The Characteristics Found in 6 Different Types of Swimmers

kathleen-baker
Photo Courtesy: Harry How

The Characteristics Found in 6 Different Types of Swimmers

Not all swimmers are created equal. Some are sprinters. Some are distance swimmers. Some are everything in-betweeners. Some swimmers like butterfly more than backstroke. No matter their stroke, swimmers come in all shapes, mentalities and speeds. Despite these differences, some common traits emerge among those who specialize in certain events in our sport.

To celebrate our differences (and poke a little fun), here is a list of the traits found in six types of swimmers. Of course, many of these traits are transferrable, so take this piece with a light heart and a willingness to laugh.

1. The Distance Swimmers

FINA World Championships Katie Ledecky

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya. Katie Ledecky is one of the best known distance swimmers of our time. She is known for her determination and intense training regimen.

Distance swimmers are usually very stubborn and determined. They don’t like to lose and will keep pushing until the race is over. It takes a special person to swim a mile as a race. But somehow, distance swimmers manage to tackle some of the hardest races head on. Whether you swim the 800 free or the 200 fly (this is a distance race and you cannot change my mind), we salute you.

2. The Sprinters

abbey-weitzeil-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

On the opposite end of the swimmer spectrum, we have our sprinters. It takes a powerful explosion and all of your energy to win a 50 freestyle. While it may seem that a sprinter’s practice is easy when compared to the distance set, it is simply more focused on fast reaction times and extremely high intensity necessary for their race. Sprinters swim in their lane, distance swimmers stick to their own.

3. Individual Medley Swimmers

chase-kalisz-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick. Chase Kalisz, IM specialist and Olympic champion.

If you have ever swum a 400 IM and wanted to do it again, there might be something wrong with you. Just kidding. Our next type of swimmer is the stroke star…the IMers! People who swim the IM are adaptable and able to swim all four strokes with ease. And when they get to their favorite stroke of the event, watch out! IMers go with the flow and are adaptable to any kind of set coach puts on the board.

4. The Breaststrokers

lilly-king-congratulates-cody-miller

Photo Credit: Instagram, @_king_lil. Lilly King congratulating her teammate Cody Miller for winning Bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 100 meter breaststroke with this throwback picture.

They are… the odd swimmers in the pool. They will often be found stretching in weird positions behind the block. Breaststrokers have strange drills to help hone hip flexibility. Breaststroke is a strange stroke to begin with and is one of the most technically challenging strokes to master. It’s not easy to kick like a frog, but our funny friends enjoy it.

Need more proof as to why breaststrokers are the funny ones? Take a look at fellow breaststroke legends and Hoosiers Lilly King’s (@_king_lil) and Cody Miller’s (@swimiller) Twitter pages. You won’t regret it.

5. The Butterfliers

hali-flickinger-

Hali Flickinger. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Just like the distance swimmers, those who specialize in butterfly are a different breed. They are tough mentally and physically and thrive during a hard workout. Anyone who has swum a 200 butterfly knows how hard it is to not give up. They are hardcore and most likely icing their shoulders after practice.

Now, last but not least, we have…

6. The Backstrokers

Kaylee McKeown breaks Commonwealth and Australian Record, 100m BACKSTROKE Final, 2021 Sydney Open, Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre , May 15 2021. Photo by Delly Carr / SOPAC. Pic credit is mandatory for complimentary editorial usage. I thank you in advance.

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

As Olympian Matt Grevers once said,

“Backstrokers are the most relaxed swimmers that I know of…”

Maybe it is because backstrokers don’t have to hold their breath while swimming. Maybe it’s because you get to have a nice float on your back. Whatever the case, backstrokers are chill. Click this link for a video of some team USA members talking about the different swimmer types.

What did we get right? Are all breaststrokers weird, or is it just swimmers in general that are weird? Did we miss another type of swimmer?

-All commentary is the opinion of the author and does not reflect upon the views of Swimming World Magazine or its staff.

60 Comments
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Sarah Noll
3 years ago

Howdy, anyone who is reading this. This was my last article for Swimming World Magazine. It was a fun ride and I learned a lot from it! I hope you have enjoyed this article, maybe you’ll like some of the other ones I wrote too. Just keep swimming 🙂

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Belkis
2 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Noll

Loved the article. Good luck and keep writing whoever your life takes you.

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Suliana
2 years ago
Reply to  Belkis

Love this article

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Alejandro Godínez
2 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Noll

Have you ever considere the open water swimmers ??

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Alex Godinez
2 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Noll

Maybe you can take into consideration the water polo and open water swimmers as divers as well (Cliff divers and free Divers included) to make complete our diverse aquatic world.

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Alex Godinez
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Godinez

And synchronized swimming as well!

