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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5 years ago

Love this

7 years ago

I have to admit I slack a lot on my club team, but never on high school. I don’t care too much about club swimming as it’s mostly just a way to stay in shape during the months when I am not in high school. I’m not a star by any means, I just enjoy the sport.

7 years ago

8. The swimmer who calls other teammates out instead of worrying about themselves.

7 years ago

what about the one that does breaststroke legs when supposed to be doing f/c legs, cos they’re a bit achey… coach never sees cos they look around to check coach isn’t watching before they start slacking.

7 years ago

In Oz we calL Save up Suzie, Last lap Larry.
Just to keep some gender equality.

7 years ago

Besides the google fixer, I have one girl who is a combination of goggle fixer and has a chronic foot cramp issue. Whenever the set starts to get tough she fakes a foot cramp and my coach literally doesn’t care anymore that he just tells her to take a couple laps around the pool.

7 years ago

Asadswimdad. It seems like you’re inferring that most slackers are less talented than the hard workers.

I don’t know about any of that, but what I do know is you can’t control talent, and you can control hard-work. Swimmers who choose to cheat in practice are doing so by choice, it has nothing to do with talent.

As a parent, you have a responsibility to teach your kid to work hard no matter what. There are a ton of swimmers who cheat in sets and disrupt practices who are really nice, good kids who have a lot to offer the world. It doesn’t take away the fact that they are cheating, bringing down the team, and affecting the training of… Read more »

Joel Lin
7 years ago

This has been attested to by 2004 Olympians…at the U.S. Olympic team training camp before Athens, Gary Hall Junior brought an inflatable raft to the diving well area and floated out with a soft drink in-hand and some shades on and chilled out for one practice session.

What is am really saying is there is Gary first, then the lists like this for mortals after him. The Most Interesting Man in the World.

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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