5 things swimmers miss most about the off-season

by Callum Ng 4

September 14th, 2012 Lifestyle, Opinion

Chances are that if you’re an age group or collegiate swimmer, you’ve been back in the pool for over a week now. Just long enough to be a little sore and to remember how hard swimming actually is. Also, you’re probably starting to miss what it was like in the off-season, (all two weeks of it), when you were able to act like a real person.

Since I’m convinced that I’ve characterized all swimmers perfectly with my last few sentences, here is a thought for you:

You’re not normal.

A swimmer on an off-season “bender” is not behaving in any way similar to how normal people live. And that’s ok. Obviously, during the swim season, we swimmers lead a lifestyle that is unlike any other athlete. (Except maybe rowers, dude, that sport is hard). Therefore, by the Socratic method, I conclude that swimmers spend 365 days living a completely strange, (but awesome), lifestyle. (Thank you college philosophy. Boom. Just used you).

By that logic, and just because I say so, swimmers are some of the most dedicated people on earth. That means a lot of sacrifice. Doing stuff in the off-season that everyone else can do all year round.

Because you had to give it all up, here’s a list and some advice on how to deal with it.

Chocolate and Candy

After your last big meet of the season you went to 7-11 or the Circle K and bought an enormous bag of candy, two bottles of coke and a chocolate bar. It’s ok, so did everyone else. The worst part is that you didn’t learn from last season and ate it all at once. Then felt sick for hours. Wait, why are you missing this? That’s gross. Go have a granola bar and forget about it.

Fast Food

People think swimmers can eat anything they want. And it’s true. Hallelujah. We can. But it doesn’t mean we actually do. Except for the blessed off-season. Ignore the news stories about e-coli and Jack in the Box. Who cares that Carl’s Jr. is sort of overpriced. Inn-n-Out is 30 miles away!? N.B.D. What about every single nutritionist and health study reporting on wacky chickens at KFC. Those people cray. Swimmers eat it all. Here’s my advice friends: imagine putting a Big Mac meal with fries, ketchup, mayo and root beer in a blender. Then pour it into one of those long balloons, (the ones they make balloon animals with), and tie it around your waist. It’s a small intestine belt! Now try swimming fast. That is equally gross and not at all hydrodynamic.


Let’s all hold hands and mourn our collective loss of sleep and sanity. This is a big one. That first morning is SO WEIRD. Your alarm goes off playing Maroon 5 and you CANNOT figure out why anyone would get up at 4:45 AM. (Or listen to Maroon 5). Then you remember. Swim practice. It’s heartbreaking. Not only can you not go back to sleep but you have to force food into your mouth and get in a cold pool. Plus, there’s probably a back-to-back hits thing on the radio and Adam Levine with still be playing when you get in your car. (Damn that guy). The cool part is that by the time the rest of the world wakes up, you’ll have swam 6 k. And you’ll feel energized the rest of the day. And since you went to practice, you’re actually going be closer to accomplishing something awesome. Not so bad after all. PLUS: Naps are AMAZING!

Doing Nothing

I love doing nothing in the off season. Especially when you’re watching TV, or at the beach, or having a bbq EXACTLY when you would have been at practice. It’s sweet. Swimmers do weird stuff however. Like when your coach tells you to do ‘conditioning swims’ to keep ‘feel’ for the water and you actually do it. WHHHY!? BUT, it’s pretty satisfying swimming 400m and then just peacing out. Here’s some solace: swimming is pretty tough, but you get to hang out with your friends and if you’re lucky one day experience pure satisfaction when you swim a PB. Plus if you didn’t swim, what would you honestly do instead?

Doing Everything

From doing nothing to doing everything. (I love when I write a direct contradiction into a post. That’s talent. Wait…NO IT ISN’T). But seriously, doing everything you want to do whenever you want to do it is the best. Staying up past 10:30 PM. AMAZING. Not smelling like chlorine all the time. AMAZING. Hanging out with your ‘non-swimming’ friends. AMAZING. Coping with this sucks. Just remember that nothing ‘positive or inspiring’ ever really happens after midnight, smelling like chlorine is a conversation starter and your ‘non-swimming’ friends will still be alive next August.

Have a GREAT season and don’t forget to stretch.

Callum Ng is a SwimSwam contributor. Follow @CallumNg

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10 years ago

Wow, this article makes me love retirement

10 years ago

story of my life

10 years ago

Definitely rings a bell for me. In Hong Kong though the summer is part of our most intensive training seasons, with at least 11 water sessions + dryland/weights a week for any serious club. Shudder:)

10 years ago

You should do a similar list for Coaches.

About Callum Ng

Callum Ng is a Canadian story-teller, entrepreneur and sport leader. Callum has traveled across the world as a participant and promoter of recent sport events such as the IOC's WCSE 2011 and the Youth Olympic Games. As a former swimmer, Callum brings a unique angle to swimming coverage, capturing both …

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