8 Swimming ‘Beige Flags’: In Between a Green Flag and a Red Flag

Jul 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Michelle Williams of Canada adjusts her goggles before the women's 100m freestyle swimming preliminaries during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

8 Swimming ‘Beige Flags’: In Between a Green Flag and a Red Flag

I am sure many people are familiar with the TikTok trend where individuals share their significant other’s “beige flags.” For those who are unaware of the humorous trend, a beige flag is something that somebody does that makes others think to themselves, “hmm… what are they doing?” Beige flags fall somewhere between a green flag and a red flag, and these habits are typically questionable, but not quite deal-breakers. I thought this trend would be fun to bring to life in the sport of swimming, so I brainstormed some of the most unusual things that swimmers do that might make people wonder what is going through their head. Read on to see what swimming habits qualify as a beige flag!

Slapping Yourself Before a Race

Everyone has their own pre-race routine. What one swimmer does behind the block might look completely different than what someone else does before they swim. One common pre-race ritual among swimmers is the typical “slapper.” Often, swimmers will slap their arms, legs or chest before they hop up on the block to dive in for the race. As mentioned earlier, everybody has their own pre-race routine that works for them, but this one in particular tends to draw a lot of attention. Whether you are a fan watching from the stands, or a fellow swimmer cheering on deck, you will probably take notice of the people who are slapping their bodies and think to yourself, “hmm, what are they doing?” This is a harmless action that doesn’t bother anybody, but rather makes people question what is going on.

How Swimmers Wait to Shave Until a Big Meet

Waiting to shave your legs until the night before a big meet is something that only swimmers understand. Training all season long with extra drag from leg hair is a resistance training technique that most swimmers take part in. This beige flag is something that people outside the sport of swimming either don’t understand or find weird.

Writing All Over Your Body in Sharpie


Photo Courtesy: Linda Griswold

A common action that many age-group swimmers take part in at swim meets is writing on their arms, legs and back in Sharpie marker. A lot of young swimmers find it helpful when they write their event number, heat and lane on their arm for all their events so that they don’t forget when it is time to line up behind the block. After swimmers take the time to write down their event information, they will sometimes go a little crazy with the Sharpie and start writing all over their friends with the marker. We have all seen the classic line written on the back of swimmers that states, “eat my bubbles,” with a bunch of bubbles drawn next to it. To swimmers, drawing on your teammate’s back with a Sharpie is an unforgettable experience that you will always look back on. On the other hand, those outside the sport of swimming probably wouldn’t understand the purpose behind all the drawings and phrases written all over kids’ bodies, making them wonder what it’s all about.

Bleaching/Dyeing/Shaving Your Hair

A common trend among high school swimmers is the fun festivity of bleaching or dyeing your hair leading up to high school districts and states. This beige flag is another situation where it is completely normal to swimmers, but it most likely throws off other students and local residents. Once again, this is a harmless tradition, but could be seen as a little weird to those outside the sport.

Dancing Behind the Blocks

Jul 18, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Sierra Schmidt of the United States dances on the pool deck before competing in the women's swimming 800m freestyle final during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel/USA Today Sports Images

Another pre-race ritual for some swimmers is dancing behind the blocks. This routine is not as common as slapping your arms and legs, but it definitely stands out. Usually, swimmers are pretty low key as they prepare for their race as they might be nervous or focused on getting in the zone. Seeing swimmers dance behind the blocks before their race is enjoyable because you can see their energy and the way that they are just having fun with the sport! Dancing before a race is pretty uncommon which is why those who do it usually stand out to the people around them.

The Faces Swimmers Make When Adjusting Their Goggles

You know the face you make when you are trying to adjust your goggles so that they are suctioned perfectly to your face? Yes, the one where you open your mouth and maybe stick out your tongue so that the skin around your eyes is stretched. This is something that so many swimmers are guilty of, yet we all think it looks a little funny when we see others do it.

Breathing to the Side During Butterfly

For some, breathing to the side during butterfly is faster and more comfortable. Side-breathing for butterfly is not super common which is why some might see it and wonder why a swimmer would choose to breathe to the side instead of breathe forward like most swimmers.

Wearing Gloves Behind the Block

Staying warm at a meet is crucial to success for swimmers. Throwing on your warmups and a pair of socks and shoes is a great way to keep your muscles warm and loose so that they don’t tense up before you swim. Sometimes, swimmers will even go as far as putting on a pair of gloves, too. Wearing gloves at a swim meet is not that common, but when people see it, they might find it a little odd to see a swimmer wearing gloves on the pool deck. Some fans sitting in the stands might even start to wonder if they came to the right sporting event!

I hope you enjoyed this light-hearted article about the beige flags of swimming! Share some more swim habits/routines that you think are beige flags in the comments section below!

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