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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8 years ago

The Specialist, could out-pull the High School swimmers in 8th grade.

Ellie M
Reply to  David Knowles-Smith
2 years ago

Lol I know that story

8 years ago

lol these are great. I was 10 Second Tom, The Nudist, and The Meet Swimmer. The nudist part was even easier to achieve during my FastSkin days since they wore out so quickly and I wasn’t about to spend a ton of money replacing a perfectly good suit just cause you could actually predict what my religion was if you looked in the right place….. And for the Meet Swimmer one, it’s not exactly what you think, I only surprised by teammates, and myself, by rising to mediocrity at meets instead of just my normal practice slowness. Classic underachiever.

Reply to  liquidassets
8 years ago

ahh the fastskin peep show, good times, lol.

Jane del Greco
8 years ago

“Can’t lead, follow, or stay the heck out of the way”. This the faster swimmer who can neither read a clock nor count- leading the lane is not an option. If they go second, the interval for push off is never enough and they ride up your tailpipe, metaphorically speaking. They must stop and take a goggle- adjusting break at the center of the lane at the wall, and then push off at the precise moment you are coming in. You know who you are…..and so does everyone else.

Christina Noens
8 years ago

“The butt-Rider” No matter if they leave 5 seconds, 10 seconds, or 5 minutes after you, there they are on your feet the entire set. If you ask them if they want to go in front of you, they have an excuse about why they need to go second.

moderator says: THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Reply to  Christina Noens
8 years ago

“The butt-Rider” No matter if they leave 5 seconds, 10 seconds, or 5 minutes after you, they are on your feet the entire main set. (“This is as fast as you can go”) If they ask if they can go in front of you, you always say no because you are busy talking to your friends in the middle of the set. Also “butt-rider” You lead the lane and run over the person in the back and get in trouble.

Reply to  Michael Orwin
7 years ago

We used to call this “pulling a Fergie” – after Princess Fergie’s toe-sucking scandal…

The specialist
8 years ago

There is a walk-on on our team that recently did a kick set of 4 rounds of 6x100s kick with a board on 1:25 1:20 1:15 and 1:10 by round, with 30 seconds rest between the 3rd and 4th rounds. He went 1:04 for all six but can only manage a 49 100 back, fully tapered. If only there were kick races…

None of the Above
Reply to  The specialist
8 years ago

You must be a top D1 swimmer because a :49 back is impressive for most walk-ons at any school…

8 years ago

Back in the day: Specialist (strong kicker, decent puller). Not a thrasher but more practice swimmer than meet swimmer
At age group/masters practices: 10-Second-Tom. You knew you were in trouble when the sets included parentheses AND brackets)
These days (working out solo): Flipper

8 years ago

Specialist was SO me. I have a strong, endurance based upper body (obsessed with pushups at an early age) And I could hang with the state champions on pull sets

Easing into it
8 years ago

The swimmer who takes 10 minutes to get fully submerged.

Reply to  Easing into it
7 years ago

That’s me….are there snakes and leeches in the lake today? Just dive in and although.

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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