10 Excuses Only a Swimmer Could Use to Get Out of Practice

by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. Join 9,000+ swimmers and coaches who read his motivational newsletter last week by clicking here.

Maybe you have used a less than satisfactory excuse to get out of practice in the past. I know I have. Here are some of the typical excuses swimmers use to bow out of training.

Swimmers are a lot of things, and creative is certainly one of them. Especially when it comes to ways to get out of practice or a set. After all, you can only use the “I have a tummy ache” line so many times before you have to graduate to something a little more extravagant.

Over the years I have heard excuses ranging from “I just got my hair cut and can’t get it wet for 48 hours” to the purchase of a new pet, who required constant care and attention at home, to having to help out at the family yard sale.

Whether the excuse was valid or not, they always seem to bubble to the surface right as the workout is starting to get challenging. (Purely coincidence, right?)

Here are 10 of the more common excuses swimmers use to skip out of training:

1. I had to… The chronically late swimmer (when he or she actually shows up at all) has an arsenal of variations of this line. I had to stay at school for detention. I had to go with my mom to buy shoes. I had to go home and grab my swim bag. And so on.

2. I didn’t know we had practice this morning. Never mind that it is Saturday morning, and that you have been doing this exact practice for the past five years.

3. I have a paddle related injury. This one is a little more legit. With hands flying around everywhere within inches of each other, pool ladders and the occasional lip of a water slide, makes for an environment where it is inevitable you are going to smash hands. Things ratchet up a level when it is paddle on paddle, or worse, paddle on face.

4. My goggles are broken. I’ve found that the amount of time that is taken to pull a McGyver and repair the goggles is directly proportional to how little desire said swimmer has in completing the set/workout at hand.

5. I have water in my ears. Granted, I was guilty of this one on many an occasion. As a lifelong-earplug wearer there were countless workouts where the earplugs just kept jarring loose, allowing a flood of water into the old ear canal.

6. I have to go to the bathroom. You got no problem peeing all over us when we are sitting at the wall listening to coach explain a high rest sprint set, but the minute that lactate threshold or distance set gets scrawled up on the whiteboard suddenly you are interested in using the restroom at a dizzying frequency.

7. I have foot/ankle/knee/calf/forehead cramps. These are the worst! You’ll be swimming along, pounding out the meters when you feel the itch starting to happen off the walls. At first it’s just a twitch, just a little heads-up for what is to come. They can be paralyzing, but it doesn’t mean your workout is over. Stretch that thing out and ease back into it.

8. My suit is falling apart. We don’t mind deck-changing in front of 500 other swimmers at a swim meet, but the moment our suit starts to get a little see-through we seize the opportunity to get out of practice. (Careful with this one though, I had a coach who would run to the pool’s lost and found and grab a pair of trunks for us to use. Now that is a drag suit.)

9. It’s my time of the month. Admittedly, as a teenage male I had no idea whether this excuse held up or not. The menstrual cycle was a complete mystery to me back in my swimming days, and as a result I never questioned it. Judging by the reactions some of my coaches had back in the day when a female teammate used this line I suspect that they were in the same boat.

10. I have to get out early. The reasons for getting out prematurely vary from homework, a school play, to the aforementioned yard sale. Certain swimmers play this card more often than others, but will almost always drop it: a) right at the beginning of workout or b) as the main set is getting scrawled up on the board (“Oh, I just remembered...”). Having your parent in the stands waiting impatiently is a great way to close this excuse with coach.

I know you guys have heard some good ones, let’s hear them in the comments below!

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I’m just not feeling the water today, my hands are just slipping.



My excuse was my ride didn’t show… at 4:20am my parents weren’t going to drive across town! Mostly we would hide in the cold fog cloud at the shallow end where the coach couldn’t see us until we were awake enough to move. Sometimes people would get mad when too many people were there and you couldn’t get through to make a flip turn.


gotta go with flattery then give the excuse. In high school it was, your practice was so hard yesterday I slept like a rock through my alarm. haha

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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