What We Say Growing Up In Swimming: Some Familiar Comments At Different Ages

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What We Say Growing Up In Swimming: Some Familiar Comments

By Evangelia Vasilakis, Swimming World College Intern, 

It’s funny looking back at old pictures and seeing the doodles on our backs and the grids on our hands. Growing up in the swim world, we lose those little things and occasionally reminisce on the funny sayings we used to blurt out. When you’re in the swimming world for a long time, we learn and grow with the sport, picking up new dialects and terms. Here are some things we say and do throughout the ages. 

8-10 Years 

From the ages of eight to 10, we are just starting to earn our independence from our coaches. We are expected to get to the blocks on our own when events are starting. We are also given the opportunity to write our own events on our hands. The glorious feeling of the sharpie in our hands was a sense of accomplishment and freedom. I remember we would use that sharpie to write “eat my bubbles” on our backs, arms and legs. This was our go to quote at this age. We constantly used this quote at meets and at practice. 

Another thing younger swimmers seem to say a lot is “I can’t.” Younger swimmers feel pressure constantly. They often feel scared and do not believe in themselves. Younger swimmers have constant doubt, and being so young, they do not know how to put it other than in the words: “I can’t.” 

12-16 Years 

At this age, swimmers have outgrown the fun of drawing on themselves. They do not say “eat my bubbles” anymore. They can oftentimes still be caught saying, “I can’t,” but at this age, they know how to work hard without having a coach badgering them. Something I remember saying more often than not at this age is, “I can’t. I have swim practice.” The dedication at this age is hugely important because these are the ages kids start to go to high school and become more involved in the sport. It gets so much more competitive at these ages, considering you can qualify for more meets, including some at the national level. Swimmers often find themselves joking about having practice and having no life outside of swimming. 

Something else I found interesting at this age is how much I talked about my high school team compared to my club team. There are so many incredible and interesting differences between them that are often talked about by swimmers. More, at this age, it was common to utter, “I smell like a pool.” This is a self conscious age, and we are just realizing how the smell of chlorine sticks to you. We always jokingly say, “It’s our perfume!”

17-18 Years

At these ages, a swimmer’s mind is full of college-decision thoughts. They are at the end of their high school careers and are moving onto bigger and better things. At this age, swimmers are comparing the schools they are looking at and saying “I commit to” so much. This occupies all athletes at the end of high school, but swimmers cannot always escape. Also at this time, swimmers talk about all the amazing things that swimming has brought them. 

Something else at this age I have noticed being said a lot is, “My suit is too tight.” This is common because many swimmers do not get their first official tech suit until this age. We are adjusting to the new tightness of the tech suits. 

 19-22 Years 

For many, this is the end of their career as a swimmer. They are in college and often “retiring” after this chapter. I can say many, but not all, swimmers I know at this level love to say, “I can’t wait to retire!” This is funny because in reality they know they have many years left of swimming if they are a first year. But for the seniors, it is often a grim reality that they are facing that is both exciting and sad.

They also love to talk about their upcoming meets and looking at the results of the opposition. At this level, swimmers talk a great deal about their classes and we even find ourselves discussing dinner plans more often than not. At this level, I find myself talking about all the good memories swimming has given me. Old meets, past teammates, and potential future swimming! By this age swimming is a normal part of our lives and we are thankful for everything it has given us.

I am sure others have had different experiences with swimming, and what they have said growing up. These are very common things I have heard growing up in the sport. All these phrases and sayings have at least been murmured once by all of us!

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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Terry Watts
8 months ago

At 49 years, I’m saying I wish I were 17 again!

M Michael
8 months ago

why stop at that age?!

8 months ago

How about eu d’chlorine

John Wadsworth
8 months ago

My son’s name is Jack Wadsworth he’s 19 years old he attends ithica college in Ithica New York he holds two world records until he breaks them again.i would like to thank all the swimmer’s, parents and everyone involved in this incredible journey for jack

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