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Swimming From a Non-Swimmer's Perspective (Swimming World Magazine)

Original Article on SwimmingWorldMagazine.Com


28 January 2021, 12:42pm

"When it comes to swimming, it’s something I know how to do. But if you were to put me in my university’s swim practice for a day, I would absolutely be beat by the warmup. Personally, I think swimming is such a cool sport and I regret not continuing swim club and taking part in the sport in high school.

At the college I attend, I’m a lifeguard at the two gyms on campus. One of the shifts, we can get assigned to is the swim team practice. It’s basically two guards watching over the swim and dive team during their training, so it’s an easy shift, but probably one of my favorite shifts ever.

It’s just so interesting seeing these girls practice for two hours straight and how they train right before my eyes. While it’s only just a practice, it definitely opens up my eyes to how much work a college team puts into practice every day.

On one day, one of their warmups was a 500 in the 25-yard pool. As lifeguards, we have to swim that much at our in-services every two weeks and let me tell you, if you’re not a swimmer, that will wear you out.

Moving into the actual chunk that is the nitty gritty of practice, it looks absolutely exhausting. While people may think it’s just swimming laps back and forth, think again. It was a mix of speed training, strength training, and many other things.

At least 30 minutes or an hour in, I always think to myself: “They have to be tired. There is no way they can handle all of this.” But, nope, they’re still going and giving their all.

It’s interesting to see how much detail goes into having a good race. I remember when I was trying to learn how to do a flip turn a couple of years ago, someone who I used to work with at a different pool told me that a flip turn can make or break your race. While the team hasn’t practiced flip turns during the practices I have seen, they do practice their starts and their underwaters right off the block. As a non-swimmer, it’s odd to think that those are such basic things you learn to do in club or high school, so why would you go back to practice those things."

When they actually start the crux of practice, it looks crazy. Swimmers jumping off the blocks, teammates cheering each other on, and my eyes are glued because I want to see the whole thing. Although there is no winner or loser, it still looks very intense. Everyone is going as fast as they can and it’s a full sprint for 50 yards. By the time they finish, one of the coaches is just spitting out times one by one as they finish: “24.3, 24.9, 25.4.” While I know what these numbers mean, I don’t know the value of them. Yeah, that’s the time they just swam, but how does it compare to their personal best or past times if they’re doing multiple rounds of the same thing.

I don’t know what it takes to be a competitive or collegiate swimmer. However, after seeing practice after practice every single week, it’s a lot of hard work and perseverance. Going to practice every single day and giving your all for hours to improve is something we don’t see as non-swimmers, and it provides a greater appreciation for what competitive swimmers endure."