Swimming Traditions: Long-standing Rituals from Northern Michigan University

Photo Courtesy: Northern Michigan University

By Rachel Helm, Swimming World College Intern. 

Every team has a unique identity and with that comes a variety of different traditions. From your high school to your college team to even your club team, traditions facilitate team unity and create shared memories across several swimming generations.

Northern Michigan University have several traditions – here are a few of our favorites.

1). Flag representation of teammates from different countries


Photo Courtesy: Matt Williams

NMU is very lucky to have such a cultured team, with athletes representing several countries from the United Kingdom to Australia. At the beginning of the school year, flags are added or removed from the wall depending on the current roster. This tradition makes the international athletes feel more at home, supported and reminded of their home country.

2). Annual Camping Trip


Photo Courtesy: Matt Williams

At the start of each fall semester, both the men’s and women’s team embark on a camping trip. While at the camp site, you are supplied with burgers, hot dogs, snacks and most importantly s’mores. Sitting around the campfire gives the team an important chance to bond with each other and just spend time together outside of the pool.

3). The blindfold walk


Photo Courtesy: Matt Williams

Each year at the camping trip, the team captains lead the rest of their team through a mystery course with blindfolds. The team is split in two – Gold and Green – and the captains lead their teams through the wooded area. This is the perfect exercise to build up trust and communication with your teammates along with a good laugh.

4). Seniors’ Green Hand on the Wall


Photo Courtesy: Matt Williams

At the end of their completed four years of eligibility and time at NMU swim team, the seniors paint their hand green and leave their print on the locker room wall. Alongside their hand print is their name and the years they competed on the team. This tradition not only adds bright hand prints throughout the locker room but it is also full of memories of all the previous Wildcats. It gives the current roster a sense of the team’s history and those who paved the way for their success.

5). 12 days of Christmas

Before the athletes are allowed to leave for Christmas break, they must complete the 12 days of Christmas set. This set can range from high-fiving a teammate to a small relay within your lane. It always ends in coach’s husband’s favorite stroke…the infamous side stroke.

6). Easter Egg Hunt

Every Easter, the team has an Easter egg hunt set. Every freshman’s name is inserted into a hat to be drawn. Once called, they have to get out the pool and find an egg. Inside each egg is a mini swim or task. If you’re lucky and find the ‘get out swim’ first, then that’s a very easy practice for you. If not, it can range from a 400 IM to giving a fist bump to your favorite diver on the team.

7). “Wildcats on three, one…two …three “


Photo Courtesy: Matt Williams

At the end of every practice, every team meeting and every meet, there is always a breakdown. The mascot of NMU is a Wildcat. So when given the opportunity to break it down, the athlete will say “Wildcats on three, one…two…three,” and the rest of the team shouts, “Wildcats!”

We know the Wildcats aren’t the only team with strong traditions. What are some of your favorite team traditions? Comment below!

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