15 Swimmer Stereotypes We Love and Hate

  167 Olivier Poirier-Leroy | November 24th, 2015 | Featured, Lifestyle, Masters, Training

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.

We all have our own little idiosyncrasies as swimmers. Perhaps you will recognize some of the following characters from your own team and groups, and maybe you will see a striking resemblance to a way that you perform at the pool.

Here are 15 common swimming characters we find in our lanes on a day-to-day basis–

The Meet Swimmer.

The crunch time performer, the athlete that stands up on the blocks at meets and swims times that do not correlate whatsoever with the times they perform in practice.

The Thrasher.

The workhorse of the team, this swimmer proudly bears the mark of the all go, no quit athlete, even if it is a one arm drill set. While they pump out max effort on everything they do, for the Thrasher this doesn’t always correlate to maximum efficiency and speed in the water. Has a sometimes strained relationship with The Meet Swimmer as a result.

The Mental Gamer.

Will talk about how out of shape they are, how crappy they feel in the water, just how awful of a day they had… and then proceed to smoke you for the entire set.

The Tahiti Break.

Swimming behind this person is a nightmare due to the 8 foot swell that follows them in and out of the walls. Swimming beside them however, gives you a golden draft with which you can go for a nice leisurely surf on.

The Lane/Board Puller.

Backstroke sets are a favorite for this swimmer, as they will take every opportunity they can to pull on the lane-rope. This swimmer will also often pull into the wall with five full strokes on kick sets.


Often this person has chronic shoulder injuries that may or may not be acting up; regardless, they will find the first reason they can to strap on swim fins for the rest of the workout.

The Undisclosed Injury.

This swimmer usually jumps out of the main set at some point, most often after someone has passed them. Cited reasons generally include injury, illness, or vital text message. Can usually be found enjoying a nice warm shower while the rest of the group finish the practice.

10 Second Tom.

Forgets the set, interval, and/or when they left. Consistently seeks clarification on set specifics. “How many was that?” is a common refrain.

Sammy Save-Up.

We all know this swimmer. Coasts along for 90% of the set or workout, quietly awaiting his or her turn to smash out a near personal best time on the least repeat, even while everyone knows precisely what he or she is doing.

Warm-Up Hustler.

It’s hard to get mad at this swimmer. After all, it is difficult to get frustrated with someone who wants to swim hard and fast. It’s just, well, maybe they could swim that fast during the main set as well.


This swimmer has neglected cutting their finger and toe nails for far too long; giving swimmers next to them the occasional unwanted under-the-lane-rope surprise with those horrific claws.

The Nudist.

This swimmer will let her swimsuit age far beyond the point of decay; to the point that it is see-through in some not so appropriate areas.

Butt-crack Bukowski.

Time to pull that suit up, or perhaps it is time to get a new one. Either way, no one really wants to look at the top half of your butt-butt.

The Specialist.

A swimmer who is an average swimmer, but is simply out of this world at kick or pull. While you may be able to out-swim them, they lap your butt up and down the pool in pull sets.

The Eager Beav’.

Claim to fame is being the first person in the pool, or the first one to start a set, often times before the coach has finished explaining it.

Can you think of any other common swimmer stereotypes? List them in the comments below!

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167 Comments on "15 Swimmer Stereotypes We Love and Hate"

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2 years 8 months ago

The Specialist, could out-pull the High School swimmers in 8th grade.

2 years 8 months ago

lol these are great. I was 10 Second Tom, The Nudist, and The Meet Swimmer. The nudist part was even easier to achieve during my FastSkin days since they wore out so quickly and I wasn’t about to spend a ton of money replacing a perfectly good suit just cause you could actually predict what my religion was if you looked in the right place….. And for the Meet Swimmer one, it’s not exactly what you think, I only surprised by teammates, and myself, by rising to mediocrity at meets instead of just my normal practice slowness. Classic underachiever.

2 years 8 months ago

ahh the fastskin peep show, good times, lol.

