By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent
From cannonballs to concessions, from relays to team cheers, from best friends to traveling places you never thought you’d go, swimming is the “funnest sport.” You may have seen that #FunnestSport hashtag around social media and thought, “Wait a second. You mean waking up before dawn is FUN?!?”
Or: “You mean 10x400 IMs is FUN?!?!?!”
Or: “YOU MEAN LONG COURSE 200 BUTTERFLY IS…”
Yes. It’s fun.
Swimming is the “Funnest Sport” in a variety of contexts and meanings. Sure, there are pool games, relays, cheers, movie marathons, pasta parties, and cannonball contests. But there are also down-to-the-wire races, one lane/one moment/one chance fusions in time, practices where your body accomplished feats you never thought possible, and a unique journey unlike any other.
Here are 10 reasons why swimming is the #FunnestSport. And tell us why YOU think swimming is the #FunnestSport -- tweet at our brand new Twitter account, @SwimToday!
Parkas are every swimmer’s invincibility cloak. They are indestructible and make you look like Darth Vader. Sure, they may be “not appropriate” at weddings, birthday celebrations, or church, but anywhere else, they are awesome. You can even sleep in them. They’re mobile blankets.
9. Pranks on coaches
“What was that set again?” “Can you explain that again?” “When are we leaving?” Some coaches draw complicated workouts not even skilled mathematicians can understand. So, sometimes, we swimmers like to counter these crazy sets with a bit of fun. I once knew a coach who conjured up elaborate sets, but when his swimmers asked him a question, he would forget and invariably alter the workout into a less-intense version. Each interaction would be like this:
Coach: “We’re doing 8x50s free, 200 fast, 6x50s, 300 fast, 4x50s, 400 fast…”
Swimmer: “So, the 100 fast is after the 2x50s?”
Coach (confused, blinking): “We’re doing 6x50s, 100 fast, 4x50s, 150 fast…”
Oh, the glorious victory… It was also hilarious.
8. The Celebration of Crazy Hair
Swimmers shave off (most) body hair. But before they shave down, they do some crazy things with hair. Like dye their heads red, blue, black, blonde, green, brown, or rainbow. Or do all sorts of pre-shave hair-dos. In college, we favored the “old man” hairstyle -- you shaved only the very top of your crown and let the rest of your hair grow long. Mohawks were also popular pre-shave styles.
7. Being able to dominate any pool game against non-swimmers
Marco…! Polo! Marco…! (Immediately after: Swimmer disappears into vast pool of water, leaving no trace of wave nor bubble, only to reemerge at the exact moment to yell back “POLO!” then disappear again.) When you’re a swimmer, you dominate pool games. You own all pool, lake, river, pond, diving well, backyard pool, and ocean games. You destroy everyone else in Marco Polo, sharks ‘n’ minnows, and underwater capture the flag. You name the pool game, and swimmers dominate over non-swimmers. Sure, it’s fleeting, but it’s still awesome.
Nothing beats stepping on the blocks, one moment in time, putting it all on the line, charging into the wall under the flags, stroke-for-stroke against someone else. Racing is awesome. Racing is fun. And not only do we get to race other people. We also get to race ourselves.
5. Eating pizza all the time and not worrying about spontaneous cardiac arrest. (AKA “The Swimmer Body.”)
Eating is fun. Gorging yourself nightly, franticly filling the empty black hole that is your stomach, is fun. Eating a pizza a day may not ultimately keep the doctor away, but while you’re swimming, you’ll at least keep (relatively) in shape.
4. Being a little bit different from every other sport
Every sport has its own personality. Football, basketball, hockey, and soccer have their own respective personalities. The same is true for swimming. Swimmers are a little bit on the edgy side. Fun, thoughtful, insightful, a bit crazy, smart, and definitely on the “think different” personality of things. Let’s face it: Swimmers hang out with other swimmers for a reason. After inhaling chlorine for a few years, you begin to hang out with other people who inhale chlorine, too.
3. “The Swimmer Wardrobe.”
Never judge a swimmer by his/her daily wearing of sweatpants. Swimmers have a Swimmer Wardrobe. It looks like this: Sweatpants, flip-flops, swimming-themed t-shirt, and huge ice packs taped onto each shoulder. Swimmers understand clothes are temporary, since we’re constantly exchanging them twice a day for swimsuits. And while fashions come and go, nothing is more comfortable than a great pair of sweatpants.
2. There are no benchwarmers in swimming
I played a lot of sports growing up. While “playing” some of these sports, I’d sit on the bench. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even play. It sucked. With swimming, I always had my chance to succeed. Once on the blocks, no one could stop me but me. At some point in the swim meet, I’d have my lane, my opportunity, my one chance to prove to the world that I was good. Sometimes, in other sports, you don’t get that chance. Sports are supposed to be fun, and you can’t have fun if you’re not even competing. In swimming, you always compete.
1. Meeting best friends
When you sign up for a swim team, there should be a questionnaire that asks: “By signing this document, are you OK with meeting future best friends?” I met a lot of best friends through swimming. We’ve been through a lot together. Practices, meets, traveling. We’ve seen the world. We’ve seen the Milky Way Galaxy from the shores of Hawaii. We’ve seen Christmas celebrations in a small town in Argentina. We’ve been in each other’s weddings. We’ve met each other’s children. Heck, some of them even married each other. None of this would have happened without swimming.
And that – at least to me – is pretty fun.
Follow @SwimToday for more reasons why swimming is the #FunnestSport.