Coaches Reveal the Funniest Excuses They Have Ever Heard

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

You’d be lying if you said you’ve never racked your brain to come up with any–and I mean any–excuse to get out of going to practice.

“I’m sick.” Chances are you’ve already used that one…more times than you’d like to admit.

“I’m too tired.” True, but that one won’t get you out of anything.

“My shoulder hurts.” Please, be a little more creative than that.

“My alarm didn’t go off.” Oldest trick in the book.

Although excuses are the easy way out and act as a barrier to success, I’ll admit, sometimes the most creative excuses result in a good laugh.

Here are 11 of the funniest excuses college coaches have ever heard:

1. “I had an athlete who was heavy into astrology and informed me that they could not make practice as their daily horoscope had forewarned them of an accident awaiting them. I didn’t see them for three days until the ‘danger’ had passed.”

Woody Woodard, Head Coach, Colorado State University

2. “I had a first-year swimmer who texted me to tell me that he could not start preseason with us because he got a tattoo and ‘it went bad.'”

Eileen Hall, Head Coach, Saint Michael’s College

jack Bauerle Bob Bowman

Photo Courtesy: Peter Bick

3. “I had a swimmer leave me a voicemail at 4:15 a.m. telling me the airline called to say that her flight was going to leave two hours early, which meant she couldn’t make the last workout before winter break.”

Brad Burnham, Head Coach, Bowdoin College

4. “We actually had a kid this past year look at us and say, ‘I was just hanging out with friends.'”

Jason Hite, Head Coach, University of Indianapolis

5. “I had an international swimmer tell me he missed practice because of bad dreams.”

John Brooks, Head Coach, Brigham Young University

Photo Courtesy: Hayley Good

Photo Courtesy: Hayley Good

6. Coach: “Did you train over Thanksgiving?”

Swimmer: “No.”

Coach: “Why not?”

Swimmer: “It was too cold out.”

Coach: “How cold was it?”

Swimmer: “I don’t know. Maybe below 60 degrees. I didn’t go outside.”

Leslie Shevlin, Head Coach, Willamette University

7. “The swimmer was too full from the trip us coaches took them on to the Cheesecake Factory.”

Jamie Platt, Head Coach, La Salle University


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

8. “The best one from last year is ‘Sorry I couldn’t make practice, I had to break up with my girlfriend on Skype.'”

Heidi Voigt, Head Coach, Northern Michigan University

9. “The swimmer came to the pool and realized that they left their suit and equipment bag back in their dorm. They went back to the dorm and it was locked so they did not come to practice.”

Richard Sybesma, Head Coach, Texas Christian University


Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins-Vermont Athletics

10. “I had a swimmer tell me they couldn’t come to practice because they were up all night long studying. It was a Saturday.”

Gerry Cournoyer, Head Coach, University of Vermont

11. “I had a swimmer, in the middle of winter, wipe out on his bike on his way to early morning practice because it was too slippery. When I asked why he rode his bike in the snow, he admitted it was to hopefully wipe out and not be able to practice.”

Jon Carlson, Head Coach, Gustavus Adolphus College

Props to these swimmers for thinking of these creative excuses, but my guess is that they didn’t go over too well with their coaches.

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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  1. Roy Shepherdson

    Not an excuse as such but a funny coaching story nonetheless.

    As a Coach at a meet I had a member of pool staff complain about one of my swimmers.
    The swimmer had swapped the male/female changing room signs over (pretty funny in itself) and been caught.

    So I questioned the swimmer who swiftly denied it was her. I said “but Becky, you had your club hat on when you did it” to which she said “but there’s loads of us with our club hats on, so why you picking on me?”…
    “Because your club hat is the only one with Becky written on it!!!”

  2. Sue Aitken-Booth

    One of my swimmers once told me he couldn’t swim in a team event at the weekend because he was ” teckin his pig t’ pig show!
    (We are in a very rural area but he got 10 out of 10 for originality)

  3. Pete Barry

    Coach, I had to take care of the ducks, there’s a raccoon that is breaking in and killing them.

  4. avatar

    I had a swimmer tell me she missed practice because she just got a pedicure and loves the new polish color and didn’t want to mess that up.

  5. Ali Polhill

    TCU Swimming & Diving Alumni look who made the article 👀

  6. Kara Casseri Martin

    I had a swimmer tell me she missed practice because she just got a pedicure and loves the new polish color and didn’t want to mess that up.

  7. Tasha McGill

    “It’s my Mom’s birthday.” 1)She gets them yearly, and 2)It will still be her birthday after the workout.

  8. Michael Keleny

    Also coaching in a smaller high school, lots of FFA kids, one of them shows cows, and has one that’s rather stubborn. “I couldn’t get my cow into the trailer, and she kicked me too” I laughed the entire practice. (Wisconsin)

    • Katia Knaebe

      Michael Keleny I definitely told coaches all kinds of shit. Like I can’t practice because it’s my birthday (in a week 🤦‍♀️). I didn’t even use an excuse sometimes, just clung to the blocks until I was pried off.

  9. Claire Walmsley

    Simon R. Pickering I’m sure you had a whole load of ours jotted down 😂

  10. Dan Beale

    Stewart Crowe I bet you’ve heard some classics over the years…

  11. Anders Hansen Møller

    1: fell asleep with my face in the cereal Bowl
    2: jetlag after a weekend trip with a 1 hour difference (not even morning practice)

  12. Callum Quigley

    George Morreal these are all fair enough, especially number 11

  13. avatar

    I asked a younger swimmer why they were sitting on the wall and his response was “Because I’m Sea Sick!” 🤣

  14. avatar

    Not sure if she has used this excuse with her coach but my daughter misses every Monday morning training. Her excuse “because I have a life”.

  15. avatar
    Roger Karns

    My spleen hurts.

  16. avatar

    The water is too cold for my stroke

  17. avatar

    After 35 years of coaching I thought I had a good one to share, but nope, I can’t beat these excuses!

  18. Sune Thonesen

    Jens Peter Träff de her komme jo slet ikke i nærhede af Magnus eller Flemming

    • Jens Peter Träff

      Sune Thonesen nej Magnus Iversen og Hans “begravelser” om morgenen er på et helt andet niveau. Ligeledes Flemming og hans spirituelle pauser 🙂 🙂

    • Magnus Iversen

      Mage til respektløshed skal man lede efter, fra to så æreløse svømmere!😈

    • Magnus Iversen

      Kasper Flemming Rasmussen helt enig. Tydeligt at se ingeniører ikke ejer skyggen af kreativ tænkning!

    • Jens Peter Träff

      Magnus Iversen det bliver i hvert fald tydeligt når Man kigger i det big black book of the ventetid 🙂

  19. avatar

    I can’t practice because I have diarrhea-

  20. Dianne Fraser

    These made me sad. If a young adult doesnt want to go to practice occasionally they shouldnt need to make excuses.

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