What Swimmers are Thankful For


By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent

Thanksgiving isn’t only a time where swimmers get a day off practice, consume 10,000 calories, and otherwise engulf in the most epic Meal of Meals. Thanksgiving is also a time to give thanks – to our coaches, to our parents, to the pool facilities managers, to our teammates…. There are a lot of people who help make the world of swimming go ‘round. Tomorrow and all this weekend, be sure to tell ‘em, “Thanks!”

But swimmers are also thankful for a number of things in our sport. Here’s a fun look at a few other things swimmers are thankful for:

Chlorine-removal shampoo, deck shoes that stay dry, get-out swims that are successful, water polo Friday afternoons, when your coach walks in and says, “We’re going to start taper today,” teammates who fire you up during practice, skin moisturizer, the swimming gods who somehow allowed you to win a race by .01, the combination of Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps otherwise known as “Phlocte,”

The live-broadcasting of the Olympic Trials this past summer, when Matt Grevers got down on one knee and shared his proposal with the swimming community, the “Call Me Maybe” swimmer-version video, bacon, prelim sessions that are shorter than finals sessions, getting a best time in mid-season, “The Smiley Club,” fuzzy warm parkas that stay warm all year long but especially right before morning practice, coaches who are passionate about the sport, that feeling you have right after you shave down and you first jump into the pool, the Golden Goggle Awards,

Katie Ledecky’s 800m freestyle domination, every second of the Olympics, every “Swimmer Problems” account on Twitter, the teammate who tells you that you should lead the lane when you are having a great practice, officials who definitely saw you DQ but don’t DQ you, peanut butter, those fireworks/pyrotechnics that emerged from the Olympic Trials pool deck whenever someone won a race, when someone brings donuts to morning practice, swim team movie nights, qualifying for finals in any relay ever,

Goggles that last over 5 years without breaking, people who come up to you and say, “Oh you’re a swimmer? That’s awesome! I loved watching swimming this summer on TV!”, learning that back-to-breast IM turn/flip the first time, grocery sales on pasta, qualifying just barely for finals in Lane 8, when the pool water is just a degree warmer than usual,

Magazines that feature swimmers on the cover, when your coach says, “Now let’s work on relay exchanges,” sitting on the pool deck near the bathrooms so you don’t have to walk five miles in one day, Egg McMuffins, that teammate who just won’t let you give up, super hot scalding after-practice showers, when the clock falls back an hour,

Alarm clocks that mysteriously malfunction in the middle of the night preventing you from making morning practice even though it was absolutely not your fault whatsoever, anytime you play “Sharks and Minnows,” swim meet concession candy, all of our Olympic coaches, oversized swim bags that can fit all your swim suits and parkas and flip-flops and warm ups and goggles and water bottles, that feeling like you can win every single game of Marco Polo ever, Nutella,


When you can eat seven full meals a day and not gain any weight, goal times, the coach who inspires you, when practice is pushed back from 6am to 6:30am because somehow that extra 30 minutes of sleep makes all the difference in the world, any loved one who comes to a swim meet and endures the never-ending onslaught of preliminary heats of the 400 IMs and 500 freestyles just to see you swim a 50 freestyle in less than 30 seconds,

When Grand Prixs are streamed live, when any swim meet is on TV instead of 5,000 games of football or basketball, every time Michael Phelps swam over the past 12 years, Missy Franklin’s ability to say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time, every time Ryan Lochte stays behind and signs every single autograph for every single fan in the stands who wants one,

That sensation of diving into a pool when no one else is around and the surface of the water is like shiny waveless glass, when you win a swim-off, when it’s 7:30am and practice is over and you feel as though you’ve already accomplished more in your day than 99% of the entire population, caps that don’t rip, and more importantly, suits that don’t rip, flip-flops you wear everywhere,

When you shave your body and you don’t accidentally cut yourself, the fact that Dara Torres and Jason Lezak seemingly never really retire, oversized towels, goggles that never leak, pre-meet carbo loading, setting a new record, breaking a new personal best time, wearing a parka like The Emperor from Star Wars, underwater MP3 players, breaking out the touch pads in practice, a long distance set that mysteriously doesn’t hurt at all yet you’re going faster than everyone else because you’re in “the zone,”

Every single second of every Olympics final this past summer when you got goose bumps and turned off the TV and got out your notebook with the words “GOAL TIMES” on top, witnessing the final race of Michael Phelps’ career and seeing him smile as if the journey and all the training was all worth it,

Have I mentioned bacon?, and belonging to a community of swimmers and swim fans and aquatic superstars who understand every single thing I just listed above, and for some odd “inside-joke” type of reason, as if you belong to a very special community of people…

… and that makes you feel thankful.

Mike Gustafson is a freelance writer for USASwimming.org and Splash Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeLGustafson.

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