Jane del Greco
2 years 8 months ago

“Can’t lead, follow, or stay the heck out of the way”. This the faster swimmer who can neither read a clock nor count- leading the lane is not an option. If they go second, the interval for push off is never enough and they ride up your tailpipe, metaphorically speaking. They must stop and take a goggle- adjusting break at the center of the lane at the wall, and then push off at the precise moment you are coming in. You know who you are…..and so does everyone else.

Christina Noens
2 years 8 months ago

“The butt-Rider” No matter if they leave 5 seconds, 10 seconds, or 5 minutes after you, there they are on your feet the entire set. If you ask them if they want to go in front of you, they have an excuse about why they need to go second.

moderator says: THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

2 years 8 months ago

“The butt-Rider” No matter if they leave 5 seconds, 10 seconds, or 5 minutes after you, they are on your feet the entire main set. (“This is as fast as you can go”) If they ask if they can go in front of you, you always say no because you are busy talking to your friends in the middle of the set. Also “butt-rider” You lead the lane and run over the person in the back and get in trouble.

1 year 8 months ago

We used to call this “pulling a Fergie” – after Princess Fergie’s toe-sucking scandal…

The specialist
2 years 8 months ago

There is a walk-on on our team that recently did a kick set of 4 rounds of 6x100s kick with a board on 1:25 1:20 1:15 and 1:10 by round, with 30 seconds rest between the 3rd and 4th rounds. He went 1:04 for all six but can only manage a 49 100 back, fully tapered. If only there were kick races…

None of the Above
2 years 7 months ago

You must be a top D1 swimmer because a :49 back is impressive for most walk-ons at any school…

2 years 8 months ago

Back in the day: Specialist (strong kicker, decent puller). Not a thrasher but more practice swimmer than meet swimmer
At age group/masters practices: 10-Second-Tom. You knew you were in trouble when the sets included parentheses AND brackets)
These days (working out solo): Flipper

2 years 8 months ago

Specialist was SO me. I have a strong, endurance based upper body (obsessed with pushups at an early age) And I could hang with the state champions on pull sets

Easing into it
2 years 8 months ago

The swimmer who takes 10 minutes to get fully submerged.

2 years 7 months ago

That’s me….are there snakes and leeches in the lake today? Just dive in and although.

2 years 8 months ago

Oh, “Butt Riders” drive me crazy! 😀

THE UGLY…the swimmer who has one horrifically bad stroke, appearing like he or she might drown when swimming it

THE EDITOR…the master’s swimmer who edits every set just to her preference

THE BOTTOM-DWELLER…the sprinter who hides on the bottom of the pool to avoid the hard sets

2 years 8 months ago

LOL- Our sprinter climbed the drain pipe outside the gym and sat in the rafters. You would see him in warmup and then look around, notice he wasn’t there and see the footprints up the wall. Our coach never had a clue!

2 years 8 months ago

Haha! I knew a couple swimmers like this too — they would submerge under the bulkhead at the far end of the pool and hide in the kiddie pool during tough sets.

2 years 8 months ago

I had an experience with “the ugly.” Great breaststroker but his fly was such that people would stop during warm up to watch him defy anatomy in an attempt to get his arms over

1 year 8 months ago

Lol that’s so me. My fly’s pretty damn hideous.

Kirk Nelson
2 years 8 months ago

And for many of us that UGLY stroke goes by the name of breaststroke!

2 years 8 months ago

For many? For more than I´ve seen.. the Fly is the ulgy stroke… especially after the beginning of the “sprint holding form based on pure strenght but no tech”.. and I admit that I would be on that definition easily..

2 years 8 months ago

Or Breaststroker trying a different stroke. For me it was backstroke, I belly danced and made weird grunting noises so not only was a fun* to watch I was fun to listen to if I was in a wall lane.

*By fun I mean fun to watch if you’re a connoisseur of bad backstroke

Butterflier MC
2 years 6 months ago

I’m a flier. I begged I coach to put me in the 500 free to get out of doing a 100 breaststroke. (I was already swimming fly that meet)

2 years 8 months ago

The One Trick Pony: Freestyle sprinters where anything other than a 50 or 100 and especially any other stroke is uninhabited foreign territory

2 years 8 months ago

“The Stinker” The person that forgets to brush their teeth before heading out to morning practice subjecting everyone to their breath. Could also be the “Van Damme” cuz their breath is kickin.’

