Swimming is Bullshit

Swimming is Bullshit

I’m just going to come right out and say it: swimming is bullshit. Last week my trainer scheduled me to swim a total of over 5800 meters. What the hell. Three days of swimming, three days of stinky chlorine, three days of getting out of the pool and having perma-freezing fingers for the rest of the night. I’m sure Teresa the Dolphin is immune to all of these maladies, but I’m not because I suck at swimming and I feel like my progress is excruciatingly slow.

And you want to hear the real kick in the balls? My trainer scheduled a 2750 meter swim and wrote down “total swim time: 40 minutes.” What the crap! I didn’t magically grow gills in 2009. She knows that I’m too ghetto a swimmer to pull out 1.2 miles in under 50 minutes, so how am I supposed to manage 1.7 in 40? Just because I watched Michael Phelps glide his way to eight gold medals doesn’t mean I learned by osmosis! Progress takes time, mofo!

I don’t know what it is about swimming, but it feels like every other swim I have goes terribly. One day I’ll have what I think is a good swim. I’ll get in the pool and feel pretty good and think, “I could swim and swim and swim forever!” Then, no joke, the next time I get in the pool I’ll be gasping for air after 4 lengths and flailing my legs like a fool. My shoulder will ache, I’ll swallow roughly a gallon of questionable YMCA water, and I’ll dejectedly watch some a-hole flying back and forth in the lane next to me, doing his fancy flip turns in his one-size-too-small Speedo. (How on earth he glides through the water aerodynamically with those plum smugglers dangling is beyond me.)


And don’t get me started on the actual technique. There are at least a dozen things you have to remember to do with your body when you’re swimming. My mind keeps racing and I can barely keep track of it all. When I’m swimming, I’m thinking, “Head down. Don’t look at the ceiling when you breathe. Don’t windmill your arms. Fingers together. High elbows. Do a good ‘catch.’ Finish your damn stroke! Push! Turn on your side. Reach out. No, further. Small kicks — from the hips. Don’t bend your knees. Keep your legs up. Abs tight. Oh, breathe. Breathe!” I’m not coordinated enough to prevent myself from running into corners or tripping up stairs, let alone remembering (and sustaining) 50 swimming tips while I’m flailing in the water. If I focus on my legs, my arms get all stupid. If I’m conscious of improving my catch, my legs go all crooked. It’s like my limbs react oppositely to each other.

So yeah, swimming is bullshit. Pool swimming is stupid, open water swimming is really stupid, and dry land swim conditioning classes are uber-stupid (and make my triceps all hurty). I hate it, and yet I subject myself to it a few times a week. Why? Because I am stubborn. Because I begrudgingly want to get faster and look like less of a spazz when I swim. Because one day I’d like to be better than a mediocre athlete. And because there’s no good way to cheat at swimming (scuba gear ain’t exactly subtle), so I guess I’m just going to have to learn. I know, bullshit, isn’t it?

23 Responses to “ “Swimming is Bullshit”

  1. Teresa says:

    Girl, you have improved so much from last year!!! Sorry about the “time” scheduled for you longer yardage workouts…I forgot to change that:) You are looking amazing in the water and we all have those days where we feel bad in the water, maybe not 50% of the time, but 25% would be normal 🙂 There’s hope!

  2. Teresa says:

    Oh, and the photo….that is what I would see every day in my years of swimming…booty crackage!

  3. OMG – love it. I love the comment about having to remember everything. I just can’t remember it all and then Teresa reminds me.

    If there was a “keep your bottom half dragging along the bottom drill while your flail to keep yourself afloat” I would be able to do that just fine.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Hell yeah, you and I would be taking gold and silver at the Sloppy Technique Olympics.

  5. LaVonne says:

    Hi Rebecca – I am a friend of Teresa’s and came across a link to your blog on her blog. I just have to say you are hysterical!!! Swimming is so complicated, and coaches tell you a million things you need to work on, when really all you can do is think of one thing at a time, if you’re lucky! Sounds like you’re doing great, though, keep it up!


  6. Rebecca says:

    Hey LaVonne, thanks for stopping by. I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t remember all of the little swim movements that separates the bad swimmers from the good. 😀

  7. damn Jane is gone for just on a month and you are dissing her already…. or was she the one who left yyou with the swimming training task?

