15 Things Only Your Teammates Understand

This little fella originally appeared over at YourSwimBook.com. Sign up for Olivier’s weekly motivational newsletter by clicking here.

While most non-swimmers assume that swimming is a strictly individual sport, we hone our craft in the company of our teammates.

In the time you spend with your lane mates you will see them at their best, and see them at their worst. Similarly, they will see and help you succeed, while providing comfort in times where you struggle.

The bonds you grow over the meters and yards, over the weekend meets, the long coach bus and plane rides, the holiday training camps, the Hell Weeks, test sets and more cannot be understated.

It’s a bond that will last far after you go your separate ways at the end of your career in the pool.

Here are 15 things only your teammates will understand in the water:

1. The excitement of seeing your friends after a break.

Whether it’s the couple days after the holidays, or the weeks and months of summer, you know you missed them. Those long distance sets waiting for your return, on the other hand, maybe not so much.

2. The panic that envelops you when you see that you have not one, but two missed phone calls from coach on your cell phone.

You had good intentions, you swear! Maybe you passed out from a pasta coma before you had a chance to set your alarm. Or you selected 5:15pm instead of 5:15am. Seeing those missed calls puts even the most experienced swimmer and alarm clock-setter in a state of gut-wrenching panic.

3. The communal fear the night before a devastating workout.

After a successful Friday night session, capped off with a couple fast ‘get out’ swims the mood on deck is running high. Coach gathers the group, and tells you that the following morning’s workout will be the most challenging set of all time. So hard, in fact, that he or she doubts anyone has the courage to finish it. You and your teammates quietly walk out, the mood dampened, set to sleep restlessly with thoughts of test sets and tight intervals.

4. That moment of panic right before a set starts…and no one in the lane knows what they are doing.

Between the handful of you someone could have paid attention while coach was explaining the Fourier equation up on the whiteboard. Instead, you all assumed someone else was listening. Only nobody did, and the set kicks off in a handful of seconds…

5. That there is always that one swimmer who will lose track of the reps or intervals.

“How many is that?” and “When do we go?” are the common refrains of your hapless teammate who despite his best intentions just cannot keep the clockhand straight. Or remember how many reps have been completed so far.

6. Friends will cheer you on. Real friends will count your laps.

You don’t even have to ask—they are just standing there at the end of the lane with a towel on the bulkhead, lane counter in hand and sleeves rolled up.

7. If coach is buying, you are going to stuff your face extra hard at the post-competition dinner.

Swimmers have a ravenous appetite as it is, but when coach whips out the credit card and states that dinner is on him, swimmers take it to the next level.

8. You can’t wait to get to the pool to stalk the hottie from the other team.

Competition provides a great opportunity to test out all the hard work you invested over the weeks and months. It’s also a perfect time for you to check out that good looking swimmer on the other team. You’ve checked out their FB, their Instagram pics, and now it’s time to take it to the next level—by swimming in the same lane as them during warm-up!

9. The misery that comes with the letters…”DQ” and “DFL.”

There is nothing even remotely awesome about being disqualified, especially after the race is done, and you are skulking away hoping that one-handed touch went unnoticed. The “DFL”, well, that just sucks, especially when it’s your best event.

10. That 0.1 seconds is not an eye blink. It’s sometimes the difference between the best swim of your life and…well, not.

Swimming can look like an insane sport at times—we train thousands of hours in order to drop sometimes as little as a couple tenths of a second. That fraction of a moment of time is often what separates success from defeat.

11. That “dryland” is a term that only you guys and gals will understand.

There comes a point where swimmers realize that people who go to the gym don’t call it going for dryland. (Although using this term with confused non-swimmers is rather amusing.)

12. When you run out of razors…and you still have one full leg to shave down.

Whether you are doing a shave down at the pool the day of, or having a shave down party in the hotel room the night before, there is a particularly deflating moment when you realize that you have just run dry your last razor, and you still have one guerrilla leg to go.

13. That there’s no judgement based on appearance at early morning workouts.

At 5am there is no judgement. No one looks down on bed-head or being unkempt at this hour. Simply getting up and making it to the pool is worthy enough.

14. Having your swim crush ask you to help with her or his cap is pretty much like getting their phone number.

Close seconds: When your swimmer crush asks you to warm down together or help with partner stretches. All basically the swimmer’s version of a first date.

15. The agony of defeat and the sweetness of victory.

Over the course of your career you will log a stunning number of hours swimming up and down and around the black line with your teammates. Some will last late in life, others will come and go. The memories you build, both great and not so awesome, will last long after your suit dries for the last time.


Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer. He’s the publisher of YourSwimBook, a ten-month log book for competitive swimmers.

Conquer the Pool Mental Training Book for SwimmersHe’s also the author of the recently published mental training workbook for competitive swimmers, Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to a High Performance Mindset.

It combines sport psychology research, worksheets, and anecdotes and examples of Olympians past and present to give swimmers everything they need to conquer the mental side of the sport.

Ready to take your mindset to the next level?

Click here to learn more about Conquer the Pool.

COACHES: Yuppers–we do team orders of “Conquer the Pool” which include a team discount as well as complimentary branding (your club logo on the cover of the book) at no additional charge.

Want more details? Click here for a free estimate on a team order of CTP.

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Riley Quinn
5 years ago

Number 14 is the best one by far!

Riley Quinn
5 years ago

Number 14 is the best one!

Stereotypical Breaststroker
6 years ago

Let’s just say that at JOs and such I somehow sneak into a warmup lane with girl from the one of the other teams, so number 8 is me all the way.

6 years ago

Number 8 all the way

Reply to  50free
6 years ago

Oh yeah 14 too.

8 years ago

Great picture. These two tremendous distance swimmers pushed each other daily at UGA practices. Not only was this the moment they went 1-2 in the 1650 at the 2013 NCAA championships but everyone on the pool deck instantly knew that Georgia had just repeated as NCAA Champions. In a sport that places teammates as rivals as they hope to swim in pursuit of individual and team success, this moment between Amber & Brittany highlights the joy that is possible when heart, talent and determination culminate in victory. These two Dawgs were able to raise the level of their swimming when it mattered the most.

Reply to  Swimdad
6 years ago


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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