Pool Deck or Runway? You Decide

At every meet, the pool deck is a runway, whether you were aware of it or not. People will wear all sorts of things over their swimsuit to stay warm in between their races. In my years of swimming I feel like I have seen just about every look, here are a few that range from the most common to the most memorable:

Just a Towel– The towel is one of the most versatile things in your swim bag. Not only can it dry you off, but you can wrap it around your body in so many different ways! The towel cape, the towel skirt, the towel head wrap, the options are limitless. If you are the type of person to only use a towel, you may also be the type of person who claims to never get cold on the pool deck. This is impossible, at some point your toes will get so cold on that wet pool deck, at least put some shoes on.

Pros: Easy to pack and keep track of

Cons: Your coach will undoubtedly tell you to put on more clothes

The Robe– This is a bit of a variation of the towel. The robe is often seen on younger kids, but I’ve seen it on older swimmers as well. The robe will provide a bit more warmth than a simple towel on a chilly pool deck. If you find yourself looking for a pool deck robe, go for a spider man robe, I’ve decided it’s the coolest one out there.

Pros: like a fluffy towel, but with pockets and sleeves!

Cons: May not dry out well when wet

The Fuzzy Pajamas– Are robes not for you, but you still gravitate towards sleeping attire? Then the fuzzy pajamas is the way to go. I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely had a pair of those plaid pajama bottoms with the word swimming written down the side. Great pool deck attire, very warm.

Pros: Warm and cozy, could go directly to bed

Cons: Be warned: don’t get in bed with soggy pajamas

Just a Beanie- A warm beanie is a must for swimmers to keep in their swim bags in the winter. In some places, your wet hair will freeze on the way from the pool to the car. But, on the pool deck, wearing just a beanie is a more unique look. Picture someone wearing their tech suit and a knit beanie cap. Sometimes they throw on some shoes or maybe even gloves, but no other clothes. I am perplexed by this look because how is the rest of their body not just so cold? I guess it just works for some people.

Pros: Warm head

Cons: Cold everything else

Smells like Team Spirit-This is the full team warm-ups look. Team pants, team jacket, maybe even team shoes if you’re fancy. You are probably a little more serious about swimming than your just a towel counterparts. You definitely know the importance of keeping warm. Be sure to write your name on the tags of your clothes because you do not want to accidentally get your jacket mixed up with your teammate’s that is 3 sizes smaller than you. I’ve seen it happen.

Pros: Warm, representing your team

Cons: If you forgot to pack extra clothes, you’ll be sitting in soggy pants on the bus ride home

The Michael Phelps-This is a step up from the full team warm-ups look. You add in some big headphones and maybe a serious look on your face. This look may be reserved for finals. You are serious, your head is in the game, you are ready to swim fast.

Pros: Definitely warm, hype music playing

Cons: You can’t hear me ask for your autograph through your noise cancelling headphones

The Parka– The parka is the epitome of pool deck attire. It is so warm and cozy. Usually soft on the inside and water resistant on the outside. It has pockets for holding your cap and goggles or even keeping a snack with you (but don’t put a muffin in it, it may get smooshed). Don’t be afraid to bring your parka to a swim meet in July. Just because it’s 90 degrees outside, doesn’t mean it’s not the arctic tundra on the pool deck.

Pros: Warm inside, water repellant outside, cozy

Cons: The parka is an investment, so it can be expensive

The Lilly King– If your look is the Lilly King look, this means you have on the coolest Crocs at the entire meet. Bonus points if you have fun jibbitz decorating them. Even more bonus points if they glow in the dark.

Pros: Distracting the competition by your epic shoes, not having to step on the gross pool deck

Cons: Having to decide if you need to put your Crocs in “sport mode” or not

The Zach Harting– Batman onesie, yellow Crocs, Heelys, a gas can, you can even throw in a Viking beard for good measure. You never know what you will see from Zach on the pool deck. It is going to surprise you, and it is going to be amazing. Zach knows how to make things fun on the pool deck and then destroy it in the water. The Zach Harting pool deck look is truly what we all should strive for.

Pros: Eye catching, entertaining, surprisingly functional

Cons: I would caution younger kids against wearing Heelys on the pool deck, but other than that I have no cons to report.

The Mary -Am I naming one of these after me? Yes, absolutely, because I make the rules here. The Mary consists of a towel tied way too high up around your waist, team parka, and goofy long socks under your tennis shoes. Bonus points if the socks have dogs on them. Optional: a balled-up pair of gloves in your parka pocket, and maybe a snack too. If your pool deck attire is “The Mary”, you probably stay pretty cold on the pool deck without wanting to bother with putting on actual pants.

Pros: Warmth, compliments on fun socks

Cons: Absolutely none… Ok it does get to be a lot of stuff to carry around, but it’s worth it.

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3 years ago

Hell I wore Bee antennas the last time I raced

About Mary Northcutt

Mary Northcutt

Mary is a former 6-time All-American swimmer at Carson-Newman University. She technically was a 50-freestyler, but her favorite events were relays. She wrapped up her swimming career at the 2020 Division II National Championships in March. Since then, she has recently started her first year of Physical Therapy school at …

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