10 Sinking Struggles Only Swimmers Understand

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Awkward rings around the eyes, crazy arm flapping before a race and the weird obsession everyone seems to have with shaving. Swimming: the most difficult and challenging sport on the face of the earth, to swimmers at least. Non-swimmers just don’t understand that when you’re a swimmer you live, eat and breathe swimming. While non-swimmers think you have it easy, just tell them to watch Michael Phelps train. In the swimming world, you’ve got to do more than just stay afloat.

Morning Sunshine

You’re snuggled nicely in your warm, little bed asleep and…bam! The alarm on your phone rings off the hook. Yes, we know it’s 4:45 a.m., but you have swim practice at 6 a.m. Though you hit the snooze button on a regular day of school, you know better than hitting the snooze button for swim practice. Unless you want to get stuck doing extra push-ups, or worse, an extra set, you know to get your butt out of bed and into the pool.

Gotta Go, Gotta Go, Gotta Go Right Now

Though you pant, look red in the face and your skin feels like it’s on fire after that 500 timed test set, you can’t take a break. Your bladder is about to burst, but your coach already began reading off the next set and your lane mates started readjusting their caps and goggles. What do you do? Hop up on the gutter, of course, and do your business. After splashing some water on yourself, just slide back into the pool. Pee takes like seven seconds to dissolve anyway, right?

To Those Who Think Swimming is a Noncontact Sport

“Why are your arms and legs covered in bruises?” your friend wonders. “Didn’t you come from swim practice?” For those who believe swimmers stay in perfect little lines as they swim, you’re wrong. Swimming can be a really dangerous sport even for those who know what they’re doing. Not only do you try to avoid whacking lane lines, but you also have to dodge swimmers as well. “It feels normal to us, but the only response I ever get from non-swimmers is ‘How do you hurt yourself? Isn’t swimming a non-contact sport?’” University of Nebraska-Omaha alumna Hannah Johnson said. “They have no idea.”

Your Cap and Goggles Ripping at Impromptu moments

“Swimmers take your mark,” the official says before starting the first leg of the 400-meter freestyle relay. Being the fastest, you anchor your relay, so it isn’t until the third person winds up for their start that you put on your cap and goggles. Suddenly, right as you put on your cap, it rips. Cue internal panic attack and Michael Phelps saying “Are you kidding me?” Your teammate luckily lets you borrow their cap, but this isn’t always the case. Though you have about four other pairs in your bag, they only choose to rip right when you prepare to step onto the block. Go figure, right?

Is that your perfume?

After swimming two-a-days for the entire summer, you’re guaranteed to wreak of chlorine for the next several months. No matter how many showers you take and how much perfume you use, you’ll always smell like you just stepped out of the pool. Signal the start of irritated eyes as smelly, sweat-filled chlorine drips down into them. “Everyone knew you were a swimmer because of the smell. And it dries out your hair, or I’ve seen people’s hair turn slightly green,” University of Wisconsin-Madison junior Jacquelyn Caldwell said. “Also, it makes your skin gross, so I probably went through a bottle of lotion a week trying to make sure my skin didn’t get all scaly and nasty.” Time to buy lotion in bulk.

Waiting for Taper Like…

Taper, literally the best part of the season. After doing at least 8,000 yards a day, you’re ready for those easy-peasy workouts to make sure your body gets extra rest before the big meet. After rigorous amounts of two-a-days and long 400 IM sets, you slow down and take it easy with quick short practices and a lot more downtime. Time to catch up on the last season of your favorite Netflix series you neglected for the past few months.

#TBT to 80’s Workout Videos

If anyone ever looked more like Jane Fonda in her workout videos, it’s swimmers during taper season. Seriously, with all the crazy colored tights and layered swim suits, swimming practice looks like a bad rendition of a Richard Simmons workout. Though taper is the best time of the year, you know it also means putting on a lot of drag to make sure you swim as fast as possible at the championships. Every little bit helps, which is probably why you still save that suit from five years ago that sags down to your knees.

 Hello Hairy Long Legs

 No shave November? How about no shave ever? Swimmers are prone to weird habits non-swimmers just don’t understand. “Whether it be during the summer or winter, waiting to shave is a struggle because all your girlfriends’ legs are silky smooth, and you’re a stubbly mess,” Minnesota State University junior Chelsea Calhoon said. You obviously need to grow out all the hair on your body to create as much drag as possible during the season. Purdue University senior Holly Maize describes it as “watching your legs slowly develop into the legs of a woolly mammoth.” But, I mean you’ll shave it for the championship meet eventually…in a few months.

 You’re a Fish Out of the Water

Time sets? No sweat. Swimming descending 100s? Sure. Getting out of the pool and running on dry land? Heck no. Swimming feels like a piece of cake for you, but the second your coach says to grab your running shoes, it’s like someone took a piece of you. Who knew you sweat so much and why is it so hot? “I don’t like already being tired and then going to swim for three hours,” Maize said. Where’s the freezing cold water you’re used to? You may not feel thrilled about getting into the pool, but you’re definitely ready to dive in after a few miles on the track.

It’s a Love/Hate Relationship

Thankfully, swim season finally ended. After countless months of two-a-days swim tests, early mornings and cranky coaches, you made it to the end of the season, and you never want to see a pool again. Now you have all the time in the world to sleep in, eat what you want and socialize with people outside of your swim friends. But then again…what are you supposed to do with all this free time? Don’t worry, the break only lasts for a little while and then it’s back in the pool on Monday.

Anne is a sophomore studying journalism and history at University of Wisconsin-Madison. A native Wisconsinite, Anne loves all things Wisconsin including sporting events, the outdoors and its summer concerts.

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