Do You Have the Right Swimming Mojo? (Blending into the swimming community)

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Mar 23, 2011

Do You Have the Right Swimming Mojo? (Blending into the swimming community)

There is no question about it, each specific niche community, be it formed around a sport such as swimming, arts or other hobbies, has its own code of conduct and non-written rules that the insiders follow and the outsiders trying to get in stick out like a sore thumb if they are not aware of
these guidelines. What I am talking about could range from special attire, body mannerism or any other specific thing that is embraced by that particular community. The members that have been in the community the longest don’t even think about these behavioral changes they have undergone when they first joined in, it just seems natural now. An outsider could be totally oblivious to the community code of conduct or on the other hand they might just find the behaviors very weird. Which sometimes they totally are.

How does this pertain to a swimming community? Let me put together a list of swimming community specific behaviors or codes of conduct which are embraced by majority of competitive swimmers around the world without even thinking about them. On the other hand, a regular lap swimmer might not even realize they stick out like a sore thumb in and around the pool because their behavior deviates from the community’s. Please take the below items with a grain of salt as this is not meant to embarrass anybody or put down the swimming community or the individuals that are learning to swim. The purpose of the below list is the opposite. To help bridge the gap between the lap swimmers and non-swimmers and the competitive swimming world, so we all understand each other better.

So, are you ready to awaken the inner swimmer within and explore the world of swimming through a different angle? Here is a list of swimming related behaviors that I’ve observed, witnessed and experienced in and around the pool.

1) Goggles around the neck - I put this to number one as this is the most obvious sore thumb like behavior a non-competitive swimmer can do. Swimmers never wear goggles around their neck. It is childish, it is hard to get them off the neck later and it just looks so weird. If you want to put them somewhere, stick one of the eye cups or the strap under your suit, they will hold just fine. What type of goggles you use is another issue, but that is not as clear, so I will refrain from comments on this topic at this time.

2) Swimming with a watch - whether you have ever done this or not, I am sure you have seen a person swimming with a watch. Unless, the watch is a computer which helps you with your stroke rate, stop watch (if there is no other), or a heart rate monitor receiver, there is no reason why you should keep the watch on. First, it creates a lob sided stroke as one arm weighs more than the other which could cause shoulder injuries. Just think how many strokes you do in a workout - it is a lot. Second, it creates extra drag when you extend your arm in front of your body. Third, it is just plain silly.

3) Showering before going to the pool - the pool operators are probably tearing their hair out about this, but competitive swimmers rarely shower before they go into the pool. There are several reasons for this. Usually, there is a stretching session before one gets into the pool and doing your stretches when you are wet and cold is not nice and even not very safe. Another reason could be that, most swimmers dread the split second moment when the body temperature changes from being nice and warm to cold when water hits the skin, so they try to prolong this moment until it is totally necessary. Thus, waiting until they actually jump into the pool to experience this dreadful feeling. If you don’t understand this, try swimming 2 times a day, 6 times a week and see how long you can last taking showers before you get in :).

4) To pee in the water or not to pee - that is the question :). Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but most competitive swimmers don’t even bother thinking about this question and just do it. The chemicals and the sheer amount of water in the pool will dilute it and eventually absorb it. So, if you are now very disturbed and you hear this for the first time, don’t worry. It is not as bad as it sounds and it never hurt anybody. Just think of how many kids are in the pool every day. Do you think they get out to pee? Of course not. To put your mind at ease, every swimming pool has a functional filtration system which keeps the water clean and many chemicals that are put into the water just for the purpose of diffusing the stuff that is not suppose to be in the water.

5) Using jammers or a full body suit in practice - I am not sure if this item still holds true since the jammer style swim suit is so popular, but I think it does. Swimmers do not use jammers or full body suits in practice, unless they are practicing their race speeds. Jammers are usually seen on smaller kids and there is probably at fault the parent as they don’t really know what to buy for the kids to swim in practices. Or there is a common problem in America where boys and many males are embarrassed to be seen in public in a skimpy swim suit, so they think jammers will fix it and they feel like they are in shorts. So, please, next time you buy a swim suit, forget jammers, unles you are competing. Jammers just look silly when you swim your regular laps.

