16 Things Your Swim Coach Likes to Say

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.

The relationship between swimmer and coach is a mixture of chlorine, hate, and love. Swimmers resist and struggle against coach when it comes to those tough sets, or challenging themselves, but love the results that happen as a result of it.

In celebration of this sometimes strained, sometimes awesome relationship, here are 16 things that swim coaches tend to say on deck either during a swim workout or at a meet:

“That was awful. Do it again.” Okay, fair enough. You got us. We didn’t hold the breathing pattern, missed a few intervals, and seemed like we were out for a leisurely dip as opposed to fine tuning our swimming.

“That was perfect. Do one more.” That’s what you get for doing it right!

“This is the last one. Before the last one.” Oh, so cold.

“Pitter patter, let’s get at ‘er!” Some swimmers make a game of seeing how long it takes for them to get into the pool to start warm-up. Or rather, how long they can get away with no getting in.This is generally the warning shot before coach starts to get annoyed with these particular swimmers.

“Get in! Now.” The end-of-my-patience command to get into the water. Pushing not getting in any further opens oneself to punishment, not limited to having to do the whole main set fly with a band on around the ankles.

“No, you can’t use fins for this set!” It was worth a try.

“Today, we are going to work on starts.” This phrase is typically followed by a cautious – the cruelest of coaches will say this as a ruse and then paint a distance fly set on the board – celebration full of fist pumps and glee.

“Move your legs!” Those 0 and 2 beat kickers are a prime target for this one. Dragging along their legs, they swim as though doing a pull set…without a pull buoy. Wrath ensues.

“Did you actually do the full warm down?” With the hard stuff behind us, it is natural for swimmers to want to make a b-line for the hot tub, shower, or nearest refrigerator. 300 easy? How about we call it a nice even 50?

“Hyup!” This can be replaced by a sharp whistle or the oldie but goodie, “go!” to signal that you should get going in one form or another. It’s versatile as well; used not only for starts, coach can use it on your breaths to indicate that you are kicking butt, or that you need to kick more butt.

“Taper starts when I say it starts.” With that big meet coming up it is understandable that some swimmers take it upon themselves to dial down the intensity and frequency of workouts on their own. It’s not our fault that taper is so flat-out awesome.

“On this top!” An excellent delaying tactic when you want to secure yourself an extra minute of rest before the set begins is playing dumb with when “this top” actually refers to. So…this one? No, no, the next one? Oops, too late—next one it is.

“Okay everyone, 200 free kick for time!” That 200 free kick could be exchanged for just about any distance, stroke and specialty (kick, pull, etc). Usually these timed efforts come right out of the blue or immediately after a tough set for added effect.

“You’re still getting in the water!” Fairly reasonable reasons for why you shouldn’t be getting in the water include: no lifeguard on deck, weird steam coming off the top of the pool, unknown objects floating around the bottom of the pool. Despite these, coach no care.

“Oh yeah, totally, this is the main set.” Fewer things annoy and/or disappoint coaches more than having an athlete ask if the main set is next when the group is 300 meters into the session. Asking repeatedly not only unnerves coach, but makes us all remember how much more of the workout is still to come.

“Great job on that set.” And that makes it all worth it. Thanks coach!

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6 years ago

If you feel the need to breathe, tell you feelings to shut up..

The only thing easy about this is the interval..

The bottom is only there to keep the water in..

This ain’t rocketsurgery..

[swimmer] I’ll try! [coach] Everybody tries..

Reply to  coacherik
5 years ago

*swimmer* I’ll try! *coach* So you weren’t trying before?

6 years ago

when a kid talks too much during a set…i say hey, check yourself….then the kid says what does that mean…..then i say check yourself again… the kid smiles back at me and then gets back to the set

Reply to  james loveless
5 years ago

ok so this is the 8 of november you posted this that was my birthday the day i had the most painful set of my life

Chicago Scott
6 years ago

Why do swimmers say ‘ warm down’ & runners say ‘cool down’?
Both use the term warm-up.

Reply to  Chicago Scott
6 years ago

Chicago Scott – I’ve actually heard both in both sports, and use both interchangeably. I think it probably just comes down to whatever a swimmer or coach is used to saying.

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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