2 years 8 months ago

The Wall Hugger: always hangs on the center wall at the end of the each set or during warmup, making it very difficult for others to do a decent flip turn.

1 year 8 months ago

All of my coaches said we could flip on them because it was their fault for standing in the middle…

2 years 8 months ago

nc pool bad

2 years 8 months ago

The “Borrower,” or worse, the “Thief.” Never has all equipment needed, so has to borrow from someone else; usually doesn’t return it until asked weeks later…usually not in the same condition. The thief simply takes what is needed from other swimmers’ mesh bag, writes their name on it, and when confronted, said they got it from Swim Outlet!

2 years 8 months ago

This is the best article I read on swimswam so far 😀

2 years 8 months ago

Bathroom break guy. Right in the middle of warm up every morning, pops out of the pool and vanishes for 15 minutes only to reappear as warm up ends.

1 year 7 months ago

The Bathroom Break Guy usually pops out during the beginning of the main set and doesn’t come back until the main set is mostly done.

80's swimmer
2 years 8 months ago

This is hilarious! You need one for the “Practice Swimmer”. Often a distance freestyler, this is the guy that swims his best time for 10×100 repeats, but in a meet – swims only 1 second faster, which can be attributed to the dive. Also known to swim his best time in everything 500+ in practice. Can’t match his 1650 practice time at a meet. Gets frustrated when those that swim way behind him in practice crush him in meets. Nonetheless, commands a certain respect from coaches and teammates for his hard work ethic and impressive practice performance.

2 years 8 months ago

Hahahahahaah Good God. Why is that not a category? Unfortunately, that describes me absolutely perfectly. Not such a great category to be in for meets unfortunately.

We’d get torture sets like 4x800s descending 1-4 and almost everytime I’d get a best time… No joke. Even if it was at the end of a 9k workout.

2 years 1 month ago

That describes me perfectly.

1 year 10 months ago

That’s me!!!

1 year 8 months ago

Oh God yes.There is a guy who swims with me, and this is him exactly. Feel sorry for him because twelve year olds are swimming faster and getting their times while him and a few others are miliseconds off and just can’t go faster..

2 years 8 months ago

“I rush from the locker room to the pool because I’m embarrassingly out of shape” guy.

Not to be confused with “I take my damn time oiling myself up and sauntering around the deck in flip flops and a thong, performing some obscene stretches, and possibly never getting in at all, despite being embarrassingly out of shape” guy.

I’m one of the above, depending on if SoCo is on sale that week.

Joel Lin
2 years 8 months ago

Awesome article and terrific entertaining comments. My two cents from back in the day:

THE GUTTER BALL – a sub-species of “meet swimmer”. The swimmer who always bee-lines to the end lane to slouch through workout furthest away from the coaches…a great place to hide if an evening of activities interfere with the faculties at morning workouts.

THE BEAN WHISPERER – Always playing the bean game with a category five obsession. If you need to know who has the bean, this is your 24×7 guy.

THE PERV – That guy who is always trying to leave right after and…errr…”draft” right behind the hottest girl in thr pool.

Joel Lin
2 years 8 months ago


THE DIG ME – the spandex wearing, race bike locked to the pool fence, watch that takes 84, 000 splits wearing and heavy swim equipment acessories mesh bag toting guy who does 15 minutes of look-at-me stretches and deck exercises before getting into the pool…and then can’t swim. Also known in some indigenous regions as a triathlete.

Scott Waterman
2 years 8 months ago

YES! The “Dig Me” also sandwiches his workout with 15 minute monologues about his last race, how his bike and run are really his strengths, to whomever will listen. Willing listeners usually include a brand new masters swimmer (who is really an aspiring triathlete), who listens, dewey eyed, in awe, with goggles around his/her neck, and seam of cap running ear to ear, rather than fore- to back. Typically, budding triathlete newbie then proceeds to kick his ass.

2 years 8 months ago

1. Please. No self-respecting cyclist would ever chain their carbon fiber bike to a fence. They wouldn’t even carry a lock on said bike.

