A Look at 10 Habits and Superstitions Shared By Swimmers

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Every swimmer has one or more habits, superstitions or rituals that they cannot live without. Some are simple while others are complex and drawn out. Certain ones may only apply to meets, while others could be a daily occurrence. After spending some time reflecting with teammates and friends from around the sport of swimming, here are 10 of the most common habits and superstitions among swimmers:

Napping and Sleeping

Swimmers love to sleep, and sleep a lot! Being in a sport famous for early wake-up calls and intense training, swimmers will find any opportunity to sneak in a few extra hours (or minutes) of sleep. Napping in between sessions at a prelims/finals meet is almost a given. During times of training multiple sessions a day, a good night’s sleep and an additional nap or two is needed. To sum it up, swimmers love their sleep.

Eating… a Lot

Food is a very significant part of a swimmer’s daily life, and for the most part, swimmers eat a lot. Swimmers are well known for large diets, and many even follow the famous “carb load” rituals before meets. However, two former teammates noted their specific rituals. One said they would only eat right after waking up, and another said they used to eat bananas before races, citing that bananas can prevent lactic acid buildup and reduce anxiety.

Behind the Blocks Rituals

Pre-race superstitions and rituals likely apply to almost every swimmer. Most know exactly what they are going to do to best mentally prepare for a race. One former teammate noted they would make sure to get behind the blocks extremely early to not miss their race, while another discussed seeing swimmers with specific stretching routines or splashing water on themselves to get ready. When I stretched before a meet, I had one song that I would only listen to and had a specific count of how many arm swings and jumps to do behind the blocks. Whether it is stretches, splashes, music or something else, nearly every swimmer has a superstitious ritual.

Equipment Preferences

Specific equipment is also a superstitious must-have for swimmers. One former teammate noted their lucky towel and specific goggles, and another said how they would “double cap” for long races, but only use one cap for a sprint. Personally, I would double cap for every race and kept separate pairs of training and racing goggles.

Warm-Up

Foam rolling. Stretching. A long swim. None of the above. Most swimmers likely had preferences surrounding their practice and meet warm-up routines. Throughout my years as a swimmer, I recall teammates who would get to a practice or meet extremely early to be prepared and have a long period of stretching and warming up, while others were rushing in the door at the last possible second and scrambling to give the illusion of a prompt arrival. In the water, the variability among swimmers was also high, but most had the same routine each day. Some swimmers moved quickly through warmup, while other teammates warmed up at a more moderate, comfortable pace.

Lane Assignments

For some swimmers, they can go in any lane and just swim. For others, a practice lane or lane assignment at a meet means everything. Swimmers are creatures of habit and usually train in the same lane with the same teammates each day. “Training groups” and “training buddies” quickly become a part of life as a swimmer. And while swimmers often have less control of lane assignments at meets, Anne Warren, a former Bentley University swimmer, said for college dual meets that she enjoyed the opportunity to swim near the middle of the pool to “keep an eye on her competitors,” while also recalling a teammate who insisted having the end lane for dual meet events.

Race Visualization

Swimming is a sport based on preparation meant for a desired result, and often involves both physical and mental training to reach goals. Casey Koenig, a former Ithaca College swimmer, recalled how she would often visualize her races before a meet to prepare herself for competition. Others will use it as part of training, and some might even daydream in class about what a future race could look like.

Fast Pool vs. Slow Pool

This superstition varies team to team, where ones that swim well at a facility sometimes superstitiously call it a “fast pool,” but then title a venue they perform poorly at to be a “slow pool.” Whether they correlate to superstitions or not, there is some aqua-dynamic merit to the idea of a “fast pool” or a “slow pool.” An old coach noted that deeper pools are “faster” because they reduce waves and resistance, and ones with high gutters are “slower” because it allows for waves to persist, adding more resistance.

Constant Showering

Between morning workouts, swims after classes, and dryland workouts, swimmers are always on the run, and always exercising. A lot of exercising means a lot of showering, and swimmers are always finding themselves showering off all of the chlorine we willing bath ourselves in.

Goggle Marks and Goggle Tan

Even though short course swimming season is a winter occurrence, warm weather is always claimed as an opportunity for swimmers to swim outdoors. However, the first week I trained outdoors, I forgot that sunny and 95 degrees will still leave a mark, and I went to school with “raccoon eyes” from the tan lines my goggles left me with.

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2 years ago

With the exception of eating I can relate to everyone on them. Been swimming all my life on the master team I swim on I’m known as toy boy because of the bag of equipment I bring to each workout

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