A Day in The Life of a College Swimmer

Beach Studying
Photo Courtesy: Dan Worden

By Isabelle Robuck, Swimming World College Intern.

Swimming is one of the most important parts of college students’ lives. Practices, meets and keeping up with schoolwork make up what seems like endless days. From pushing the pencil to donning the cap and goggles, we follow a strict schedule – eat, sleep, swim, a little homework and then repeat. Although college teams have different layouts, a day’s work is generally laid out in the order below. How do you relate to a day in the life of a college swimmer?

Step 1: Practice


Photo Courtesy: Pexels

Wake up for practice. Yippee! There’s nothing better than jumping in an icy pool before your brain begins to function! This isn’t, however, as fun as some might think. With a full day of classes ahead, waking up early may affect our ability to focus not only during class but also when chipping away at the endless pile of homework. This makes getting up early that much harder!

For some, this is our main practice. For others, this is just a wake up swim – there’s more to come in the afternoon. If you’re really lucky, you don’t have to get up early, and your only practice is later on in the day.

Step 2: Breakfast & Morning Class


Photo Courtesy: Linnaea Mallette

Time to begin the day! Actually, time to eat seventeen plates of food with the rest of the dining hall ogling your heaping plates. Most athletes tend to have at least one 8 or 9 a.m. class throughout their college career; it’s almost impossible to avoid.

So, after practice, swimmers usually have an awkward amount of time waiting for class to begin. Sometimes class is near the pool, so you’re able to spend your time wisely by eating and doing homework. However, this doesn’t make up for the lovely chlorine smell that inevitably follows you around all day. Get ready for whiff of chlorine, classmates!

Step 3: Nap Time


Photo Courtesy: CJ, flickr

By this time, you’ve completed a class or two and that 5 a.m. wake-up call is beginning to catch up with you. It’s nap time, and all swimmers know that nothing is better than an afternoon snooze! You put down the books and grab your pillow. Or sometimes, you just fall asleep in the books.

Step 4: Practice Number Two


Photo Courtesy: Eileen Hall

Although we all would like to be taking a nap, many teams still have afternoon practice. It’s smart to eat some sort of snack in order to make it through three hours of who knows what. After a light lunch, off to the pool you go!

Step 5: Dryland


Photo Courtesy: USA Swimming

After pool time comes weights and dryland. If there’s one thing that most swimmers can relate to, it’s this: Water and land sports are completely different. While most college swimmers are like fish in the water, they can’t run or catch a ball to save their lives. Others may have a bit more out-of-water athleticism. Regardless, they try their best to finish a good practice.

Step 6: Dinner


Photo Courtesy: Twitter, @RyanLochte

Finally, practices are over for the day! After more food, evening class begins. Your mind is forced to shift from survival mode and into physics mode. This is usually when you begin thinking about how the next day will pan out. Planning and time-management are huge parts of a college swimmer’s careers, so being able to prioritize and spend time wisely is extremely important.

Step 7: Relaxation

By this time, the day is almost over and you’re finally able to relax for a little bit before bed time. A little snack usually helps to wind down along with a good movie. If you have homework remaining, now is the time to get it done. Even though you don’t always want to be working on assignments, pushing through with determination to finish is better than procrastination!

Step 8: Bedtime & Recharging


Photo Courtesy: Kelly Lennon

Bed time! After a long day, it’s time to finally reset for tomorrow. Regardless if you feel accomplished or not, you made it through the day. That, in itself, is an accomplishment.

The Life of a College Swimmer

The days may seem long, but your time in the water sure is short – college swimming zooms by before you know it.

What does your typical day look like?

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


  1. Ja Bounce

    Shouldn’t this be titled… All the extra time you thought you’d have in college is spent on sleeping & more practice…

  2. avatar

    Not even close Lynette. College is different world.

    • avatar

      True, HS swimmers wake up at 4 am for their morning swims then go to school all day, then have afternoon swim until 9 pm. On the mrnings they dont have doubles, they have strength training. College swimming has more regulations of much time an athlete is allowed to practice. Plus, in college…teams offer mandatory study halls and tutors if need…not so in year round HS swim.

  3. Sandye Horne

    This is already his daily routine ?Practice 530am…school..weights 430pm…practice530pm…hour drive each way…so wake up is actually 430am ?

    • Jamie Platts

      Once upon a time mate… now it’s exactly that but for 3 different disciplines not just swimming ?‍♀️ x

    • Kristen Toth

      This is like the ideal luxury day of a college swimmer what with the nap time and relaxation time hahaha

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