Why Swimming is Not a Sport

Why Swimming is Not a Sport

With another round of the Olympics coming our way later this year, many of us in the swimming community are starting to field some thoughts and questions from the non-swimmers in our lives.

What does IM stand for?

Is that Phelps guy going to be there?

How do you keep a straight face when saying “breaststroke”?

After dutifully answering these questions, the non-swimmer acquaintance will shrug, wave dismissively and seek to remind me, “Yeah, but swimming’s not a sport anyway, so who cares, right?”

Well, let’s see about that.

Here is why swimming might not be considered a sport:

Swimmers are weak.

You take swimmers out of the water and what do you get? Some lean, wannabe athletes.

It’s not like Michael Phelps can box squat 300+ pounds for 20 reps at a time. Or that Nathan Adrian casually bench presses 160lb dumbbells (two of them). Or that Cullen Jones can box-jump over 50 inches.

Swimmers are weak, unathletic, and that’s that.

The races are super short (so they are super easy).

It’s not like a football game, or a baseball game, or a hockey game. You don’t compete for two hours straight like those athletes do, so how much of a sport can it be?

You hop into a chilly pool, splash your arms around for a minute, maybe two, maaaybe 4 or 5, and then off to the hot tub.

It doesn’t matter that just about every muscle in your body is being utilized in order to propel you through water, which is a measly 800 times denser than air. Or that you have to throw down this kind of effort a dozen times over the course of the weekend. NBD.

There is no contact.

How can it be a real sport if there is no punching? No ramming into another human being at full speed wearing a helmet designed by NASA engineers? There isn’t even anyone getting choked out.

On this point alone swimming cannot be legitimately considered a real sport.

Dislocating your finger getting it jammed in the lane-rope? Doesn’t count. Someone jumping on your head during meet warm-up? Nope. Or getting a sweeping breaststroke kick to the eye-socket? That’s sissy stuff!

Like my grandpappy used to say, “If there isn’t at least four concussions by the end of the weekend it’s not a good Thanksgiving weekend.”

Sorry, wrong quote!

What he said, and I am paraphrasing here, was: “What were we talking about again?”

Anybody can do it.

Yeah, anybody can do that! The kicking, arm thrashing and cannon-balling into a pool. Piece of cake!

Never mind the 20+ hours a week, the countless number of hours staring at the black line, the thousands and thousands of flip turns, the early mornings, the late nights, the full weekends

Anybody without a will of iron and a commitment that veers into partial insanity could absolutely do it.


And just like how anybody who can run can out-sprint Usain Bolt, anybody who has had taken a swim lesson can totally beat Michael Phelps!

So in sum: Swimming is absolutely, totally, completely not a sport.

(This article was brought to you by the word “sarcasm.” Please don’t throw your digital kickboards at my head.)

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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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