15 Swimmer Stereotypes We Love and Hate

  169 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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169 Comments on "15 Swimmer Stereotypes We Love and Hate"

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2 years 11 months ago

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

2 years 11 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 11 months ago

ahh the fastskin peep show, good times, lol.

Jane del Greco
2 years 11 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 11 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 11 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 10 months ago

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

The specialist
2 years 11 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 10 months ago

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

2 years 11 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 11 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 11 months ago

The swimmer who takes 10 minutes to get fully submerged.

2 years 10 months ago

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

2 years 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 months ago

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

Kirk Nelson
2 years 11 months ago

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

2 years 11 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 11 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 9 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)

The Specialist
9 days 6 hours ago

I so agree UGLY stroke is definitely Breaststroke

2 years 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 months ago

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

The Specialist
9 days 6 hours ago


2 years 11 months ago

nc pool bad

2 years 11 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 11 months ago

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

2 years 11 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 9 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 11 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 11 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 4 months ago

That describes me perfectly.

2 years 1 month ago

That’s me!!!

1 year 10 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 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 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.
1 year 1 month ago

4!!! Haha!

1 year 10 months ago

ooooo snap!


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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