The water instinct blog

Topics: A Swimmer's life

You wouldn’t understand unless you’re a swimmer – What does your stroke say about you?

Yesterday I succumbed to an Internet pop-up advertising information about astrological signs. Aside from the computer virus that I no doubt downloaded, I learnt about some of the characteristics associated with my sign that were surprisingly accurate. It got me thinking about the world of swimming. More specifically: what do the strokes or events that we specialize in say about us as a person? Let’s call this our swim horoscope.

For starters, freestylers can be separated into two categories. There are the sprinters, and there are distance swimmers. Let’s start with the latter. Training for long distance races says a whole lot about the level of patience you have. Not everyone can stare at a solid black line at the bottom of the pool for hours with only very minimal human contact between laps. As a direct result of the boredom that no doubt comes with lengthy sets, you have a vivid imagination from practices spent daydreaming. You know how to hold a specific pace, whether it’s for the mile or a 10km open water race, and are therefore extremely dependable and self-aware.

Sprinters, on the other hand, are a whole different breed. You get bored and distracted easily, so things are better off short and sweet, especially when it comes to workouts. You are quick to make up your mind, but are also extremely detail-oriented and have a level of finesse that is crucial for a sprint race where every millisecond counts. You put a lot of energy into everything you do and show enthusiasm easily, especially if your coach lets you do dive walk-backs.

Since backstrokes tend to be familiar with crashing into lane ropes, walls or even team mates, they are extremely cautious. It is the only stroke where you can’t see what’s ahead of you, so you prefer to be careful. Much like in the last lap of a 200 backstroke where your body is screaming in pain and you are searching for the first glimpse of the flags, you look for the silver lining in things and trust that everything will work out in the end.

Breaststroke seems to be a natural talent that you are either gifted with at birth, or lack completely. If you fall under the category of swimmers who specialize in it, you have to have a certain level of confidence which allows you to do breaststroke kick in the crowded warmup up pool despite the dirty looks from others. You approach things with intensity, but have the calmness and commitment required to accept critiques and corrections about the smallest details of your stroke.

Butterflyers are pure masochists. There is simply no other way to put it. You don’t mind pain, especially all of you 200 flyers out there, and have the tear ducts of a champion from the countless laps of fly spent holding back tears. You are extremely goal-oriented, focused, and slightly cocky because, well… after suffering through sets of fly pacing you feel you merit the occasional brag.

Last but certainly not least are all of our multi-taskers out there; the IMers. You are coordinated (in the water, at least), and are used to juggling more than one thing at a time. You simply can’t choose between the four strokes- you want to have it all and tend to be indecisive about your decisions. You have the enthusiasm necessary to train for multiple strokes, and have a talent for switching from one activity to the other seamlessly.

Regardless of which stroke you specialize in or which category you fall into, however, all swimmers share a few common characteristics: our dedication, motivation and love for the sport.

Photo credit: Gian Mattia d’Alberto/LaPresse
Rebecca Gillis

Rebecca Gillis

Hi! I’ve been swimming competitively since I was eight years old, and enjoy documenting the ups and downs of life as an athlete. Most of my days are spent on the pool deck, since I also work as a coach for young children, and as a lifeguard. Other than that, I’m a full time student and, like so many of my fellow swimmers, a food/nap enthusiast.

Published in:A Swimmer's life


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