Swimmers are odd creatures. We eat any carbohydrate within a mile radius of us following practice, and we waddle around swim meets with our ridiculous parkas like penguins. Like I said, odd creatures. There are 10 ways that you can prove you are a swimmer. Let us know if we missed any!

1) You understand how important a few hundredths of a second are.

Swimmers train thousands of hours and yards for that minuscule amount of time that would seem insignificant to other athletes. Races can be won and lost at a .01 difference, so we bust our butts to make sure that doesn’t happen. Just look at the results of the 2016 Olympic Trials. In the men’s 200m freestyle, Conor Dwyer out-touched Jack Conger only by a single hundredth of a second. This .1 is what got Dwyer to the Rio Olympic Games and what kept Conger out of that event.

2) You know swimming really IS a contact sport.

Sure, swimming definitely isn’t like the contact sports of football or soccer. But for us, the ones who sometimes leave practice with bruises or pains, we know the truth. Getting kicked by a swimmer wearing fins or whacked by a paddle can cause massive amounts of pain. I even know swimmers who have received concussions from in-pool collisions during practice. Non-swimmers may not understand the truth, but we all do.

3) You critique swimmers on TV shows.

I know I’m not the only one sees really terrible swimming on TV and automatically begins to judge. The cross-over stroke, late breathing, or lack of rotation seems too apparent not to point out.

4) It’s not weird to shave with your friends.

Some teams even call it a shaving “party”, which would definitely sound weird if you weren’t a swimmer. For most swimmers, shaving with friends is a ritual before a big meet. For others, it’s a necessity when you have four swimmers jammed in a hotel room together the day before a meet. Whichever one it is, most of us still don’t find it weird for several girls (or guys) to shave down together so that we all can go as fast and as drag-free as possible the next day.

5) Seeing each other in normal clothes is just weird.

However odd it is to see each other half-naked may seem, for us, it’s the opposite. We frequently run into teammates in public places and don’t even recognize them. We spend anywhere from 15-30 hours a week with caps, goggles, wet hair, and barely any clothing. Because of this, we are constantly hearing and saying, “I didn’t recognize you with clothes on!”

6) You’re constantly hearing about your tan lines.

Yes, we know we have a weird tan circle on our backs. Yes, we’re also aware of the lighter rings around our eyes. No matter how much sunscreen we apply or how much time we spend tanning at the beach, they never really go away. But hey, at least we stay tan year-round.

7) You’ve learned how to manage the “swimming isn’t hard” comments.

Whether you deal with them with a subtle eye roll or you have a comeback remark handy, you have definitely gotten used to the comments. “Swimming isn’t a sport” “swimming isn’t hard” “I can do that easily” Whatever the comments are, you’ve probably heard them all. We know the truth, swimming is one of the hardest, most demanding sports there is. Some non-swimmers just don’t get that, and we’ve learned how to deal with it.

8) You know meet warmups are like swimming with a thousand sharks.

There’s always too many people. Getting slapped, kicked, pinched, and punched repeatedly is normally the way we start out a meet. On top of that, it’s really hard to swim exactly how you want. If you speed up, you’re running someone over. If you slow down or switch to a slower stroke, you’re going to be the one getting trampled on.

9) You understand the long process of suiting up.

I’m still amazed at how we get suits on that are several sizes too small. It’s a long, mentally draining process that normally takes around 20 minutes just so we don’t rip it. 20 minutes. For a single suit. And sometimes it even requires additional assistance from teammates.

10) You love and hate swimming.

Yes, of course, we love swimming. It’s where we unwind, relax, and just swim. We also hate swimming. No one can say 5AM practices outdoors in 40 degree weather is “fun”. However, swimmers love the pain, the hard work, and the process. The love-hate relationship is what keeps us coming back for more every day.

Written by Taylor Thomson