From Swimmer To Swammer: Pros And Cons Of Throwing In The Towel
Start writing a post

From Swimmer To Swammer: Pros And Cons Of Throwing In The Towel

You've just spent a good chunk of your life competing in a pool. Now what?

From Swimmer To Swammer: Pros And Cons Of Throwing In The Towel
Katrina Dy

As a young adult, it's a little forlorn to refer to yourself as a retired athlete. Nevertheless, the title becomes appropriate once you've stopped competing in a sport. I cannot call myself a swimmer anymore; today, I am a swammer. As I reflect on past swim seasons, specifically my most recent ones in high school, I suspect that I am imagining another life entirely. It doesn't seem quite possible that I could ever again make the times I used to, or swim the amount of yards in practice that I was once able to swim with ease. If you're a fellow swammer, I'm sure you can relate. While life is absurdly different from what it once was, there are some definite ups and downs about swimmer retirement.

Pro: life after swimming.

When I was 15 years old, on the pool deck at a YMCA practice, I excitedly blurted out to my coach that swimming was the best decision I ever made, or something equally cheerful along those lines (what's sad is I wasn't trying to suck up -- I'm a swim nerd right to the core). He smiled and told me, "There is life after swimming." I thought he was kidding; I might have actually laughed. But he was right -- there is life and it's beautiful!

Swimming on a competitive team takes up an enormous amount of time, which a swimmer must balance between school and other activities. Now we swammers have the chance to explore our side interests, try new sports, watch an entire Netflix series, spend more time with friends and family, watch an entire Netflix series. Hey, you exerted a lot of energy in that pool. You've earned some binge-watching.

Con: slower metabolism.

Huh, that's odd. I just ate a cheeseburger, and I want to eat another, but I don't feel up to it. There's this weird feeling in my stomach that's stopping me. Oh, my god. What's happening? Could it be? Am I full?

The unfortunate reality is that while your metabolism won't come to a screeching halt, it will slow down once you stop your consistent swimming schedule. This means you may have difficulty chowing down your usual four slices of pizza, or splitting a 12-scoop sundae at Friendly's. Because swimmers/swammers are natural food lovers, this fate is tragic. My advice is to continue alternate forms of exercise in order to not have to completely dump your beloved calorie-dense diet.

Pro: control over your workouts.

It depends which way you look at it, but I see this as a positive. Have you ever looked at your coach's practice before getting in the pool and could only utter nonsensical sounds of frustration? You no longer have intervals to make to or impossibly long yardage to complete. You don't have to risk saying "I finished the set" while praying your coach won't call your bluff (we've all skipped laps at one point or another). When you go to swim on your own, now, and you get tired in the middle of a set you've created, you can simply change it up from what you originally planned. Or take a break at the wall. Or just float. In the middle of the pool. On a tube. Magazine in hand. Is freedom glorious, or what?

Con: no more hot swimmer body.

This can tie into the metabolism con, but not necessarily. Just because you stop swimming competitively doesn't mean you automatically gain weight. Personally, ending my swimming career sort of had a backwards effect on me. I am presently the lankiest I have ever been -- a noodle, if you will. And noodles, evidently, lack muscle.

Swammers, our super-strength is in decline. To avoid a noodle-y form, my advice is the same as above. Remember any of your old dry land workouts? Try out those every so often. Lift some weights, do some leg lifts, strengthen your core. But, as stated previously, you have control now. If you want to live the noodle life and cease physical activity all together, go right ahead. But I can say from personal experience, when you are fit and toned (at least somewhat), you will look and feel your best.

Pro: no rules.

Wait, so I can pull on the lane line during backstroke? I don't have to do two kicks per butterfly stroke? I can change the definition of IM order? Did someone say doggy paddle?

That's right. You will never again have to sneak a glance during your race and see an official raise their hand. For a swimmer, that might be the number one most dreadful feeling--knowing you have disqualified yourself as you're still swimming your race. There is a ton of pressure to perfect your technique for meets -- one bad kick or quiver on the block means it's all over, it doesn't count, no points, no chance at a best time. That pressure is gone now! If you never aced your start dive or got your breaststroke kick down (me -- seven years and zero progress), don't worry about it. Swim like no one's watching.

Con: your teammates become the people I used to swim with.

When you're on a close-knit team of any kind, you develop a family. Sadly, when you leave that team, everyone resorts to being distant relatives; while you still keep in touch once in a blue moon, you're not nearly as close as you used to be.

This doesn't only apply to swimmers. This applies to anyone who, in some sense of the phrase, is growing up and moving on. Whether it's transitioning from high school to college, or from college to the next big time, the ties we create as adolescents are loosened. We all have individual career goals which take us down separate life paths. We all have new busy schedules which don't always allow us the time to pick up the phone or arrange a reunion. Sometimes, resentment arises from not speaking to a friend for so long, but is there really blame to be had? Growing apart is inevitable. For swimmers, this is what happens when you throw in the towel.

Writing this part especially hits home for me. I had the time of my life on my swim teams in high school, with the craziest, most amazing friends I could ever have asked for by my side. Reminiscing never comes without nostalgia.

Pro: the stories.

Although it may feel like a past life at times, there are precise moments of my swimming career that have been etched into my mind. I remember exact conversations with my coaches on pool decks, aching pains during practices, and that reoccurring pumping adrenaline before every race. I can recall the corny cheers my teammates made up for meets and all of our inside jokes from get-togethers. I can remember crying over getting disqualified and grinning from ear to ear looking up at the scoreboard, seeing that I got a best time. While the memories may be bittersweet to recall, I cherish every single one of them. I stand by what I said at the age of 15: choosing to swim competitively was the best decision I ever made.

I hope that through the ups and downs of life as a swammer, you also choose to relive your swim careers, whether it be through stories shared between old friends and teammates or as a slideshow of memories you can play in your mind. I hope you feel as blessed as I do for your experiences.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments