Inside the swimmer mind

I’ve made the explanation numerous times to new triathletes trying to describe the mindset of each specific social group within triathlon. It usually comes up somewhere around the time that new triathletes realize that there is an unnecessarily large amount of drama within their new found healthy lifestyle. After 3-4 years in the sport I came up with a purely stereotypical theorem that I is backed up by just enough dicks in each sport to be proven true time and time again. It is based on my pure genius deduction and backed by zero science, but if you have been in endurance sports long enough, you know its true.

Triathletes think they are smarter than pure cyclists and runners. Cyclists hate triathletes. Runners hate cyclists and sometimes triathletes. Swimmers don’t give a shit about any of the above because they are constantly looking at a black line and have chlorine mushed brains.

What I have also found to be true is that everyone either identifies with one or two of the above. You know the guy, “I do triathlons, but I’m a runner.” or, “I swim because it comes before the bike, which is the only true sport out of the three.” and finally, “I can swim 50 meters without breathing and will win every swim, but cant’ run faster than 9 min miles because I have 48 lb lats, and can’t breath on the run…where’s the beer?”

Personally, I think I am a triathlete trapped in a swimmers mind. Having swum competetivley for +/- 35 years, it is a natural fit for me. I love the pool. Luckily I don’t have to spend to much time in it anymore, which further proves another swimmer conundrum.  “I love the pool, can I get away with once a week?”

Having a swimmer’s mind doesn’t jive with the rest of the endurance world very well. You know I loves me some lists so here’s a number of things that all true swimmers do and think, what goes through my head both in the pool and not, along with some things I think you can all learn from a swimmer as well as how to become a better swimmer (no form advice, I promise)

1. Swimmers pee in the pool. Most of us every time we swim. When I was training for a long open water swim, I trained myself to pee in the pool while holding 1:15 100 pace. If you see me swimming under you on my back looking up and waving. I am peeing in your lane now.

2. All swimming is interval based. For you new swimmers out there, swimming the same pace for every swim is like running 10 min miles all the time. You have no second or third gear and will likely swim slow. Mix it up, go fast, go slow, work stroke, and please freaking learn how to kick.

3. I can’t count laps any better than the rest of you so quit asking me “how many was that.” When in doubt swim an extra 50 or 100. You were probably short.

4. Never, ever, listen to Kokomo, Jimmy Buffet, or Pina Colada before you swim. It is going to be there, right in front of your brain for every lap.

5. I know you think fins, paddles and a pull buoy go together, but they don’t. Oh and if you are kicking while you are pulling with a buoy, this is cheating, and I will push the pace on you until you pop.

6. I personally cannot imitate how bad your stroke is to show you “the wrong way”. I’ve tried and my version still looks awesome. Sorry.

7. I like watching runners swim from underwater as their ankles are so stiff it looks like they are dragging 2 anchors.

8. Chlorine is bleach, bleach gets shit super clean, I need not shower after a swim. It counts as bathing for at least a day. Get used to it.

9. Green stiff hair is a right of passage. So is having a female shave you in a speedo (when you are 13 or so. Now that would be considered in poor taste with your spouse).

10. If you are going to shave, please go all or nothing (I make an exception for armpits for some strange reason.)

11. Swimmers wear like 9 tattered, bleached out suits that you can see much more than you’d like. We think that swimming with drag will make us faster when we put on one small suit later. So yes this means you are getting your ass kicked in practice by a guy who has 10% more in the tank from a suit alone. Isn’t that confidence building?

12. Swimmers are known to drink heavily. This is due to years of their lives spent in silence looking at a black line, going in circles, being yelled at incessantly by coaches, and from the boredom of swim meets. I’ve never been in jail (for long) but I imagine there is some sort of mental parallel to the insanity of solitary confinement. When we are through we need beer.

13. We don’t realize it, but all swimmers seem to have a giant threshold for pain. Unfortunately, I can’t summon mine on the run.

14. I still think about 80’s music a lot in the pool, and remember wanting my dad to stand at the end of the pool with a boombox playing “Eye of the Tiger” during the 200 IM. As if I could have heard it.

This is a list that could go on and on and on. Perhaps there are runner’s and cylcist lists as well, but I am a swimming triathlete, so I know not of what those would be.

Hugs to the haters,
PF

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