The 7 Sins of Swimming

Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins-UVM Athletics

The 7 Sins of Swimming

By Chandler Brandes

There is no such thing as a perfect swimmer. As swimmers, we sometimes (although rarely) make mistakes. We may DQ, forget our heat and lane, or even accidentally-on-purpose rip our cap at the exact moment a hard set is about to begin.

Mistakes are inevitable and they happen to the best of us. However, there are seven so-called “mistakes” that should never be made, no matter the circumstances. These mistakes can only be referred to as the Seven Sins of Swimming.

1. Leaving early.


Photo Courtesy: Ironman

Five seconds apart. Not three. Not four. Definitely not two. Five. One, two, three, four, five. If you have yet to figure out how to read the pace clock, you can count out loud if need be.

Say it with me: One, two, three, four, five.

The sin of leaving early exponentially increases the risk of committing sin No. 2, which is a sin so evil it should only be punishable by repeated 200 butterflies.

2. Obnoxiously touching someone’s feet.

Jul 17, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; A view of the feet of the competitors as they dive in at the start of the women's 50m freestyle final the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

You know how annoying it is when you’re outside on a warm summer night and there are pesky mosquitos all around you that never seem to leave, no matter how many times you swat them away?

That is exactly what it’s like when someone behind you doesn’t. stop. touching. your. feet.

If you happen to be one of those swimmers who feels the need to give a teammate an unwanted foot massage in the middle of practice, you have one of four options:

  1. Speed up to pass them.
  2. Leave the full five seconds behind (See No.1: Leaving Early).
  3. Try leaving 10 seconds behind them. (10 seconds, not nine).
  4. Stop.

Personally, I am a huge supporter of the fourth option.

3. Not letting someone pass you when they obnoxiously touch your feet.


Honestly, I don’t know what’s worse: Obnoxiously touching someone’s feet or refusing to let that person pass you. If someone is repeatedly touching your feet, let them pass you. Be nice about it. It’s not an insult if someone is touching your feet and it doesn’t mean you’re slow.

Lane Etiquette 101. Study up.

4. Sprinting warmup.

cerave invitational

Photo Courtesy: Heidi Torregroza

I will admit, I used to be one of those people. You know, the person who pretends that warmup is an Olympic final.

That is, until I had a life-changing realization.

I realized that warmup is in fact not an Olympic final. It’s not even a summer league race. It’s warmup, and you’re supposed to warm up, not aim for a new American record. The faster you warm up, the sooner you get to the main set, and nobody should be dying to get to that. (Spoiler alert: the main set will inevitably come, however, no matter how slow you swim during warmup).

5. Forgetting to cut your nails.


Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

If you catch up to someone, the person in front of them will be even more annoyed if you scratch them in the process (Please refer to No. 2: Obnoxiously touching someone’s feet). Despite being a non-contact sport, sometimes things happen and swimmers run into each other, accidentally lock hands, or scratch one another when swimming backstroke. Just please cut your nails in order to make this experience less painful for all parties involved.

Last I checked, Edward Scissorhands was not a swimmer, and for good reason.

6. Infecting the pool with your illness.



I understand that everyone will probably get sick at least once during the season. Due to shared spaces and close proximity with one another, the chances of your teammates contracting your disease is high enough already and you do not need to speed up the process.

Please do not blow your nose near your teammates. Please do not spit in vicinity of your teammates. Please do not cough in the direct path of your teammates’ faces.

Pro tip: Do it discreetly when your teammates aren’t looking.

7. Being the reason your coach is in a bad mood.



Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

It’s like being the classmate who reminds the teacher of the homework that was due, even though they forgot to collect it. No one likes that person and no one should want to be that person.

Same thing with your coach. Do not be the cause of their bad mood because that will end poorly for everyone. You know your coach and you know what can make them upset.

Don’t ask if practice is over yet, don’t get out to pee in the middle of the main set, don’t have a bad attitude, and definitely don’t come up with lame excuses. Has that ever ended well for anyone? Nope.

Please, no matter what you do, do not be a swimming sinner.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.


  1. Philip Opperman

    Who do we know that is a sinner *cough *cough numer 4 Connor Leone Taneal Baptiste Ryan Botha Faarez Gamieldien Emile De Bruin Alexandros Axiotis Nic Deacon Malesela Molepo

    • avatar

      Don’t forget wearing a watch is a sin as well.

  2. Patrick James

    Edward Mcnamee they missed the part about getting right with Jesus on those underwaters.

    • Edward Mcnamee

      Yes that’s true but how many times did you commit sin #7!! “I don’t know why your dads mad” or “how long until we can laugh about this?”

  3. Rory Neal

    Spotted good old ru pool in the photos

  4. avatar

    I call these things being the lane jerk. As a parent of 3 (17b, 14b, 9g), I hear all of these complaints from the 2 eldest. My third child started swimming when she was 5. I tolerated her being the lane jerk and reprimanded her many times along with her coaches. I was never ok with it, but thought she would eventually outgrow it. As a 9yo, enough was enough. I pulled her out a few months ago and put her in wrestling. Since she wanted to touch everyone during swim I thought it was a great choice. She loves it and we hope that she has learned and can take her back to swim in a month or two. She still wants to keep wrestling which is fine since it is dirt cheap and she loves it. Injuries might worry me down the line, but so far not so much.

  5. Michael Ives

    Chris Bell Vincent Thomas Connors still accurate.

  6. Glen Osborne

    Hate to swim with people who are “just getting over” a cold.

    • Layya Bayya

      Yo it’s 9pm and you got me AMPED THE FUCK UP haha

  7. Irene Hisham

    Edwina Ed…Edrin Rafael Walcott….Sis Zabrina

    • Lauren Broussard

      They should add in there after you have insisted upon going second ?

    • Anita Schexnayder

      Omg I laughed at this… Emily’s exact rants after practice the whole drive home or most of it at least

  8. avatar

    The solution to the feet touching and passing: person in front flips their hands around and presses their body *back* in the water. It’s the swimming equivalent of slamming on the brakes. Annoying toe toucher slams head and goggles into feet. It’s a nice wake up to a “tailgater.”

    Annoying person in back must now choose between actually passing person or continuing to slam head and goggles into feet. Your choice, tailgater.

  9. Jenoa Olson

    Ann Hawkey, Sue Hancock, Karena Koon Gantner, Cynthia Kruszka Hei
    #7 is my favorite!

    • Ann Hawkey

      This is definitely a good one. Thinking of Handing it out at the beginning of next season ??

    • Emma Grams

      Karen Koenig true ?? or when the entire team hid because we didn’t want to go to practice and were all sick? ?

  10. Lorraine Short

    Pip Ruddock Sandra Barnes I can think of a few more, can you? Missing you all, and the pool too!! ?

    • Pip Ruddock

      ?? that’s 5 seconds gap not half a length and I’m not slow!!!???? and let’s not even get into a kicking set!!!??

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