  8. Triathlete-Wannabe... says:

    I feel your pain! I’m training for my first triathlon, and I HATE swimming. I flail, wildly, finishing up my first 100 meters in the water, while my teammates are on their 3rd mile… I just keep praying I don’t actually drown come May…

    • Rebecca says:

      What distance are you training for? Believe me, your “fight or flight” kicks in pretty hardcore when you’re in the water. I was worried about drowning but soon realized that I can at least stay upright by flailing around. It doesn’t look pretty, but I at least know that if I panic I won’t drown (I’ll just get repeated “Are you okay?” inquiries from the kayak spotters nearby).

  9. Triathlete-Wannabe... says:

    Ugh, Olympic Tri May 17th, my coaches assure me I’ll be ready. I comfort myself with the fact there are life guards out there… I do seem to have the flailing around wildly down really well by now, so that part is good. This Tue I got in the pool and just kept repeating “I love to swim, I love to swim, I love to swim…” Yeah, didn’t seem to help, other than my swim coach thinking I’m more insane than he probably already does “umm, what are you doing?”

    Also a favorite of mine is my lack of ability to go straight in the water. Sure, if I’m looking at a lane marker, I think I may end up doing two miles in the open water…

    Favorite quotes swim quotes: “I want you to REACH!” “KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN,” “Work on your rotation,” “get your heels UP,” “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? PULL IT TOGETHER…” Oh sure, it is 6am and I haven’t had coffee yet, and I’m trying to not die in a pool. This is as together as I can get it…

  10. Rebecca says:

    My trainer kept telling me to keep my arms wider when I enter the water. Also, “You need faster arm turnover.” I’m like, “I don’t slow them down by choice! I’m just SLOW!”

  11. Triathlete-Wannabe... says:

    LOL, your blog cracks me up, I think we’d be good friends…. lol Here’s mine… http://triathelete-in-training.blogspot.com/

  12. Dave says:

    2750 in 40 minutes? Try Flipper(s), not the the ones you put on your feet, but the dolphin! Grab the dorsal fin and hang on. As far as technique, I pick one thing to concentrate on each set. (200 yards focus on elbow position, 200 yards focus on grabbing the water, etc.)

  13. Brandon says:

    Me swimming = well described by Triathelete-wannabe: “flail, wildly” I feel your frustrations. It’s one of the reasons I dropped my kids into the swimming pool at 3 years of age. Now they’re fish…

    Swimming, skiing, and a number of sports need to literally be thrown at us at the same age when Tiger Woods picked up golf. My brother and I were 5 years too late (8 yo’s) in baseball — so I didn’t play college ball & he failed to get past Single A ball.

  14. Art says:

    “Not a good look”? With that body and that gorgeous ass? Are you joking?

  15. Rebecca says:

    I meant “not a good look” in terms of decency. Even the hottest swimmer probably shouldn’t have his ass hanging out. 😛

  16. Salvync says:

    What is with the speedos lol. They should be banned.

  17. RunningPirate says:

    Hi Rebecca –

    I just stumbled on your site the other day, and it’s outstanding!

    I like this particular post as I have just started a Masters Swimming program, locally, and I find myself trying to remember 17 thousand million little things about swimming while a) trying to get enough air, b) trying to remember to do all the steps in a drill in the right sequence, and c) trying not to sink.

    I must be a bit of a masochist, because I keep going back. Hmmm…

    Anyway, I look forwards to future posts.



    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks for the comment, Chris! The swimming has gotten marginally better for me. I’m glad I’m not alone in my struggles 😀 Hope you check back soon — I try to post new content once a week or so.

  18. Kelvin says:

    So, when you fly, you touch turn, you flip turn on free and back…breast and fly are touch.
    And honestly, swimming isn’t that hard…just take lessons progressively instead of trying to go fast really fast.

  19. George Cespedes says:

    This made me laugh, thank I needed it I agree, swimming is total bullshit and I have lived every word you typed (except I have never taken a dry land swim class) Bravo 2 thumbs up

Leave a Reply to Kelvin Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *