20 Swimmer Stereotypes We Love and Hate

by Olivier Poirier-LeroyJoin his weekly motivational newsletter for competitive swimmers by clicking here.

We all have our own little idiosyncrasies as swimmers. Perhaps you will recognize some of the following characters from your own team and groups, and maybe you will see a striking resemblance to a way that you perform at the pool.

Here are 20 common swimming characters we find in our lanes on a day-to-day basis–

The Meet Swimmer.

The crunch-time performer, the athlete that stands up on the blocks at meets and swims times that do not correlate whatsoever with the times they perform in practice.

The Thrasher.

The workhorse of the team, this swimmer proudly bears the mark of the all go, no quit athlete, even if it is a one arm drill set. While they pump out max effort on everything they do, for the Thrasher this doesn’t always correlate to maximum efficiency and speed in the water. Has a sometimes strained relationship with The Meet Swimmer as a result.

The Mental Gamer.

Will talk about how out of shape they are, how crappy they feel in the water, just how awful of a day they had… and then proceed to smoke you for the entire set.

The Tahiti Break.

Swimming behind this person is a nightmare due to the 8 foot swell that follows them in and out of the walls. Swimming beside them however, gives you a golden draft with which you can go for a nice leisurely surf on. (Commonly this swimmer is a wave-creatin’ butterflier.)

The Lane/Board Puller.

Backstroke sets are a favorite for this swimmer, as they will take every opportunity they can to pull on the lane-rope. This swimmer will also often pull into the wall with five full strokes on kick sets.


Often this person has chronic shoulder injuries that may or may not be acting up; regardless, they will find the first reason they can to strap on swim fins for the rest of the workout.

The Undisclosed Injury.

This swimmer usually jumps out of the main set at some point, most often after someone has passed them. Cited reasons generally include injury, illness, or vital text message. Can usually be found enjoying a nice warm shower while the rest of the group finish the practice.

10 Second Tom.

Forgets the set, interval, and/or when they left. Consistently seeks clarification on set specifics. “How many was that?” is a common refrain.

Ten-After on Time

No matter how early they leave school, or how well they plan their day, this swimmer is almost always late for practice. As a result, they get into their swim gear in the car on the way to the pool. This is the swimmer you see running through the pool lobby with cap and swim goggles already on.

Sammy Save-Up.

We all know this swimmer. Coasts along for 90% of the set or workout, quietly awaiting his or her turn to smash out a near personal best time on the least repeat, even while everyone knows precisely what he or she is doing.

Bathroom Break.

Related to the “Undisclosed Injury,” this swimmer seems to have an over-active digestive system the moment the main set gets difficult. Commonly tracked with puddled footprints that gallop toward the bathroom.

The American Standard. 

Speaking of bathrooms, it’s unfortunately a bit of a reality that swimmers pee in the pool. Something that should be left unsaid, perhaps? Not for the American Standard, who will gleefully broadcast that they are peeing in the pool. Particularly unpleasant when the Standard is next to you in the lane.

The Periscope.

This swimmer has a habit of stopping mid-length. For no particular reason. Just to stop, bob a few times, and push off the bottom and rejoin the lane on the following lap.

The Prankster

They move your kick-board between reps. They fill your water bottle with pool water. They swim to the bottom and blow bubbles under teammates, freaking them out. They are twenty pounds of pranks in a three-pound mesh bag.

Warm-Up Hustler.

It’s hard to get mad at this swimmer. After all, it is difficult to get frustrated with someone who wants to swim hard and fast. It’s just, well, maybe they could swim that fast during the main set as well.


This swimmer has neglected cutting their finger and toe nails for far too long; giving swimmers next to them the occasional unwanted under-the-lane-rope surprise with those horrific claws.

The Nudist.

This swimmer will let her swimsuit age far beyond the point of decay; to the point that it is see-through in some not-so appropriate areas.

Butt-crack Bukowski.

Time to pull that suit up, or perhaps it is time to get a new one. Either way, no one really wants to look at the top half of your butt-butt.

The Specialist.

A swimmer who is an average swimmer, but is simply out of this world at kick or pull. While you may be able to out-swim them, they lap your butt up and down the pool in pull sets.

The Eager Beav’.

Claim to fame is being the first person in the pool, or the first one to start a set, often times before the coach has finished explaining it.

Can you think of any other common swimmer stereotypes? List them in the comments below!


Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer. He’s the publisher of YourSwimBook, a ten-month log book for competitive swimmers.

Conquer the PoolHe’s also the author of the recently published mental training workbook for competitive swimmers, Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to a High Performance Mindset.

It combines sport psychology research, worksheets, and anecdotes and examples of Olympians past and present to give swimmers everything they need to conquer the mental side of the sport.

Ready to take your mindset to the next level?

Click here to learn more about Conquer the Pool.

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Susan Biebel
4 years ago

The sweater. One who constantly goes super fast on everything including warm-ups and drills and gets in people’s lanes. Might leave too early too and not wait five seconds for intervals

Susan Biebel
4 years ago

The talker. Won’t shut up while coach is talking

Susan Biebel
4 years ago

The bragger. One who constantly talks about how fast they are and what their times are.

4 years ago

The kid who manages to change the 5×100 butterfly set to a set of starts

George Rose
4 years ago

The open water, this people don’t feel pain

4 years ago

I’m a meet swimmer and people absolutely despise me for it. It’s not that i don’t work hard i just cant get going in practice.

Ol' Longhorn
4 years ago

I would love it if SwimSwam did interviews (included with interviews) with the elites and asked: “Which one or more of these stereotypes are you?” Mind blown just thinking about responses from, say, Lochte or Condorelli. How about Dressel? Which one does Ledeckey hate the most?

Ellie M
4 years ago

Flyer- The person who gos last in breast, and is mediocre until you get to butterfly. Then they pass everyone like they are standing still
No name yet- The person who refuses to go in front of you, leaves 3 secs apart, then runs you over the entire main set.

Reply to  Ellie M
4 years ago

I am so the butterflier, my 100 fly is a 1:06 low and my 100 free a 1:05 high. Every one hates me in IM sets, luckily, or not luckily for my lane mates, I have an accomplice who is also quite good at fly but not anything else. (I also always end up swimming the 200 fly and making all the cuts, everyone is like, what??)

Reply to  Ellie M
1 year ago

The name for the second one is Benjamin

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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