The 7 Types of Slackers on every Swim Team

Every swim team has them…the loafers who are undeniably giving 50% max at practice day after day, the sneaky strategists who find a shortcut in every set, the save-ups who manage to leave a killer practice with a ton of energy…you know them as THE SLACKERS!

1. The Lane-Line Puller

No one seems to notice except you, because you have the pleasure of swimming in the next lane over, racing this cheater on every set and undoubtedly losing. Every. Single. Time. “The Lane-Line Puller” is not a slacker to be taken lightly. Over the years this craftsman has carefully mastered the stealth maneuvering of lane-line pulling. This slacker is so good, that his/her slacking goes unnoticed 99% of the time. That 1% of the time that someone does manage to catch that sneaky swimmer in the act and then decides to call that cheater out, he/she will deny it every time. “No it just looked like that because I bumped in to the lane line,” “I was working on a backstroke recovery drill,” “No way, I would never pull on the lane line!” Excuses are like old equipment bags “Lane-Line Puller,” every swimmer has one, and they all stink! How does the coach not see this? Effortlessly swimming light-years faster on his/her back; this is not an accident or even a naturally talented backstroker! This is duplicitous behavior! This slacker maneuver isn’t something anyone can pick up either. No, this craftsman has perfected their skill through many, many years of practice. How many teammates and competitors has “The Lane-Line Puller” upset? Probably quite a few. How many people never even noticed this slacker was actually slacking? That is the real question!

2. The One with an Invisible Injury 

This slacker is constantly complaining about and nursing an injury that simply does not exist! When the tough gets going, this low-pain tolerance swimmer gets out because something, somewhere in his/her body “hurts.” This wimp spends the entire practice stretching, rolling out, and complaining. When the wuss has had enough of that, it’s time to get out early and hit the trainer for some therapy and some ice. After busting your butt at practice, you think that you could really use a good stretch from the trainer and a bag of ice, so you head down to the training room. BUT WAIT! You take a seat and wait your turn because the trainer can’t help you right now. He/she is too busy nursing an invisible injury for someone who slacked their way through today’s practice.

3. The Sally Save-Up (aka Sammy Save-up)

This slacker does the absolute bare minimum to make it through the practice. Then when the last fast swim of the workout comes around, and when everyone else is completely worn down from working hard, this save-up comes out of nowhere and crushes the field. This back-halfer is SO good that he/she gets faster as practice goes on, while everyone else gets more and more tired. You aren’t fooling anyone “Sally Save-Up!” If you were really that good, you wouldn’t have been hanging out at the end of the lane for the ENTIRE practice! Step it up next time. You’re better than that!

4. The Routine Bathroom Breaker

Like clockwork, this slacker gets out to go to the bathroom in the middle of the main set. Seriously, you couldn’t go before the set started? Oh of course you didn’t have to go then! So you couldn’t wait another 20 minutes? Oh you had to go THAT BAD? Come on! Everyone knows that you aren’t even using the bathroom. You are checking your phone, playing in the shower, and probably grabbing some snacks. Do us all a favor and the next time you get out to go to the bathroom, please just stay there until practice is over.

5. The Can’t Finish to the Wall 

For some reason, this slacker cannot make it to the wall…ever. If you need to pass this slacker, he/she insists on stopping in the middle of the pool for you to do so. If you need to finish hard to the wall, this floater insists on swimming in front of you and coasting in to the wall from just outside the flags. How is it even possible for someone to be so in the way every 25 meters? This type of slacker is the worst because not only are they ruining their training, but they are taking you down with them. I am going to give it my all on this set, so please stay out of the middle of the pool and stay out of my way.

6. The Chronic Early Push-Off 

Horribly confused between a 3 and a 5 or an 8 and a 0, this slacker always pushes off the wall at the wrong time, and it’s always early. Whether it is warm up, pace, or all-out, you bet this slacker is a body length ahead of you and you haven’t even left the wall. The coach asks for everyone’s times and this slacker’s time is always a little bit faster than the other swimmers in the heat. I don’t know, maybe it was that ridiculous head start you took! Keep pushing off the wall early you pace-clock illiterate athlete, it only makes me want to beat you even more.

7. The Chatty Cathy

This slacker comes to practice with 20 different topics on their mind. Strategically waiting for the right moment (i.e. when practice gets hard), this slacker mentions one topic to the coach. This isn’t any old topic either. The slacker starts a discussion that he/she knows will get the coach talking for a good 15-20 minutes. As things start to quiet down…BOOM, that’s when the next topic comes in to play. There goes the coach on another 15-20 minute rant. Before you know it, almost an hour of practice has gone by. Perfect, just in time for the cool down set. The coach doesn’t even realize what has happened because he/she was having such a lively conversation. The coach is now winded from talking so much and the slacker slides back in to the water extremely pleased and already thinking about new topics that will get him/her out of a full hour next practice. (Note: This type of slacker is becoming less and less because coaches everywhere have caught on. THANK GOODNESS!)

Despite the frustration and annoyance, these slackers are still swimmers and we love them. Although I feel that their efforts are misdirected, I am always amazed by the effort, craft, and talent that I see from slackers at practice. They are all their own unique characters that make every practice interesting.

Elle Meinholz, headshotThank you to all of the slackers out there for letting me poke fun at you! It’s all out of love.