2. I didn’t actually think people still pulled their goggles down around their neck but I saw someone do it at the pool the other night.

3. I want to yank the caps off of people wearing them sideways and then tell them to get out of the pool until they figure it out. One of these clowns stole my lane out from underneath me when I walked three feet away to fill my water bottles.

4. Easiest way to spot the dig mes/newbie triathletes is during during a kick set. They’re the ones who don’t move.

Lance R.
10 months 8 days ago

4!!! Haha!

1 year 8 months ago

ooooo snap!

2 years 8 months ago

This is hilarious! Add the “Practice Swimmer”. Often a distance freestyler, this is the guy that swims his best time for 10×100 repeats, but in a meet – swims only 1 second faster, which can be attributed to the dive. Also known to swim his best time in everything 500+ in practice. Can’t match his 1650 practice time at a meet. Gets frustrated when those that swim way behind him in practice crush him in meets. Nonetheless, commands a certain respect from coaches and teammates for his hard work ethic and impressive practice performance.

Sean Justice
2 years 8 months ago

Practice Swimmer is a sad one. Everyone on the team likes to pull for this swimmer because of how hard they work. Mostly they will let meets get to them and not relax. Sometimes, just sometimes, they relax at a meet and blow everyone away…..

2 years 8 months ago

Water Polo Guy: Never shuts up about how much better polo is than swimming, yet is still at swim practice. Swims with a goofy freestyle recovery and hybrid egg beater/flutter kick. Hates every stroke except freestyle.

Water Polo Girl: The only swimmer more annoying than Polo Guy due to the fact that there are only 7 good girls water polo teams in the world.

Pete Loftus
2 years 8 months ago

THE HAPPY PUPPY- that cheerful person that is always happy to be at practice and is always trying to keep things positive and encouraging to the point that you sometimes entertain the thought of physically harming them…especially during a tough and grueling workout.

Sam Perry
2 years 8 months ago

Sandbagger – the “I’m just not as fast as I used to be”, or “I’m so out of shape” right after they kick your arse just to make you feel even worse as they give you a beat down.

Fin guy – always has to be in the fastest lane when he should be in lane 3 or 4 and wear fins, only to go second and swim on your tail the whole time.

Paddle guy – can easily hold 1:05’s with paddles and a buoy and never takes them off because the are permanantly attached to his body. If they are surgically removed or pried off can barely hold 1:20’s probably because they actually have to swim now. Since they’re not allowed to wear paddles at meets, they rarely if ever compete.

I don’t care what the group is doing guy – I’ll swim every day with the masters team, but I could care less what the workout is I am on my own agenda. I will take a lane with the team but you must try and figure out what I am doing because I won’t tell you and I expect you to swim around me and my agenda because I know better than the coach.

2 years 8 months ago

The banana eater (the snack-er): Gets out of the middle of a hard set for a healthy snack.. Thinking that Eating a banana will make them faster..

2 years 8 months ago

Protein Shaker / Nutritionist – This is the one who drinks protein shakes before and after every practice to “build muscle” and brags about never eating an ounce of junk food. Sometimes takes form of a parent obsessed with the child’s nutrition. Eventually figures out that nutrition is just one piece of the successful swimmer and happiness is what matters most. 🙂

2 years 8 months ago

THE FLUSHER – the one who can’t go through the full practice without taking a #2.

2 years 8 months ago

All the comments were funny, and this one had me nearly spraying my morning coffee all over the laptop!

Pete Loftus
2 years 8 months ago

THE MELODRAMATIC SALMON- usually(but not always) a middle of the pack swimmer who is the first to throw themselves up on the deck after a set…arms up over their head, gasping for air.

1 year 8 months ago

Pete Loftus: That is hysterical!!!! The melodramatic salmon!!!! I remember those kids so well on my age group team. I was a practice swimmer, unfortunately. I coached a few melodramatic salmons too!

2 years 8 months ago

The Chit-chatters – They do their swim sets between conversations. As the workouts go on, the swim sets get shorter and the conversations get longer. This is only tolerated in masters swimming. My favorite workouts are ones where I’m a chit-chatter. Unfortunately, they’re rare.