6) Swimming with a locker key around your ankles - In some swimming pools it is necessary to lock your locker with a key or some kind of a magnetic thing. Many lap swimmers choose to put these on their ankles or wrists to keep them safe. This makes sense if you are really in a crowded place where thievery occurs, but usually it is pretty safe in swimming pools. Swimmers do not put these keys on their body. Keep it outside of the pool on your water bottle or in a bag. Or if you swim with a drag suits over your regular swim suit, just attach it to the string on the outside suit, so it doesn’t not dangle around and slow you down or keep you off balance (if it is on your ankle or a wrist).

7) Brushing teeth in the shower - Next time you are in the pool for a morning swim session, try it! You will never want to brush teeth anywhere else again. It feels so nice and free to brush your teeth in the shower and it saves you some time. This is a common behavior in many swimmers after morning practices, so don’t be afraid and don’t worry that other people thing it is weird or disgusting.

8) Faster swimmers have a right away - It is the most annoying thing if a slower swimmer does not yield a right away to a much faster individual. In swimming practices and in open swim hours, there are usually lanes which indicate the speed swimmers swim in them. This keeps the order pretty much most of the time, however, once in a while there is the occasional rogue lap swimmer who does not know the conduct that he/she should not swim in the middle of the lane and not let anybody pass or that he/she should not push off the wall right when the faster swimmer is coming in for a turn. This causes frustration, probably in both involved parties, which could result in a confrontation, mouth full of water for the slower swimmer or a black eye for the fast swimmer from the slower swimmer kick. So, slower swimmers, don’t take this the wrong way, it is amazing that you are in the pool and doing your laps (you are better for it), however, now you know the rule about faster swimmers and have no excuse to obey by them next time you are doing your laps.

9) Swimming with paddles - swimmers do not swim with paddles all the time. It is a big misconception amongst lap swimmers. Usage of paddles depends on a particular coach, however, the majority of swimming is done without them. Paddles are only used for some drills geared towards a specific goal like better catch or in sprinting etc. So, if you are guilty of using paddles for majority of your swimming workouts, because you think this is the way to do it, think twice and let your shoulders rest a little. You might prevent an injury or two.

10) The infamous goggle spit or lick - if you hang out around your local pool on weekly or daily basis, chances are you have probably seen the goggle spit or tongue lick ritual performed on many occasions by the seasoned swimmers before they get ready to jump into the pool. Sometimes, it even seems like a bad fetish as some swimmers have their goggles attached to their mouths at all time and their tongues perform a sexy dance on the inside the goggle material. This behavior, however, does have a very good purpose. The spit actually serves as one of many proven anti-fogging solutions. After licking the inside of your goggles, they will be fog free. If you use goggles and they fog up, lick them good before you get into the pool next time and see if it works. If you are on a hunt for anti-fog goggles, don't bother. There is no such thing, even though all the goggle companies keep advertising their goggles as such.

11) Relaxed swimming stroke - the last item on the swimming community code of conduct is smooth and relaxed swimming. Many beginner swimmers think that they have to fight the water as fast as possible to get to the other side and then they are proud of themselves. Or many swimmers think that they always have to compete against the person in the next lane. If this is you, don’t do it. Real swimmers relax in the water and try to be one with the water and not fight it. As far as racing your neighbors, this is great in a certain swimming sets, but most of the time you should be concentrating on your technique and how the water feels instead of the person next to you. I know, to be relaxed in the water is easy to say, but very hard to do for beginner swimmers. Don’t worry, you are not alone and with following the proper drill sequence and applying your mind to it, you will succeed.

There you have it. Agree? Disagree? Well, either way, maybe you learned something new:). Feel free to add more into the comments.
Be seen, keep your stuff dry and take a break when needed.

1 comments:

David said...

I am guilty of 2 of these. This was great info to have and I laughed a bunch of times. Thanks for sharing.