16 Ways Swimmers Drive Their Coaches Crazy

16 Ways Swimmers Drive Their Coaches Crazy

You know coach knows you do it. You know it drives them nuts. And you do it anyway.

Swimming, being the technical sport that it is, requires an inordinate amount of focus and attention to detail.

Over the hours and hours we spend in the water we work on our hand position. Hand entry. Relaxing our shoulder on the recovery. We focus on keeping our streamlines tight. Our turns snappy. And then there is having to remember all the like, intervals and stuff.

So we can be forgiven for letting things slip from time to time.

Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make coach a little mental, particularly when he or she has been reminding us to do it right since the dawn of time.

Here are 16 ways that we drive our swim coach a little mental:

1. Leave early. It’s fun thinking we are faster than we are. If that means leaving a couple (or 5) seconds early so be it. Often coach will give up on reading out the results for us because it’s pointless to do so.

2. Showing up consistently late. The car broke down. Had detention. Missed the bus. Forgot my suit at home. The list here could go on forever, and while we could be forgiven for the infrequent truancy other swimmers are celebrated for actually showing up on time for once.

3. Get in late. The inventory of of delaying tactics use for getting into the water late is well-stocked. Gotta fix the goggles. One half of the drawstring has receded deep into the suit, making tying it impossible. Bathroom break. Forgot equipment in the locker. So what are we doing again?

4. Not listening. The classic. Nothing makes your coach want to throw his head back in exasperation more than spending 5 minutes explaining the set and then hearing, “What are we doing?” Even better (and infuriating when this athlete is leading the lane) is when swimmers will start what they think is the set, only to stop after a few hundred meters: “Wait…so what are we doing?”

5. Never helping with the equipment. It’s funny how swimmers don’t like swimming without lane ropes and backstroke flags but abhor having to spend a couple minutes putting them in. An oft-cited protest when it comes to setting up pool gear: “But I did it last time!”

6. Getting out early. There is one in every group. Sometimes two. The swimmer who has to get out of every practice 15-20 minutes early. Every…single…day. It doesn’t matter that there isn’t school the following day, or that rides are available from other parents. Excuses and reasons vary and are cycled through to maintain freshness.

7. Missing tons of practices and then being confused about a bad meet. Sure, realizing that you will have to “work hard” and “show up” at practice isn’t always the greatest realization. But if you are into results you better be into practice.

8. Going missing before big races. The big relay, the one that could very well decide the championship, is minutes, even moments away, and you are absolutely nowhere to be seen. When someone finally tracks you down you are napping under the bleachers, playing basketball in the gym, blissfully unaware of the panic you have set off.

9. Float into the walls from the flags. From the push-off and through the swim portion of the rep you completely represent. Great technique, great speed…but then, with the end in sight, you pick your head up and float into the wall from outside the backstroke flags. Swimming well for 90% of the rep counts, right?

10. Bad body language. You know the type. The swimmer who crosses their arms, sighs loudly, pouts and grumbles while the main set is being written out on the whiteboard. Or in the moments before their race they stand behind the blocks, shoulders slouched, arms crossed, utterly uninterested in their own performance. It wouldn’t be so bad if this grumpy display didn’t act as a cancer within the group.

11. Breathing in and out of the turns. When you blast off the wall you are going fast—faster than you are than when you are straight swimming—so why do you pick your head up on the first stroke to take a breath? Similar to when you are charging into the wall—recycle some of that speed and energy into an explosive turn.

12. Tailgate your teammates. For most clubs pool space is at a valuable premium, so this situation isn’t always avoidable. But when it is, give the swimmer in front of you space so that you aren’t riding their wake for the duration of the practice.

13. General lack of awareness. Some swimmers have a bizarre habit of wanting to stop mid-length. During warm-up, warm-down, the main set, even somehow during a vertical kick set they’ll suddenly appear off in the middle of the pool. Of course, there will always be reasons you need to stop mid-length. A paralyzing hamstring cramp, for instance (the worst). But just cause? Or to push off the bottom? Come on.

14. Pushing off your stomach on backstroke. This one is particularly confusing for your coach to watch you do. When you do a flip turn you are perfectly positioned to push off on your back. But instead, you push off, twist onto your front, and then as you surface twist back onto your backside. What?

15. Beach-ball streamlines. Streamlining is important, as when we dive in and push off we are going ballistic in terms of speed. And yet, for reasons that don’t make sense to your coach, you streamline as though you are holding a beach-ball over your head.

16. Complain. The water is too cold. The water is too warm. The main set is too hard. The warm-down is too long. The lane is too crowded. There are too many waves. The options here are limitless, and some swimmers seem determined to exhaust the full list.

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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of YourSwimLog.com. He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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