10 Words That Have a Completely Different Meaning to Swimmers

by SwimSwam 23

November 03rd, 2016 International, Lifestyle, Masters, News, Opinion

Courtesy of Claire Forrest

There is no doubt that swimming, like any sport, has its own specialized vocabulary. But there are also some everyday words that have a completely different meaning to swimmers:

1)   Swim Cap

What most people think it means: A silicone cap with flowers and a chin strap on it that your grandmother wears in the pool.

What swimmers think it means: A very trusted and necessary piece of swimming attire, with specific memories associated with each team cap, such as a hard set or incredible race tackled while wearing it.

2)   Swimsuit

What most people think it means: A purely fashionable item of summer clothing, the cuter or more colorful the better!

What swimmers think it means: Something worn for much of the waking hours, chosen with complete disregard for pattern, the tighter and more water dynamic the better!

3)   Nap

What most people think it means: A short and rare twenty-minute period of sleep, just to refresh.

What swimmers think it means: A sacred time of deep sleep, to be interrupted only when friends and family form a search party because they haven’t seen you all day, and even then, you’ll probably sleep through it.

4)   Winter Break

What most people think it means: An awesome few weeks off from school where one is free to do whatever they want!

What swimmers think it means: A dreaded time of torture when swim coaches fill the swimmer’s vacation with strenuous three-hour practices and training trips.

5)   Shaving

What most people think it means: An act of grooming to remove unwanted hair from your body.

What swimmers think it means: An extremely high risk and meticulous pre-meet ritual to remove every last hair from your body in order to possibly remove .005 seconds from your race time.

6)   Taper

What most people think it means: A verb meaning to decrease or thin out over time.

What swimmers think it means: The single most glorious period of time, better than all holidays or birthdays combined, when you swim increasingly less in order to rest for a meet. See also: an excuse to get out of any and every physical activity or personal responsibility.

7)   Butterfly

What most people think it means: A winged creature that is colorful, dainty, and beautiful.

What swimmers think it means: The most difficult, painful, and impressive stroke that causes most swimmers—except a select few—to tremble in fear.

8)   Dry land

What most people think it means: Any part of the earth that is not a body of water.

What swimmers think it means: A pre- or post-swim practice exercise regimen created to inflict additional demands of time and physicality on the swimmer.

9)   Sleeping in

What most people think it means: Waking up when your body feels naturally rested and revitalized, without the demands of a schedule or an alarm.

What swimmers think it means: When your alarm for morning practice is set to six o’clock in the morning instead of five.

 10) Swimming

What most people think it means: A rare and fun activity that involves relaxing near a pool or just splashing around in one.

What swimmers think it means: My life.

Claire ForrestClaire Forrest is a recent graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in English. She is currently based in Minneapolis, Minnesota as a freelance writer. The only competitive swimmer in her family, Claire went to her first swim meet at the age of eleven on a whim without even knowing what a swim cap was. She fell in love with the sport and never looked back. A S6 classified disabled swimmer for US Paralympics, Claire specialized in mid-distance freestyle and backstroke and made national and world rankings throughout her career. She was a 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Trials participant. Claire is passionate about integrating disability swimming into the larger swim community, having swam for able-bodied club teams and her college’s DIII team. She enjoyed both Paralympic and prominent integrated able-bodied meets equally for the many commonalities they share. Over 13 years after her first meet, she’s happy to report she now owns more swim caps than she can count.

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Rob Strickland
6 years ago

Classic article Claire! My favorite word was “taper” (the single most glorious period of all time, better than all holidays and birthdays combined!). Even as a Masters Swimmer of 54 who tapers off of 20,000 a week (NOT per day like the old days) I still feel that way about “taper”. Close runner ups were “butterfly” and “sleeping in”.

Michael Deckert
Reply to  Rob Strickland
6 years ago

I can tell you that tapering was my favorite especially after 100,000 yard weeks. The other thing I never got was winter breaks. The second half of which was always spent at the Olympic Training Center, where our saving grace for training so much was the all you can eat amazing food.

Kay Playforth
Reply to  Rob Strickland
4 years ago

Fabulous Claire..loved every discription in your wonderful transcript!!???

6 years ago

Was a swimmer and then a coach and then had seven kids…six swim and play polo…LOVED this fun list of common words meaning differently to swimmers…really enjoyed the ones: Swim Suit, Butterfly, Sleeping In and Swimming! I have been known to yell out a kids name and then have to go search for him because I haven’t seen him a little while only to find him (or her) sacked out on his bed in a dead sleep! Summer vacation is another memory I have: double days! Ouch! Thanks again!

Kari K
6 years ago

Yeah, sleeping in is such a misnomer. 7am is a luxury. Every once in a while the cats let me sleep past my normal 4:45am practice hour when I’m on my days off.