I’ve been to my fair share of swim meets over the years. Everything from summer swim league dual meets to college championship meets to national championships (the Olympics are still on my bucket list). I’ve sat, watched, swam, timed, and even live-streamed countless hours of racing. Recently, I attended the East Coast Collegiate Club Swim and Dive National meet in Atlanta, Georgia. As I sat in the stands watching the meet, I was struck by one thing: all swim meets are virtually the same. Sure some have different technology or faster times but there are some things that are at every meet. If you’ve been to a swim meet I’m sure you’ll recognize these swim meet quirks.
1 – The Breaststroke Bark
Every time a head pops out of the water in breaststroke, it’s guaranteed to be accompanied by a deep, guttural bark from parents, teammates and coaches alike. Something about breaststroke makes everyone feel the need to channel their inner animal and grunt to get their swimmers across the pool.
2 – A Team Cheer
A cheer that sounds perfectly understandable to all who shout it sounds mostly likely like utter nonsense to the other teams and fans. It usually turns into a competition of what team can shout their gibberish the loudest.
3 – The Dedicated Fan
These fans come in many shapes and sizes which can make them difficult to spot, but don’t worry, they’re always there. Some sit quietly taking their own splits and scoring the meet- they blend in with the crowd. The more obvious, usually decked in all their teams apparel, want to make sure there’s no confusion about who their rooting for.
4 – A Proud Parent
Again, like the dedicated fan, proud parents can be tricky to find. But if you watch a swimmer finish and then follow their gaze at the end of the race to the stands, you’ll usually find the beaming parent. Think Debbie Phelps.
5 – Lots of T-Shirts
Every team has a team t-shirt. Ranging from neon colors to black, these shirts can be creative and professional or just downright ugly. Chances are there’s an inspirational quote or inside joke somewhere on each one.
6 – Bored Siblings
Maybe this one doesn’t apply to the Olympics, but at just about every other swim meet there are a few disgruntled siblings in the stands who have been dragged to yet another meet. They have little to no interest in sitting in a hot, crowded pool area to watch their sibling swim one event. Smart phones, along with multiple trips to the snack bar, keep these kids from totally going crazy.
7 – Team Spirit
Regardless of the level, swim meets are some of the biggest displays of team spirit. Whether it’s shown through crazy costumes, cheering for teammates, or dancing behind the blocks, swimmers are notorious for their infectious energy and dedication to their team. You can’t help but smile when your favorite swimmers succeed.
It’s pretty great to know that no matter the meet, level or location, you can count on some things always remaining the same from swim meet to swim meet.