11 Things You Shouldn’t Say To A Competitive Swimmer

It’s no doubt that competitive swimmers tend to be their own “breed”. How many people can say that they actually enjoy jumping into a cold pool and staring at a black line for hours on end? Because of this, we swimmers understand that non-swimmers are going to be full of questions about the sport. Let’s be honest, though, there are some questions that you just shouldn’t ask. Think of that moment in Mean Girls when Karen asks Cady why she’s white if she’s from Africa. While we’re happy to answer some questions, there are just some that make us cringe. If you find yourself saying any of these things to your swimmer friends kindly see yourself out before they hit you with their kick-board.

1. “Your hair is so dead.”

Thank you for pointing this out. Unfortunately, it seems like no amount of conditioner can fully restore my lovely locks after being in a highly chlorinated pool for 2+ hours a day (minimum). Don’t forget that there’s a latex/silicon bubble protecting my head and ripping out all fly-away hairs on the back of my neck with every movement. If the girls could shave their heads as an alternative, I’m sure most would to escape that latex/silicon deathtrap.

2. “You still smell like chlorine!”

Really? I hadn’t noticed. I just stood in the shower scrubbing myself with the latest Bath n’ Body Works scent for 15 minutes, trying to mask the smell. Nothing works. We could use every perfume in a department store, and the hint of chlorine will still be noticeable. We’ve gotten used to it. You should, too.

3. “Are you really going to eat all of that?”

Oh wait, are you referring to these four cups of chocolate milk, three slices of pizza, bowl of pasta, salad, cheeseburger, French fries, and cookie? Yes. I am going to eat every single portion of this meal, and I’ll probably go up for seconds. Do you want to know why? Because I just burned at least 4,000 calories in a matter of two hours while you sat on your bed watching The Big Bang Theory. Pro tip: the best way to a swimmer’s heart is with lots of food.

4. “Wow, you actually look nice today.”

Thank you, I think? No, there’s no special occasion. I just felt like wearing jeans and doing my hair instead of throwing on sweats and a messy bun. It’s not that I don’t want to try to look decent; it’s that I can’t always move my arms and legs to actually put in an effort.

5. “Can’t you just skip practice?”

HAHAHA. Yeah, okay. You try explaining my absence to my coach tomorrow: “Hey Coach, so-and-so wasn’t at practice last night because she was in the middle of painting my nails for me. You understand, right?” Oh, he’ll understand alright. He’ll understand that he now has to make my practice two hours of absolute hell. He’ll also understand that I’d rather paint nails than work towards my goals.

6. “Did you win your game?”

What? First of all, we don’t have “games”, they’re called “meets”. Second of all, a single individual cannot win an entire meet – swimming is a team sport with individual results compiled. Did I win my race? Yes, but I did not single handedly overthrow the opposing team.

7. “Can I come swim with you?”

You can, but you aren’t going to like it. Here’s the thing about most competitive swimmers – we don’t always do well with recreational swimming. “Splashing around” is not appealing to us. Now, we aren’t opposed to lying on a raft and napping in the sun, but the second you splash us or try to dunk us, you’d better watch your back.

8. “Want to go for a run after your practice?”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No. Never. Have you ever seen a water animal try to function on land? No? Swimmers tend to be the same way. We’ll swim for miles, but put us on land and you’re in for a good laugh.

9. “Is that a hickey?”

You mean this red bruise/cut on my shoulder by my neck? No, that’s just a mark left from my suit. Don’t believe me? You try squeezing into a polyester suit and moving your arms nonstop. You are bound to chafe and have deep cuts on your shoulders. I can see how you could confuse it with a hickey, but no, this is much more painful and unpleasant to get.

10. “Your legs are so hairy.” (to a female)

Here’s the thing – leg hair creates drag (resistance) during practice, which makes us work harder in the pool. It makes it that much more enjoyable when we finally get to shave for a big meet – we literally just glide through the water, like we’ve just lost five pounds. We even have shaving parties, complete with at least three razors each. Looking in the bathtub after, you’d think a mammoth were in there.

11. “You nap so much.”

Yes, and if I do not nap, I will not be able to function properly. Between morning practice, classes, afternoon practice, homework, eating, and working out, napping becomes a rarity that is treasured and honored when possible. If you should ever stumble across a sleeping swimmer, LEAVE THEM ALONE; if awoken, they may just bite your hand off like a lion.


Kelsey Zimcosky’s Things You Shouldn’t Say was originally published by Thought Catalog at www.thoughtcatalog.com. It appears on SwimSwam with Kelsey’s permission.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago

This page is amazing 😛

6 years ago

I agree with all, except number 8. I know myself and plenty of other swimmers that can run for days because of our swimming training

Carol McClellan
Reply to  Mark
6 years ago

I don’t know that many swimmers but I do know trathletes so I would disagree with number 8 also. Not only do they run after a swim, they bike after a swim, too.

Jenna Olson
Reply to  Carol McClellan
5 years ago

Agreed on number 8, I’m the fastest runner in my class. But number three is so true!

Reply to  Jenna Olson
3 years ago

Number 8 is soooooo me? I tried to run 5k… lets just say I walked?

Reply to  Carol McClellan
5 years ago

I have been swimming for 4 years and I know that after practice or a meet you do not want to do anything but eat drink and sleep!

Reply to  Mallory
4 years ago

Same here

Reply to  Carol McClellan
5 years ago

I have been swimming for 4 years and after a meet or practice all we want to do is drink eat and sleep!!

Reply to  Carol McClellan
5 years ago

I´m sorry but think You missed the point – competitive swimmers are indeed their own breed! Triathlonists You´re referring to are not competitive swimmers. It´s almost the same than compare 100 meter runners to decathlonists!

Competitive Swimming
Reply to  Carol McClellan
4 years ago

Well this is just for competitive swimmers alone, they are excluding triathletes because that’s just three sports rolled up into one ( swimming, (bi)cycl(e)ling,and running ) plus we Competitive swimmers put it all in to one sport instead of splitting up our all into three sports. I would like to be a triathlete but I don’t think my legs ( I have JUVENILE IDIOPATHIC ARTHRITIS) would enjoy the running so much, plus practices are usually from about 4-6:30 depends on the day if it’s a holiday deiffrent but we still practice. FYI I’m sixteen and I really relate to most of it , also you might want to look at your spelling before you put it to the public because… Read more »

Reply to  Mark
6 years ago

Yeah I agree, I went from being a runner to a swimmer. Now I do triathlons competitively.

Reply to  Mark
6 years ago

We ran 2 miles before every practice 6 days a week.

Reply to  Mark
5 years ago

I do swimming 6-7 times a week and we do run but almost everyone on my team agrees that running is not easy for a swimmer

Elisse Gibbens
Reply to  Mark
5 years ago

It’s actually really good for endurance. But we are funny to watch, my ankles are so flexible I look like I’m fliging my legs around.

Reply to  Mark
4 years ago

i so understand that i am coming from swim practice right now

Reply to  Mark
4 years ago

I think it just means we could run, but we would rather swim. I believe they just exaggerated it????????

Reply to  Michelle
4 years ago

No, we have the endurance to be able to run but we are anything but graceful if you take us out of the water

Anne Lawley
6 years ago

#2 is eliminated entirely if you use Swim Spray (http://www.swimspray.com)…….

Reply to  Anne Lawley
5 years ago

Exactly! Its great!

About Kelsey Zimcosky

"Once a swimmer, always a swimmer" is the motto that Kelsey Zimcosky lives by.  Though she could not compete after 10 years in the sport due to a shoulder injury, she has been unable to stay away from the water. While it is strange watching the sport from the deck, …

Read More »