Contributor Elle Meinholz fell in love with swimming at an early age. Born and raised a Wisconsin girl, she pursued her lifelong dream of swimming as a Wisconsin Badger from 2009-2013. She graduated from Wisconsin with degrees in English and Communications. A year out of college and out of swimming, she is now a full-time Admission Counselor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee, WI. She continues to fulfill her passion for swimming through high school coaching, writing, living vicariously through her younger sister, and getting in a couple thousand yards when time allows. (Twitter: @ElleMeinholz)

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7 years ago

Best article on swimswam EVER

Reply to  #[email protected]
7 years ago

You forgot one. The person who always insists on being the last to push off the wall, no matter how fast/slow the people are in front of him, and then after he touches their foot like five times mid-swim, he insists that they still stay in front of him! Or the guy that rests for 25-50% of the set, and then when he does come back in, touches your damn foot! Especially during a hard 200’s set or something where blood’s rushing and tensions are high, that pisses me off!!! Or the freaking breaststroker who does breaststroke for all choice or stroke sets, regardless of what event they actually swim. fin

7 years ago

What about the goggle fixer? They always managed to have goggle issues when the going got tough. I always brought a spare pair on deck to offer to these individuals in the hopes of allowing them to continue their workout. Strangely enough my preferred goggle differed from theirs.

Reply to  Alan
7 years ago

And the goggles always seem to have a problem at whatever end of the pool the coach isn’t!

Mary Ellen
7 years ago

Happily…none of these applied for me :). But there were quite a few on my team – boys mainly lol

7 years ago

Hopefully, when it comes time for training to come to fruition, the slackers will be left in the dust (foam?) by those who put in the effort every day. Hopefully.

Reply to  Chooch
7 years ago

There was a olympic medalist who was a total slacker (maybe who could have become Champion if not so lazy) – Fernando Scherer

Socal dude
Reply to  Rafael
7 years ago

Uh Ian Crocker?

a different socal dude
Reply to  Socal dude
7 years ago

Hmmm, sure would love to see you put down some of the sets Crocker did . . .

– But then again, you must have surpassed him with all of your swimming accolades, as he only had several WR’s and multiple NCAA tittles.

check yourself, before you get checked. Check-mate.

Reply to  a different socal dude
7 years ago

Plus, Crocker suffered chronic depression during age group and college and still made three Olympic teams, medaled, set multiple WRs and won NCAA championships. Training, living and working with depression feels like swimming drag chute and a bucket all the time and rarely, if ever, being able to take them off.

He seems to be much happier today and I’m glad for him.

Lifetime member of Team Crocker here.

Reply to  Socal dude
7 years ago

while crocker may not have had an individual medal at the Olympics. he was far from lazy. In fact, and this is coming from his former coach from maine. every time he broke the world record, it was because he was training with her, doing more distance sets to get his endurance up. Where as when he was going to the Olympics, he was training with eddie reese. Eddie is a phenomenal coach but everyone knows his philosophy is the fly and die style. So whenever Ian was training more sprints his back half would suffer. also everything evilwater said. Ian was FAR from lazy.

a different socal dude
Reply to  mcmflyguy
7 years ago

Incorrect. Athens, Silver in 100 FL.

Also incorrect . . . every time he broke the WR he was NOT training in ME with his former club team. He left to TX after Sydney and remained training there throughout his career. He would visit Portland on occasion to see family and friends, but to claim he “trained” there is misinformation.
His former club coach along with his TX coach collaborated on adjusting his training program, where he found success again during his Senior year at UT.

Reply to  Chooch
7 years ago

Slackers aren’t that bad even the best Olympic swimmers were probably slackers and I bet they all did all of those 7 things

7 years ago

After many years I finally worked for an AD who simply said, “get rid of these types of kids; don’t let an 18 year old dictate your program.”
You shouldn’t have to worry so much about winning that you keep a few n’eer do wells on your teams. That’s what community colleges are for!!

swim coach
7 years ago

#8 – the “i have to get out early because of…” swimmer. the swimmer “only” remembered they have to leave just as the main set is approaching. hmmm… just sayin!

Kirk Nelson
7 years ago


Always thinks they’re done with a set when there’s still a few left. Thinks using the clock to help keep count is for chumps.

7 years ago

The bully slacker, usually a teen boy who picks on younger really fast girl swimmers, who says snarky crap like “slow down, you’re making me look bad” out of the side of his mouth when the set is over and the coach’s attention is elsewhere.

Reply to  mamallama
7 years ago

That’s not sexist.

Reply to  Mike
7 years ago

And it isn’t bullying.

Reply to  mamallama
7 years ago

I don’t know…younger girls do tend to go really fast when they don’t need to….

Reply to  mamallama
7 years ago

I still don’t see how he is the slacker… if she is faster anyways then he isn’t really slackin, he is just slow.

Reply to  mamallama
2 years ago

I know someone like that! There is this guy that picks on me- im a young girl, fast, faster than him. LOL. He’s always like, stop going so fast! Stop swimming! And he always psychs me out by “pretending to go on the wrong interval”. Like, he’ll make it look like he’s going to leave the wall but really just turn around underwater which will mak me go early and look stupid. I do know the interval tho, he just psychs me out.

About Elle Meinholz

Elle Meinholz

Contributor Elle Meinholz has been in love with swimming all her life. Growing up she swam for the Waukesha Express Swim Team and Catholic Memorial High School. The oldest daughter of two former UW-Badger swimmers, Elle went on to college to fulfill her lifelong dream of swimming as a Wisconsin …

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