2 years 8 months ago

THE WOOLY MAMMOTH: the woman who always goes the longest without shaving their legs… yes longer than you… because they know that no one really cares and the team is used to it by now. famous line “I’m holding off until nationals”

2 years 8 months ago

THE FACE-SMACKER: the swimmer who always swims down the middle of the lane and/or has extremely long arms causing all swimmers passing them from the other direction to get smacked in the face on butterfly sets. (See also ARM AMPUTATER)

THE RUBBER DUCKY: swimmers who upon being told to do a 1000 yd warm down by their coach instead proceed to float around the warm down pool like a rubber duck in a bath tub. Can also be found hiding in the jacuzzi.

THE MAGICIAN: the swimmer who does absolutely nothing at practice and then proceeds to magically go insanely fast times at meets.

THE ANGRY TODDLER: the swimmers who after an unsatisfying performance throw a toddler-sequel temper tantrum. This often includes storming off to the warm up pool, crying, whining, refusing supportive “good job”s from teammates, ripping of cap and goggles, and chucking boots, towel, etc at the bleachers. Usually the swim was actually good but they enjoy the attention.

1 year 8 months ago

oh my god, I hate the face-smackers…sometimes even smack you on freestyle sets…half the time they don’t even have really long arms, they just have really weirdly wide strokes. and don’t forget the gut-kickers: The ones who have really wide breaststroke kicks and end up ramming their feets into your gut or thigh…sometimes even face. They’re the ones who really make me nervous.

5 months 14 days ago

We have a few rubber duckies on our team and they are so frustrating! They always get out of the pool way before I have even done a 700 and claim that they have finished, even though they have been doing handstands and flips in the middle of the pool the whole time. It leaves the honest people with the dilemma of either staying in the pool and appearing really slow, or getting out knowing that they haven’t done the entire 1000 yd warm down.

2 years 8 months ago


2 years 8 months ago

None of the above. I’m a Coelacanth . . . really old – thought to have been extinct.

2 years 7 months ago


Grateful Ginger
2 years 8 months ago

The Taperer (modification of the Meet Swimmer) – This swimmer performs mediocre throughout the season, but once taper times comes they usually drop insane amounts of time and usually steal a spot on the relay.

I wonder...
2 years 8 months ago

The Staller: Sits on the wall for half the set talking with the coach on something and just not wanting to go.

The Head-size Changer: The one person whose head’s size always changes…they’re always adjusting their goggles

The Annoying One- the person that sprints, skips, and repeats.

2 years 8 months ago

You must be an AG coach! The killer for me is that so often, they’re the ones with huge amounts of potential if they’d just shut up, get in the water, and swim.

2 years 8 months ago

The Blind One- refuses to wear their contacts into the pool because they’ve lost too many of them in there despite religious use of goggles to cover them up, and consequently can be a bit iffy of turns since their ability to see the wall isn’t great. Has issues leading a lane because they literally cannot see the sweep hand on the pace clock, and always has to be told when to go. Does slightly better on kick sets with board because they can slip on their auxiliary pair of eyeglasses that they otherwise leave on the starting block.

Reality Chix
2 years 8 months ago

Mr. Porier-Leroy;
This was great! Some of these should even have certain swimmers names included in the definition!!!

I’m on board for your next article topic- The Swim Parent

-The Drama Queen
-The Helicopter
-The Insane Cheerleader
-The Know it All
-Wrong Way Corrigan
-The ” Late ” Mr. Smith
-Ms. Helper
-Ms. Never can Helper
-The Life of the Party
-Madam Photo Op
-The Boyscout
-The Centerfold Single Mom
-Drunk.with.power Official
-#Imsocool #Yourenot
and last but not least…
-The Coaches Best Friend

Lol!! Go for it!!!

2 years 8 months ago

Add in the FAST PARENT CLUB. This is when the fast swimmers parents from each club hang out together at a meet. Membership only for elite swimmers parents.

