy: Hayley Good

5 Impossible Things to Explain to the Non-Swimmer

By Erin Himes, Swimming World College Intern

Swimming is a different sport, which is why explaining things to non-swimmers can get tricky sometimes. While swimmers pretty much speak another language, here are a few of the hardest things to explain to someone who doesn’t spend their days in the pool.

1. Taking one day off will kill you.

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.

One day off of working out isn’t the worst thing for the average gym-goer. However, for a swimmer, one day feels like a week off of anything else. When a non-swimmer can’t understand why you can’t miss just one practice, you know they have never experienced that feeling.

2. Just how significant half a second is

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

When a non-swimmer shows up to a meet and sees a personal best by .50 seconds, they might be surprised to see a smile. Those who don’t spend every day working for those slim margins of victory probably can’t comprehend how sweet it feels, even when it is small.

3. How long a meet is


Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia Ltd.

Explaining that your race that is just a few minutes long is going to take up your entire day, or even your entire weekend, is confusing for those who don’t know about it. Prelims, finals, and the obvious in-between nap are extremely time consuming, as swimmers know.

4. That winning isn’t the only important thing


Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most difficult concepts to explain to a non-swimmer is that losing a meet doesn’t always hold just disappointment. When a classmate or friend asks “Did you win?!” only to be answered with no, there’s an assumption of sadness after the answer. However, explaining that the meet might have been a success because of new best times and strong team efforts always throws people off a bit.

5. Taper

georgia-relay-ncaa-championships swimmer

Photo Courtesy: Reagan Lunn/Georgia Tech Athletics

Explaining to a non-swimmer that we swim less in order to go faster is maybe the most confusing part of the sport. To an outsider, it makes absolutely no sense that you would back off before a big meet. To a swimmer, the importance and necessity of taper is absolutely unquestionable.

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


  1. Rodolfo Arrue

    6) that swimming is the toughest / most demanding sport… ever

  2. avatar

    Getting in the water at 6 am to ??‍♂️ ?‍♀️ b fore school

  3. avatar

    Chlorine smells better than any perfume on our skin ?

  4. avatar
    Francisco J Serrano

    going to my 70th birthday in few days I still need the swimming, need the pool (addiction ??).. need to feel the water.

  5. avatar

    The feeling of happiness when you dive in after not swimming in a long time.

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