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3 years ago

Janelle Rada

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Jackie
3 years ago

What about 200m freestylers?
Even 100 fly and free stylers

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3 years ago

Brittany Suits Haha

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3 years ago

Maftuna Tuhtasinova you’re definitely the backstroker Haha

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3 years ago
Reply to  Carylyn Waite

Carylyn Waite seems pretty accurate? how about you? ?

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3 years ago
Reply to  Carylyn Waite

Maftuna Tuhtasinova i don’t know

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3 years ago

Leah Dawson
Aurora Doughty
Madison Piper

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3 years ago

Hailey Passmore definitely not a butterflier

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3 years ago

Julie Dineen Olson. This should help you
Make sense of this sport.

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3 years ago

Josh Barila

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3 years ago

Erin

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3 years ago

Sophie Mayer

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3 years ago

? the right pin on dart?

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2 years ago

Gigi Gill! ?

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2 years ago

Missy Mazurek this explains why you are “weird” ?

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2 years ago

Jean Stevens Mazurek ??? Dani Marie this is all you too!!

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2 years ago

Missy Mazurek Hahahaha maybe…?

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Joy Taylor

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2 years ago

Laura Riggs Tina Axford Bev Beasley Andy Hopkins

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2 years ago

Jennifer Naae Albanese

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Laura – no wonder we get along so well – we are a BREED apart!! ?

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Heidi C
2 years ago

I always thought as a backstroke you had to be a little crazy to race as fast as you can without being able to see where you are going. 🙂

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2 years ago

Jennifer Naae Albanese ain’t that the truth ?

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Hahahah Kayla Newman

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2 years ago

Sydney Jackson keep it weird

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2 years ago

Kelly Dodson McCrone Kim Scott Kelly Shannon Donovan Diven Steven Kast Jon Grafious David A. Lechler Chris Rhodes

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2 years ago

Matt Ciavarelli very funny! And spot on!

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2 years ago

Troy Chandler

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2 years ago

Just chill Alice Campbell

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2 years ago

Jack Newton??

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Joe McCafferty
2 years ago

My daughter Katie has been tackling the 1000 and 1650 the last few years of club swim and she is definitely stubborn!

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2 years ago

Katie Mccafferty are you stubborn? ?

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2 years ago

Sami Hernandez Lisa Donahue

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2 years ago

I’m a distance swimmer/breast stroker. I am determined and wierd ?

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2 years ago

Hahaha – love it!

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2 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa Essam

Vanessa Essam sounds like…..looks like.

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2 years ago

John Pisano

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2 years ago

this is dead on

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2 years ago

Anna Eisenhauer?

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Sandy Thatcher
2 years ago

So I started out as a butterflies in high school in the 1950s using the frog kick (because fly evolved out of breast), then swam the 200 fly as a freshman at Princeton where in a meet against Yale’s freshman led by world record holder Steve Clark I was thoroughly humiliated as I had almost 50 yards left to swim after my state champion teammate Kent Mast and two Yale high school All-Americans, Dale Kiefer (Adolph’s son) and Tim Kennedy had finished the race. So I switched to the 200 IM, less painful, for my varsity years, and as a masters swimmer in the 1970s my best event was the 400 IM. But I haven’t been able to finish a 400 IM or 200 fly in decades and have mostly become a backstroker by default since out causes the least pain. So after all these years I have learned how to chill and enjoy it!

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2 years ago

Courtney Bimber Pierce and John Bimber we fit all except number 6. I fit #3 real well

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2 years ago

I fit number 2 thats it

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2 years ago

Pam Oliver Goldsmith This is pretty accurate and a lot nicer way of describing the differences in our race styles. . LOL

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2 years ago

“You get to have a nice float on your back”?!??

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2 years ago

John Pisano

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2 years ago

I was kind of a mix. Generally a sprinter but my favorite was the 200 IM. Especially short course.

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2 years ago

Lovely… Thinking of each lovely swimmer I know❤️❤️❤️

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2 years ago

Thinking of my talented granddaughter, Olivia Anderson, who swam breaststroke for UT for 4 1/2 years. ??‍♀️??‍♀️??‍♀️

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2 years ago

What if your all 4 Alex Lynn xx

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2 years ago

Paige Vazquez Allyson Angle Katrice Keane

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2 years ago

Backstrokers are awesome!! But what about swimmers who love fins?

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2 years ago

Abby Hala

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Jeanet Elisa
5 months ago

Really great article. Enjoyable read! Write more!!

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Jan
5 months ago

how about marathon swimmers, or ice swimmers not forgetting the artistic, waterpolo or divers? If you think swimming a mile is hard try doing it at 4’c or doing 10 of them