2 years 8 months ago

Ah yes, I know these people, I remember the day my young daughter broke a .28 and this man flew down 10 bleacher steps just to push the other parent out of the way to tell me, “I’m in the club” ..no kidding, true story.

2 years 8 months ago

Great sequel idea! Add “PTA”-President-Of-Swim-Team-Mom.

2 years 8 months ago

Think I was always ‘The Unsure One’ – Hates going first. Never ever ever wants to lead the lane, asks the person behind her after every length if they want to go in from of them. Hate being anywhere near the front of the lane, deliberately slowing down to allow other swimmers to overtake her.

2 years 4 months ago

Ahhhh totally me! But then people would get mad because they all knew I should be leading the lane not like 3rd but oh well

1 year 10 months ago

This was most definetly me…until the day one big girl in my lane decided to simply pick me up and set me down in front of everyone else in the lane. I never argued again

2 years 8 months ago

“The Boss”
the swimmer that is just good at everything, she doesn’t complain, she doesn’t talk trash about anyone, and everyone likes her.
I legit know a girl like this.

2 years 8 months ago

Missy Franklin?

2 years 8 months ago

No, haha I am talking about my friend Shelly : )

2 years 8 months ago

THE PERPETUALLY INJURED- the one who constantly seems to have some sort of injury or excuse to not do full-stroke swim, usually miraculously heals by meet time.

2 years 8 months ago

That one guy that does one arm strokes during butterfly sets when he gets tired.

2 years 8 months ago

The Silverback – a gentleman over 60 with a the body of a 20 year old and the times to go with it.

The Glory Days – can tell you their exact PR’s from state and recount every event from Senior year, but hasn’t done much since (note: they’re probably still coming back from an injury).

The Raccoon – the coach who has clearly been wearing their sunglasses too long.

The Boy (or Girl) Wonder – when you look at the meet records and find out a 13 year old smoked you again.

2 years 8 months ago

The “Impatient one”- the swimmer who never waits the full amounted time and leaves 6 seconds instead of 10 seconds after the person in front of them left. Annoys the heck out of me!

2 years 8 months ago

Also known as the “Jump-the-Gunner”. These people always drive me nuts! It’s 10 seconds apart and there are only three people in the lane!!! Yeesh.

5 months 14 days ago

When we are supposed to leave on the top, the people on my team leave on the 56. Everyone watches them doing it anyway, so I don’t know the point.

2 years 8 months ago

I am totally the Dryland Horror.
Forget pull-ups. Forget even push-ups. This swimmer can barely even run properly. He/she
does all the dryland exercises in double the effort of everyone else, but is still disastrous. Loves to be in the water.

Sean Justice
2 years 8 months ago

That was me!! I was/am horrible at dryland!!

2 years 8 months ago

The rock – The person who when dives in, takes so long to reach the surface and into stroke that they’re better off just pushing off from the wall.

The wind up- The person that races others in main sets, however does it tactically by swimming in the slip stream and proceeding to sprint the last 10m just to beat the person the next lane across.

2 years 8 months ago

I was the “dry land horror” Couldn’t do three pull ups if you offered me money, but I could outwork anyone in a good distance free/IM set and love every second of it. Watching me run is scary. I was banned from the weight room 🙂

Now I am a “paddle girl” You can pry them off my cold, dead hands.

2 years 8 months ago

Sometimes the ‘Sammy Save-Up’ or ‘The Meet Swimmer’, but normally ‘The Thrasher’ and ‘The Mental Gamer’ 😉

Kari K
2 years 8 months ago

How about the “Jan Brady” – never quite fast enough to garner any attention, but also not doing so bad that people cheer for you just to finish. Firmly in the middle where you’re just hidden in anonymity.

2 years 8 months ago

THE SLACKER: This swimmer always finds a way to miss hard swimming no matter what whether its fixing goggles, prosperously loosing a fin or paddle, faking an injury or going to the bathroom.

2 years 8 months ago

How about “The Mustard Cloud”. We all (unfortunately) knew this guy… He would eat insane amounts of asparagus and pee in the lane just to see how yellow his cloud could get. Good way to get a lane to yourself.

M Palota
2 years 6 months ago



About 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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