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.
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)