Swimming: A Love-Hate Relationship


Swimming: A Love-Hate Relationship

By Rachel Sansano, Swimming World College Intern 

To an outsider, swimmers seem to have a strange relationship with their sport. They simultaneously love and hate every aspect of it. They complain to anyone who will listen. But at the same time, they are the first to fiercely defend their sport if anyone dares to question it. A swimmer’s love-hate relationship with the sport is something that only they can truly understand. 


Why We Hate It

Achy muscles, screaming shoulders and raccoon eyes (from wearing goggles for too long) are all trademarks of a swimmer. These three things are staples in every swimmer’s life. On top of this, swimmers spend most of their day with wet hair and droopy eyelids. Sitting through class with water slowly dripping from your messy bun is enough to drive anyone insane. 

Why We Love It 

Swimming takes a toll on your body. There is no sugar coating it. That being said, nothing compares to an after-practice high. When you finish the seemingly impossible set that coach dreamed up, you feel unstoppable. After a good practice, swimmers leave the pool feeling powerful and ready to take on the world. 

The Clock 

Why We Hate It

pace clock

Photo Courtesy: Swimming World

Every swimmer, at some point in their career, has hated the clock. It’s what we live and die by. The clock tells us that we failed to meet our goal, that it’s time to wake up for 5 a.m. practice, and that we missed the interval…again. 

Why We Love It 

But, the clock is also your best friend. It shows that your hard work has paid off. The clock gives you something to race, something to keep you grounded in reality when that little black line seems like it is your entire world. At my pool, we have a digital clock with bright red numbers. Every second that goes by is a red blip on the screen. This red reflects onto the water and lights up the whole pool. It is a constant reminder that the clock is counting down to the end of the set, the end of practice, and eventually, the end of the season.


Why We Hate Them

Above all else, meets are mentally draining. The anxiety that you feel behind the blocks or in the warmup pool can be overwhelming. Scary thoughts fill your brain and threaten to take over your race. In addition to this mental toll, meets are physically draining. The exhaustion you feel after a four-day, prelims-finals meet is hard to beat. 

Why We Love Them

Meets are a swimmer’s time to shine. This is where they see their hard work pay off. The adrenaline that we feel behind the blocks, or after a big race is what keeps us going. Finishing a race and seeing a best time next to your name is what keeps us motivated. Every swimmer loves meets…right?   


Why We Hate It

Practice is hands down the easiest part of swimming to hate. It is hard to pick the most hated part of practice. There are just so many options. Is it the overcrowded lanes? The never-ending sets? Or maybe it’s coach’s sweet, smooth voice yelling, “FASTER!” The possibilities are endless. 

Why We Love It

Swimmers love practice because it challenges them. Each set pushes them a little bit closer toward their end goal. 


Why We Hate It

This is an easy one. Who wants to smell like bleach? I am willing to bet no one is a fan of smelling like toilet cleaner. 

Why We Love It

It reminds us of home. 


Swimming is full of highs and lows. None of it is easy, but all of it is rewarding. Fight through the tired days, the achy muscles, and know that there are easier days ahead.

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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