The Swimmer Knows: 15 Unique Traits and Habits Of the Swimming World

The Swimmer Knows: 15 Unique Traits and Habits Of the Water World

By Allison Peters, Swimming World College Intern

Everybody has unique traits that make them tick, but swimmers’ quirks are much different from those of your everyday person. Here are 15 swimmer habits that these water-loving, dedicated and sometimes masochistic athletes know all too well.

Swimming Habits

1) Having a sixth sense about what clothes will fit their muscular arms.

More times than I can count I’ve been at the mall and my mom or a friend has held up a shirt saying how cute they think it is. My response? “Yes it is, but it would never fit my shoulders or arms.”

2) Falling asleep at any given time in any given place.

This may be more of a talent. A few swimmers on my team are famous for being able to fall asleep on a locker room bench or chair in a building on campus. We are up so early and are always so physically exhausted that when sleep calls, we must answer!

3) Out-eating all their non-swimmer friends, and probably most professional eaters.

I’m always getting made fun of for this. Whenever my parents come up for a swim meet, they take me out to dinner after which I’ll order a bacon cheeseburger, extra fries, a milkshake and beg for dessert. My mom always questions whether or not my school cafeteria feeds us. It does! I’m just hungry after swimming the 1650! Hey, if Michael Phelps can choke down 10,000 calories a day, I can try too, right?

4) Having Taco Bell or other fast food establishments on speed dial.

Even after my parents treat me to dinner, a few hours roll by and I’m mysteriously hungry again. Nothing curbs my midnight cravings like gorging on pizza and cheesy bread and then dreading it when I wake up for morning practice with a full stomach.

5) Waking up, on the dot, at 5:30 a.m. for practice… even when they don’t have it.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t even have to set that alarm clock for morning practice because no matter what, I know my body will shake itself awake to get me there on time. That, or I know I’ll wake up at the top of every hour anticipating the departure from my warm, comfy bed into a freezing cold pool.

6) Never being able to sleep in.

Even on the rare mornings off, it’s hard for us to sleep past 9 a.m. even if we went to bed late the night before. I guess we are just so used to being up early and getting things done while most people sleep in!

7) Functioning on 5 hours (or less) of sleep.

Most of the time this is a habit because swimmers force it to be one. How else are we supposed to fit in two practices a day and maintain a competitive GPA? We stay up to finish homework and we wake up early to get the yardage done.

8) Skipping showers because “chlorine is better than soap.”

I promise I’m not guilty of this one! I value the shine and softness of my hair too much. But I would say at least 99.9 percent of swimmers I know don’t shower as often as they should. They use the excuse, “Well, I’m going to be back in the pool in 12 hours anyway.”

9) Going through bottles of lotions like bottles of water.

This is especially true in the cold months of the winter. Sometimes the chlorine dries my skin out so much, it hurts to smile after practice (usually though I’m not smiling after practice, I’m sleeping or eating).

10) Canceling plans to sleep.

It’s not that we are lazy or we don’t want to see our non-swimming friends! It’s just that sometimes, or a lot of the time, sleep trumps anything else we want or need. My closest non-swimmer friend found that the best way for her to get me to stop canceling plans is that she comes over and we just lounge in my bed and watch movies together.

11) Only shaving when absolutely necessary.

This pretty much means the night before their first championship meet swim. Boys grow beards long enough to braid. If girls have to wear a skirt or dress, they put on tights. Otherwise, the only people who will see their legs are their teammates who are in the same boat.

12) Knowing exactly what heavy food to avoid eating before practice.

One time I had Chipotle before practice. It was the biggest mistake of my life, considering I almost drowned during that long I.M. set. Other things I’ve learned to not eat before practice: cheese, pepperoni and chicken nuggets.

13) Having more yoga pants (or sweat pants) than any Victoria’s Secret store.

My lazy days have gotten to a point where I consider wearing yoga pants to be “dressing up.”

14) Never having enough energy for dry hair.

What’s the point of drying your hair after practice if it will be wet again soon anyway? I will suffer through my hair freezing as I walk to class just to save my arms the trouble of lifting my hair dryer.

15) Traveling in packs.

Like dolphins, seals or some other water creature, swimmers never travel alone. On my campus, you’ll always find us going to class, the cafeteria, or practice together.

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9 years ago

the boys constantly snapping their tricep muscles as they walk the deck.

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